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Back in 2014, pro climber Alex Honnold gave us a tour of the 2002 Ford Econoline E150 he used as his mobile base camp. That van served him...
For those who want the iconic Airstream in a smaller footprint, meet the Interstate Nineteen.
The Silver Bullet just got smaller. Airstream this week announced the Interstate Nineteen, an all-new touring coach based on a smaller platform.
Airstream has long built motorhomes. Its current lineup has five touring coaches to choose from. The latest of the line is shorter than 20 feet.
The Interstate Nineteen is based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500, a popular vehicle among adventurers. While many brands and individuals build out the Sprinter 2500 for myriad uses, Airstream’s build stands out.
And you can even get it in four wheel drive!
Of course, an Airstream-built Mercedes Sprinter doesn’t come cheap. This one hits the market this month starting at $149,000.
The Airstream Interstate Nineteen builds on the brand’s history of luxury in a package that acts more like a car than a school bus.
Inside, you’ll find a power rear sofa that converts into a generously sized bed. It’s the largest in its class according to Airstream.
In the kitchen, find Dupont Corian countertops and customizable cabinetry crafted from Italian wood.
Lounge in comfort: The coach boasts in-dash multimedia with satellite and HD radio, smartphone connectivity, charging ports for devices, an HD LED widescreen TV, and an in-motion local TV antenna pre-wired for satellite systems. Along with an accessible kitchen area, the Interstate Nineteen also contains a Truma furnace and water heater offering continuous hot water, marine plank style flooring for easy cleaning, and adjustable LED lighting.
Airstream ditches the silver bullet look with its latest offering launched this week, the fiberglass Nest. Read more…
Of course, the biggest selling point for some folks will be the smaller footprint. At 19 feet, this vehicle can actually fit on some fire roads and other places that full-sized RVs would struggle. Add in the four-wheel-drive option, and it should be a fairly capable adventure vehicle well-appointed for comfort.
And it can fit in a standard parking space.
“With the Interstate Nineteen, we wanted to bring all of the most-loved features into a coach that can be easily maneuvered in urban areas and in nature,” said Bob Wheeler, president and CEO of Airstream.
If you’re in the market for a Sprinter, give the Airstream Interstate Nineteen a look. And it is just one cool way these versatile vans have been outfitted for the campsite and beyond.
Here at GJ, we test a lot of gear. We are fortunate to test cutting-edge new products. Now, we want to give you the chance to win some gear too.
This week, one lucky winner will receive five ZipStitch laceration kits and an Adventure Series Backpacker first-aid kit.
More on the brand: ZipLine Medical, makers of ZipStitch, is a Silicon Valley-based company founded by a physician to address the clinical need for rapid, noninvasive, easy-to-use skin closure. The company has partnered with hospitals in 30 countries over the past five years to treat over 500,000 patients.
ZipStitch is completely noninvasive and easy to use, wherever you may be. It enables you to treat cuts with hospital-grade technology when you can’t get to an ER. Continue your outdoor activities with less interruption and avoid a trip for stitches.
The post Free Gear Fridays: Laceration and First-Aid Kit From ZipStitch appeared first on GearJunkie.
If you’re looking for a new sleeping bag, tent, or other outdoor gear, the coming Labor Day weekend is a great opportunity to score a half-off deal. The REI Labor Day sale runs through Monday. Don’t miss out.
Up your car camping game at a value price. REI built the Co-op Trail Pod 15 Sleeping Bag to keep campers warm down to 16 degrees F. It uses water-resistant synthetic fill that will keep you warm even in damp conditions. It’s even fairly light, tipping the scales at 3 pounds 10 ounces for a regular length.
This rain jacket deal is pretty incredible. REI’s Co-op Essential Rain Jacket is pretty affordable at retail price, but at half off, it’s a downright steal.
The 2.5-layer waterproof-breathable laminate jacket is treated with a DWR coating to help water bead on the surface. It’s a common construction process that works well across the board, and it usually costs a lot more.
If you need a basic rain jacket that weighs in under 9 ounces, this is a heck of a value.
The Galvanized Jacket is a burly shell for mountaineering, alpine climbing, or skiing. It has an H2NO waterproof laminate and a tough face to stand up to abrasion and spindrift. And now it won’t crush your wallet!
Sizes are limited, but if you’re looking for a small or extra large, score a bargain on a jacket that will stand up to all your mountain adventures.
It’s no secret that we love Buffs at GearJunkie. The original multiuse headwear — eyeglass cleaner, glove, hanky, sling, etc. — is in our packs for every adventure, be it backcountry skiing, ultramarathons, or hunting trips. They’re great. Get one of seven colors for 50 percent off.
This is a respectable three-person car camping tent, and it costs less than $100 during this sale. If you’re new to camping and don’t want to spend a bundle, get one and enjoy your experience rain or shine.
At 5 pounds 6 ounces, this isn’t a backpacking tent. But it can serve a two- to three-person group in a pinch. It’s a great entry-level tent, and, at this price, it lowers the barrier for anyone who wants to sleep under the stars.
Get 50 percent off the ENO Double Deluxe Hammock. It’s big enough to hold a few people, so you and your friends can relax together. Get one for yourself or get one as a gift for your friend who’s always borrowing yours!
Keep your laptop and phone charged on your next adventure. Or just have the freedom to work outside away from an outlet. Head to the beach, the forest, the crag, or wherever your favorite outdoor spot is.
The Goal Zero power banks come in two sizes: the Sherpa 50 and Sherpa 100. As part of the REI Labor Day sale, both are 50 percent off until they are sold out.
The Dethleffs e.Home Coco is the first RV trailer with its own electric drive. It propels itself and is a mobile power station. This is the future of electrified RV life!
I’ll bet you’ve heard about concept cars. But have you heard about concept campers? At the Dusseldorf Caravan Salon, the largest camper trade show in the world, the future of RVs is revealed each year. The German RV company Dethleffs once again stole the show, last year with their solar panel wrapped e.Home (see photo below), and this year with their electric powered e.Home Coco RV trailer (above).
Most small daily vehicles just aren’t meant to tow campers. The future is electric vehicles, and while they can tow, they generally aren’t set up to do so and retain any sort of reasonable range. Dethleffs e.Home Coco might just be the answer to this conundrum.
With onboard batteries and two electric hub motors, the e.Home Coco trailer is self-powered. A big benefit is that it greatly reduces the strain on the tow vehicle. This increases the fuel or battery range of the tow vehicle, whether it be dinosaur or electric powered.
The intelligent control system on the hub motors is impressive. Dethleffs calls it the “strain relief module.” The system can reduce the towing load on the tow hitch down to a defined value. This allows for small and underpowered vehicles to tow trailers far above their stated tow rating.
The intelligent control module in the trailer can also greatly improve trailer-towing safety. It uses torque vectoring to control each wheel’s speed. This is a type of electronic stability control, which most road vehicles have these days.
The batteries for the system are recharged both through regenerative braking and solar panels on the roof of the camper.
When you want to get away from it all in your RV you want to be truly self sufficient. Relying on shore power or gas generators can greatly reduce your camp options.
The e.Home Coco is fully self-reliant, as it’s 80kmh battery pack is large enough to keep the camper powered for long periods of time. The large solar panels on the camper’s roof help keep things topped off when you’re off the grid.
How cool would it be to park your camper trailer perfectly every time, without ever having to deal with the hassle of backing up a trailer from your vehicle? The e.Home Coco can be controlled through a smartphone app. The app allows you to remotely drive the trailer at camp. Fitting the trailer into those tight camp spots, or that tiny storage parking spot on the side of your house, crazy easy!
Batteries and solar panels aren’t all that inexpensive, yet. To help justify this futuristic electronic system upcharge on your next RV trailer purchase you are able to use this trailer as a remote power station. Plug it into the grid on your home and use its solar panels for electricity production and battery packs as power storage.
This new RV trailer technology helps you get off the grid in more ways than one!
The post RV Trailer Concept Has Electric Motor: Tow With Small Cars appeared first on GearJunkie.
Backpack brand Deuter is the second company this week to ask Walmart not to sell its gear.
Deuter USA today announced it will not participate in Walmart’s new premium outdoor store, curated by Moosejaw.
With the move, it follows Black Diamond, which sent Walmart a cease-and-desist order to request it stop selling Black Diamond products and using its marketing materials.
On Monday, Walmart announced it would begin selling “premium” outdoor gear through its brand Moosejaw. Walmart purchased Moosejaw, a Michigan-based retailer with 10 stores and online presence, in February of 2017.
It launched a new gear store online on Monday. The storefront included products from several high-quality manufacturers such as Black Diamond, Danner, Therm-a-Rest, Katadyn, Orca coolers, and more.
Black Diamond may be for sale at Walmart now, but don't expect that to last. The brand today told Walmart to pull its gear off the big-box shelves. Read more…
But the reaction was quick. By the next day, Black Diamond, a company known for its climbing equipment such as ice axes, carabiners, cams, and helmets, sent Walmart an order to remove its presence from the website.
Deuter is the second company to quit selling through the discounter. As part of a trial arrangement, Deuter products were present on the Walmart website at the time of its August 27, 2018, launch. Deuter said it expects all products to be removed within the next week.
Walmart commented on the withdrawal through a corporate spokesperson:
“We’re really excited about our new Premium Outdoor destination curated by Moosejaw. At a time when the outdoor industry is working hard to expose more people to the amazing experiences they can have outside, we feel like it’s a really positive development. The decision to be part of this new experience will continue to be up to each brand, and our hope is that brands, and even other retailers, share our commitment to driving a truly inclusive outdoor industry. As we grow the Premium Outdoor Store, we will continue to look for leading brands and retailers that want to reach a new, wider audience.”
While Deuter will no longer work directly with Walmart, it plans to continue sales through Moosejaw.
“While we appreciate the concept of what Moosejaw is trying to accomplish with this new initiative, we have decided this is not the right time to participate,” said Deuter USA President Bill Hartrampf.
The big-box giant rolls out marquis outdoor brands like Eddie Bauer, Yakima, Jack Wolfskin, and more on its website, and it's all 'curated' by Moosejaw. Read more…
Deuter said its 10-year relationship with Moosejaw remains intact, The brand will continue to support Moosejaw’s brick-and-mortar and online store.
“We are constantly evaluating and supporting ways to provide the best products and services to specialty outdoor consumers, wherever they are,” said Hartrampf. “We will always maintain Deuter’s commitment to our core markets, premium quality and the spirit of outdoor recreation.”
The post Walmart ‘Outdoor Store’ Loses Another Brand With Deuter Exit appeared first on GearJunkie.
Scooters. Tiny electric scooters.
No doubt you’ve heard how dockless, shareable scooters have been destroying cities like a swarm of mechanical locusts. They first started making national news in spring 2018 after a backlash in San Francisco, where residents claimed that people on scooters were commandeering the bike lanes, littering the sidewalks with abandoned steeds, and menacing children and old people with their scofflaw behavior. San Francisco subsequently banned the scooters pending the implementation of a new permitting process; one critic even called them “a plot of the young people to kill off all us old farts so they can have our rent-controlled apartments.”
As a cyclist and car skeptic, I found myself scoffing: to me, whining about people on electric scooters in a country that sees 40,000 road deaths per year seemed like complaining about in-flight entertainment while the cockpit’s on fire. At the same time, as a New Yorker, I had no firsthand experience with shared scooters (our City Council is currently drafting a bill to allow them but who knows if or when they’ll actually arrive), so I couldn’t discount the possibility that maybe I had no idea what I was talking about. Maybe they really were a menace.
Then I saw the following tweet from the Willamette Week in Portland, Oregon, where the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) had just launched its own scooter share pilot program:
Wait, Portland was freaking out about scooters? The kvetching out of San Francisco was one thing (the Summer of Love was over half a century ago and the city has long had a national reputation for extreme NIMBYism), but this was Portland: land of the bike and home of the weird. Were their sphincters really this tight now? Or were the scooters really that bad? Eight years ago, I’d gone to Portland and plumbed the depths of the bike culture for this very magazine. I knew now that I had to go back—only this time, instead of immersing myself in bike culture, I’d binge on scooters.
By the time I arrived in Portland on August 16, the scooter pilot was in full swing, with the three main e-scooter companies—Bird, Skip, and Lime—running a combined 2,363 scooters, according to PBOT’s most recent stats. (The program is capped at 2,500). Based on the sensational news stories I’d read, I expected to find the machines hanging from trees and the cityscape transformed into some kind of Children of Men-esque dystopia. A scooter-shaming Instagram account depicted them ending up in places like Porta-Potties, and two brothers even reported that a driver ran them down on the sidewalk just for looking at scooters.
But upon stepping off the MAX light-rail at Lloyd Center at about 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, with a backpack full of clothes and a phone full of scooter apps, I found only calm. I certainly didn’t find any scooters, which is a shame because that’s how I’d been planning to cover the final mile from the station to my hotel. Instead I walked, down NE 12th Avenue and past the Franz bakery churning out tomorrow’s bread. Then I had my first sighting: one woman scooting along with another riding a bicycle. The scooter’s headlight was aglow, and along with her companion, she glided into the night with preternatural ease, like Rosie from the Jetsons. I envied her as I schlepped my heavy backpack.
The next morning, I awoke early in order to familiarize myself with the rigs before joining the morning rush. This time, it was easy to find a scooter, as there was a nest of Birds right outside my hotel. Anybody can get paid to collect and charge scooters, so by morning they tend to be fully juiced and neatly parked. Bird, responding to criticism about abrupt rollouts and inconsiderate riders, has also pledged to help pay for bike lane projects in the cities where it operates so that their users are safe from drivers and don’t feel compelled to ride on the sidewalk and inconvenience pedestrians.
I scanned the QR code on the scooter’s handlebars with my phone, but before unlocking it, the app prompted me to scan my drivers’ license. It also reminded me to use bike lanes when possible, stay off the sidewalks, park responsibly, and wear a helmet. (I did not wear a helmet at any point during any of my scootering, nor does anybody else.) I felt deeply self-conscious as I mounted the scooter, but the sensation of being whisked away with the mere flick of the throttle was, well, not exactly exhilarating, but certainly very pleasant. Minutes later I was at Delicious Donuts, and after fortifying myself with a non-artisanal sausage and egg breakfast, I was ready for rush hour.
I still felt acutely self-aware on my Bird as I headed toward downtown. One reason was my inherent bias against the scootering posture: I feel like a meerkat standing on a conveyor belt. Attempting to counter this, I let one foot dangle off the platform in an unconvincing whatevs gesture, like the guy in cargo shorts who holds his wife’s purse at arm’s length while she uses the bathroom. Then there was all the anti-scooter propaganda I’d been reading. As a cyclist, I’m used to scorn, but on the scooter I couldn’t help worrying that everyone I passed wanted to egg me. Finally, like many cyclists, when I’m not on a bike and I see others riding, I want to shout, “Hey, I’m one of you!” The desire was even stronger as I glided along on my motorized dolly.
My own hangups aside, I quickly grew fond of the scooter. The offerings from all three companies top out at 15 miles per hour, which is brisk enough to keep pace in the bike lane and not quite fast enough to get you into any real trouble. Also, as much as I love riding bikes, there’s no denying the convenience of a tiny runabout that you don’t have to straddle or pedal, which is why some bike advocates worry that scooters will cannibalize Portland’s Biketown bikeshare system.
At the same time, it was immediately obvious that scooters are never going to replace the bicycle. For example, while limiting the speed to 15 miles per hour is certainly prudent, it also means that when you do have to contend with motor-vehicle traffic, you can’t accelerate out of a dicey situation the way you can on a bike. And despite the motor, they’re really only suited to flat terrain. Mild uphills aren’t a problem for a scooter with an average-size unladen adult, but it doesn’t take much of a downhill to undermine its stability and traction. At one point, I rode down the gentle slope of SE Sandy Boulevard in the bike lane when a driver crossed my path. On a bike, I would have feathered the brakes and thought little of it, but on the scooter I immediately locked up the wheel, causing it to fishtail. I put a foot down and recovered quickly because I’m awesome, but it was a good lesson in how much faster you’ll hit the limits of a scooter than those of a bicycle. There’s also the fact that a bike is better suited to carrying heavy loads—you’d have a much easier time making a grocery run on a bike than on a scooter. And perhaps most crucially, due to the geometry of the scooters, it’s very difficult to ride them one-handed. Forget glancing at your phone or adjusting your bag; even hand signals are pretty much out of the question.
Still, for covering a mile or two quickly, they’re absolutely ideal. Crossing over the Willamette River and into downtown, I soon found myself amid a group of bike commuters. Portland cyclists are an orderly bunch, so as a scooting interloper I was careful to comport myself extra-conscientiously. At one point a homeless person pushing a full cart crossed in front of us mid-block; one rider flashed a hand signal and we all behind duly slowed. (This is not how it works in New York, where, when someone steps out into traffic everyone just picks a direction and guns it like the Tour de France peloton negotiating a roundabout.) At red lights I’d glance at my fellow commuters and try to discern any signs of contempt; if they were feeling any toward me I couldn’t sense it.
I was far from the only scooterist out there plying the streets of downtown. Some looked like commuters, others looked like tourists, but none were doing anything even remotely untoward—well, okay, I might have seen one person scooting on an empty sidewalk, though he appeared to be in the process of riding it into the street. The scooters themselves were widely distributed yet unobtrusive: from all the bad press I’d expected them to be piled up against buildings like snowdrifts, but they mostly just stood at attention by the curbside waiting for riders. Indeed, as the morning rush tapered off I had to come to terms with the fact that I’d encountered no egregious scootering whatsoever, nor had I received any derision for operating one.
In a last-ditch attempt to find some outrageous behavior before calling it quits for the morning, I headed down to the Waterfront Park Trail, where I figured I was sure to find tourists behaving stupidly. There, I exchanged my Bird scooter for a Lime, which unlocked with a chime. (The Lime app did not require my driver’s license.) Then I took to the trail. There was indeed plenty of stupidity on display, but none of it involved scooters. Finally, I headed back to my hotel. The Lime app prompted me to submit a photograph proving I’d parked the scooter properly, then it told me how many grams of carbon I’d saved on my trip. So far my assessment of the tiny wheeled menace was that it was both highly convenient and laughably benign.
In addition to scooting in Portland I also engaged in plenty of informal conversation with Portlanders on the subject of scooters. It was clearly a hot issue. Everybody I spoke to had a considered opinion about them, if not an anecdote to go along with it. (Kids using them to get rad off curbs, passers-by harassing scooter users, that sort of thing.) Some people I spoke to were enthusiastic and had a “Bring ‘em on!” attitude, others had their reservations, and a few thought they were just dorky and annoying. One person I spoke to was cool with scooters and took a certain amount of delight in how they were raising people’s hackles: “They’re like vape pens,” he observed wryly. Another remarked that, “If I find any scooters in front of my house…,” implying that he might do something untoward to them in such a scenario. (This same critic has made a name for himself for tearing through traffic in brakeless fixed-gear bike videos, so go figure.)
It surprised me that many of the people I spoke to had not actually tried a scooter. And in the end, I found that even the most skeptical people were fine with the idea of the scooters as long as they helped cut down on the number of people driving.
Any concerns about the adverse effects of corporate scooter share on Portland’s homegrown character may be unfounded. On Friday evening I partook in the evening rush hour, and once again I was unable to elicit any ire or find anybody doing anything truly moronic or antisocial on a scooter. What I did find is that the system itself seems to deteriorate as the day goes on—in particular, it gets harder and harder to find a scooter with a charged battery. At one point I found myself wandering amid the homeless encampments of downtown, scanning scooter after scooter only to find them all to be unrideable. Was this really the future of cities and transport? “Maybe this is a Children Of Man-esqye dystopia,” I thought to myself.
The situation was more dire later that night at a Whole Foods near downtown. I’d scooted over there okay, but now I had a backpack full of food items and couldn’t find another ride for the return trip. Like a junkie looking to score I found myself jockying the scooter apps looking for the nearest ride, and I finally tracked a pair of Skips to the darkened parking lot of a Plaid Pantry convenience store.
As I approached the two scooters, already anticipating being swept away on that intoxicating electric wave, I noticed that there was a group of leather-clad people standing around them. I hesitated. Were these bait scooters? Could this be some kind of gang using them to lure unsuspecting scooter bros? Was I about to find myself on the receiving end of a Portland-style beatdown?
Steeling myself, I drew closer, clutching my phone and fingering the Skip app. The figure closest to the scooters took a drag from his Parliament and grabbed the handgrips.
“Yeah, we’re kind of holding these.”
It was now clear to me that these were simply young people—kids, really—and that they were harmless. (Dangerous people don’t smoke Parliaments.) In fact they could have been me a few decades ago, right down to the Doc Martens.
“Holding them?” I suppressed the urge to add “Hey, no fair!” and make a grab for it.
He then explained that they were collecting as many scooters as possible to do some sort of group night scooter ride; indeed, as we spoke, one of his companions was busy coordinating on the phone with other unseen companions who had supposedly found more somewhere. Intrigued, I asked if this was something they did regularly, but it turned out to be the first time they were trying it, and like me they were having a hard time finding scooters. At this point insisting they relinquish one of the rides so I could carry my gourmet groceries back to my hipster hotel seemed hopelessly NARCy, so instead I exchanged numbers with the ringleader so I could follow up on how their outing went. (“Scooter Joe,” as he identified himself, had not replied as of press time.) " After that, I walked the rest of the way.
I scooted extensively on Saturday in the hope that the weekend would bring with it some scooter shenanigans. While doing a lap up and down the Willamette via the Waterfront Park Trail and the Eastbank Esplanade I saw someone trying to do donuts on a Lyme, people riding two-on-a-scooter, riders clearly under the age of 18, and other flagrant violations of the user agreement. However, none of these caused me even the slightest bit of concern or impeded my progress. If anything, it made me happy to see other people having fun, which was a clear sign that I’d been in Portland too long.
Before heading out to Portland I’d found all the scooter outrage ridiculous; now I found it doubly so. In particular, a fair amount of this outrage has come from people in the cycling community, who with a stunning lack of self-awareness have decried people on scooters as reckless and accused them of the same sort of behavior people have been accusing cyclists of all these years in order to deny them infrastructure. Even some bike advocates have a proprietary view of the infrastructure they helped create and have expressed misgivings about allowing people on scooters in the bike lane.
Of course there are reasons that scooters may be working better in Portland than they have elsewhere: specifically, the pilot program was a controlled rollout rather than a dead-of-night dump, as was the case in Cleveland. (Bird has since suspended operations in the Ohio city after a woman was killed on a scooter by an intoxicated driver, even though the woman was riding a scooter she had rented from a local business and not a Bird or other scooter-share company.) And of course Portland’s system itself isn’t perfect, particularly when it comes to finding a working scooter. Yet having now experienced shared electric scooters I can’t imagine not being thrilled by the potential inherent in a swift, cheap, and efficient form of transport that’s compatible with any wardrobe. They seem about as controversial to me now as escalators.
It’s hard not to believe that most of our objections to scooters come down to aesthetics: we all like to identify with certain lifestyle attributes of the rides we employ. Bikes are cool, skateboards are cool, and surfboards are cool, but nobody’s gonna wear a t-shirt with an electric scooter on it.
Then again, who knows? Walking back to my hotel on Saturday night around sunset (I was once again unable to find either Bird, Skip, nor Lime) a couple on a scooter went by. The weather was California perfect. He was piloting, and she was standing behind him, one arm draped across his chest and the other holding a phone to capture the moment. It wasn’t the selfish disregard of the scofflaw or the vapid self-absorption of the selfie-taking tourist: it was just two people headed out for a fun night together with the wind in their hair, and they gave off the same air of casual elegance as those couples you see in Amsterdam sharing a bike.
Really, if this is the future, what’s not to like?
Big storms really do keep meteorologists awake at night, but the most dangerous ones aren’t the epic disasters you see on the Weather Channel. No, the greatest threat to your safety likely isn’t a scale-topping hurricane or a tornado that scours a hole in the earth. Instead, it will be a preventable tragedy, the result of an everyday storm we ordinarily wouldn’t think twice about.
Take some examples that all happened this summer. Strong winds ahead of a severe thunderstorm in July capsized an amphibious duck boat on a lake near Branson, Missouri, killing 17 passengers—the highest death toll of any single U.S. thunderstorm since 24 people died in the EF-5 tornado that tore through Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013. Fourteen people were injured by falling debris in August when a strong thunderstorm struck a casino in Oklahoma City where people were waiting for a concert to begin. Earlier that month, an intense hailstorm at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs injured 16 people when ice pelts as large as baseballs hit the area.
What can we learn from these incidents? The threat posed by storms at outdoor events is far greater than you might think—but the harm is also entirely preventable.
Now, I’m not here to feed potential weather phobias; I've spent years covering the weather in a way that counters the hype you hear everywhere else. The weather on most days will behave normally and most people will get through most thunderstorms just fine. But things can change in a hurry and staying a step ahead of mercurial weather could make all the difference—especially if you’re going to be spending an extended amount of time outdoors.
The thing is, severe-weather warning systems have improved by leaps and bounds over the past few decades, which means you really have no excuse to venture outside—be it just into town or into the backcountry—without some inkling of what type of weather to expect. Weather models and forecasting techniques have advanced to the point that NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center can issue accurate severe thunderstorm forecasts many days in advance. Doppler weather radar allows meteorologists to see damaging winds and tornadoes before they strike, giving people in harm’s way up to an hour of warning, in some cases. While meteorologists still have plenty of work to do on the false-alarm rate—it's around 70 percent for tornado warnings and 50 percent for severe thunderstorm warnings—most dangerous storms are predicted accurately in advance.
You carry all this tech in your pocket. Modern smartphones are equipped with wireless emergency alerts that push flash flood and tornado warnings right to our screen with an annoying tone to catch our attention. Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings also come across most reputable weather apps, television, and radio the moment they’re issued.
It’s up to us to hear and heed those warnings. Here are the best ways I’ve found to do just that.
The best way to keep up with severe weather forecasts is to check the Storm Prediction Center’s website at least once per day. The agency issues severe weather outlooks on a 1-5 scale ranging from “marginal risk” to “high risk.” These forecasts are also relayed through local National Weather Service offices and local news broadcasts.
You can keep up with storms in real-time by downloading weather apps capable of displaying radar. The best app for this is RadarScope (found on Google Play and iTunes). The only downside is that the app costs $9.99. I'd argue that $10 is well worth it if you’re serious about tracking storms, but if you’re only looking for the location of storms at a glance, radar images from free apps like Weather Underground should work just fine.
Always keep your wireless emergency alerts activated—at least for tornado warnings. You can also receive watches and warnings in real-time through any reputable app like those run by the Weather Channel, Weather Underground, AccuWeather, or WeatherBug. It’s also a great idea to have a NOAA weather radio on hand. These devices are like smoke detectors for the weather, sounding a loud siren when a watch or warning is activated for your preferred counties.
From 2012 to 2014, I lived full time out of a 2005 Chevy Astrovan. I had moved out of an apartment and into my car in 2011, and after six months of it, decided it was a little cramped, and dropped my life savings on a questionable all-wheel-drive burgundy van that I bought from a small car dealership called Johnny’s Auto Sales and Pawn on South Broadway in Denver.
I had a remote copywriting job that I could theoretically do from anywhere, so I pushed it as far as I could, driving around the West, hunting down Wi-Fi at coffee shops and public libraries, sleeping on a cheap mattress in the back of my van, climbing, backpacking, dropping in on friends frequently, and generally avoiding staying in one place for very long. It was #vanlife, sort of, but without the aesthetic converted van and high-quality Instagramming of life in said aesthetic van. I drummed up as many adventure/outdoor writing gigs as I could, and eventually, in summer 2012, I quit my copywriting job to be a full time adventure writer, a job I basically made up as I went, and continue to make up as I go now.
Every once in awhile, I would find myself chatting with someone, and they would ask where I lived or where I was based. I would reply, “I live in a van.”
Often, if the person had been alive in the early 1990s or otherwise aware of Chris Farley’s Saturday Night Live character Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker, they would joke, “down by the river?” referencing Foley’s famous line:
Sometimes, I would reply to the Van Down by the River joke, “funny story about that.”
When I was 16 and a junior in high school in New Hampton, Iowa, in 1995, a few friends and I created a five-minute skit for the school’s variety show. Unlike the rest of the variety show acts, which were earnest acting and musical performances (and of course far more well-thought out and practiced), ours was basically a vehicle for our friend Dan to do an impersonation of Chris Farley’s Matt Foley character. We were not in theater, and three of us, Tony, Brian, and myself, were basically just stage props for Dan as he did his thing. Besides Dan, none of us had many lines to learn or rehearse—I only had one line, and I had since sort of forgotten about it until my parents unearthed an old VHS tape of the skit a few years ago.
The audio is fairly muddy, but I remembered almost all the dialogue. At about 2:05, Dan asks me, “Now son, what do you want to do with your life?”
I reply, “I want to be a writer.”
Dan expresses doubt in my dream of being a writer, sarcastically asking Tony (playing my father) if “that looks like William Shakespeare over there,” and then goes on to warn me that, of course, I would end up living in a van down by the river.
A short 17 years later, I was a writer, and I lived in a van, which I usually tried to park for the night somewhere free and dark, since I didn’t have anything covering the windows. Occasionally, I parked my van down by the river.
So I guess dreams do come true.
At a high-altitude velodrome in Mexico last October, Italian cyclist Vittoria Bussi missed the world one-hour cycling record of 47,980 meters by a scant 404 meters. That margin was remarkable given Bussi’s unlikely pedigree: the 30-year-old ex-runner had started cycling less than four years earlier, while completing her doctorate in pure mathematics at the University of Oxford.
The 400-meter margin also had a curious mathematical resonance. While Bussi was laboring over her thesis, less than a mile away Oxford biochemists—including Bussi’s cycling coach, Tom Kirk—were studying the endurance-boosting properties of ketones, a form of emergency fuel produced by the body when it senses starvation is approaching that can provide muscles with an alternate source of energy beyond the usual carbohydrates, protein, and fat. In July 2016, they announced their results with the following headline boast: “A drink developed for soldiers to generate energy from ketones rather than carbs or fat allowed highly trained cyclists to add up to 400 meters of distance to their workouts.”
It’s no surprise, then, that Bussi will be heading back to the velodrome on September 12 in Aguascalientes for another assault on the Hour—this time using ketones in an attempt to eke out those extra 404 meters. Her effort is being partly underwritten by HVMN, the Silicon Valley company which now sells the Oxford ketone drink for an eye-popping price of just over $30 a bottle. When I wrote about HVMN’s new ketone drink for Outside earlier this year, I ended the article with a question mark, noting that “the true size and nature of the edge—or lack thereof—that ketones offer in real-world settings will likely take years to sort out.” But if ketones can carry Bussi to a new world record, the company hopes those doubts will begin to dissipate.
In theory, ketones offer a way of supplying additional energy to your muscles during exercise, delaying the point at which they run out of carbohydrate. But demonstrating this in practice has proven to be difficult, partly because of the challenges of making a palatable and affordable ketone drink. The Oxford researchers developed a formulation based on a chemical form known as ketone esters that partly addresses these challenges: it’s still not cheap, but it’s a bargain compared to the $25,000-a-dose price tag in their initial experiments. Their 2016 study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found a 400-meter boost in performance during a cycling trial that lasted 30 minutes—a promising finding, but one that hasn’t yet been replicated despite other attempts.
How that boost might translate to an assault on the Hour record isn’t entirely clear. When I asked Geoffrey Woo, HVMN’s CEO, how much benefit he expected Bussi to get from the drink, he was cagey. “We think she’ll cover an additional 400 to 800 meters this second attempt,” he said—but he was careful to note that such improvements would be due to “added experience and training” in addition to the ketone factor. Bussi herself told me that she has made significant changes to her riding position since last year, thanks to wind tunnel testing with aerodynamics expert Simon Smart.
Not coincidentally, all this is reminiscent of Nike’s Breaking2 project last year, which Woo cites as an inspiration. In their pursuit of a two-hour marathon, Nike had a groundbreaking pair of shoes to market which they claimed (with good reason, apparently) would make runners four percent more efficient. But they also spent a lot of effort optimizing the race course and the aerodynamics of the pacemaking team and various other factors—so when Eliud Kipchoge ran a remarkable 2:00:25, it was very difficult to know how much of the performance to attribute to the shoes versus the other factors. The project’s strength, which was that it was a real-world test outside the lab, also limited the conclusions that could be drawn.
The same will inevitably be true of Bussi’s attempt on the Hour record, which is currently held by American cyclist Evelyn Stevens: success won’t prove that ketones work, and neither will failure prove that they don’t. But seeing a top-level cyclist try it with full transparency will nonetheless be interesting. There have many rumors about pro cyclists and other top athletes using ketones, but not much solid information. When I wrote my earlier article about HVMN, the company initially promised to connect me with “professional athletes that have benefited from HVMN Ketone,” but eventually backed away from that promise citing confidentiality agreements.
Bussi has only been experimenting with the drink since June, and admits that “the taste is not great.” She normally likes to eat nothing but white rice before training or competing, so adapting to a pre-race drink that many people find stomach-churning will be a significant challenge. For now, her plan is to drink between 1 and 1.5 bottles of the ketone drink roughly 90 minutes before the race. So far, she reports, the drink seems to give her “extra energy in the last part of the effort and more mental focus.”
In the end, Bussi’s decision to use ketones will generate some controversy. Is her record attempt now just a giant marketing stunt? If she narrowly beats Stevens’ record, will the record be tainted by the use of a new super-fuel? I understand these criticisms. Still, after some reflection, I’d ultimately like to see more moonshot projects like this. A big record attempt will never replace careful laboratory science. But it does offer another sort of reality check: if your new product can really make athletes better than rival products, why not prove it by helping someone go faster or farther than any human has gone before? It’s a great proof-of-principle—and no less importantly, as Breaking2 demonstrated, it can also be a ton of fun to watch.
My new book, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell, is now available. For more, join me on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for the Sweat Science email newsletter.
Everyone deserves to experience the look and feel of a carbon fiber bike. And with the Strider 12 ST-R, that means every single little one.
The silly expensive $900 Strider balance bike comes with full carbon fiber on the frame, fork, wheels, handlebar, and seatpost. And of course, if you’re going this big for your little one, there’s no point in stopping there.
Available in October, Strider mounts the 12 ST-R with a Cane Creek AER headset, a custom-forged alloy stem, and Schwalbe Big Apple tires.
And don’t worry! There are additional high-performance components to set any young racer up for success. Not to mention a lifetime of bike snobbery.
Strider founder Ryan McFarland noted the affluence factor in a press release: “While the vast majority of our bikes focus on durability, function, and value for families with young children learning to ride, the ST-R is an over-the-top, no-expense-spared, limited-edition race bike for the obsessed super-enthusiast. And, man, is it cool!”
Pedal-free Strider rides are designed to encourage kids to balance on a bike first. It’s all part of the brand’s learn-to-ride process for a smooth transition to the two-wheeler.
The company makes everything from a bike rocker for babies up to a push bike steady enough for a 7-year-old. And it serves every age in between.
Bike tykes as young as 6 should be ready for the luxury 12 ST-R, which joins the Strider 12 series of bikes, including steel (Strider 12 Sport) and aluminum (Strider 12 Pro) options at much lower price points.
But if your kid is already planning to dominate in next year’s Strider World Cup Championships, or just owning the neighborhood, the 12 ST-R is the bike for you to live vicariously through them.
Like all the best $900 impulse purchases, you’ll need to act fast. The Strider 12 ST-R is a limited edition bike. The carbon mini racer will be available this October.
The post Strider Just Built a Carbon Fiber Bike for Your Kindergartener appeared first on GearJunkie.
Just when you think you’ve tech-ified your entire fit life, you realize you forgot Fido. Maybe he needs a pet fitness tracker.
People in the U.S. already spend over $72 billion on pet products and care each year. And that number that has been rising steadily for a couple of decades, according to the American Pet Products Association.
So what’s one more $300 fitness tracker to make sure your animal companion is in the best shape possible? For some, the mere notion of a gadget for a fur-friend elicits a chuckle.
For others, like Kim Discher of Lake Tahoe, who does everything from long-distance hiking to backcountry skiing with her dog, it’s at the very least an intriguing idea. In her case, knowing about her dog’s activity and nutrition could even be a lifesaver.
“That’s really neat!” Discher said about the new Actijoy pet activity tracker, just one of the latest coming to market. “I would absolutely use a fitness tracker on Lola. I’ve always been interested to see how many miles she really does compared to me.”
By that, she means how much extra work her cattle dog put in while running ahead on the trail during her recent 200-mile planned hike on the Colorado Trail. For the first time ever, 5-year-old Lola sat down and refused to move. Discher had to cut her trip short to tend to her spent dog.
In this case, a dog wearable might have been nice. Maybe by monitoring Lola’s activity level, health stats, rest, hydration, and food intake, Discher could have predicted the slowdown and therefore when to get her dog off the trail.
Actijoy is a pet fitness tracker meant to give owners insight into their dog’s (or other pet’s) behavior. And it’s just one of several options, as the technology is showing signs of catching on. TechCrunch recently selected Actijoy as a top pick among health and biotech startups at Disrupt San Francisco 2018.
Strap Actijoy’s waterproof, Bluetooth-enabled wearable to your pet’s collar and sync it with an app to reveal all kinds of weird things your dog, cat, or other pet does. By collecting data about movement and rest, the Actijoy might show things you didn’t know — like just how lazy your pet is while you’re not around.
Because the Actijoy pet fitness tracker can measure health stats by activity type and level, it can also tell owners when something’s off, like Lola’s unprecedented exhaustion.
And because it would be annoying to keep track of yet another technology for your dog’s water-bowl lapping, the Actijoy also integrates with existing human fitness trackers like Fitbit, displaying everything in one place.
Actijoy, which is on preorder now, isn’t alone in the animal wearable world. Tech pet products are becoming a bigger market segment each year, following continued growth in human fitness tracking devices.
For example, Wagz HD-streaming video collar is already available for a cool $495. To be fair, the price tag may be justifiable.
Wagz lets you build an entire ecosystem around monitoring your pet however you like. There’s a smart feeder for dispensing food while you’re at work, hydration monitors for getting your animal the right amount of water throughout the day, and even an interactive automatic treat system that lets you almost play with your dog from afar.
Sure, this line item might not be on your radar right now. But maybe it should be. A few hundred bucks can seem like nothing if your dog is basically your kid, like many young people pushing off families or people who live in outdoorsy towns.
And it can be serious business keeping your pet in check. Who knows? Maybe pet trackers will even inspire owners to try a little harder at their own sit-and-stays.
The post Pet Fitness Trackers Monitor Dogs on the Move (or Couch) appeared first on GearJunkie.
Goal Zero wants to know where you’re headed next. Share your travel plans and you could score a free Sherpa 100AC — a powerful return on your Instagram investment.
Now through September 17, one weekly winner will receive a Sherpa 100AC Power Bank by Goal Zero before the portable power pack goes on the market.
It’s easy to enter the “Where to Next?” pre-launch photo contest. Just post your best travel shot and story on Instagram. Tag @GoalZero and include #wheretonext.
No Instagram account? Submit your photo story on GoalZero.com.
The latest Sherpa 100AC is the ultimate 100W on-the-go power outlet, whether you need to charge on a long plane ride or during your next van life excursion.
At just 2 pounds, the Sherpa 100AC power bank won’t weigh you down. And its new features, listed below, make traveling with power more convenient than ever.
The Goal Zero Sherpa 100AC will retail for $299. And this is your chance to be among the first to try the power pack for nada. Nothing to lose there.
The post Power Packed: Goal Zero Giving Away a Sherpa 100AC Each Week appeared first on GearJunkie.
The electronic Fox Live Valve system continuously adjusts your mountain bike suspension, aiming to improve your ride — and how you ride it.
Most mountain bike suspensions have a switch on the handlebars, or on the shock and fork, to toggle suspension between fully rigid and plush-squishy-soft.
Terrain goes up and down when you’re riding, so you’ve probably found yourself flicking that switch between open, trail, and closed modes. It’s a handy feature that can take the bobbing and extra energy expenditure out of a buff climb.
But forget to manually reopen your shock, and it can leave your shock locked out when the terrain gets technical. That can mean a bumpy and uncontrolled ride. And while manually opening and closing your shock can make climbing and descending more efficient when the trail is relatively uniform for a stretch, it’s impossible for a rider to actually optimize their shocks on the fly.
Fox’s new Live Valve makes any technical ride better by taking out the human factor. The battery-powered system opens and closes your shock and fork every 3 milliseconds — 100 times faster than a blink — constantly choosing the optimal fork and shock settings for your bike’s position on the trail.
It’s not some gizmo for tech geeks who want to own the latest and greatest thing. For the past four months, I’ve tested the Live Valve on a Pivot Mach 5.5, an already awesomely fun trail/enduro bike. The Live Valve actually made the ride better.
Whether riding in Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, or North Carolina, the Live Valve made riding technical terrain more fun while effectively boosting my skill level.
Because the system always knew how much suspension I needed, it helped me control my bike more effectively. My tires stayed in contact with the trail instead of glancing off rocks or skittering around corners, more so than if I were adjusting the suspension myself.
And on climbs, I didn’t bob around, which saved energy. But I could still power up little inclines and over rocks and roots.
A rechargeable micro-USB two-cell lithium-ion 7.4v 800mAh battery powers the Live Valve system. A controller mounted next to the battery lets you power the system on and off with the push of a button. And it lets you choose any of five modes that determine how big a hit it takes to open the suspension.
I experimented with all of the modes — 1 was too soft, and 5 was too harsh. I nearly always rode in 2 or 3. With the system powered on, front and rear accelerometers collect data 1,000 times per second about the bike’s speed, angle, and position in space.
Combined with Fox’s algorithm, those sensors know if the bike is pointing uphill or downhill, if it’s in freefall or flat, and if the terrain is bumpy or smooth.
A pulse from the battery opens or closes the suspension — both fork and shock — simultaneously and independently based on optimal suspension settings at any point in time. Once pulsed, the suspension remains open for half a second unless it gets a signal to open the suspension again. That second signal resets the half-second timer again. This repeats until the trail is smooth.
If you’re riding down a rocky riverbed for two minutes, the suspension opens and stays open constantly, resetting the timer with each new bump, closing at the end. It’s power efficient. In that scenario, the Live Valve is using the battery to power only one opening.
The Live Valve system affects the opening and closing of the suspension system. But it still allows the suspension to function as expected.
One of the things I appreciated about this system is, even though it’s electronic, it still lets the rider set sag as well as high- and low-speed compression and rebound as on any other bike.
The battery lasts 16 to 20 hours. But if it dies because you forgot to charge it or your mission was longer than you anticipated, it defaults to open. The system needs to be turned off manually. But if it doesn’t detect any bumps in a 90-minute period, it powers down, saving your settings and battery life.
Fox engineers say that making the Live Valve predictable and consistent was the real challenge. They nailed it.
In months of riding, the Mach 5.5’s suspension performed exactly as we wanted it to. There was no clicking or other rider sensation as the suspension switched.
The only complaint I had was that, at least on my test bike, there were a lot of extra wires. That will inevitably improve as more brands build bikes with the proper ports to handle this system, as shops learn to install it properly, and as Fox works to streamline the electronics.
If you already run Di2 electronic shifting, adding the Fox Live Valve means strapping a second battery to your bike. As of now, the two can’t be powered by the same source.
For 2019, Pivot, Scott, and Giant all have bikes that will be available with the Live Valve. It’s around a $1,800 upcharge for the system on a new bike, and $3,000-3,250 to add it after market.
Every company’s modes will be slightly different — each brand controls that by working with Fox for the feel they want. Bump threshold, timer, and incline angle are all adjustable, but consumers don’t have access to those settings.
Electronics on a mountain bike sometimes make me nervous. But this system is well thought out. And while I can’t say that no user will screw it up, it will be hard for most users to do so. A rider can set shocks with the wrong pressure, or tweak rebound settings to be too soft or too harsh, but that can happen on any bike.
Wires are protected, and if damaged, they’re easily replaceable or repairable. Jetting water into the battery or jamming it with dirt could destroy it, but the system is rated to IPX 7, meaning you can submerge it in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes and it will still work.
Four months into riding the Live Valve in wet and dry conditions, I’ve had zero performance or maintenance issues.
For now, the Live Valve weighs around 2 pounds: 72 grams for the battery, 104 grams for the controller and sensors, 466 grams for the Live Valve shock modifications, and 249 grams for the damper.
In total, it’s around 5 ounces heavier than Scott’s Genius cable-activated lockout. It works with most Fox shocks and forks, the complete list of which can be found here. Fox’s warranty will be the same as with other products — one year in the U.S. and two years in Europe.
And, if you’re more of a motorsports enthusiast than a mountain biker, you can still reap the benefits of the Live Valve. Fox also makes suspensions for Ford Raptor trucks and Polaris side-by-sides.
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