Review: 7 outdoor products for late-summer fun
Posted August 27
THE GREAT OUTDOORS — With summer vanishing before our very eyes, it’s time to plan at least a couple more adventures while the warm weather is here. This review looks at a handful of products that may be a good fit for your next outing.
Many of us have faced the age-old “cap conundrum” while spending time outdoors. You can tell you’re getting sunburned, but the cap you’re wearing only provides a limited amount of shade. Do you wear it forward, so it protects your face? Or do you flip it around, offering shade for the back of your neck?
This predicament can easily be remedied with quality sunscreen and a wide brim hat. And the Aussie Wool Crusher is a great option. It’s made from 100 percent waterproof Australian wool, and earns its name from the fact that you can cram it into a small space in your pack and it’ll still retain its shape.
This is the type of hat you can wear all day without it getting uncomfortable, and it provides excellent protection whether the weather’s sweltering hot or drizzling rain. Plus, it comes in an XXL size that will fit even the biggest head.
When Cotopaxi first hit the scene, it was tempting to think the Utah company was just the latest version of the “altruistic” brand craze. From People Water to Malawi’s Pizza, it seems everyone now is trying to attract customers with humanitarian causes. And while it can certainly be a noble way to do business, the charitable angle is sometimes used as an attempt to elevate an average product.
But Cotopaxi quickly established itself as a legitimate player in the outdoor market. For example, its Inti 2 Tent was named one of the top five new products from Outdoor Retailer this summer. And the Nepal 75L is also winning lots of fans.
The Nepal 75L may be Cotopaxi’s biggest pack, but it’s impressively comfortable and lightweight. It has an adjustable suspension system and a weight-distributing harness. The butterfly zippered opening on the main compartment makes access a breeze, as do the front pockets and removable top lid.
With its impressive array of features, this pack is a solid contender for any extended outing.
The Blue Ridge has a great weight-to-feature ratio. It’s one of those rare camping hammocks that is ruggedly versatile, while still being light enough (4.25 pounds) to throw into your pack. It can accommodate you just about anywhere, because it’s hardcore design is weather resistant and keeps insects at bay.
This isn’t merely a lounging hammock. It's more like a tent/hammock hybrid that is practically indestructible. It has a nylon pack cloth bed, rip-stop nylon rain fly and no-see-um netting. And when the terrain isn’t suitable for a hammock, the Blue Ridge can easily be used as a bivy tent because of its aluminum-alloy poles.
The Blue Ridge is 90-inches long and 42-inches wide, with a weight limit of 275 pounds, so it can comfortably accommodate most campers. And it rolls down quite small, so it won’t take up more than its share of space in your pack.
The first thing you’ll notice with the Explorer Ultralite Asym Classic is the bottom entry. Simply open the Velcro port, slide up into the hammock, get into a comfy position and then close it behind you. It’s one of the sleekest features you’ll find on any hammock.
The Explorer Ultralite Asym is made with 70D nylon taffeta and offers complete insect coverage with its 20D polyester no-see-um mesh. It also has a detachable rain fly, support ropes and stuff sack with set-up instructions printed on the back.
Another great aspect of this hammock is that it comes with a free pair of Tree Hugger webbing straps. They’re perfect for securing your hammock, but more importantly, they protect the bark of whatever trees you anchor to.
The Explorer Ultralite Asym is one of the best hammocks available for tall people, because it can accommodate sleepers up to 7-feet tall. It also has a weight limit of 250 pounds.
PRICE: Varies by retailer
One of the biggest problems with most snorkel masks is the limited field of vision, and the Sea VU Dry remedies that by giving you a full-face lens. It’s remarkable what this clever design does for your peripheral vision. And by allowing you to breathe through both your nose and mouth, it also reduces fogging.
Despite these commendable benefits, the Sea VU Dry does have a couple potential drawbacks. First, it might not be comfortable for those with large faces. Even the XL size seems a bit on the small side. And because of the full-face design, the cramping feels more comprehensive than it would with an ill-fitting traditional mask.
Also, some people may not like the integrated snorkel. It does its job just fine, but it’s a big departure from the traditional snorkel you use exclusively with your mouth.
This handy little GPS unit gives you road and distance information on the fly. It mounts to your handlebars and stays snug no matter what the terrain. And even with its more than 72 functions, it’s got an intuitive design that makes it easy to use.
You can start any ride by planning the route from the Bryton app, or follow previous rides from your device history. It’s also compatible with an ANT+ Heart Rate monitor, speed sensors, cadence sensors and a power meter for advanced training.
The Rider 330 GPS is IPX7 waterproof and has a large, antiglare display with backlight for night rides. It also has a barometer to help with training, as well as a built-in compass so you can keep tabs on where you’re headed.
Have you ever wished your sunglasses could fold up into roughly the size of a kiwi? I can’t say I have, but that didn’t stop me from being intrigued by Popticals sunglasses. Their unique design allows them to disconnect at the bridge, and the arms can also be folded in half.
The POPART is one of the brand’s most popular styles. Even with the built-in Micro-Rail System that allows for them to fold, they feel lighter than a lot of other sunglasses out there. Does that mean they’re not going to be sufficiently durable? Not necessarily. The frame is made from Grilamid TR 90 material that is touted as an ultra-strong material that’s 20 percent lighter than other plastics.
The Polyamide lenses in the POPART are definitely high-caliber. With UV400 protection, they filter 100 percent of the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays. They also have hydrophobic and oleophobic Ri-Pel technology that repels dirt, oil, dust and water.
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.