I own a number of packs for a variety of pursuits and they all have hydration support. What this usually means is a compartment for a bladder and on the higher end packs, elastic bands for tube routing. That’s really the extent of the “advanced” features when it comes to hydration packs – until now. Osprey, a name synonymous with high-end technical packs, has recently introduced their Hydraulics line and their engineers have come up with some really unique features that make so much sense, it makes you wonder why nobody thought of them earlier. The Raptor is geared towards mountain bikers and comes in four sizes, all the way down to a minimalistic 6 liters. It touts a dedicated tool pocket, blinker light attachment, reflective graphics among its features. The Manta is their answer to a modern daypack and the one I am most excited about. Three sizes (20, 25, 30L) means anything from a full day outing to a light overnight. It boasts a built in raincover and trekking pole attachment among its lengthy feature list.
What really sets this series apart are the best-in-class innovations. First is the bladder, which was developed by Nalgene. The stiff back allows you to easily slide it into a pack even when loaded. It provides support that molds along your back and you can refill it even when the pack is full. It also is designed to prevent barreling while creating positive water pressure. Another feature I really like is the magnetic attachment for the bite-valve. Great innovations by Osprey, check it out.
I love love love technical gear, especially jackets. Many might find this surprising since I’ve lived in California my whole life and our idea of a storm here is probably a walk in the park on the East coast. Regardless, we’ve been dealing with about 3 weeks of rainstorms here and since I like staying dry and hate carrying an umbrella, I knew I needed a jacket. In the past, i used to get big bulky jackets you’d see in the catalogs of companies the likes of REI and Patagonia, but this year I had a revelation. Since I am such a big fan of layering, why would I opt for a bulky jacket, knowing I’d likely get too hot in the car or office? Instead I went on a search for the a lightweight (maybe even packable) jacket with good water repelling properties and a hood.
I found the grail with the Outdoor Research Fanatic jacket. It weighs just 11 oz and uses Pertext Shield Fabric. I don’t know the difference between it and eVent or Goretex but I do know water beads up right away on contact. The shell is very slim fitting, so don’t expect to wear anything thicker than a hoody underneath. The wrists and waists are both slim, hugging your body, keeping heat and moisture out. The hood is full coverage, but remember to wait until you put it on before fully zipping up. That’s another thing I like – the front goes up a little higher than your chin so you are snug. I’ve been known to go out in a storm with just a long sleeve baselayer or tshirt underneath and this shell on the outside. It’s the perfect accessory and with it’s trivial size and weight, you won’t have to think twice about packing it.
With films like Avatar demonstrating next-generation special effects, there is something so innately appealing and mesmerizing about using old (traditional) basic materials in new an innovative ways. Take this motion reel video which takes a simple concept we all remember from our childhood (flip books) and turns it into an unpredictable moving animation. The flips come fast from every direction and I get a headache even thinking of how many times the artist must have rehearsed the order to get such a fluid execution. The short video follows a parkour athlete as he moves through a cityscape and is paired nicely with an upbeat soundtrack. Check it out and I dare you to play it only once.
Cycling, like any other established hobby or sport, is a microcosm. There is a specific fashion culture and the quality of goods runs the gamut from homemade products sold on amateur Blogspot sites to full production companies focused on high-end products. Rapha definitely falls into the latter category. If you have ever seen, or better yet, worn a Rapha piece you might be surprised (as I was), that the UK company is only five years old. I am convinced the founders must have had a crystal ball because the market has only recently been receptive to high quality, fashionable cycling clothing.
I look for two things when I ride – performance materials (breathability, moisture-wicking) and looks. Rapha manages to deliver on both fronts, something that has eluded even top names in the industry. Their recently announced AW09 range is a reflection of the intersection of performance, quality, and looks. Their cuts are flattering, but still promote and allow for a full range of movement. Their finish is impeccable, with no irregularities in stitching or construction. I am particularly fond of the Rain Jacket and the Trousers – they are perfect for cold weather riding and include thoughtful features such as packability and reinforced seat panels. Their prices are high but the quality reflects that and I guarantee once you try one of their items, the other stuff in your closet will suddenly seem pale in comparison. When you are done checking out their products, subscribe to their blog. It has wonderful commentary on their various race and ride teams, amazing photography, and though provoking commentary on cycling personalities and culture.
One for my bike obsessed brethren"“ Brooks Limited Edition Colored Saddles. On sale now!
Birmingham, England – Brooks England, the English purveyor of handmade leather saddles and accessories since 1866, will be releasing Limited Edition Swift saddles in four unique colours and Limited Edition Team Pro saddles in two unique colours. The limited edition colours will be released in July in quantities of 250. The Team Swift saddles are in celebration of one of the fastest growing urban cycling sports: Bike Polo; the Team Pro saddles celebrate Brooks' support of the cycle couriers.
Along with the calm quiet of living in the countryside, suburban life is often accompanied by perks such as a standard issue country club membership and golf courses as far as the eye can see. But what happens when the spawn of suburbia makes their way to the big city. Where will they go to engage in sport and spectacle in a city without rolling green hills that end in putting greens? Fear not, for the hottest urban sport for the fancy set doesn’t need no stinkin’ fairways. Table tennis is all the rage these days, and SpiN New York is about to be the hottest new social spot for the sport. The idea that sprung from Naked Ping Pong’s SOHO loft party is now a fully operational recreational sporting venue complete with a 9,000 square foot room with 15 state-of-the-art tables, locker rooms, a pro shop, not to mention a bar and lounge area for your relaxation needs. Everyone from the celebrity set to those who simply love to play are ponying up for memberships to this club with a ritzy Park Avenue address in NYC’s Flatiron District set to open later in June. While initially only accessible by members, the public will be able to get their ping pong on in virtually no time for a price.
Considering there are only two points of contact between your road bike and the engines (read: legs) that power it, pedals should be high on your priority list. I had a chance to try the KeO Sprint Laneo pedals from Look on a ride this past weekend. I scored a pair of last year’s high-end Shimano carbon shoes, and despite the irony, I decided to pair the two. At first, I was worried about the hole configuration, but here’s a little tip I learned- Look’s spacing is exactly the same as Shimano’s SPD-SL. The pedals also have a patented “memory” function which allows you to reinstall the cleats in the exact same position each time. This is a great idea considering how long it takes to get pedals dialed in.
I was a bit nervous on the ride since I was taking two new pieces of equipment out on the road at the same time, but once I hit my stride, the pedals performed flawlessly. There is a good amount of float which I usually don’t like but there was no slippage or real hesitation in the release. During climbs when I am standing and really powering down, the large surface area and glass fiber polymer body provided the perfect platform for the power transfer. Though it allows you to customize the release tension (9 to 15 Nm), I found that the factory setting was just perfect. I was able to test out durable the Sprints were when I crashed, landing hard on my left side. After dusting myself off, I checked the pedals and there was nothing some soap and water couldn’t have taken off. Weighing in at just 130g per pedal, this is not the lightest offering from Look but unless you are a weight weenie, I am confident these pedals would impress even the most enthusiastic riders. Lastly, as if cycling wasn’t clean enough, Look has been partnering with Laneo since 2007, promoting an environmental project worldwide.
Inquiring Mind (INQMND) Magazine delves into the minds of Richard Clarke, Jesse Leyva, and Jarrett Reynolds, three designers that drive the look of Nike Sportswear. They may not have all come from backgrounds typical to their trade, but whatever they’re doing has yielded some of the illest looks yet. We’re particularly partial to the Obsidian Flywire Cortez’s. These are not your traditional George Costanzas.
Also, be sure to check out INQMND’s new podcast with DJ Mike Danger.
Nike's latest outreach to action sports aficionados comes in the form of take-home video, slow motion shots, and the elements. In conjunction with the marketing agency Nemo Design and director Jared Eberhardt, Slow-Mo spots captured surfers Dusty Payne and Casey Brown's faces at 1,000 frames per second as they were hit with waves. The corresponding Nike 6.0 Facebook app, Splashcast, has just debuted at the AST Dew Tour in Portland. Now snowboarders, BMXers, and wakeboarders alike can upload videos of themselves being hit with slow moving precipitation. Current Slow-Mo booth stops are Orlando and Breckenridge, but the daily footage is wherever you’re at.
If we could change one thing about this Superbowl, it wouldn’t be the logo (how do you go 11-5 with a backup QB and not make the playoffs? How!?). But, we recognize there are creative people out there who just love rebranding tired American institutions. Ranging from the humorous to the minimalist, The New York Times put a few new graphic takes on Superbowl XLL: The Quest for an Audience on their site today. Some of the ideas clearly demonstrate the artists lack of football knowledge, others display time honored traditions like chicken wings. And one has The Simpsons‘ Professor Frink in it.