Go Take A (Day) Hike

DSC 0614 Go Take A (Day) Hike

Now that the endless winter weather that has gripped much of the Northern hemisphere appears finally to be receding, it’s time to head outside for some much needed sunlight and fresh air.  One of the great pleasures of outdoor activities, apart from actually being active, is acquiring new equipment and gear designed for your back-to-nature inspired endeavors.

Purpose-built bags, clothing, and accessories help to orient your thinking and get you in the mood for day hikes, longer runs, or just an urban adventure to the cool section of town.

We have had the pleasure of recently checking out a few pieces from three great performance-driven brands; Granite Gear, Vasque, and Timex.  While they do possess a certain color-coordinated outdoor performance look, it was pure – if inspired – coincidence.  And, although each has great technical eye appeal, what ultimately matters is how the products perform.

DSC 0607 Go Take A (Day) HikeWe have actually been testing out the Timex Expedition Shock Chrono Alarm ($58) for about two months and find it to be a fantastic timepiece for everyday informal and active wear, be it working out, running, hiking, or any other activity where the possibility of deliberate or accidental watch abuse exists.

The moderately-sized watch is very lightweight but also sturdy and extremely comfortable on the wrist.  Its soft rubber strap is flexible, unlike the G-Shock’s, and gently hugs your wrist, keeping the watch in place without bulk.  A pleasingly functional case, clear and easy-to-read negative display, and one-touch Indiglo illumination, all make this a true favorite.

The Granite Gear Athabasca 24 day pack ($129.95) is another item that combines technical capability with functionally cool style.  First and foremost, this company makes gear for use in the actual great outdoors.

Athabasca 24 Go Take A (Day) HikeEvery strap, tab, zipper, pocket, and loop on this bag is there for a reason and built to withstand the abuse of serious backwoods tracking.  At the same time, their days packs are infused with features that work in a more urban, less mountainous environment.

The sturdy hip belt, perfect for supporting a fully loaded back for an afternoon on the trail, is also removable for everyday commuter use.  There is a sleeve designed for a hydration insert that doubles a secure slot for a small laptop, and an easily accessible outer pocket is equipped with key lanyard and assorted pockets.

A good pair of sturdy shoes is vital to a comfortable and safe trek, whether on a trail or down the block.  These Vasque Grand Traverse kicks ($129.95) are a nice hybrid multi-sport shoe designed to handle true back country trails and daily errands with ease.  It’s the performance of a hiking boot wrapped in the comfort of an athletic shoe.

The dual-density EVA footbed and molded EVA midsole provide superior support over rough terrain while the Vibram® Ibex sole gives you stability and grip, even on wet pavement.  It’s even a comfortable choice for going sockless and walking the dog on a warm evening – we’ve tried it.

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Watch pack detail Go Take A (Day) Hike

 

OTC: What We Carry Everyday

What I Carry Picture OTC: What We Carry Everyday

OTC was recently asked to contribute a photo to the British site Everyday Carry UK showing what our editor-in-chief has in his bag and on his person any given day.  As bags and the stuff of life have always been a big part of OTC, we were happy to oblige.

While the sack may change based on need, style, and mood, what’s inside is fairly consistent.  When we tried to edit all the stuff down to a manageable representation of gear, one item inadvertently left out of the photo was a fantastic Chester Mox wallet that keeps his all-important Metro pass secure.  In addition, although out of view, the bag used that day was the Courier Messenger Bag from Frank Clegg.

This brief exercise reminded us of the many great brands, creative companies, and exceptional individuals we have met over the years.  We have linked to a few of those brands represented here.

Clockwise from top:

 

2014 Preview: Casio’s G-Shock

DSC 0600 2014 Preview: Casios G Shock

On occasion, we receive solicitations to review products or services that are not exactly in our wheelhouse – women’s footwear, for example.  On occasion, we say, “sure, send it on over.”  Such was the case when Casio asked us to take a look at their 2014 G-Shock watch collection.

While we are not a watch site, go visit our friends at Hodinkee for that, we certainly do appreciate a good watch.  While Rolex and Patek Philippe are all well and good, sometimes it’s the basics that matter most.  Casio G-Shock watches are classics when you talk about real world watches that take a beating and are wearable for most day-to-day needs.

These are not dress or retro classic, preppy timepieces.  But, they aren’t trying to be any of those things; these are beaters (but in the best of ways).  They have a tactical, function-oriented feel to them and sit purposefully on your wrist.  We should not that while OTC typically takes possession of the products we test and review, which allows us to really check them out to our standards, these were only review samples.  Therefore, we can only speak to the design and overall look and feel of the watches.  That said, we really like these timepieces for casual, everyday wear.

DSC 0545 2014 Preview: Casios G ShockThe Camo G-Shock  is something new for the brand and will be released in two waves this Spring.

Generally, we are cautious of the whole camo-everything trend (alert: it doesn’t actually work for everything).  In this case, OTC defers; we really like it.  The pattern is actually muted plays to the watch’s distinctive lines.  It is a nice blend of hip, “right now” and functional practicality.  It also got an unusually high number of compliments from all sorts of folks.

We reviewed the oversized GDX6900CM model which has their 3D camo pattern printed case, band and plated dial in either tan or grey (our tester).  The watch will retail at a reasonable US$150.00 and be available at select boutiques, jewelry stores, the G-SHOCK Soho NYC store and www.g-shock.com.

The Arabic Chronograph model is equally tough and purpose-built, but has a less functional appearance.

We reviewed two versions of this model.  The anolog dial is a pleasing departure and provides a slightly more dressy look, within the context of a sports watch.  It’s shock and magnetic resistant, and water resistant to 200 meters, has five daily alarms, and a world time feature.  The Arabic Chrono also retails for US$150.00.

DSC 0586 2014 Preview: Casios G Shock

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OTC Father’s Day Guide

Looking for some last-minute Father’s Day gift ideas?  OTC has pulled together a few great options that will make it look like you spent days, not minutes, tracking down the best ideas.

From a gift box subscription to the perfect shirt, some sharp watches to an exceptional pen, we’ve got you covered.  Even some amazing headphones made from cherry wood.

Birchbox Men
$20.00 / Month

 

2013 05 21 16.05.05 1024x768 OTC Fathers Day Guide

 

Citizen Primo Chronograph
$395.00

Citizen Primo Chronograph OTC Fathers Day Guide

Timex T2N932 Chronograph
$165.00

 

Timex Chronograph T2N932 OTC Fathers Day Guide

 

LSTN Troubadour Headphones
$150.00

 

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Hugh & Crye Firefly Shirt
$85.00

HughandCrye Firefly Shirt OTC Fathers Day Guide

 

Baltz Exemplar Pen
$280.00

Baltz Exemplar1 OTC Fathers Day Guide

 

Kobold Arctic Diver Swiss3 Refresh Your Style: Kobolds Arctic Diver

 


Your watch is a personal expression of your personal style, and when it comes to picking that one special watch, we humbly suggest choosing the path less taken.  Clearing out the clutter and upgrading to one special watch that has meaning to you beyond mere functionality is a great way to set your personal style tone.

With the continued interest in high-end mechanical watches, luxury brands like Rolex, IWC, Panerai, and Omega have become commoditized status objects – elegant but to a certain extent, ubiquitous. Though each is certainly exceptional and unique on its own, such watches as a category seems to have become relatively commonplace, used more for status recognition than for personal expression.

Huge holding companies like LVMH Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton, Swatch Group, and Richemont have come to dominate the luxury watch market; once the domain of craftsmen.

The craftsmen still exists of course, just not always where you expect them. Close your eyes. What comes to mind when you hear, “handmade mechanical timepiece,” “exacting quality,” and “coveted by collectors, celebrities, explorers, and heads of state?” Did your thoughts immediately drift to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania? Maybe they should.

CSH1 Refresh Your Style: Kobolds Arctic DiverWhile Switzerland is home to the likes of Rolex and Germany to Glashutte, the Steel City is in fact the world headquarters of Kobold Watch Company and home to the remarkable Michael Kobold. These unique wristwatches are the epitome of making a choice to opt for individual over expected, distinctive rather than predictable. Kobold watches are modern classics; deceptively simple and refreshing.

At all of 34 years old, Kobold has done something most in the luxury industry would have thought impossible. Within the insular world of high-end timepieces Michael Kobold has created a boutique watch company from scratch, and it’s thriving. His line of watches, anchored by the stunning, and stunningly functional Polar Surveyor, is primarily geared to adventurous types – armchair and genuine.

Celebrating its 16th anniversary this year, Kobold Watch Company is barely out of diapers compared to brands like Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre or Breguet. But his creations are already being likened to blue-chip brands like the aforementioned Rolex and Omega. Often it’s Kobold doing the talking, but that’s part of his brand’s success: he isn’t afraid to put his products to the test and tell you why they are just as good – if not better – than those better known names.

Wave Vidmar PS large Refresh Your Style: Kobolds Arctic DiverKobold’s loyal brand ambassadors include former President Bill Clinton, A-list actors like The Sopranos’ James Gandalfini and Leonardo DiCaprio, legendary adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and global architect Daniel Libeskind.

One Kobold that stands out for its simple but powerful styling is the Arctic Diver. Even at a weighty 46mm, it’s a great watch that sits comfortably on the wrist. The unique yet classically inspired face is easy to read, which will come in handy as it is also very much built for someone who plans on wearing it to the ends of the earth. Literally.

 

Dyson Logo Refresh Your Style: Kobolds Arctic DiverDyson Digital Slim™ vacuums have a detachable long-reach wand for floor to ceiling cordless cleaning. Powered by the Dyson digital motor, they’re the most powerful cordless vacuums. Learn more at www.dyson.com/digitalslim.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Dyson via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Dyson.