Sport RX Poc Do Flow
The Claim: Sport RX’s simple tagline is “The best prescription eyewear.” And obviously from their name, they specialize in sport appropriate glasses.
Field Test: The Poc Do Flows are the second pair of RX glasses I’ve ordered through Sport RX. Why shop remotely? Like a surgeon that does a lot of procedures, Sport RX builds a lot of sports eyewear. They know which prescriptions work for which frames. In my case, my prescription grew heavier, but thanks to Sport RX I could still get into a wrapping lens for cycling like the Do Flow. The last time I ordered two sets of lenses; one set tinted for full sun, the second a photochromic “Day/Night” lens. I only ever used the latter, which takes you from shady mountain bike rides to full sun hikes to night bike commuting without a lens swap. That’s all I ordered this time. An adjustable nosepiece keeps them secure enough for MTB descents. And smart vents in the lenses fight fogging.
Verdict: I had poor success with prescription sports eyewear in the past. Sport RX crushes it.
Why it’s Timeless: Sport RX’s “Optic Ninjas” have been at this since 1996. Starting at $170; sportrx.com
Primus PrimeTech Stove Set
The Claim: Primus says that thanks to the smartly integrated windscreen that comes stock on this two-pot set, you’ll burn half as much fuel.
Field Test: We’ve fiddled with roll-up metal windscreens for years because they undoubtedly cut fuel consumption in half. But damn they can be a pain to set up properly when you’re cold and tired. Whether you’re hauling one pot or two, this slick nesting set from Primus is the solution. In fact we think it’s even more efficient than the old windscreen because it integrates so well with the pot base. The transparent lid with a built-in colander also boosts ease of use.
Verdict: One or two campers can get by with the 1.3 Liter set. A group of four might want to bump up to the 2.3L. Look here if weight savings and fuel efficiency (more weight savings) are paramount.
Why it’s Timeless: The anodized aluminum pots are scratch resistant and the larger of the two features a non-stick coating for easy cleanup. $120 (1.3L), $130 (2.3L); primus.us
GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Microlite 500
The Claim: GSI says its new vacuum bottle is “incredibly lightweight” and “impossibly thin walled,” but they also say it will keep hot fluids hot for many hours.
Field Test: We have at least a dozen vacuum bottles in the cupboard and they’re all fine, but the Microlite is a revelation. At 7.9 ounces empty, it’s lightweight and low profile enough to fill with hot tea and honey for a day of ski touring (which is why we originally eyeballed it). But even though it’s more svelte and lighter than our other bottles, it somehow retains heat far better. Left sealed and full of boiling water (17 ounces) in the morning, you might wait three hours before you can take a sip.
Verdict: Hot beverages brighten rainy days on a river or in the backcountry.
Why it’s Timeless: One hard fall from four feet left a little ding in an edge, but did no real damage. $26; gisoutdoors.com
Yeti Hopper Flip 12
The Claim: From Yeti: “Say hello to the leakproof, tough-as-nails, carry-the-day soft cooler.”
Field Test: Full disclosure: Yeti sponsored our ski test with these cube shaped, 12-liter soft coolers that feature a unique “flip” top that zips shut with a burly waterproof zipper. It immediately became the only cooler I grab for road trips and to keep snacks and beverages cold after hot mountain bike rides. Unlike Yeti’s other Hoppers, the square shape of the Flip 12 doesn’t crush the items inside, it’s easy to find what you put in it, and clean up is lightning fast, as is drying time.
Verdict: Probably too nice/expensive of a product to leave unattended at a festival, but for picnics, recreational boating, and recovery beers it’s unmatched.
Why it’s Timeless: The “tough as nails claim is legit.” You could dropkick it off a cliff. And that’s a good thing, because it’s pricey as hell. $280; yeti.com
Maven B1 10x binocular
The Claim: The Lander, Wyoming optics company Maven boldly states that their glass is best in class, even in a field full of higher-priced German optics.
Field Test: We carried the B1s during archery elk hunting season in New Mexico where the terrain varies from wide open above treeline long distance spotting, to thick timber with limited sight lines.
Verdict: The lenses offer outstanding edge-to-edge clarity, meaning what you see out of the corner of your eye is just as tack sharp as what’s standing in front of you. The depth of field—the distance at which objects are in focus—is also extremely broad, so that focusing on the thicket 30 yards in front of you and then shifting to the ridgeline a half a mile off comes with just a slight twist of the focus barrel.
Why it’s Timeless: Direct to consumer sales means you cut out the middleman markup. And you can choose from four models based on your needs, and then tailor aesthetics for a customized pair of binos.
$900 (8X), $950 (10X), customization slightly more; mavenbuilt.com
Smith Workshop RX
The Claim: Smith says, “Clean, strong details and surfacing characterize the Workshop.”
Field Test: Probably because Smith is from our outdoor world, the designers of their lifestyle line of RX eyewear produce frames that appeal to mountain folk. Take the Workshop for example. It’s blocky and slightly oversized, but it doesn’t say square beard hipster so much as it says bike mechanic cachet. At least that’s what I tell myself having worn them for the past six months. Others would appear to agree. I’ve actually been complimented on them repeatedly. Maybe everyone is just being nice.
Verdict: Wire in the temples lets you customize the fit, and the matte acetate finish cleans up easily. Frames show no sign of getting weak and flexy.
Why it’s Timeless: The square beard is fleeting; back-shop chic is forever. $300; smithoptics.com
HydraPak Seeker 3L
The Claim: “The high-capacity Seeker 3L is a durable, ultra-light hydration storage system for all your long haul excursions.”
Field Test: I’ve had bladder-style jugs fail on me while ski touring and backpacking, so it was with some hesitation that I switched to Seeker 3L. But the benefits were worth the risk. The thermoplastic polyurethane is lighter weight than the three traditional bottles you’d have to haul to match its storage (only 3.3 ounces for 3 liters), and more important to me, the Seeker takes up very little pack space when you’re only hauling a liter or less. Like water, it finds its level as you cram it around other items.
Verdict: The simple screw cap and welded seams make it durable and idiot-proof.
Why it’s Timeless: Saving pack space is just as vital as saving weight. Here, tie down straps fixed to the soft bottle let you strap it to your pack when full, then shove it inside once camp is set and you’re off day hiking. $20; hydrapak.com
Nemo Argali sleeping bag and Astro Insulated Lite 25 L pad
The Claim: Designed with backcountry anglers and hunters in mind, the integrated bag and pad kit cuts down on bulk and weight while providing warmth and comfort down to 15 degrees.
Field Test: My bivies ranged from the bed of my pickup, a light, three-season tent, and an under the stars spike camp.
Verdict: After years of sliding off bag and pad “systems” (and waking with a numb shoulder) I gave the Nemo sleep system a try. The Astro pad’s horizontal baffles—rather than vertical lines—slide easily into the bag’s pad sleeve, and don’t hammock when I settle in. For open air camping, the Argali bag features a waterproof base, which doesn’t sponge up water on damp ground.
Why it’s Timeless: I’m a light sleeper, especially when camping, but this is the best I’ve slept outdoors.
Argali bag ($330), Astro pad ($150); nemoequipment.com
Tepui Tents Kukenam Sky (3-person)
The Claim: Tepui says the Kukenam offers a “spacious A-frame design [with] excellent headroom to fully sit up and relax and take in the views from the large screened side windows.”
Field Test: I ran this rooftop tent system for my son’s entire fall mountain bike race season which involved lots of travel in the Colorado high country with little time to set and break camp. Mostly we poached public lands near the venues, cooked a quick meal, and then turned in. To pitch the tent, you unzip the fitted tarp and set it aside, extend the stepladder, and then lever the tent frame open. At this point you can throw in your bags, climb up, and go to sleep. A little more setup gets you awnings and a drum-tight fabric for heavy rain. Most of the time we just did the quick set even in rain and snow—the treated poly-cotton fabric is plenty waterproof. And because the floor of the tent is already well padded in 2 nches of high-density foam, you don’t need your mattresses. My only real gripe? While setup is blisteringly fast, realigning the tarp and getting it zipped and road ready proved difficult, especially with cold hands in a sleet storm. The zipper system is a little rough. So too the wire bales you tension to set the awnings. A few tent poles would be better.
Verdict: I have the room to sleep two in the family truckster, but to do so requires too much gear shuffling and packing diligence for sport trips. And breaking down a traditional camp first thing in the morning means you’ll be packing dew-wet gear and having to dry it out at home. Outside of a Sprinter van, the Tepui is the answer.
Why it’s Timeless: Like a van, a rooftop tent opens up your fast camping options. Parking lots work just fine. $1,395; tepuitents.com
Apothecanna Extra Strength Relieving Body Creme
The Claim: Fast relief for stiff joints and stubborn aches and pains provided by a combination of arnica, peppermint, juniper and THC—the active ingredient found in marijuana.
Field Test: As an aging athlete, a sore right knee sometimes cools my desire to ride or run. So it was with great hope that I rubbed the Apothecanna creme on my knees prior to and after exercise. The blend of arnica and cannabis is said to reduce inflammation and therefore pain.
Verdict: I realize that, when universalized, anecdotal evidence—like my trial run with this pot cream—has led to “anti-vaxers” (those folks who don’t vaccine their kids) and outbreaks of the measles and whooping cough, but I urge peer review of Apothecanna’s creme. The dull ache in my knee vanished 15 minutes after application.
Why it’s Timeless: A nagging injury is a buzzkill. But despite the THC in this cream you don’t get a buzz when you use it. At least I didn’t. $20 (2 oz.); apothecanna.com