Gear We Love: Our Favorite Gear This May | GearJunkie

2022-05-20 02:44:53 By : Mr. Edgar Zhou

At GearJunkie, we test, use, and rely on all manner of gear — for all seasons and conditions. Take a peek at the products we love this month!

Fanny and hip packs are having a moment and I’m here for it. The Patagonia 5L Black Hole Waist Pack is constructed of Patagonia’s famous black hole fabric — a durable and weather-resistant recycled polyester ripstop.

The bag has one large main compartment with a mesh pocket inside, an outside pocket, and two stretch pockets for water bottles. The main compartment is great for stashing an extra layer or snacks while the outside pocket is perfect for your phone.

Hot tip: the two stretch pockets will hold your favorite IPA. The highly breathable mesh back panel allows you to carry the pack with comfort and ease. Compression straps are available to keep the bag close to your body.

The compression straps and ample storage make this bag great for trail running and biking. You can wear it as a sling, hip pack, or fanny pack, making the Patagonia 5L Black Hole Waist Pack great for all outdoor adventures.

As someone with a very small head, I’ve always been a bit jealous of my friends who can wear intense-looking, wraparound, frameless performance eyewear. You know the ones: from the likes of Oakley, Smith, ROKA, or Julbo — the ones with UV-blocking powers, wide wraparound lenses, and bold, mirror-tinted styles.

The lightest-weight, most performance-oriented shades you can get — that’s what I’ve been missing out on. Why? Because they never fit my face. Yes, even with the different grips designed to bridge narrower noses. That’s not to say that they don’t exist, I just haven’t found a pair that works for me. Until now. Behold! The 100% Hypercraft XS.

Made with the same UltraCarbon technology as 100%’s standard Hypercraft, these shades are built on a smaller-scale (XS) shield. The Hypercraft XS gives you 100% UV protection, including UVA, UVB, and UV400 wavelengths.

They’ve got great venting, good grips (staying on the face even when you’re sweating), and have scratch-resistant, hydrophobic, and oleophobic coatings. They come with a spare clear lens and second nose grips. Oh, and they are pretty darn light at 23 g.

And not that color is important, but the soft tact lavender delivers insane style points. These glasses fit my face, and they also look good.

I tried stand up paddleboarding for the first time last month, and I can safely say that I’m obsessed! The Bote Breeze Aero is inflatable and comes packed into a backpack-style carrying case. This allows me to keep it in my car so I can pull it out, pump it up and jump on top for a paddle anytime a body of water comes calling. I picked the 11’6″ length, as it’s long enough to fit the KULA 5 Cooler and my two pups alongside me. 

One of our favorite boards on the market, this paddleboard is a good choice for beginners, as the width offers stability and the light weight (20 pounds) allows for easy paddling. The front bungees on the Breeze Aero provide the option for additional gear storage so you can bring along your dry bag filled with a book, sunscreen, snacks, and hydration for your day out on the water.

My favorite thing about the board? It took me less than 10 minutes to pump with the included hand pump!

How can you not smile when packing your favorite snacks and beverages into a colorful, one-of-a-kind cooler bag? The Hielo 12L Cooler Bag is Cotopaxi’s Del Dia style, meaning that the brand reuses fabric from other companies’ large production runs. It’s kind of a Cotopaxi staple, and I kind of love it!

This cooler kept my precious cargo (aka, ice cream) safe on a 4-hour car ride home. It also worked great at keeping my sparkling water and camp food cold on a recent camping trip. The food was still cold after about the first day or so of camping, but I wouldn’t have trusted our local brats to not spoil without some fresh ice after that.

The Hielo has lots of variations to hold or carry it, between the handle on the top and the arm sling. And it has a fold top with a buckle to expand or compress the contents.

It also has a mesh water bottle holder, which also came in handy for holding my car keys and phone on a walk to the water’s edge one night. If you’re looking for a fun summer cooler to carry with you to bonfires and picnics, check out the Hielo 12L Del Dia Cooler Bag.

Salomon’s latest hiking boot is designed to give you more energy return and comfort so you spend less time worrying about your footwear and more time focused on nature.

Unlike your typical burly hiking boot, the Outpulse Mid GORE-TEX has an athletic feel. The new Fuze Surge foam compound delivers premium energy return, allowing for a quick hiking pace. Salomon’s Contragrip rubber outsole provides solid protection and stability. Overall, the Outpulse Mid GORE-TEX is lightweight, comfortable, and has great traction.

Over the past couple of months, I found myself reaching for this hiking shoe more than any other pair. If you are looking for an all-around lightweight hiking shoe, the Outpulse Mid GORE-TEX is a solid choice. (Or, check out some of our other favorites of this year.)

Looking for a warm but lightweight layer for backcountry travel?  That’s where a technical piece like the  Marmot Echo Featherless Hybrid jacket  comes in handy. Designed to replace natural down with a synthetic, 3M Thinsulate recycled 700-fill power down — this jacket performs and stays warm when wet.

The  Echo Featherless Hybrid jacket  is a moisture-wicking midlayer that’s made to accompany all-season active pursuits. I’ve found it particularly great for winter and shoulder season hikes as well as chilly morning mountain bike rides. I look forward to taking it backpacking this summer for those dusk-to-dawn moments.

If you like the feel of down, but not the sweaty sensation that often accompanies it when being active, Marmot’s Echo Featherless Hybrid jacket will serve you well.

Shimano is no stranger to producing high-end gear for cycling, and the XC-902s are no exception. Boasting a BOA Fit System with dual Li2 dials and the brand’s “lightest ever structure,” these shoes are made for hard efforts and chasing podiums at your next cyclocross or mountain bike race.

I’ve tested several MTB shoes in a myriad of settings, and these shoes stand out to me. Not only are they super lightweight (296, size 42), but they are very comfortable right out of the box. The XC-902s have a BOA Fit System with two Li2 dials that provide precise micro-adjustability in two zones.

I have a super-wide midfoot, and the ability to adjust the bottom dial to allow extra room there while dialing the upper Li2 dial tighter gives me connectedness with the shoe. This translates well to comfort and transferring power to the pedals when I need it.

Beyond that, the shoes have rider-tunable metal spikes that allow you to choose if you want ultra-lightweight performance (like on a marathon mountain bike race) or improved racing grip. (Cyclocross racing, anyone?)

While these shoes have a steep price tag of $430, they are a top-of-the-line racing shoe that won’t leave you disappointed.

When I heard this board had a top speed of 32 mph, I was immediately interested. Electric skateboards are just plain fun, plus they are a practical mode of transport for some folks. Possway has a few boards, and the T3 is meant for those who want to go fast and far. It has a range of up to 20 miles and 105mm shock-absorbing wheels for a more comfortable ride.

I’ve been testing the T3 longboard for the past month for practical things like getting home after dropping my car for maintenance as well as general cruising. For a $499 board, I’m impressed. I have a hill next to my house that leads to a beach, and it’s fun to carve down the hill and back up it. To test the weather resistance, I’ve ridden it in light rain and haven’t had any issues.

I have hit 32 mph while heading down small (or large hills), but it’s closer to 26 mph on flat surfaces due to all kinds of variables like my weight, the road, temp, etc. That’s still plenty fast for a skateboard, and I have yet to run out of battery on any of my rides. With gas prices on the rise, I’m excited to use it more this summer.

Crafted Energy is a small bar brand with a big mission: to create bars sport-specific for athletes, no matter how they are exerting their energy outside. “You wouldn’t train for a 50-mile ride the same way you train for a multi-pitch climb. That’s why we created functional energy,” it explains.

The current lineup of Crafted Energy bars includes ones tailored for cyclists, climbers, and runners. Now it’s launched another bar for possibly the biggest category of athletes: hikers. Like its former bars, each ingredient serves a function specific to a certain type of athlete.

The flavor? Maple peanut butter. The ingredients? There are 13 of them tailored to provide slow and sustained energy, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and ingredients that fight muscle fatigue. For example, Crafted included dates, maple, and coconut for quick-burning energy and peanuts, oats, and almonds for slow-burning energy. Each bar is 230 calories.

After taste-testing (well, eating several bars), we found the Hiker bar to be slightly coarse, but not too dry. The peanut flavor shines, the pumpkin seeds are a unique and tasty addition, and the hit of sea salt is perfect.

The Fitz Roy Down Sleeping Bag is a new addition to the Patagonia family — and it sure is a bundle of joy. The Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Sleeping Bag is an 800-fill-power down bag made of Advance Global Traceable Down. The bag is plush and soft to the touch.

The hood of the bag is based on the design of Patagonia’s warmest jacket hood. The hood fits around your upper body just like a jacket would, making you feel extra secure and cozy. The internal chest pocket is great to stash your phone, chapstick, or other essentials. Staying true to Patagonia’s mission of saving the home planet, the bag is made of 87% recycled fabrics.

I’m a middle zipper convert. When I sleep on my side, I’m able to move freely and the bag doesn’t get twisted. Whether I’m sleeping in a tent, car, or basement floor, the Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Sleeping Bag is my new favorite piece of gear.

I stumbled across my first pair of Outdoor Voices Rectrek Pants at a thrift store here in Minneapolis. I hadn’t heard of Outdoor Voices before, but I liked how they felt so I bought them. I now own three pairs, including the black pair I bought at the thrift store 5 years ago. Despite the marks from having gotten too close to the campfire, I can’t seem to get rid of that original pair.

These pants are soft, stretchy, and durable — everything you might want in a do-it-all pant like this one. I’ve done yoga, I’ve hiked, I’ve paddled through the Boundary Waters with a base layer underneath, and I’ve worn them for hours upon hours spent in the car last summer. They hold up!

I also loved the Rectrek so much that when Outdoor Voices came out with a Zip-Off version, I was sold immediately. I wore the Rectrek Zip-Off Pants on multiple 10-mile hikes out West last summer and was impressed with how comfortable they were. I only remember having zip-off pants as a child, but I’m not quite sure why they ever went out of style!

If you’re the type of person who always has to choose clothing based on how it will or will not stain easily, trust me when I say, these are perfect. I was nervous to stray from the classic black, but I got bold and ordered Sierra last fall (no longer in stock, unfortunately). I have been so surprised at the amount of coffee or food I can manage to spill on them without leaving a mark.

I reach for them over and over again. So, do yourself a favor and try them out for yourself! You won’t be disappointed.

When I think of glacier glasses, steampunks and early 20th-century mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas come to mind. Smith’s Embark glacier glasses transcend all of that. Chromapop polarized lenses set the tone for enhanced alpine eye protection and boost contrast.

Removable and ventilated side shields add peripheral light coverage and provide an enveloping refuge from the intense reflective light found in the alpine. An optional goggle-like strap provides an extra layer of security to keep them on when you’re really getting after it.

I spent this spring testing the Embark on long ski tours, late-season laps at my local ski area, and any time I was spending extended time in the snow. The Embark provides the protection of a goggle in a less cumbersome package. The ability to remove the side shields makes them a real sunglasses quiver killer, transitioning into around-town shades with ease.

A mixture of practicality, technical performance, and style make the Embark shades a must-have for any adventurer playing in the snow at high elevations.

At GearJunkie, we test, use, and rely on all manner of gear — for all seasons and conditions. Take a peek at the products we love this month!

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