Bite-sized gear reviews, spring & summer 2015 edition.
Gear Outtakes is a seasonal collection of kit and what I think about it.
★☆☆☆ Mediocre, I wouldn’t spend money on it.
★★☆☆ Good, but there are better options.
★★★☆ Great, worth your money.
★★★★ Outstanding, the benchmark of its category.
Some of these products have been sent to me for free by the manufacturer.
inov-8 X-Talon 212
Now while I have wide feet and a narrow heel, that wasn’t the only reason I wanted to try the new inov-8 X-Talon 212. It also has the typical inov-8 rubber sole which gives great grip on soft, wet, hard and dry trails alike. The shoe is comfortable on the feet, pretty breathable and flexible, with good laces that keep the shoe in place and you running or hiking for many kilometres. The only drawback is as usually that the rubber doesn’t hold long on hard rock and asphalt, so keep them away - especially from the latter. A comfortable shoe which should make those with wide feet very happy. / 488 g in Size 43
Arc’teryx Sarix SS Shirt
At 70 g in Size S the Arc’teryx Sarix SS is the lightest shirt in my closet. It’s an ultralight trailrunning and backpacking shirt that’s super breathable with its mesh construction. The flat seams don’t bother when running with a pack, and the shirt feels very soft on the skin. It dries fast after your run, be it on the body or hanging in the wind. The cut gives nice freedom of movement and the material is surprisingly immune to getting snagged when running through narrow trails.
Arc’teryx Soleus Shorts
70€, available at Campsaver.com
My Soleus Shorts from Arc’teryx are like my Sarix Shirt already a few years old - I ran for example the Nuuksio Classic Trail Marathon in both and have been hiking and running in them a lot, too. The shorts have five pockets and my main gripe about them is that they’re a bad size to keep the iPhone 5 reliably in place. There’s one large stretchy back pocket in the middle which is just a bit too big for the iPhone 5 so that it moves around in it and can drop out. The other four pockets - two more in the back and two mre in the front - are again just too small to hold the phone, but do a good job at storing gels and snacks. The large main pocket in the back can take a wind jacket for when the weather turns nasty. It has an inside mesh shorts which means you can leave your underwear at home, and the fit is superb - no chafing or pressure points with great freedom of movement. I also have been swimming in them, which works well though they need a bit longer to dry. A great running and backpacking shorts if you like to go light & fast. / 122 g in Size S
Outdoor Research ActiveIce Sun Sleeves
The Outdoor Research ActiveIce Sun Sleeves are a cool and light extra for hikers and trailrunners. While their primary raison d’être is to keep your arms from getting sun-induced skin cancer - their UPF 50+ rating takes care of that - and staying cool - the ActiveIce material somehow manages to do that - they also work pretty good when you only have a T-Shirt on and need some extra warmth & protection. The sleeves are easy to put on and stay in place thanks to a silicone print on the inside, have reflective details to make you visible between dusk and dawn and a thumbloop helps with keeping your wrists warmer. A cool, lightweight extra for trailrunners, paddler and backpackers. / 34 g in Size L/XL
Petzl Tikka RXP
I got the Petzl Tikka RXP as part of a welcome package to the RocTrip in Turkey. At first I was sceptical - do I really need another headlamp? But somehow the Tikka RXP has managed to silently convince me as it has sneaked awfully often into my pack and onto my head when more light in the dark was needed. The Tikka RXP has red and white light, and the latter makes use of Petzl’s Reactive Lightning technology where the lamp adjust its output according to what you’re doing; from a low, wide beam to check the map and work at camp to a powerful spot distance mode which lets you see far. The headlamp can be re-charged on the trail via a USB cable, so you can attach it to a power pack or solar charger when the battery indicator tells you it’s time to recharge. At 105 g it’s not the lightest headlamp available but for outdoor activities after dark where you need a lot of light I found the Tikka RXP a superb headlamp.
Primus Spider Stove
The Primus Spider Stove arrived at the beginning of this year and I was a bit doubtful if I’d ever use it. Spring turned to summer and with it came family hikes and weekend trips with friends, and somehow the Spider Stove managed to get itself taken along to the forests and lakes to boil water for us. It’s a good stove or up to three people I figured out after a few trips, just boiling enough to re-hydrate three meals (á 300 ml each) or three cups of coffee. The windscreen has magnets at the bottom which the stove unit securely connects to, but it is heavy. What I find really annoying is that I can’t transport a big 230 g cartridge in the pot - a 100 g cartridge fits barely with the stove inside. Overall more of a camping/ day hikes/ easy backpacking stove for me than a stove for long backpacking trips, although for the aforementioned trips a slightly bigger pot would be desirable. / 562 g for pot, lid, stove and windscreen
Mammut Realization Shorts
Have you ever thought “I wish I’d have my harness along?” after seeing a great cliff for climbing? Well if you’re wearing the Realization Shorts that won’t be an issue - as they have a harness integrated in them! I was sceptical of the concept before trying them on, but need to say that I really like them. They’re not just stylish and comfortable when hiking to the crag, once you tie in and climb in them they remain comfortable. There’s two gear loops on the front for them so it’s best used for sports climbing, and a chalk bag attaches in the back. Four roomy pockets store phone, key and wallet on the go and an integrated mesh liner shorts means you don’t need to wear underwear in them. The harness does its job well and is comfy and distributes weight well when hanging in it. The tie-in point is pretty neat, too, and there’s a bit of an elastic “belt” to adjust the fit, thought I recommend you buy them in the right size. / 506 g in Size M
Edelrid Cable Ultralite 2.1
This year I have been doing quite a few Via Ferrata trips, and applying my ultralight principles to this activity was normal for me. The lightest available Via Ferrata Set on the market is the Cable Ultralite 2.1 from Edelrid. At just 302 g you get two comfortable and easy-to use Via Ferrata carabiners on differently long leashes, a shock absorber and a tie in point. The materials are all high-quality and durable. The carabiner lays comfortably in the hand and is easy to clip to the steel wire, though the differently long leashes mean you need to try to clip them always in the same order otherwise they tend to tangle up. I haven’t fallen on it yet so can’t comment on the shock absorber, but am positive that it too works good. Overall a great choice for a Via Ferrata Set if light weight is important.
Norrøna fjørå dri1 Pants
The fjørå garments are made for riding down singletrack on your Mountain Bike, which makes it a damn fine line for bikepacking, too. The fjørå dri1 Pants are water and windproof while being reasonably breathable - a lot more so if you open up the thigh vents on each side. The one thigh pocket on the left leg stores phone and keys so you always track your rides & runs on Strava, and the trouser legs can be adjusted a bit in width via a zipper and Velcro. In the seat and knees there are stretchy inserts which are great, and the silicone print on the waistband inside ensures the pants stay where they belong. The width can be adjusted via Velcro straps on the left and right. I’ve used them on warm summer mornings and cool spring evenings on my rides and found them a damn comfy pants. The legs are narrow enough so that I don’t get chain oil on them and the side vents ensure I don’t run too hot in them when the thermometer climbs above 20°C. / 208 g in Size S
Norrøna fjørå equaliser polo Shirt
Stylish and keeps my throat warm, that’s the fjørå equaliser polo Shirt from Norrøna. What’s special about this Polo shirt is that you can flip the collar up and then close it with two buttons, which is especially for cycling on windy days a superb invention. It’s a synthetic shirt which is a bit thicker so nice warm just under a jacket on a ride, but not too hot on warm days on it own. It does smell a wee bit after a long day of cycling, but that’s just inherit with the material. It does wick sweat quickly away and dries reasonably fast so you don’t have cold chills when standing around in it after you came down the singletrail. The small pocket is big enough for an iPhone 5 and your wallet. A fine Polo that I also wear on other occasions than cycling. / 184 g in Size S
Norrøna fjørå dri1 Jacket
240€, available at Bergzeit.co.uk
And to conclude my Norrøna fjørå cycling kit the dri1 Jacket joined me on spring and summer rides. This water and windproof jacket has a nice long back to keep also the lower back protected when you’re leaning far down on your race bike, while the ventilation zips at the upper arm are directed a bit forward to catch your headwind and cool you down. The cuffs can be tight or open for more ventilation, and also the high collar can be cinched tight to let no wind in, though I have never felt a need for doing that. The one chest pocket is tiny and a iPhone 5 barely fits in there. The hem has two drawstring adjusters to ensure it stays put, and is one of the few jackets where it actually work. It’s my go-to cycling jacket in any weather, from windy & sunny summer days to rainy spring morning, the fjørå dri1 Jacket is a favourite companion on bike rides. / 175 g in Size M
Toko Eco Wash Textile
Yes, sometimes you need to wash all these fine garments presented here. As that is my job, I bought Toko Eco Wash Textile to keep hiking, cycling, climbing and running shirts and trousers clean. One bottle is good for running six to ten machines, with about three to five garments per machine. The detergent is biodegradable and contains no dyes, optical bleaches, whiteners or phosphates. I wash baselayers (shirts like the Norrøna fjørå Polo and the Arc’teryx Sarix SS Shirt above), trousers and even jackets with this detergent, and they come out clean and with a neutral smell (I don’t like deodorized detergents). It can be used at low washing temperatures which is often the case with these synthetic garments, and allows you keep your expensive gear in shape for the next adventure. / 290 g for 250 ml