Spring Gear Guide: Bikes, Boards and SUPs to Buy Now

Local shops share their top picks for gear to get you outdoors this spring
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

Surf's Up

Robin Ogaard, Urban Surf

Fremont, 2100 N Northlake Way; 206.545.9463

Stand-up paddle board

A stand-up paddleboard (or SUP) is the absolutely coolest way to get a cardio workout. Or to do yoga. Or to goof off with your family on a lake. The equipment has evolved rapidly over the past few years, and Robin Ogaard of Urban Surf is the guy to talk to about which SUP would suit you. “People pick it up pretty quickly with the right equipment,” Ogaard says. “But when someone comes into the store looking for a paddleboard, I need to know what it will be used for and who will be using it.” A board that is shared by a family is going to be different than one used for a cardio workout or one used mainly for a jumping platform for kids.

Pro Pick: Inflatable Starboard Astro Touring Deluxe SUP, $1,399. The board comes in two sizes, is a dream to maneuver on the water and is a great all-around piece of equipment. “A lot of people think of the cheap, blow-up boards when they hear ‘inflatable,’ but these are really good,” Ogaard says. “We see lots of people who live in apartments, drive small cars or just want something that fits on their boat. The new inflatable boards are great for that.”

 Photo courtesy of SUP: Starboard

Kyle Fisher
Kyle Fisher in Alpine Hut in Interbay/Magnolia.

Bespoke Spokes

Kyle Fisher, Alpine Hut

Interbay/Magnolia, 2215 15th Ave. W; 206.284.3575

A Seattle fixture, Alpine Hut has one of the city’s most dedicated clientele; many of its customers have been shopping the store for more than 40 years. Kyle Fisher took over the family business from his father, Ron, inheriting his focus on extraordinary customer service for all seasons. In the winter, it’s all about the snow, with expert boot fitting and ski sales. In spring, Fisher and his crew turn to bikes, outfitting the entire family, from the training-wheel set to the hardcore cyclists. “It’s a good time to be a cyclist in Seattle,” Fisher says. “The city is really doing a great job of making it cycle-friendly. New bike lanes, the Westlake corridor...it’s really the place to be for cyclists now.”

Fisher is a great source of information for those tackling urban cycling for the first time. New riders need reflective gear, good safety equipment, flashing lights—everything to keep you rolling safely, with as few close encounters of the automotive kind as possible. Fisher says many people make the mistake of buying a bike based on a specific brand, rather than what is right for them. “All the big brands make great bikes, but they aren’t all great for you,” he says.

Simcoe Step Through Classic

Photo courtesy of Alpine Hut

Pro Pick: The Simcoe Step Through Classic, $699, is an eight-speed bike with a rear gear rack, and cute fenders and chaincase to keep off the mud. “It’s got a retro vibe, and it’s a well-made bike for anyone who wants to get back into riding.” Fisher says. “It’s great for just cruising around town.”


Bryce Phillips

Evo owner Bryce Phillips in his Fremont store.

Natural Environment

Bryce Phillips, Evo

Fremont, 3500 Stone Way N; 206.973.4470

Starting out in owner Bryce Phillips’ Wallingford apartment, Evo has grown into one of Seattle’s (and now Portland’s) coolest retail spaces and is a truly unique outdoor shop. Phillips explains, “Above and beyond being a retail store, central to everything we do is creating a true center for the community.” Walking into the Fremont-based Evo is something of a choose-your-own adventure experience. Customers can check out local art in the store’s new gallery space, catch a live concert benefiting a great cause, book a ski or bike “EvoTrip,” or just hang with the friendly staff. “Many people who end up becoming Evo customers first experience the space at an event, where great people come together to enjoy all of the elements that we are passionate about, whether those are art, music or giving back,” Phillips says.

All Together skate deck

Pro Pick: For those who board rather than bike, the All Together skate deck, $35, is good for beginners and pays tribute to Seattle’s only indoor park and community gathering place, the All Together Skate Park, conveniently located on the underground level of Evo.

 

Photo courtesy of Hayley Young

Solon Scott

Solon Scott of Second Ascent in Ballard

On Repeat

Solon Scott, Second Ascent

Ballard, 5209 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.545.8810 

Second Ascent is unusual among the Seattle independent outdoor shops as it sells both new and used equipment. Although new gear does make up about 90 percent of its volume, keeping the exchange of new and used has built the store quite a following. “We can accommodate customers with a wide variety of budgets with both new and used,” says owner Solon Scott. “What our customers have in common is the love of outdoors. It should be there for everybody. No matter what they want to spend, we can get them set up.”

Hubba Hubba tentPro Pick: The Hubba Hubba two-person tent, $399, is made by local company Mountain Safety Research (MSR), owned by Seattle-based Cascade Designs. This two-door, three-season versatile tent is freestanding, so there’s no need to stake it down for it to remain upright. The two entrances make it easy to get in and out without crawling over your tent mate. The Hubba Hubba has lots of space, and weighs just 3 pounds, 7 ounces, so it’s light enough for backpacking, and it handles wind like a champ.

 Photo courtesy of MSR

“This tent is a great mix of weight and livability,” says Scott. “When people set it up in the store and get in, they are really impressed with how roomy it is. And we love that MSR is a local company—that’s a bonus to our customers who want to shop local. And [MSR is] a big favorite of our employees as well.

 Peter and Carol Hickner

Feathered Friends’ Peter and Carol Hickner in store in South Lake Union

Fashionable Flock

Peter and Carol Hickner, Feathered Friends

South Lake Union, 119 Yale Ave. N; 206.292.2210 

Most outdoor enthusiasts know Feathered Friends, a Seattle standard-setter for high-quality outerwear, which boasts its own line of locally made down products. Owners Peter and Carol Hickner started selling their high-quality down-filled products at the University District StreetFair, where they first used their whimsical moniker. By the time the business took off, the name had stuck. “We used to get a lot of inquiries about birding or pet shops,” says their daughter Juna, who helps run the business. The store has been going strong since 1972, and the customers still flock there. Spring is one of their busiest times, as their customers bridge two seasons: They’re either winter diehards looking to extend the season up in the mountains or those looking ahead tospring camping and climbing.

Eos lightweight down jacketPro Pick: Feathered Friends has a new jacket debuting this spring, the perfect shoulder-season item to appeal to both types of spring shoppers. The Eos lightweight down jacket, $289, is essentially a hooded down sweater that’s perfect for men and women to layer under outerwear, yet is stylish enough to wear alone around town or on the trail. “We would wear this jacket while taking the dog for a morning walk around our Capitol Hill neighborhood or at Discovery Park, to the farmers market and on early-season hikes in the Cascade foothills,” says Carol.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Feathered Friends

Tom Bihn

Tom Bihn in his SoDo factory showroom.

In The Bag

Tom Bihn, Tom Bihn factory showroom

SoDo, 4750-A Ohio Ave. S; 206.652.4123 

Tom Bihn personally designs each of the signature utilitarian bags that go through his south Seattle shop. His dedication to American-made products and the warranties of his 1050-denier high-tenacity ballistic nylon goods keep his customers, particularly the high-mileage travel set, coming back for more.Sprout backpack 
For the kiddos who are taking it outside, the Sprout backpack is designed for ages 4–8 and works both as a bag for kids’ first serious day hiking and/or school pack. Plus, adults won’t feel sheepish about slinging it over one shoulder if their little campers get tired of carrying it. “Most kids’ backpacks are all about superheroes, princesses and bunny rabbits, and that’s all fine,” explains Bihn. “But we thought that a few kids out there might prefer lots of cool pockets for organization, and their parents might want supreme durability with a bit of style.”

 Photo courtesy of Tom Bihn

Pro Pick: For spring, Bihn has everyone in the family covered, including four-footed friends and the small people in your life, with the Citizen Canine, $90, for pooches, and the Sprout backpack, $80, for tots.

Citizen Canine

The Citizen Canine is designed to come along for the adventure when taking man’s best friend with you. “There’s a bazillion dog-treat pouches out there—we wanted to offer something different,” says Bihn. “The Citizen Canine offers a treat pouch, a handy dispenser for poop bags, plus a front pocket that expands to hold a slobbery tennis ball.” The bag also has benefits for humans.

Photo courtesy of Tom Bihn