Product review: Versatile outdoor gear for summer
Posted July 6, 2016
THE GREAT OUTDOORS — There are some people who become gurus, focusing on one outdoor activity in an effort to master every aspect of it. Whether it’s fly fishing, rock climbing or snowboarding, we all know individuals who have taken their skills to the highest level. And their passion leaves less room for other pursuits.
On the other hand, there are those who strive to try many things. They may never excel at any of them, but prefer the breadth of experiences. For these multi-sport enthusiasts, it’s helpful to have versatile gear with crossover application.
Here is a look at a handful of products that are designed in a way that makes them suitable for a wide range of activities.
Utah-based Cotopaxi has released some great products over the past couple years, with their Nepal backpack even being named to Outside magazine’s list of the Best Packs of 2015. But while their packs and jackets get the lion’s share of the attention, some of their other gear is equally impressive.
The Samburu pants definitely fit the bill. They’re some of the most lightweight outdoor pants out there, made from moisture-wicking fabric that allows plenty of ventilation. The blend is 62 percent nylon, 24 percent polyester, and 14 percent spandex, giving them enough flex for activities like cycling, hiking or climbing.
These pants are designed to be tough enough for the outdoors, yet stylish enough to fit in at the office. I recently put that theory to the test by wearing them to work with a collared shirt and dress shoes. Indeed, they looked pretty much like the slacks that most of my coworkers were wearing. It just felt strange to be wearing technical, high-performance clothing while sitting at my desk like a slouch for eight hours straight.
Fezzari is a local company that uses a direct-to-consumer model that cuts out many of the traditional costs associated with purchasing a bike. While most customers purchase their Fezzari bikes online, there’s a showroom in Utah County where locals can check out the selection in person.
Each Fezzari bike is created using a “23-point custom setup” based on a rider’s height, weight, inseam measurement, torso length and arm length. These custom bikes celebrate their Utah roots with names like Nebo Peak, Lone Peak, Kings Peak and Cascade Peak.
The rugged Abajo Peak is one of the company’s original bikes. It’s proven to be so reliable that it has remained in their product line with regular updates. The frame has been redesigned and outfitted with Tetralink 290 suspension, which delivers an incredibly smooth ride. And if you prefer steep terrain, you’ll find that the 29er- wheel platform is perfect for aggressive climbing.
While the Abajo Peak is robust enough to handle extreme mountain conditions, it’s so comfortable to ride that it’s also perfect for relaxing rides around your neighborhood. The only drawback is that its rear axle is too wide to accommodate most bike trailer couplers, so you can’t tote any passengers along with you.
This shirt comes from a cycling-focused company and is intended for use during rides. But it’s one of those products that performs well enough that it can be used for just about anything. It successfully blends a lightweight and quick-drying performance top with a classic Western-style shirt with snaps. So while you get the features of a technical jersey, it looks like you’re simply out for a stroll.
The shirt has a zippered pocket on the chest and another in the back, so stowing small items is effortless. It also has underarm mesh panels for excellent venting. Additional features include reflective accents and UV protection from the UPF 30 material.
Because it’s designed to be slim-profile and lightweight, the Vibe shirt definitely runs small. So if you’re unsure of what size to order, it’s recommended that you order up a size. Otherwise, you may find yourself bursting out of the seams.
Costa Del Mar sunglasses are made for those who spend their time on the water: guides and anglers who rely on good optics and solid UV protection. But the Motu’s lightweight design makes it so you can wear them for several hours at a time without discomfort, allowing them to become an everyday accessory.
The Motu’s comfort starts with the frames, which have a base curve of eight. This gives them a roomy feel and good light coverage on the sides. And because the frame is made from TR-90 nylon, they’re quite rugged. One thing to note is they have a temple length of 120mm, so they probably wouldn’t be a good fit for larger faces.
The Motu comes with either plastic or glass lenses. Both options give you 100 percent UV light protection and greatly reduce glare and eyestrain. The plastic lenses are lighter and more resistant to drops, while the glass lenses have better clarity and are scratch resistant.
The Dockside from Smith is another pair of water-focused sunglasses that are perfectly adept for everyday use. First off, these sunglasses have a wide temple and ample measurements all around, making them perfect for the husky gentleman. It can be hard to find quality sunglasses that fit an extremely large face, but these are a top-notch option.
The Dockside's frame design eliminates glare from most angles. And the spring hinges have the right amount of flex to keep them snug on your face, without applying too much pressure.
As for the optics, the Dockside has the largest ChromaPop lenses of any of Smith’s sunglasses. The lenses offer impressive clarity and color enhancement. And because they have anti-reflective and hydroleophobic coatings, they can handle just about any conditions you find yourself in.
If you’re taking your child on adventures, this little three-wheeler offers lots of innovative features. For very young children, it has a completely encompassing support system that keeps them comfortably upright and strapped in. The adjustable handle lets you push them along as you go, and if you want to stop and take a break, it basically becomes a play station for your child to sit in.
In this “youngster” mode, you can disengage the pedals so they don’t spin around and hit your child’s feet. And there are pedals that can be folded down for tiny feet to rest on.
For older children, the push handle and support system can be removed, making it a traditional tricycle. Once the pedals are engaged, your child can ride along with you on outings. And the seat can be adjusted to three different positions as your child grows.
Whether you’re looking for a fun way to tote your child around a campsite or you want to outfit an older child for rides around the neighborhood, this may be the ticket.
Grant Olsen joined the KSL.com team in 2012. He covers outdoor adventures, travel, product reviews and other interesting things. He is also the author of the book "Rhino Trouble." You can contact him at www.grant-olsen.com.