Monday, September 7, 2009





Words, some images Judith Ecochard
Images courtesy of respective companies

There are always companies that may not be household names in our household…but have some of the best gear anywhere. We always try to take in as much as we can at OR…so as not to miss stuff that is well designed, made, and/or engineered…and makes any adventure more enjoyable/safe.

ELLINGTON BAGS: We must of passed this booth, at the bottom of an escalator- dozens of times…but actually got to know the company after OR. With the MO…life is an adventure and one should have a good handbag for it, this Portland, Oregon based biz mailed us a downright fashiony Eco Tote bag in Grass Green leather ($179) to review.

The contrast stitching, quality brushed nickel hardware---with eye catching front zip pocket, and high ‘feel’ of the pebble leather, apparently sourced from environmentally conscious tanneries (reduce waste/energy/water consumption/CO2 emissions)…is obvious. We were reminded of Coach Leather goods.

Added plus: the lining is organic cotton…and the prices make these classics really a good value. These haulers are keepers.
Available online.

HYDRAPAK has a very impressive collection of back friendly backpacks and water reservoirs that have made this personal hydration system brand a fav of pro athletes in the triathlon/bicycling worlds. And the military too.

The top of the line new Pro Series gives users a head start with “MORRO” -- a lightweight high performer with a comfy foam back.

Inside options include the breakthrough patent pending Reversible II™ -a tough skin (FDA approved Polyurethane) reservoir- that turns inside out for easy cleaning. There’s a slide closure too (no screw cap), an easy flo, “bite-this” shutoff valve, “plug-n-play” valved tube connectors--- and it’s all dishwasher safe. ($26.99)


We also marveled at the DualBot…a ‘traditional and modern’ bicycle water bottle. Meaning, the soft nozzle pulls up for gulps. Or fluids can be squirted out through a central nozzle. (Dishwasher safe, recyclable, 24fl oz or 20 fl oz).

Many guys we know swear by those gel energy ‘things’…and Hydrapak has launched the Gel Bot™ that can contain that stuff…and water too.

There’s a Gel Bot™ Bike bottle ($14.99) with a dual cap mode---that can hold 24oz of water and fits two servings of gel. It all works via a patent-pending ENERGYCORE™ technology…that pushed down---allows the gel to feed, and pulled up (sort of) gets the water flowing. There’s an ergonomic easy grip Gel Bot™ running bottle-with a back palm strap that secures…($19.99)

Lastly, the Soft Flask™ got our attention, as it’s a soft sided gel flask with a bite valve or flip top…capable of holding 5 or 8oz of goop, no priming needed. ($6.99 5oz FlipTop, $7.99 5oz Bite Valve, $10.99 8oz FlipTop, $11.99 8oz Bite Valve)

Here’s hoping leading light Matt Lyons has healed his hand by now…though we believe his company’s products are engineered for ease …even with damaged paws.


STANLEY: If it is possible that a liquid carrier, guaranteed for life, and kitted out of reusable stainless steel, or recycled (and recyclable) plastic ---can become a fashion statement? YES! Stanley®’s are IT.

How cool are the tattooed/graffiti inspired graphics on their slim profile drinkwear portables from the fresh arted out NINETEEN13™ series? We ‘donated’ our Stanley® water bottle (earned from turning in an older yech water selection)…to a Jansport® team rep…who admired the Stanley® so much---and gave us the sad eye puppy dog look…

…and was all happy yappy with the gift.

Another product, the stainless steel NINETEEN13™ Flask, has a sleek stealth profile (ahem) and a leak-proof lid that makes stashing our beverage of choice, easy. The flasks can be engraved for special occasions too.

“New Style From The Old School.”


ULTIMATE SURVIVAL TECHNOLOGIES: We get all alpha-male like when we think of Ultimate Survival Technologies. Though in reality, their Base Kit™ (the Basic Adventure Survival Essentials Kit MSRP $39.95)) seems a must have for all types hikers…and is good to stash in a glove compartment too. Ultra light (2.4 oz), the water proof to 200 feet kit= has the essentials to “start a fire and signal for help.”

What’s inside----is the Sparkie™ mini one handed fire starter-with a textured grip, a WetFire™ fire starting tinder that burns when wet, is odorless and nontoxic, a StarFlash® signal mirror that’s scratch resistant and unbreakable, and a Jetscream™ emergency whistle…that‘s loud.


TERRA NOVA EQUIPMENT/ WILD COUNTRY TENTS: hailing from across the Pond, Terra Nova equipment has a spot-on mission-“…to provide ‘best in class’ innovation and performance across our product range.”

OR attendees were wowed by the new lightweight, made for speed, one person LASER PHOTON ELITE ($500)...that’s the “definitive racing tent”…not a cozy in the backwoods kind. Made from Superlite fabrics, ---this is the world’s lightest double-walled shelter (1lb 7oz) has simultaneous flysheet and inner pitching, and 1 gram Titanium skewers. ADDED PLUS: an optional waterproof hood.

For backpackers à deux, a slightly heavier/larger, fully waterproof two person LASER (6lbs 1 oz $600), with two way flysheet zips and a small rear door for ventilation options- and 2g titanium skewers is available.

We also previewed the new SOLAR ELITE (1lb 13 oz $370) …that’s the cutting edge for self-supporting Superlite tech tents. Pitching without pegs gives this model flexibility (inner tent or flysheet only, or both), comes with a sold separately footprint, and is roomy enough to sit up in.

The Superlite Rumpsacs (backpacks) weighing from 7 oz up… were so feather light (yet stable) we couldn’t believe it. Designed for adventure races, mountain marathons, etc…the contoured backs and hip belts of the various models with mesh/foam backs for comfort, assorted zipped pockets…with “versatile drinks capabilities”…and side pockets/gear loops on the larger and largest LASER 35 (1 lb 1 oz $80) model…had us seriously thinking of ditching our current pack of choice that we haul our life around in.

BOTHY BAGS were new to us…it’s an emergency shelter named after Scottish lightweight ones. Made from the same Superlite fabric, these items pop out and zip up for protection in a pinch. The 2 people Superlite Bothy we saw comes in at $70…and seems indispensable…now that we know what they are.

We feel this UK outfitter will become a name brand here…


OUTDOOR PRODUCTS: Thirty years young, Outdoor Products got the buzz for its Power Pack™ backpack…aimed at the laptop toting “road warrior” crowd. Lightweight, durable and loaded with specialized compartments, the Power Pack has the ingenious retractable Check-In Slider that allows one to flash boarding passes and ID cads, and slide them back in. A digital gear panel protects and organizes, a fleece lined sunglass pocket, mesh side pockets for drinks and a “Secret Stow Pocket” under the padded lower lumbar support” a makes this handy sac HANDY.

ADDED PLUS: A high density perforated foam laptop compartment accessed via a wide U shaped opening…and the removable computer cradle gives travelers easy removable and stow away abilities.

Outdoor Products other big seller is the Single Camlock Trekking Pole™ with easy adjustments for uphill/downhill jaunts and rugged terrain. We went to the dark side with poles a year ago…and would never even think about hiking with out one. OP’s version-a lightweight aluminum alloy – also collapses for easy storage, has adjustable straps and rubber caps that grab.


ALOE UP is another OR exhibitor that we have been curious about. We figured with “ALOE” front and center, there’s a meaningful percentage of the healing plant in the over 60 products sold

Yes, in fact-25% by volume minimum.

Popular at OR, the Continuous Spray sunscreens (SPFs 15, 30 $11.99) sink into the skin and really work…as aloe “has the same Ph as skin. There is a dry lotion, non-greasy formula sunscreen too that’s sold in a tube.

The Sunburn Relief Jelly is also big…as it naturally heals with 96.9% aloe vera gel. ($3.99)


BEYOND COASTAL: We rely on this sunscreen to keep us unscathed from the elements on Demo Day. And it was no surprise to see this brand of sunscreen in practically every surf shop we cruised on our Jersey Shore ventures-a few weeks later. At times, it's the only brand offered. "Its the best," one dude opined.

Beyond Coastal actively protects against UVA/UVB rays without the parabens, fragrance and petroleum oils found in other brands… broad spectrum ones too.

And their sunscreens/lip balms are formulated with antioxidants and green tea, shea butter and rose hip/grape seed oils (depending) that repairs skin as well as protects. No wonder we love this brand and cannot fathom why the fashionistas we know opt for the chemically loaded alternatives offered by some pricey cosmetic companies.
Available in SPF 15, 30 and Kid’s formulas…we slather on the “Natural” with micronized Zinc Oxide. ($5.99-$15.99)


BADGER: Out of New Hampshire, this company has been one of the leaders in body care that embraced organic in the true sense of the word…meaning USDA certified organic. The highest standard around.

We always like to see what’s new with this company---as we regularly dab on their lip and cuticle balms. At OR, the Sore Muscle Rub Cooling Blend ($13.00/2 oz tin)---- to sooth muscular aches and pains ---- was featured. Packed with the “Big Three C’s-Camphor, Cajuput and Clove,” this Sore Muscle Blend is on the refreshing end of the spectrum (we also love the other blends we’ve written about).

ADDED PLUS: The Menthol Crystals with natural healing properties.


ACTION WIPES is a tear open, single wipe ($1.25) that naturally does it all with tea tree and eucalyptus oils. It’s a gentle antibacterial and antiseptic cleanser…that’s strong enough to wash and reuse.

A no-rinse shower alternative, we wish we had the big sized wipes (9 inches by 10 inches) when we lived in Africa and water for anything was scare. No wonder athletes and adventurers have made this word of mouth brand...a must have.