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Inside Alex Honnold’s Tricked-Out New Adventure Van

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...

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Friday, November 30, 2018

Save 20 Percent on the Stio Pinion Down Jacket

The ultralight, ultrawarm Pinion Pullover ($199; 20 percent off) is stuffed with 800-fill water-repellent down and features a ripstop shell, so you can stay toasty while taking a beating from Mother Nature. We also love the Pinion's zippered kangaroo pocket, which doubles as a stow pouch for the jacket. Stuff it in, then use the whole package as a travel pillow.  

Men's Women's

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Save 55 Percent on the Women's Castelli Superleggera

The women's Superleggera ($45; 55 percent off) may be light, but its waterproof outer and long cut works to keep you dry during unexpectedly wet rides. If you’re heating up, you can pack it away into a jersey pocket. 

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Save 50 Percent on the Men's Giordana Fusion Jersey

The WindFront jersey ($100; 50 percent off) blends two fabrics to shield you from the cold on a winter ride: a windproof membrane up front and in the sleeves and a thermal fleece out back. It’s also coated with a DWR finish to shed light rain and sleet. 

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The Youngest Captain on the Bering Sea

A Major Earthquake Hit Alaska Today

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake with an epicenter just eight miles north of Anchorage struck Alaska at 8:29 a.m. this morning. Damage is still being assessed, but local police have said it caused "major infrastructure damage across Anchorage." Photos from the scene show heavy damage to buildings and roadways. Thankfully, a tsunami warning that followed the quake has since been canceled. 

The quake occurred along the fault line between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates, which produced the largest earthquake in American history. The 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake measured 9.2 on the Richter scale and took 3,000 lives.

Complete reporting on today's quake is not yet available, but the U.S. Geological Survey estimates a low probability of fatalities. Still, it says there could be $100 million to $1 billion in damage. 

Significant aftershocks continue, including one measuring 5.8. 

Damage to the area appears to include significant power outages, collapsed bridges and overpasses, structure fires, and sinkholes. 

In response to the now-canceled tsunami warning, Alaskans fled low-lying coastal areas to head inland, but their progress was frustrated by the damaged roadways. Traffic throughout the region is said to remain snarled. 

Tsunami warnings remain in effect elsewhere across the Pacific. Consult the National Tsunami Warning Center for details. 

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6 Tips for Taking Better Outdoor Photos

Another Severed Foot Was Found in the Pacific Northwest

Feet without their owners attached seem to be turning up all over the place.

On November 16, a person looking for returnable bottles found a foot clad in a gray Nike running shoe in a dumpster at a boat ramp at Rogers Landing Park, located on the Willamette River, about 20 miles southwest of downtown Portland, Oregon, the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Facebook post

The foot was found in a large, clear plastic trash bag with other flotsam, which has led investigators to think the sneaker was perhaps tossed there by a Good Samaritan who had cleaned up one of the islands in the river, says detective Todd Steele. It’s possible the person picked up the shoe without even knowing a foot was inside, he says. 

The shoe and sock visually match those found on the shore of a nearby riverside park last July, he says. DNA work on the foot is now being done at a crime lab.

“It’s fairly clear at this point that we have a body somewhere, and that body is probably in the water,” Steele says. But the Willamette passes through several cities. “We have no idea where these feet went into the river,” he says, so the location the shoe was first picked up could be useful to police. (If you have any leads, contact Steele at 503-434-7349 or

Once you start looking for them, though, severed feet really do seem to be everywhere. Consider a few headlines from just the last year or so around North America:

  • In May 2017, in South Carolina, a shoe containing a human foot was found on a dock at the Charleston City Marina. 
  • In September 2017, hikers in a Missouri park discovered a foot in a red sneaker along the banks of the Mississippi River. (It was later matched up with a man whose wrecked car was found on the riverbank, about 40 miles from where the shoe was found.)
  • In November 2017, a plumber who was closing up a cottage on Georgian Bay, a large bay of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada, found a human foot in a Reebok sneaker, about a yard from the shore.

Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, though, remains the epicenter of foot-finding. At last count, 14 dismembered feet have been uncovered since 2007, the most recently last May, when a foot in a hiking boot was discovered in a logjam on an island west of the city. That foot, and most of the others, have been identified.

Is there anything nefarious, ahem, afoot? 

Not likely. As a forensic pathologist explained to Outside nine years ago in our definitive look at the foot-loose phenomenon, our hands and feet are like kites, attached only by a few tendons. Underwater, they flap around and come off pretty easily when body tissues break down. “It doesn’t mean someone is running around with an ax, chopping feet off,” says Steele.

If there’s a trend, experts say, it’s the way sneakers are now made: light, foamy, buoyant. “It really didn’t come up until we had running shoes that floated so well,” coroner Barb McLintock told Canada’s National Post in 2016. “Before, they just stayed down there at the bottom of the ocean.” Experts working on the Vancouver-area foot cases have found no signs of any foul play. “In every case, there is an alternate, very reasonable explanation,” McLintock says. 

But as Outside pointed out years ago, we humans crave patterns. It’s how we make sense of the world. So forget Occam’s razor—the principle that the simple explanation is the most likely one. We’ll choose the unlikely and the macabre if it explains our experience. Even a killer on the loose is somehow more assuring than the fact that sometimes people die. And we find them.

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A Lesson in Salmon Conservation

What Strava Tells Us About the State of Running in 2018

This week, Strava, the activity-sharing network favored by endurance athletes and those who stalk them, released its annual “Year in Sport” report, which offers insights on data collected from over 36 million users in 195 countries. Even though Strava is looking to broaden its reach—for better or worse, roller skiers and kitesurfers can now upload their activities on the app—runners and cyclists continue to dominate. 

So what does the data reveal about the tortured psyches of those who voluntarily log thousands of miles every year? Not much, I hope. Because the last thing we need is another social network that can provide access to psychological profiles of millions of users. Instead, Strava’s annual report tells us stuff like what days of the year are most popular for running, and what post-workout foods people like to brag about. Perhaps we are already living in an age where such seemingly innocent information can be used to nefarious ends, but, for now, let’s pretend it’s all in good fun. 

Here, I’ve cherry-picked a few of the more interesting points from Strava’s report, which reflects data from last September through August of this year. Enjoy.

Thanksgiving Is the Biggest Running Day in the U.S. 

It will probably come as no surprise that, worldwide, the most popular day to go for a run typically falls on a weekend. Last year, for instance, a record 766,100 Strava users logged miles on Saturday, September 16. 

In the United States, however, the most popular day for running is Thanksgiving; in 2017, 169,900 Americans uploaded a run on Strava on November 23. Strava’s data suggests an obvious explanation for the spike: the proliferation of the Turkey Trot. Last year, the app recorded 10,404 Turkey Trot races nationwide. 

There’s a Surprising Gender Divide  

One of the more interesting revelations was the stark discrepancy between men’s and women’s most popular activities on Strava. Among women, running won by a wide margin, with 90 million uploads on the app over the past year. At 50 million uploads, cycling was a distant second. Meanwhile, among men, the trend was reversed: cycling occupied the top spot with 382 million uploads, while running lagged far behind with 234 million. 

Shameless hot take: while pro running still has its own  issues to resolve when it comes to equality between male and female athletes, the situation is arguably much worse in professional cycling. If we can make the generalization that Strava users represent a more competitive subset of amateur athletes, it’s perhaps not surprising that more women prefer running. 

Runners Like Beer, Riders Prefer Coffee

Strava users have the option of adding a title to their activities when recording them in the app—e.g.: “a.m. Miles With Nasty Ned,” or “Chicago Marathon 2018 Requiem for My Toenails.” 

Needless to say, food and drink are frequent themes when athletes decide to label their workouts, races, or easy runs. In the report, Strava added a graph to reflect the number of times coffee and beer were mentioned in activity titles among cyclists and runners. For the former group, coffee showed up a record 491,000 times, while runners most frequently mentioned beer (306,000). I have no idea what to make of this, but we do know that runners and coffee have a complex, sometimes fraught, relationship

Everyone Loves the Running Emoji 

“When the right words are hard to come by, emoji get right to the point,” Strava states in its report. May God help us if that’s true. 

But, since you were surely wondering, I can confirm that the “running” emoji was the most widely used emoji in every U.S. state except Florida (biking emoji), North Dakota (snowflake), Wyoming (smiling face with sunglasses) and Vermont (black heart).

So, if you ever meet a Strava user from Vermont, be sure to give them a hug. 

American Women Are Racing More than Men

In terms of percentage, American women beat out American men when it came to race participation. In the past year, 13.1 percent of U.S. women uploaded a race on Strava, compared to 12.7 percent among men. It’s a trend that’s corroborated by Running USA’s annual road race participation report, which noted that, in 2017, around 59 percent of road race participants were women.

It’s also noteworthy that, while percentage of race participation increased for both sexes, for American women the increase was a dramatic 28.1 percent from the last annual Strava report. (The increase for American men was 17.2 percent.) This increase came during a 12-month period in which Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon in 40 years, and Des Linden the first to win Boston in 33 years. All just a coincidence, surely. 

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Making new tracks

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Sunset at Panama City Beach, FL

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At Night

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Nature family 101: Hiking in the snow!!

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Heating Your Stomach

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Sunset in Rancho Cucamonga, CA

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Aurora season in Iceland

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Early signs of a New England winter on a walk with my baby girl!

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Whitewater in Southern Oregon.

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Your Daily Minnesota Outdoor News Update – Nov. 30, 2018

Your Daily Wisconsin Outdoor News Update – Nov. 30, 2018

12 Best Fitness Gifts for the Outdoor Athlete

Robo Ski Legs Receive $12 Million Investment From Yamaha, Others

Roam’s round A funding all but assures its exoskeleton legs for skiers will find their way to mountain resorts beginning next year.

It might seem like the world of outdoor sports — especially skiing — already requires an overwhelming amount of gear. From boots and goggles to helmets and heated gloves, you might think there aren’t any places left on your body to gear up.

Well, San Francisco startup Roam thinks otherwise. First announced this year, Roam hit the scene with a seemingly outlandish product: a robotic, lower-body exoskeleton designed to “boost your quad strength.”

The goal? To give you more control, stronger turns, and longer runs “while reducing muscle fatigue and joint pressure.”

roam elevate ski exoskeleton

But just eight months after its public debut, Roam announced it has secured serious funding to help bring its exo-suit to market. In a press release today, Roam revealed it secured $12 million in Series A funding from a handful of investors, led by Yamaha Motors.

“Roam is creating an exciting new category of products that enhance human capabilities,” said Amish Parashar, a partner at Yamaha Motor Ventures. “By making these robotic exoskeletons affordable, scalable, and powerful, Roam has removed the biggest barriers to widespread adoption.”

“We envision these products will one day be commonly used to create new thrilling experiences and support human mobility,” Parashar concluded.

Roam Exoskeleton Ski Legs

With the impressive first round of investment, Roam now sits on about $15 million in startup capital, according to Tech Crunch. And despite its futuristic concept, the Elevate is already slated to hit select ski resorts this winter.

Right now, skiers can hop on the waitlist to demo the “robotic exoskeleton” at Lake Tahoe starting this Christmas. Roam will then launch the Elevate at Park City, Utah, in January.

And why exactly would anyone want to strap into a pair of robotic ski legs? Roam CEO Tim Swift sees benefits not just for those with mobility issues, but also serious athletes looking to train harder and longer.

“Roam exists to change the boundaries of human mobility,” Swift said. “Whether you are an Olympian, an everyday athlete, or looking to regain lost mobility, we want to power you beyond what your body currently makes possible.”

The robo legs accomplish this by taking on up to 30 percent of the user’s body weight. The brand claims this relieves stress on the quads. The exoskeleton also functions as a shock absorber to help reduce impact fatigue as well as stabilize and protect the knee joint. This reduces the risk of injury.

The system draws power from a backpack-mounted battery. It has adjustable air actuators to dial in the amount of assistance. See it in action below:

The Elevate will reportedly run in the neighborhood of $2,000. That’s no small investment for a sport that’s already hard on the pocketbook. But those interested can hop on the waitlist to try out a pair at Lake Tahoe or Park City for $99.

What do you think — is there a future for e-skiing?

The post Robo Ski Legs Receive $12 Million Investment From Yamaha, Others appeared first on GearJunkie.

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Free Gear Fridays: BURNOUT Temperature-Regulating Mug!

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 a temperature-regulating mug from BURNOUT!

More on the mug: This isn’t your standard coffee mug. The BURNOUT Mug brings your coffee or hot drink to the perfect drinking temperature within minutes and then keeps it there for hours. It utilizes the brand’s proprietary HeatZorb technology, which was actually invented by rocket scientists. The BURNOUT Mug comes in both 12- and 16-ounce sizes and also works great with cold drinks.

Be sure to check back every Friday for a new giveaway. Want the giveaway in your inbox? Sign up here.

The post Free Gear Fridays: BURNOUT Temperature-Regulating Mug! appeared first on GearJunkie.

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Watch: ‘Jon Glaser Loves Gear’ Season 2 Interview

Jon Glaser was at OR promoting his show ‘Jon Glaser Loves Gear.’ We walked the floor with him to learn about gear and the show.

TruTV premieres the second season of “Jon Glaser Loves Gear” on January 9. Glaser played Councilman Jeremy Jamm on “Parks and Recreation.”

“Jon Glaser Loves Gear” is a comedic mockumentary about one man’s obsession with all things gear. The show is all about gear, but each episode derails into personal tangents.

Check out truTV’s description of the show:

You like gear? You like Jon Glaser? You’ll like the show. You don’t like gear? You don’t like Jon Glaser? Maybe you’ll still like the show. Either way, Jon Glaser will still love gear.

The post Watch: ‘Jon Glaser Loves Gear’ Season 2 Interview appeared first on GearJunkie.

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Must-Watch Hunting Film: ‘The Frank’ Stands Above the Rest

Hunting films are a dime a dozen these days. It’s particularly hard to stand out in the crowd, but Argali Outdoors’ film ‘Hunting the Last Wild Places: The Frank’ does just that.

To put it mildly, the hunting film is an art form that is, well, often voiced-over to capacity, lit up with ill-placed music, and racked in storytelling that lacks creativity beyond common hunting narratives. Not so with Argali Outdoors’ recently released film “Hunting the Last Wild Places: The Frank.”

The Film Itself

Perhaps it’s that the film centers around the necessity of wilderness, that its hunters, Brad Brooks and Charlie Cronk, carry an air of adventure over ego, or that the Frank Church River of the No Return Wilderness is simply the most stunningly beautiful backdrop for a hunting film that can exist. But for 31 minutes and 53 seconds, the film works. I’m partial to public lands advocacy. And the necessity for stories that can both show and tell about public lands is immediate.

The Aspect of Advocacy

Many sportsmen and sportswomen actually oppose wilderness and public land access for varied reasons. And those reasons are often based in some sort of fallacy. Yes, you can hunt on national monument grounds. Yes, the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to wilderness areas. Yes, people of all ages and abilities can access wilderness and nonmotorized areas in various ways beyond an ATV.

The film addresses this issue both directly and indirectly. Brooks gives us a history lesson on the Frank Church River while leading us through their hunting journey in a way that’s thoughtful and humble.

The Wrap-Up

This is a film that hunters and public lands advocates should experience for themselves. The big, wild landscape is awe-inspiring. And the guys’ journey through this rugged and towering country complements this landscape rather than detracting from it.

If, like me, you’re wary of hunting films, or if you love all hunting films, or if you just want to catch something that’s beautiful and honest, take a half hour of your day and get into the Frank Church River with Brooks and Croft.

The post Must-Watch Hunting Film: ‘The Frank’ Stands Above the Rest appeared first on GearJunkie.

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$100 Vests Made With Bison Fur: On Sale Now

Golf Giant Callaway to Acquire Jack Wolfskin for $476 Million

European outdoor brand Jack Wolfskin will become part of the iconic American golf and active lifestyle corporation’s portfolio in early 2019.

In a surprise announcement, Callaway Golf Company today revealed it will acquire Jack Wolfskin, a German outdoors brand that has pushed into the American market recently with high-performance, eco-friendly gear and apparel.

According to a press release, the acquisition will cost 418 million euros, or about $476 million. Jack Wolfskin reported $380 million in net sales through the fiscal year 2018.

“We are thrilled at the prospect of joining Callaway’s growing portfolio of premium, active lifestyle brands,” said Jack Wolfskin Chief Executive Officer Melody Harris-Jensbach. “Callaway has proven over many years that they are great innovators and brand builders. We see that they really invest in the brands they acquire and couldn’t be happier to be working with them.”

Callaway Acquires Jack Wolfskin

Jack Wolfskin Brand Profile

Callaway CEO Chip Brewer said the move, “helps Callaway expand its presence in the high-growth, active lifestyle category.”

In recent years, Jack Wolfskin pushed into the American outdoors market with innovative gear, apparel, and footwear. In 2017, GearJunkie awarded the brand Best in Show honors for its Eco Jacket. Jack Wolfskin touted the product as “the industry’s first fully-recycled waterproof-breathable jacket.”

jack wolfskin texapore ecosphere jacket
Jack Wolfskin: A Quest to Build True 'Eco' Jacket

Recycled fabrics, PFC-free treatments, and an innovative production process for its jacket membranes make this outerwear line unique. Read more…

Though it’s not top-of-mind to many American consumers, Jack Wolfskin has grown substantially since it founding in 1981. Based in Idstein, Germany, the brand maintains 900-plus retail locations and more than 1,000 employees.

Meanwhile, California-based golf giant Callaway does just shy of $1 billion in annual revenue. By acquiring Jack Wolfskin, Callaway makes a big step into the core outdoors market. And it’s clout within the U.S. could help bring Jack Wolfskin into the mainstream and more American homes.

The post Golf Giant Callaway to Acquire Jack Wolfskin for $476 Million appeared first on GearJunkie.

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2019 Honda Passport Relaunch Aims For Mountain Town Market

The crossover SUV market is super hot right now, and Honda is taking full advantage. It will resurrect the adventurous Honda Passport for 2019, a vehicle we haven’t seen since 2002.

In its first life, the Honda Passport launched in 1993 as a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo. Though it died off in 2002, the Passport will reincarnate in its third generation as an adventurous five-passenger midsize crossover SUV.

It will slot between the CR-V and Pilot in Honda’s lineup. And this time it will be based on the same global light-truck platform that you’ll find under the Pilot and Ridgeline.

“The all-new 2019 Honda Passport provides the on-road comfort and nimble handling buyers will appreciate on their daily commute with the robust off-road and all-weather capability that make for a great weekend adventure vehicle,” said Henio Arcangeli, Jr., senior VP of American Honda Motor Co.

2019 Honda Passport with accessory running boards and trailer hitch

Expect to see the new Passport hit U.S. dealerships in early 2019. Until then, here’s a deep dive into what the new Crossover SUV will offer.

2019 Honda Passport First Look


The 2019 Passport will come with an optional i-VTM4 AWD system, which will be standard on the top-trim Elite model. The system is able to send up to 70 percent of torque to the rear wheels and 100 percent of that torque to each individual wheel.

While not as good as a low-range transfer case and 50-50 power split four-wheel-drive system, this type of torque-vectoring AWD system is quite capable. The key is in the onboard computer systems, which have become quite smart. The Passport even offers a four-mode selectable “Intelligent Traction Management” system, for normal, snow, sand, and mud.

2019 Honda Passport with accessory roof rack and running boards

Off-Road Adventures

In addition, the 2019 Passport will undeniably be the most rugged SUV in Honda’s lineup. Black plastic lower-body cladding and rugged wheel arches make it look tough.

A tall stance and 8.4 inches of ground clearance suggest Honda intends for this SUV to stray from the pavement. The clearance is more than you get with the Pilot or CR-V but slightly less than the impressive 8.7 inches the Subaru Outback offers.

Still, the one thing that isn’t so rugged or off-road capable are the standard 20-inch wheels, which come on all trim levels. Sure, they look good on the street, but they are best suited for on-road duty.

Move People and Gear

2019 Honda Passport with accessory towing hitch receiver

An adventure vehicle needs to be able to carry people and gear in comfort. The Passport offers impressive passenger space (115.9 cubic feet) and a lot of cargo space (41.2 cubic feet). And with the rear seats folded flat, it provides a massive 77.9 cubic feet of cargo room.

In back, the Passport hides another 2.5 cubic feet of under-floor storage. Honda markets this segmented cargo compartment — with removable, washable bins — as a place to carry “dirty gear or keep valuables out of sight.”

2019 Honda Passport rear cargo

i-VTEC V6 Power

The Passport offers the same 3.5L V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission that you’ll find in the latest Honda Pilot. It offers up 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.

That power can be put to good use with up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity on the AWD models equipped with the towing package. While payload and performance numbers haven’t been released yet, I expect the Passport to be plenty capable of carrying the whole family and all their camping gear — at a spirited pace.

2019 Honda Passport with accessory roof rack

The Modern Passport

As you’d expect with a modern vehicle, the new Passport offers up a full suite of safety and comfort features. It comes standard with push-to-start and keyless entry as well as a three-zone climate control system.

Modern touches, like LED lighting, are found all around the Passport. It even offers six cupholders and plenty of USB ports. The second-row seating also slides forward and back, allowing for the perfect balance of cargo capacity and legroom.

2019 Honda Passport interior


While I’m not a big fan of the front grille, the new Passport has overall clean, muscular lines. Sure, it looks similar to a ton of other crossover SUVs on the market, but it is a well-executed design that looks both sporty and higher-end than you might expect from Honda.

The Passport’s design isn’t very polarizing, making it hard to hate — or truly love, for that matter.

2019 Honda Passport Pricing?

Pricing for the 2019 Honda Passport has yet to be announced. Expect numbers soon, however, as the Passport is only a few months away from hitting dealer lots.

The post 2019 Honda Passport Relaunch Aims For Mountain Town Market appeared first on GearJunkie.

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Smoky Mountain Snow near Clingmans Dome.

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rainy istanbul

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Probiotics Might Not Do Much. Focus on Fiber Instead.

Probiotics are the latest miracle drug. Swallow a pill full of good bacteria and reap the (alleged) benefits, including improved digestion, a stronger immune system, and reduced risk of anxiety, depression, and even cancer. But recent research has found that supplementing your diet with probiotics doesn’t necessarily mean bacteria will take up residence in your gut. The benefits of a healthy microbiome are indisputable, but the best way to foster good bacteria might not be through eating them.

According to a study published in September, the effectiveness of probiotics can depend on an individual’s resident microbiome. In participants with a “resistant” gut microbiome—about half of the group studied—the bacteria from probiotics wound up in the toilet bowl. In fact, increasing evidence suggests that instead of eating new bugs, we should focus on feeding the ones we already have. Their favorite food? Vegetables.

“Probiotics are a can of worms,” says Jens Walter, a microbial ecologist at the University of Alberta. Walter says that while there is some evidence supporting the use of certain strains in specific circumstances, such as in treating irritable bowel syndrome, it’s hard for a consumer to make an informed decision when facing down an aisle full of supplements. “These bacteria have decades to adapt to us and adapt to the conditions in our gut,” he says. “If you throw in a probiotic, they’re not going to change a lot.”

According to Walter, what you feed the bacteria already inhabiting your body is more important than introducing new strains. The good bugs thrive on certain types of dietary fiber, dubbed prebiotics, found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

“Prebiotics are thought to be beneficial in reducing the risk of developing colon cancer, resisting the colonization of harmful bacteria, increasing mineral absorption in the large intestine, and may help with weight loss,” says Emma McCrudden, a sports dietitian at the University of British Columbia. But, she says, much of this research was done in a laboratory setting or with animals—research on human subjects is still underway.

Dietary fibers pass undigested through the small intestine until they hit the colon, where bacteria start to ferment them. There, the fiber is converted into chemicals associated with dozens of health benefits, such as lowering inflammation and steeling the gut lining—important for protecting bacteria from leaching from the intestines into the bloodstream, where they can do some damage. So, eating more prebiotic fibers can help the population of beneficial bacteria grow.

Some particular prebiotic fibers have been of special interest to scientists. One, called inulin, can be found in high concentrations in onions, asparagus, and garlic. In one study of 30 women, inulin supplements significantly changed gut microbiota, leading to increases in strains thought to be beneficial. Prebiotic-fed mice also have similar boosts to those bacteria.

One highly cited study from 2014 showed how quickly the microbiome changes in response to diet. After just four days, participants who switched to either plant- or animal product–based diets experienced a significant change in the number and type of bacteria present. Those who ate meat and other animal products saw a rise in protein-fermenting strains associated with health conditions like inflammatory bowel disease. Eating more plants, on the other hand, increases the activity of fiber-fermenting bacteria, lowering the gut’s pH and reducing protein fermentation, Walter says. Basically, the dietary fiber offsets the impact of eating meat and keeps the balance of bacteria in check. “If you’re really keen on eating a steak, it’s better to eat it with big salad,” Walter says.

While scientists are excited about these findings, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about prebiotics. Hundreds of compounds fall under the umbrella of “dietary fiber,” and many could be important to gut health, Walter says. While the details remain murky, fiber has long been known to benefit overall health. “Most people around the world only get half the recommended amounts of dietary fiber,” says Joanne Slavin, a professor of food science at the University of Minnesota who studies prebiotics. “There’s no reason not to recommend more fiber.”

If you’re eating enough fiber, you’re probably getting sufficient prebiotics, McCrudden says. You may also get the added benefit of better microbes. Today, Americans eat an average of 15 grams of fiber per day. But according to the American Dietetic Association, you should eat 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories—nearly twice as much as the average American consumes. Scientists think this is a big loss for our microbe friends. “We are essentially starving our microbiome,” Walter says.

Everyone, including athletes, can benefit from the potential gut-health benefits of a fiber-rich diet. A healthy microbiome is linked to a stronger immune system and improved digestion and nutrient absorption, McCrudden says, and these effects can in turn lead to better performance. No matter what, there’s no harm in eating more vegetables.

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A Tempered Analysis of Rivian's New Electric Trucks

Our Favorite Last-Minute Cyber Week Deals

These Are the Pillars of Modern Sports Nutrition

During the 19th stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia, Chris Froome launched a punishing 50-mile solo breakaway, erasing a three-minute deficit in the overall standings on his way to his sixth Grand Tour win. The stunning ride raised eyebrows given the controversies surrounding Team Sky’s alleged rule-bending and Froome’s own positive test for excessive levels of an asthma drug the year before. Team Sky’s response: a data dump that unveiled the hyper-meticulousness of their sports nutrition plan. Froome’s breakaway, they suggested, was enabled in part by a newly developed sports drink they called “rocket fuel” and an overall fueling regimen that involved downing 6,663 calories and the carbohydrate equivalent of 85 slices of bread that day.

Can getting your nutrition right spur you to otherwise unattainable athletic heights? If you tune into pervasive advertising campaigns from players like Gatorade, the company that basically invented commercial sports nutrition, or even the dairy industry, who’ve improbably managed to establish chocolate milk as a performance-boosting recovery drink, the answer is definitely yes. Others have been more skeptical, though. A scathing review in the British Medical Journal in 2012 characterized the current state of knowledge about sports drinks as “forty years of sports performance research and little insight gained.”

The truth, as is usually the case, seems to be somewhere in the middle. There’s plenty of snake oil out there; but there has also been remarkable progress in understanding the complex metabolic links between what you eat and how you perform in training and competition. In a recent issue of Science, two of the top sports nutrition researchers in the world present a detailed seven-page overview of the current state of the art. Louise Burke is the longtime head of sports nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport; her husband John Hawley directs the Exercise and Nutrition Research Program at Australian Catholic University.

Their review is free to read online; if you’re interested in the topic, I highly suggest you check it out. As a teaser, here are three of the key themes they identify in modern sports nutrition (followed, as a bonus, by three interesting or unexpected nuggets that grabbed my attention):

Get Specific

What should athletes eat? That depends on what they’re doing, Burke and Hawley argue, notwithstanding the “enduring belief in a single, superior ‘athletic diet.’” The clichés of the pasta-fueled marathoner and the steak-fueled football player are familiar, but the authors identify 11 distinct sub-types of fatigue along with appropriate nutritional countermeasures.

For example, if you’re in a team sport like soccer with repeated short, high-intensity sprints, one of your key fuel limitations may be the recovery of phosphocreatine stores in your muscles between sprints; you can fight that by taking creatine. In a middle-distance event lasting for a few minutes, rising acidity in your muscles is a problem, and baking soda or beta-alanine may be the solution. Whatever your sport, you need the appropriate nutritional tool for the job.

Periodize Your Food

Probably the biggest change in sports nutrition guidelines over the past decade or two is the recognition that every day is different. You might need more carbohydrate and more calories overall on a heavy training day compared to a light training day, but similar amounts of protein. On a longer timescale, you might tweak your diet to bring down your weight as a peak competition approaches. The result: depending on the athlete and the training cycle, a sports nutrition plan might call for anywhere from 2 to 12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight—a massive range rather than a simple recommendation to eat the same thing every day.

Beyond simply providing fuel, the food you eat can also amplify (or blunt) the adaptations triggered by training. Another form of nutritional periodization involves workouts performed with deliberately low energy stores, which trigger larger-than-normal cellular responses. The problem is that “training low,” as this tactic is called, also places greater stress on your body, raising the risk of illness and overtraining. That means you have to think very carefully about when you use this kind of approach—or, to put it another way, you have to periodize it.

Personalize Your Plan

The 2012 BMJ article that criticized sports nutrition research was authored by “epidemiologically trained scientists,” familiar with the techniques needed to tease out generalizable patterns in large populations. But sports nutrition, particularly at the elite level, will never meet that threshold. “The individuals who contribute blood, sweat, and tears to scientific investigations,” Burke and Hawley note, “are at best well trained, often male, and almost always subelite.” You can’t run a study with 1,000 Olympic finalists in it, because there simply aren’t that many Olympic finalists.

It’s also not enough to ask whether, say, carbohydrate drinks boost performance. You have to ask how carbohydrate intake interacts with fluid intake, other substances like caffeine and baking soda, and environmental conditions like heat, altitude, and time of day. As a result, the highest quality of evidence—randomized controlled trials focused on a single intervention in a large population—may end up giving athletes “generic information inappropriate for a specific task.”

Instead, Burke and Hawley argue for “bespoke solutions” that are tailored to a given sport and competitive context and to the athlete’s individual experiences and responses. Interestingly, that’s not far from what the BMJ critics also concluded: “Through our analysis of the current sports performance research, we have come to one conclusion: people should develop their own strategies for carbohydrate intake largely by trial and error.” The difference is that Burke and Hawley believe that we know enough to make some pretty good starting guesses.

While a big-picture review like this mostly focuses on broad themes, there were some intriguing details too.

Engage Your Mouth Sensors

Over the years, I’ve written several times about research showing that you can boost your performance by swishing a sports drink around in your mouth then spitting it out, essentially tricking your brain into thinking more fuel is on the way. It’s a technique you now see athletes using late in marathons, triathlons, and cycling races (and even at the World Cup).

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, it turns out. Burke and Hawley note similar “mouth sensing” research beginning to emerge with water (for thirst) and caffeine. There’s also menthol rinse to make you feel cool in hot conditions; bitter-tasting quinine to jolt the autonomic nervous system before sprints; and various chemicals like capsaicin that may trigger receptors that disrupt or prevent muscle cramps.

Victory in a Bottle

The sports supplement market, according to a report cited in the paper, generated $9 billion in 2017—and that doesn’t even include protein powders. And this total is forecasted to double by 2025. What do athletes get from this enormous investment? In some cases, they get positive doping tests thanks to accidental or deliberate contamination of a supposedly permitted supplement. There were also 23,000 emergency department visits caused by dietary supplement use in 2015.

But most often, they get nothing. From the very, very long list of supplements that purport to either enhance performance directly, or enhance it indirectly through better recovery or body composition change, Burke and Hawley flag only five as having “robust evidence of efficacy”: caffeine; creatine; baking soda and beta-alanine to buffer acidity in the muscles during intense exercise; and nitrate, the key ingredient in beet juice, to improve the efficiency of muscle contractions.

The Kenyan Conundrum

If Chris Froome’s meticulous Giro fueling plan represents the acme of modern scientific sports nutrition, it’s important to also consider the opposite end of the spectrum. Runners from East Africa have absolutely dominated distance running in recent decades, but Burke and Hawley point out several clashes between sports nutrition orthodoxy and the typical dietary patterns of East African runners: “reliance on vegetables (80 to 90 percent of diet) rather than animal food sources, very limited food variety, distribution of energy to a small number of meals in the day, and chronic periods of low energy available.”

Are Kenyan and Ethiopian runners successful because of, or in spite of, their nutritional practices? We simply don’t know, and it’s important to realize the limits of our current knowledge.

In fact, as Burke and Hawley readily acknowledge, sometimes athletes really do know better than scientists. For years, scientists recommended taking 6 to 9 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of bodyweight an hour before competition—so Burke and her colleagues couldn’t understand why elite cyclists were so fond of drinking flat cola toward the end of races, since the caffeine content of 1 to 2 mg/kg was too small to boost performance. Finally, to try to convince the cyclists the change their habits, they ran a scientific study—and found that the lower dose, taken during the race, really did help.

The nutritional recommendations were updated accordingly. And not, you can be sure, for the last time.

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.

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The Idaho Inmates Building Bikes for Syrian Refugees

Save 25 Percent on the Hydro Flask 18-Ounce Bottle

The Hydro Flask 18-ounce Wide Mouth bottle ($22; 25 percent off) is a favorite around the Outside office. The tough, stainless-steel build impressed our Gear Guy Joe Jackson in his plastic-versus-insulated water bottle test: “The Hydro Flask won in a major way when it came to durability and thermoregulation,” Joe wrote. 

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How to Run a Small Ski Company

Name: Annelise Loevlie
Job: CEO, Icelantic Skis
Home Base: Golden, Colorado
Age: 35
Education: Graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in international business

In 2006, Loevlie was managing five restaurants in Colorado’s Front Range when she got a call from her friend Ben Anderson, who’d started making skis in his parents’ garage. He’d come up with a logo and a name for his boutique brand: Icelantic Skis. “I need your help making this into a real business,” he told her.

“I didn’t even think about it,” Loevlie remembers. “I was like, ‘Yep, I’ll do it.’ I don’t think any of us thought that 12 years later we’d still be here.”

Loevlie knew enough to start handling marketing and sales for Icelantic, which rapidly grew over the next decade. But the company was still hemorrhaging money in 2014, when Loevlie became the CEO and started making tough decisions. “We had never made money the entire time we were in business, and we had investors who were getting tired,” she says. “I assessed the whole business. I couldn’t handle the inefficiencies. So I presented to the board all the problems and solutions. And they were like, ‘Go ahead. Let’s do it.’”

She fired friends, shifted full-timers to contracts, shut down Icelantic’s European office, and moved its U.S. headquarters from Denver to a less expensive location in nearby Golden. Icelantic is now going into its fourth year of profitability, with 30 percent year-over-year growth. We called her between trade shows and a trip to Japan to see how it’s going.

On Her Workspace: “Our office is in an old 1950s gas station that we remodeled into the Icelantic flagship retail store and offices. The layout is open, with tons of windows, including two huge garage doors that we keep open all summer. Big plants and beautiful art are the main decorations in the space. I don’t have an office—we have four different work zones that people can choose to work in, including one war room that’s a space for intimate, more sensitive conversations or when someone just needs some privacy.”

On Her Qualifications for Becoming CEO: “I had been observing the business for seven years before stepping into the role of CEO, so that gave me valuable insight into what was working and what wasn’t, and it allowed for some space to imagine solutions and create a vision. Ben, the founder and former CEO, is one of my best friends, and we’re aligned on the important things but take very different approaches to getting there. I ask hard questions and like getting to the truth of things. I also love systems and efficiency. We have to make sure that all the pieces and parts are healthy, happy, and aligned with the basic reason for being. The rest will take care of itself.”

On the Quality She Most Values in the People She Works With: “Humor. Everybody I work with on a daily basis has an immense ability to laugh at themselves, make light of shitty situations, and bring smiles to each others’ faces. Equal to humor, everyone we work with is a boss. They care and they get shit done—so, maybe, initiative?”

On What She’d Be Doing if She Wasn’t Doing Her Current Job: “I love food and wine and service and have always dreamed of having a vineyard, studying viticulture, and embracing the local and slow-food community. Bringing people together over food and wine made with love, in nature. Sounds dreamy. Though the more time I spend in the outdoor industry, the more I realize what an amazing world we live in and how lucky I am to have ended up here.”

On Her Favorite Daily Ritual: “I try to sit and meditate for at least a couple of minutes every morning—usually my dog lays next to me, and I love that. After I’ve checked in with my body and breath, I’ve been doing ten sun salutations. Super basic but profoundly refreshing. My body movements change with the weather, but lately, a little simple, slow yoga is doing the trick.”

On What She Eats for Breakfast: “Matcha latte made with hemp milk, MCT [medium-chain triglyceride] oil, a supergreen protein powder from Wooden Spoon Herbs, and honey. Then usually a piece of toast with olive oil, avocado, cucumber, and smoked salmon.”

On What It’s Like Working with Her Childhood Friends: “Everybody tells you, Don’t go into business with friends, but I’d say the opposite. I’ve known Ben and Travis Parr [Icelantic’s artist and cofounder] since the seventh grade and the rest of the core crew for over a decade. We vacation together and definitely hang outside of work. We’re all in this for the same reason—to build a life we love—so there’s a shared goal. Since we’re so close, it does make difficult conversations hard, but at the same time, there’s a foundation of love and respect that may not exist elsewhere. Ben and I work closely together. We can yell at each other, cry to each other, ski pow together, and sit in boardrooms together. I once punched him in the face, and he still likes me. So there must be some value there.”

On What She Does When the Work Day Is Over: “I usually head up to one of the trails in Golden with Louie, the dog. I’ve found that going straight home is a bit of a vortex, and that if I do something between work and home, I can enjoy it and relax much more.”

On Balancing Her Job Selling Skis with Actually Going Skiing: “It’s a company policy that if you’re not skiing, you’re not doing your job. So I get out there whenever the urge is strong, and I encourage everybody else to do the same thing. It’s taken a while, but I think I’ve finally found a good balance.”

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The Best Performance Flannels, Tested

Save 30 Percent on the Women's Marmot Featherless Hoody

To combat cold spots in its Featherless Hoody ($140; 30 percent off), Marmot ditched large baffles and instead filled tiny compartments with synthetic Thinsulate Featherless insulation

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Save 20 Percent on the Men's 686 GLCR Hydrastash Jacket

The GLCR Hydrastash ($280; 20 percent off) impressed us so much that we gave it a Gear of the Show award at the Outdoor Retailer show in January. The jacket has a water reservoir integrated into the powder skirt with a hose that runs along the inside of the jacket. All that is to say that instead of awkwardly carrying a bottle on the slopes, or going thirsty, you can now hydrate via bite valve.

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A Beautifully Chilling Surf Film

Save 56 Percent on the Castelli Tempesta Cycling Gloves

We wear the Tempesta glove ($40; 56 percent off) during cold, rainy lunch rides. They feature a fully waterproof lining and a neoprene cuff, which prevents any water or cold air from sneaking in. 

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Save 25 Percent on the Giordana AV Extreme Jacket

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Finish Lines Will Get You, Every Time

I don’t know why it happened. I was doing OK until the guy with the dog came through, and then, all of a sudden, I had a lump in my throat the size of a baseball.

I arrived in downtown Chamonix just in time for the finish of the Orsieres-Champex-Chamonix (OCC), the late-August 55K trail ultramarathon preceding the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), which is basically the Super Bowl of ultrarunning. A friend was supposed to be finishing sometime in the next hour or two, so I figured I’d head to the finish and wait for him.

If you’ve never seen it, the last few hundred feet of the UTMB events course (including but not limited to the 55K OCC, the 101K Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix, and 170K UTMB) is pretty special. Gates steer runners down a winding course through Chamonix, ending under a huge arch in front of the church at the Place du Triangle de l’Amitié. What makes it special are the spectators who line the final few hundred feet of the finish area, drumming on the boards attached to the gates every time a runner comes through to the finish. Friends, family, fans of running, people on their way home from the bar who have stopped to watch out of curiosity—everyone cheers and claps and pounds on the boards (even though the event emcees regularly ask spectators to please just clap instead).

It’s also special because people are cheering, clapping, and drumming for runners regardless of their place in the race. The events of the UTMB are popular—like 1,500 to 2,300 runners in each event popular. So if you spend a half an hour at the finish line, you might see several dozen people come through.

I got sucked in. I didn’t know anyone besides the one person, but I went nuts just like everyone else for all the runners who ran past me through the finish arch. I pounded on the boards, I whooped, I clapped, I cheered, I shot iPhone videos of people I didn’t know and would never meet as they ran past, and I didn’t know why.

OCC runners jogged past, each one clad in different ultra vests and backpacks, each one a different story of how much the race challenged them. Some jogged past with relief on their faces, seeing the arch and an end to almost ten hours of movement through the mountains. Some smiled and screamed and high-fived the lines of spectators as they blew past. Some twisted their mouths and gutted out the final hundred feet, digging deep.

Some runners grabbed their toddlers out of the crowd and ran through the finish. Some ran the final dozen steps holding hands with their street-clothed spouses. Some grabbed the hands of their young children, who ran alongside them, obviously proud of Mom or Dad. I kept it together until a guy stopped 150 feet from the end and grabbed the leash of his dog and then ran through the finish with the dog, who wagged his tail and gazed up adoringly as they finished the race together. I took a deep breath and smiled, trying to choke down the lump in my throat. Where did that come from?

My wife gets emotional every time she watches running, whether it’s Chariots of Fire, the Olympics, or the finish line of a 10K race. I never really understood why until I started doing ultramarathons.

I noticed a couple things at my first 50-mile race: First, aside from the top, say, 15 or 20 percent of runners, it was full of what seemed like pretty regular people (including myself). We weren’t super-athletes, just a bunch of normal people trying something a little harder (OK, way harder) than what’s considered normal. Second, the loudest cheering at the finish line came for the person who got last place in the race—the final person who finished just a few minutes before the 12-hour cutoff time. This is apparently not uncommon.

In the competitive sports world I grew up in, which I assume is like most of America and the world, we cheered for winners. The losing team got polite applause, and so did everyone in second through eighth place in track and field. But certainly not the loudest cheers.

If you’ve ever run a marathon in a city, you’ve probably noticed that people come out to cheer. Not just for the first-place person, but for everyone who passes by. Marathon spectators cheer, offer words of encouragement, and ring cowbells for anyone who’s out there running. If you’re running, this is fantastic. You could be an hour or two behind the person in first place, and total strangers are telling you you’re doing a great job.

If you run through the finish of one of the UTMB races in Chamonix, you must feel like a superhero, with all the applause, drumming, and cheering. I can only speak for myself and the feeling I got from other spectators, but I don’t think it’s fake there—I think most of us are genuinely moved by watching runners giving it hell in the final stretch.

Running, unlike a lot of sports, is almost universal. Most of us have never (and may never) know what it’s like to drain a three-point shot over someone to win a game, or catch a touchdown pass, or tear down an Alaskan spine on a snowboard. But everyone knows what it’s like to run when you’re tired, to dig deep, whether it’s a mile or 100 miles. And when we see someone else doing it, trying hard, we’re moved. And we cheer. We’re not impressed with some athletic skill that we could never imagine mastering ourselves; we’re impressed that they’re out there, gritting their teeth through pain and pushing themselves to go farther and be a little better. And whether they’re in tenth place or 1,500th place, we’re inspired just a little bit. And occasionally, we get a little emotional about it. Which is a wonderful experience.

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Could the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Be the Best Pickup Ever?

Rocky Mountains

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An icy sunset

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Niagara Falls

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Rob Krar and Depression: ‘The Most Powerful Force In My Life’

Ultrarunning phenom Rob Krar speaks openly and frankly about his struggle with depression in the short film from the Movember Foundation.

Rob Krar is a star in the ultrarunning world. This year, after a nearly career-ending injury, he won the Leadville 100, narrowly missing the course record. And he did it just a week after riding the Leadville 100 MTB race!

But for Krar, his biggest struggle isn’t running 100 miles. The short film by the Movember Foundation offers a glimpse into how long-distance running and talking about his mental health has helped him deal with the pain of his chronic depression. As he puts it on social media, depression is “the most powerful force in my life.”

The post Rob Krar and Depression: ‘The Most Powerful Force In My Life’ appeared first on GearJunkie.

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We hopped the fence for a better look at the falls and it was totally worth it.

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