observations on gear, adventure, and the world

OR 2012… the gear I’m psyched about.

This year’s OR was, unfortunately, far less devoted to geeking about gear and more to some business for my other endeavor, so other than realizing that Dean Potter is HUGE in real life I didn’t get to do a ton of general geeking out. However my RSS feeds are finely tuned to protect against just this sort of situation.

First some new gear that’s just landed at ampersand HQ that we’re pretty stoked about:

Image(1) A nice new pair of Altra Lone Peaks – I’ve been in the merrill trail glove for some time now and haven’t been sad, but after a long convo with Seth from Altra at last year’s show I was pretty convinced that I needed to get into a pair of these. Data Mike keeps reminding me that I won’t really know how good they are for at least two seasons, when I see how well they hold up.

That time line aside I’ve been in them for four trail runs and one day of hiking. The photo is from raking them up Big Cottonwood Canyon for a moderate but rocky approach. My Merrills were a bit too sensitive – I could feel more than I wanted to after thrashing my toes in rock shoes. The Lone Peak’s sole is just padded enough to not loose that incredibly connected ground feel that I really enjoyed  in the Trail Gloves while making it much more pleasant to put them on after lowering.

The major improvement I’ve seen on the runs I’ve been on is that I can relax my feet more than I could while barefoot or in the trail gloves. This means that I’m not getting the same level of feedback on my running form, but it also allows me to start getting in some miles with a little less load on my calves.

The unexpected feature I’m loving is the sockless construction. Wearing these without socks turns out to be all I ever wanted to do! It’s great! Socks tend not to let my toes move like I want them to and the Altra last it really built to facilitate that motion so socks are really less awesome.

Image (2) These beautiful little stoppy bits from TRP (who by the way just moved to Ogden). These are for the Girl’s cross bike. I haven’t talked too much about cyclocross breaking systems on this blog yet, but it’s a pretty big topic. The classic system is to use cantilever breaks – notoriously low stopping power plagued by front and even rear break chatter. Set up properly these are a solid option, one that most pros run without any problem. It turns out that the breaking demands of cyclocross are less than in other disciplines. Speeds and grades tend to be lower than Mountain and road applications, also the traction is much lower (road tires on dirt – you get the picture) so it’s a valid point that you wouldn’t need all the power of a disc, or a road caliper in cross. So I’m not knocking the classics… but I would like to note that if you’re in the market for a little more breaking power, but don’t have a disc compatable frame you could do worse than to check out the offerings from TRP and Tektro (note that the tektro brake youre after is a BMX brake, and the TRP brakes come in a shimano and SRAM version… ok I gotta stop before this turns into a CX mech post).

All told I’m psyched for these brakes on the Girl’s race machine this year 0\ and they’re quite nice looking.

Image (3) Ok this one might look slightly silly, but I’m really stoked about it. Its an “anti-bottle” from vapur. They were giving these out at OR and they are incredible in a really simple and unoriginal way. It’s a small bladder with a gear loop clip and a pop top. The top doesn’t leak, the bladder is fairly study, when it’s empty it disappears. It’s a great option to the tried and true nalgene, it’s lighter and packs better both full and empty. The nalgene is still awesome but I’m surprised that these are as cool as they are. We’ll have to see how well they hold up.

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