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.
We 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.
Every 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.