Spring is a special time in the world of gear geeks. Not only does the weather make it easy to go out and explore—and play with all the gear that’s been packed away all damn winter. It’s also the time that manufacturers unveil a whole bunch of stuff you…could probably convince yourself you need, including (and thank you Patagonia for letting us write this sentence) new apparel dyed with silkworm excrement. Here’s seven to watch.
1. Cotopaxi Allpa 35, $165; 2. Patagonia Clean Color Collection, From $40; 3. Otterbox Venture Coolers, From $225; 4. Zenbivy, From $259; 5. Alite Calpine Chair, $100; 6. Rapha Cycling Mitts, $75; 7. Duluth Trading Co. Breezeshooter Apparel, From $35.
Top photo by Adam Bautz /Flickr CC BY 2.0
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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Cotopaxi Allpa 35
You may think that there are enough travel packs on the market—but the more than 2,400 (and counting) backers of the soon-to-drop Allpa 35 adventure travel pack would disagree. The 35-liter pack is constructed of rough-and-tumble TPU-coated 1000D poly with 1680D ballistic nylon panels, and comes with a smart, weight-distributing low-profile harness that slides into the back panel when you want to haul this carry-on-compatible without dangling a bunch of straps. Opening the zipper exposes two separate compartments, one large zippered mesh pocket for the big stuff, while the other side is divided into two smaller zippered pockets up top and another big mesh, zippered compartment below. Better still, another zippered pocket runs the right side of the pack to offer quick access to the padded laptop compartment, which also has a secure pocket for tablets or books. Other travel-friendly touches include a top zipper compartment for the small stuff, theft-proof webbing sewn across the openings, and a sewn-in carabiner loop on the hip belt to secure the pack to a bus or train rail.
Photo courtesy of Indiegogo
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Patagonia Clean Color Collection
Patagonia continues down the path of sustainability intrinsic to their core identity this spring with their new Clean Color program, which uses all-natural ingredients in the dying process for a new line of shirts, shorts, and dresses. The mulberry green comes from Chinese silk worm poop, the red from cochineal beetles that feed on prickly pear cacti, yellow/brown from pomegranate byproducts from food production, orange peel is responsible for the "citrus brown" colorway, and green from palmetto tree herbal industry byproducts. Try the new woman's Clean Color Sweatshirt ($69), made of a three-to-one cotton/poly blend, with dyes from natural bio-waste. It makes for a great toss-on layer for brisk nights in the woods or on the beach.
Photo courtesy of Patagonia
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Otterbox Venture Coolers
We've already dubbed the new line of Otterbox coolers as possibly "the best cooler ever" , which is all the more reason to welcome the latest company to the hot-and-heavy high-end cooler market. Because, come on—these coolers are certified bear resistant. Beyond ursine tampering, you also get "superior cooling technology" that'll keep ice for 14 days. They've also layered in other features—a side table, cup holders, a bottle opener and loads of customization options, including accessories like a cutting board, dry storage tray, and internal separators. Otterbox will also unveil a new line of tumblers, perfect for campsite coffee, soup, tea, or to receive a donation from your favorite growler. Pre-orders start this month.
Photo courtesy of Otterbox
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Full confession: no one likes mummy-shaped sleeping bags. They may be warm, and may be light, and definitely pack down small, but they're also insanely constricting; you only sleep well if you've done a decent job of exhausting yourself that day. Zenbivy—which launches on Kickstarter May 30—aims to change that. Taking its design approach from the way we sleep at home, the sleeping bag comes with a hood and fitted sheet base layer that slips into a down comforter and zips into the wings of the base layer, so it moves freely and stays in place when you shift and roll, giving you have freedom of movement while sleeping—without sacrificing warmth. That insulated layer has a center zip opening rather than the sides, similar to a few newer sleeping bags on the market, which also puts the zippers away from where they tend to irritate. It weighs in at 2.4 pounds and is rated to temps as low as 30 degrees F.
Photo courtesy of Zenbivy
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Alite Calpine Chair
Alite expands their line of pack-friendly, travel-ready camp and music festival chairs to include the Calpine this spring, catering to campsite that come with picnic tables—or just a general desire to sit higher off the ground. Standing at 34 inches, the packable chair weighs only 3.3 pounds, and can carry weight up to 250. It employs the same architecture as Alite's other chairs, using tent pole-like configuration to assemble the frame, with the 600D nylon-and-mesh seat slipping onto four touch points.
Photo courtesy of Alite
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Rapha Cycling Mitts
Wearing gloves while cycling can make all the difference between a secure grip and an unexpected tumble—to say nothing of added dexterity and reduced wrist and hand fatigue. British boutique bike apparel company Rapha's new line takes all that into consideration, delivering "mitts" that remove padding to improve feel through the handlebars, with quick-drying, abrasion-resistant synthetic suede palms to absorb sweat, shed rain, and bolster your grip. A new seam design will reduce numbness on long rides, and a mesh insert at the palm vents the heat when conditions—or your own leg power—starts pumping. Hipsters, meanwhile, can graduate to their new Leather line, made from soft Pittards leather, while long-haul riders and mountain bikers should keep an eye out for the soon-to-drop Brevet gloves, which includes memory foam padding.
Photo courtesy of Rapha
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Duluth Trading Co. Breezeshooter Apparel
Facing down some dear-god-kill-me-now humid conditions this summer? Outfit yourself with some Breezeshooter Apparel, which has been engineered with countless tiny perforations to enhance airflow and (hopefully) keep you cooler. Some of the new line, like the Performance Shirt and Polo wear their tech on their sleeves—well, more specifically in the contrasting fabrics around the waist, though the tech is featured throughout the garments. Instead, opt for the stealthier Performance Plaid ($60), a poly-weave shirt with the same breathable vents integrated all over the shirt paired with an instant-classic plaid pattern, moisture wicking to enable evaporation, two chest pockets, and a sunglass loop. The new tech fabric comes in shirts, pants, and shorts.
Photo courtesy of Duluth Trading Co.