Outdoor Gear Worth Splurging On

Heed the outdoors’ call in style with these new offerings from top local gear makers.
Roddy Scheer  |   October 2011   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION

A new line of urban bags from Cascade Designs’ SealLine brand ($64.95–$169.95) coddles your stuff when you’re out enjoying our region’s infamous inclemency. The Seattle-made bags feature roll tops with easy-open clips, and welded seams that ensure that your precious cargo stays dry. And add-on accessories, like a zip pocket or phone holster, sweeten the deal.

Another innovative product from Cascade Designs’ SoDo skunk works is the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir All Season, a durable yet minimalist sleeping pad. Thanks to its 100-plus internal cells and reflective barriers to trap warm air, the pad handles summer nights on the beach and winter snow camping with equal aplomb. The “regular” size ($149.95) blows up to 2.5 inches thick, weighs only 19 ounces—and packs down to a third of the size of your old camp pad.

At Bellevue-based Eddie Bauer, what’s old is new again with the re-release of the Skyliner down jacket ($129–$149). The new design sticks with the classic Skyliner’s strengths, including the signature diamond quilting that keeps the 550-fill premium goose down in place and the distinctive diagonal pockets for easy access in the field. Today’s Skyliner also sports a durable water-repellent finish to keep water out and warmth in.

If you salivate at the thought of careening down mountains on wet powder, scratch the itch with SoDo-based K2 Sportsnew Panoramic splitboard ($599.95), which is fortified with an indestructible, lightweight bamboo-ply core that gives it a skateboard-deck feel. The top sheet is made with snow-shedding P-tex to minimize weight on ascents, and K2’s all-terrain rocker not only balances the ride, but slays crud on the way down.

REI’s new fall offerings include revamped synthetic insulated jackets, soft shells and fleeces, such as the Spruce Run jacket ($169). Billed as the ultimate temperature control system, the Spruce Run has sleeves and a hood that zip off and can be stored in a back pouch, while PrimaLoft Eco insulation (made from 70 percent recycled materials) keeps the jacket light, warm and wafer thin. REI’s new Merino wool V-neck ($79.50) serves double duty as a worthy insulation layer for outdoor pursuits or a smart-looking fleece alternative for around town. The fine-gauge Merino wool is buttery soft, dries quickly and resists odors; its active fit and flat seams provide for a full range of motion without chafing.

Avalanche-wary off-run adventurers shouldn’t leave civilization behind without K2’s new Pilchuck Kit ($189.95), which comes ready to roll with a tricked-out pack, an aluminum probe pole and a rescue shovel that could come in handy helping yourself or friends out of a snowy jam. Add your own transceiver and you will be ready for the worst.

REI’s new line of Stratocruiser rolling luggage ($149–$239; available in three sizes/heights) comes equipped with a plentitude of organizing pockets and zip-off daypacks. Multiple carry options (including zip-away backpack straps) along with telescopic locking pull-handles and rugged wheels and housings make the Stratocruiser a dream to transport, even across campsites.

Whatever it is you do outside, why not capture it in high def? Belltown-based Contour Cameras just released its much anticipated Contour+ weather-resistant point-of-view camera ($499.99), which records 1080p video via a 2.8 aperture, 170-degree wide-angle rotating lens. Attach it to your helmet, handlebars or board and you can track GPS coordinates, too. Contour+ owners can even post videos to Contour’s website so that other camera-happy athletes—and friends and family—can experience your adventure alongside you.

Two new styles of gloves from Outdoor Research strike a balance between tactility and warmth. Warrant gloves ($129) combine Gore-Tex fabric with 100-gram PrimaLoft insulation for a match made in ice-climbing heaven, while Ambit gloves (shown left; $99) are designed with TouchTec leather in their palms and 266-gram EnduraLoft insulation to keep skiers’ hands cozy on the slopes.

Bike commuters and weekend cyclists: Rejoice in the hardy and stylish panniers and on-board gear haulers from Detours, which operates out of offices near Pike Place Market. Its new Transit Box ($45) is a sturdy rack trunk with an eco-chic twist: Its exterior panels are made from colorful recycled juice boxes. A top-loading jaw, internal organization pockets, Velcro straps for attaching to a rack and a removable shoulder strap make the Transit Box a practical companion.

Old-school snowboarders looking to rock something fresh should check out the new Berzerker ($489) from K2 subsidiary Ride. Designed with help from pro big-mountain shredder Jake Blauvelt, the Berzerker is made to handle both hard charging and easy riding. Its hybrid all-mountain shape sports a rocker in the nose and a micro-camber zone underfoot and through the tail for stability.

The designers at Outdoor Research, the SoDo-based outdoor gear institution famous for its Seattle Sombrero rain hats, have several new items to make the off-season more on. The lightweight and highly compressible Havoc jacket (left; $225) pairs 60-gram PrimaLoft Eco insulation with Gore Windstopper shell fabric to create a layering piece that excels in variable weather conditions and can take the place of a midweight layer and a shell when traveling light. The new Centrifuge jacket (right; $125) is perfect for high-aerobic activities, thanks to a pairing of wind-blocking but breathable knit fabric in areas that take the brunt of the elements, and stretchy fleece everywhere else. A special odor-control system neutralizes the funk, while thoughtful details such as Lycra bindings on openings keep things functional.

Just get it:

If splurging on a new jacket, cool gear or skis is all it will take to inspire you to get outdoors this time of year, consider a few hundred dollars well spent as an investment in your own physical and mental well-being. See you out there!

Cascade Designs, Inc.
SODO
cascadedesigns.com

Contour Cameras
BELLTOWN
contour.com

Detours
PIKE PLACE MARKET
detours.us

Eddie Bauer
BELLEVUE
eddiebauer.com

K2 Sports
SODO
k2sports.com

Outdoor Research
SODO
outdoorresearch.com

Ride Snowboards
SEATTLE
ridesnowboards.com

REI
KENT/SOUTH LAKE UNION
rei.com

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