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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...
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This month, we did a lot of thinking about death, the fate of the earth, and garbage, all while listening to a lot of Carly Rae Jepsen.
I’ve been savoring Alexander Chee’s most recent book, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. This collection of essays is gorgeous—and at times heartbreaking—as it ranges from the author’s development as a writer under the tutelage of Annie Dillard, to his youthful experiences in San Francisco during the height of the AIDS epidemic, to the simple pleasures of tending a rose garden. I’m reading it as slowly as possible because I don’t want it to end.
—Alison Van Houten, editorial fellow
I was in a book rut earlier this year, but I’ve shaken it off and stayed on a speed-reading tear after devouring Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. The narrator, also a writer named Ruth, finds a Hello Kitty lunch box filled with letters, a journal, and an old watch, washed ashore on her tiny British Columbia island—then tries to unravel what happened to the journal’s author, a teenage girl living in Tokyo. The novel mixes an often dark plotline with tongue-in-cheek humor, magical realism, Japanese history, quantum physics, and principles of Zen Buddhism, and I blew right through it.
—Erin Berger, senior editor
I was shocked to read that Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke had not one but two brain aneurysms while she was filming the early seasons of the series, an experience she wrote about for The New Yorker. Her descriptions of the pain were what stood out to me most, but she also provided an interesting backstory about how she got into acting and that specific role (at the end of her L.A. audition, she danced the funky chicken). I can’t imagine having a brush with death twice in three years, sipping on morphine during interviews, and fearing that every headache might be something ominous. She was very lucky in many ways.
—Tasha Zemke, copy editor
I read Jurassic Park, the novel, for the first time and really enjoyed it. It was like watching the movie all over again but with extra insight about all the characters—their fears, motivations, and decisions—in the bizarre survival scenario.
—Svati Narula, associate social media editor
In April, I tore through both of Sally Rooney’s books, Normal People and Conversations with Friends. Normal People just came out in the U.S., and the buzz around it has been so widespread (on my Twitter feed, on the podcasts I listen to, and all around my corners of the Internet) that reading it almost felt obligatory. But after finishing the book in one day, I fully embraced the hype and bought Conversations with Friends, Rooney’s debut novel from 2017. Both books are centered on the inner lives of their main characters and their tumultuous relationships more than any real external plot. But Rooney has an uncanny ability to write about friendships, anxieties, and intimacy in a way that’s both funny and painfully smart. And whenever you think the narrative is getting predictable, her characters overcomplicate things and misunderstand each other in ways you couldn’t have seen coming. I can’t wait to see what else she writes.
—Molly Mirhashem, senior editor
I’ve been playing catch-up with one of my favorite podcasts, 99% Invisible. A recent episode was about the effects of Operation National Sword, China’s initiative to essentially stop being the world’s trash dump, which has left nations scratching their heads while clutching their single-use plastic water bottles. What I loved most was listening to a replay of an older episode in the second half that touched on the strides of Taipei, Taiwan, which is literally cleaning up the city with musical refuse and recycling/compost trucks, binless systems, and the ownership citizens feel over their trash—almost no public garbage cans, people! They pocket that candy wrapper and take it home with them! The episode presents some great lessons we Americans can learn about our own attitude toward consumption.
—Julia Walley, marketing art director
This month I’ve been listening to Carly Rae Jepsen’s new single “Julien” on repeat. It’s pristine, blissful pop, and I can’t listen without dancing just a little. I stan Carly Rae hard (I genuinely believe she’s a musical genius) and can’t wait for her new album, out in May. Especially if it’s gonna sound anything like this single.
—Abbie Barronian, assistant editor
I’ve been listening to Anderson .Paak’s album Ventura. I can’t get enough of his genre-bending soul-funk-hip-hop amalgamation that somehow always remains eminently listenable.
—Will Taylor, gear director
Cage the Elephant’s new album Social Cues is the Matt Shultz show, focusing on the singer’s deteriorated marriage. It reveals a more mature side of the rowdy Kentucky band: it’s more restrained and more serious than its catalog to date. And while much of it sounds radio ready, certain songs (like “Ready to Let Go” and “Broken Boy”) demonstrate that the band still has a knack for catchy tunes.
I binged the Netflix series Russian Doll in one night. Renaissance woman Natasha Lyonne wrote and directed the show (cocreated with Amy Poehler) and also stars as a fabulously brusque New Yorker trapped in a Groundhog Day–esque scenario from which she can’t escape. A great soundtrack, plenty of Easter eggs, and a poignant plot resolution—what more could you ask for?
I loved Netflix’s new nature series Our Planet, which had the unbelievable aerial shots and predator-prey sequences to rival Planet Earth. But it went a step beyond that franchise’s pure entertainment and awe. Each installment, organized by ecosystem, explored the effects of climate change and human activity on the flora and fauna found there. Dramatic shots of coastal thunderclouds show how weather patterns can affect life in distant deserts, and a sequence showing majestic lions in Namibia comes with a warning that their population has declined because of poaching. Prestige nature documentaries have historically tiptoed around climate change, not wanting to put a damper on the stunning landscapes and incredible critters they go to such great lengths to film. Our Planet’s decision to explicitly talk about warming seas, shrinking glaciers, pollution, and deforestation was refreshing, and all narrated by David Attenborough’s inimitable voice, no less.
—Luke Whelan, research editor
While many went wild for the first episodes of Game of Thrones’s final season, my April premiere spotlight was the second season of Killing Eve. Only three episodes in, there’s been a lot of table setting, but what a pretty table it is. Sandra Oh still shines as Eve, an obsessive detective tracking down assassin Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer and her many amazing accents. But I’m glad Fiona Shaw is also getting some more screen time as Eve’s quirky boss Carolyn, who delivers some of the most comedic (and oh-so-British) lines of the show.
—Kelsey Lindsey, assistant editor
Last month my boyfriend and I found a TV on the side of the road, and then our next-door neighbor conveniently had a yard sale filled with $3 DVDs. Since then we have been biking to the public library and blindly picking movies. We have no idea what we’ve chosen until we get to the opening credits. So far we’ve watched I Sell the Dead, I Do...Until I Don’t, Joshy, and GoldenEye, to name a few. The pro of the system is that you don’t fall into the endless scroll of Netflix, and the only con is trying to get your DVDs into the player without looking.
—Kyra Kennedy, photo editor
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If you look at the wrists of runners at major running events, there’s a good chance you’ll see Garmin watches. Today, the GPS juggernaut gives athletes five new choices for watches for training, navigating, mapping, and more.
The Forerunner is a stalwart watch in the runner’s toolbox. And that line gets a major refresh today as Garmin announces five new versions of the watch.
Garmin’s new line brings integrated music capabilities, full-color mapping, and advanced training, safety, and tracking to its GPS running smartwatches.
The new Forerunner watches — 45, 45S, 245, 245 Music, and 945 — will track runs, monitor stats, and crunch the numbers. But they also “get to know all about an athlete’s performance, training history, goals, and more,” the brand reports.
An interesting feature, Incident Detection will send a message to preselected contacts if the watch senses a crash. This function requires pairing with a smartphone, but it’s added peace of mind for those who run or ride solo.
Each new Forerunner has lightweight materials and a five-button design that the brand claims is easy to operate with or without gloves. The watches include an always-on, sunlight-readable display. They have GPS, all-day activity tracking, smart notifications, and a wrist-based heart rate monitor. And a new safety tool allows users to share their real-time location with chosen contacts in case they need help.
The new Forerunner line is compatible with Garmin Coach free training plans. The brand claims these “adapt based on a runner’s goals and performance.” Garmin users can train for a 5K, 10K, or half-marathon. And they can receive help along the way from three running coaches: Jeff Galloway, Greg McMillan, and Amy Parkerson-Mitchell.
The Forerunner 45 and 45S are the entry-level watches in the series. They’re designed for new runners or those starting a new exercise plan.
These basic but functional watches monitor heart rate at the wrist and have GPS to track pace, distance, intervals, and more. For those with smaller wrists, the Forerunner 45S features a 39mm case as compared to the Forerunner 45’s 42mm case.
With 12 activity profiles, it will also record efforts during cycling, elliptical training, cardio, yoga, and more. The Forerunner 45 series offers up to 7 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 13 hours in GPS mode.
The 45 and 45S retail for $200 each.
The Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 245 Music add more tools to help runners improve. The Forerunner 245 Music holds up to 500 songs and lets users sync playlists from select preloaded music streaming services, like Spotify and Deezer, or transfer music from a computer. Both the Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 245 Music include performance-monitoring tools like VO2 max and training status with adjustments for heat, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects.
With the addition of a Running Dynamics Pod or compatible heart-rate strap, athletes can go even further with their running data. All six running dynamics display on the watch. Even after a workout, the Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 245 Music feature additional tools to track a runner’s well-being, including a wrist-based Pulse Ox sensor that will help gauge how a runner is absorbing oxygen.
The Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 245 Music have up to 7 days of battery life in smartwatch mode, up to 24 hours in GPS mode, and up to 6 hours in GPS mode with music.
The Forerunner 245 sells for $300, and the Forerunner 245 Music hits the market at $350.
This is Garmin’s premium watch for runners and triathletes. It holds up to 1,000 songs and allows users to sync playlists. But it goes much further.
Don’t want to carry cash on a run? Pay with your watch via the Garmin Pay contactless payment solution.
Need to navigate? Full-color, onboard maps on the Forerunner 945 guide serious runners and multisport athletes.
And while the watch has the same abilities as the less-expensive models, the 945 adds training load focus. The training tool sorts an athlete’s recent training history into different categories based on activity structure and intensity. Built-in activity profiles include skiing, hiking, golfing, and more.
It has 2 weeks of battery life in smartwatch mode, 36 hours in GPS mode, and 10 hours in GPS mode with music. The Garmin 945 hits the market at $600, or $750 with the Triathlon Bundle that includes blue and black silicone bands, heart-rate monitors for triathlon and swimming, and a quick-release kit.
We haven’t tested any of these yet, but the new line looks like a solid offering worth considering for runners who want a new GPS training watch.
The post Garmin Launches 5 New ‘Forerunner’ GPS Running Watches appeared first on GearJunkie.
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A new kind of camper is coming to town. Soon, you’ll be able to haul gear, sleep, and cook dinner — indoors or out — in the modular basecamp wonder that is the SylvanSport VAST.
Pull-behind campers get a gear-oriented upgrade this summer. We previewed the SylvanSport VAST last month in Salt Lake City, where it won an innovation award at the RV Experience (RVX) show.
This article breaks the VAST down for anyone in the market for what may be an ultimate gear junkie basecamp camper. The company calls it “the RV reimagined.”
From adventure-oriented pull-behinds to massive land yachts, the RV Experience showcased some of the most exciting new recreational vehicles for 2019 and 2020. Read more…
The SylanSport VAST is the kind of camper designed for people who prefer to camp outdoors but may want a cushier experience. Unlike your typical RV, the VAST is a place where you sleep, maybe eat a meal during rain, and have as a home base hub. But the design lends itself to those who will spend most of their camping time away from the camper. It nicely bridges the gap between luxury RVs and a camp tent on the ground.
I got inside the VAST at the trade show and was given a full tour by the founder of the company. Its boxy interior is equipped to the hilt with compartments, doors, windows, moveable beds, storage, a bathroom, and a kitchen unit that moves to reveal a shower underneath (more on that below).
SylvanSport unveiled its first unit, the popular GO camper, more than a decade ago. The VAST is a full reboot, built off a box-trailer template and assembled with gear hauling in mind.
Kayaks can attach on the side with a unique rack. In the back, a door opens as a mini “garage” to stow bikes.
A “storage pod” on the front offers 18 cubic feet of additional storage in a waterproof, lockable space.
Upon its release a couple years back, the SylvanSport GO was marketed at $8,999 fully loaded. A recent price cut has made the newfangled pop-up tent trailer more approachable. Read more…
As we noted in the RVX article, the SylvanSport VAST’s indoor-outdoor kitchen is likely the most innovative part of the design. It slides in and out on a non-motorized rail system.
You can cook and prep food inside if it’s rainy or cold. On a nice day, the entire kitchen slides down and out, offering the same two-burner stove, sink, and refrigerator outside.
SylvanSport calls the indoor/outdoor kitchen a first for the RV industry. “The all-season kitchen is fully functional at an optimal cooking height for the indoor or outdoor gourmet,” the brand notes.
We tested it out at the trade show. The system is slick, with the whole modular kitchen easily moving out on smooth tracks. A table folds down for more food-prep space, making the kitchen a bona fide place to cook a camp feast.
Inside, once the kitchen is moved on the tracks, you can access a residential-size shower in its place.
Time for bed. Inside the VAST, two “true” queen-size beds provide a “home-like sleep experience,” SylvanSport notes.
SylvanSport configured the interior for a variety of lounging, sitting, and sleeping arrangements. There is a unique, artsy light on the ceiling.
A custom-designed bed stows up at ceiling height. At night it lowers via a motorized lift, and a second bed nests underneath. The bunkbed setup can accommodate a small family sleeping in the VAST.
The Sherpa camping trailer from BRS Offroad combines luxury amenities with rugged off-road capability. This pull-behind hardshell trailer pod carries a rooftop tent on two wheels. Read more…
The VAST measures about 21.5 feet long, 7.9 feet wide, and 9.5 feet tall. It weighs 2,500 pounds and can be loaded with 500 pounds of food, gear, and other supplies.
Its outer shell has a composite skin laminated onto an insulated wall structure. SylvanSport built this on an extruded aluminum frame.
The VAST will sell for around $45,000 when it comes to market later this year. Check it out if you’re looking for an ultimate, gear-centric base camp of your own.
The post Modular Camper: SylvanSport VAST Made for Families With Gear appeared first on GearJunkie.
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The Chilkat River supports all five species of salmon native to Alaska. And now, a modern-day gold rush upstream threatens the health of the river downstream.
Wild Confluence‘s latest film, “Rock-Paper-Fish,” explores the controversy along the Chilkat. Filmmakers Colin Arisman and Connor Gallagher interview the Haines and Klukwan communities, both parties in the salmon-mining clash in southeastern Alaska.
'Gender doesn't matter. Just because you're a girl doesn't mean you can't do something.' Read more…
The post Salmon and Mining Clash in Small Alaskan Town: Film appeared first on GearJunkie.
The VW Tarok pickup concept was just shown at the New York International Auto Show. It’s a small, fuel-efficient pickup truck option that will soon see production in South America.
Will we see a Volkswagen pickup in North America? The jury is still out. But it does seem like there would be a solid market here for a small, fuel-efficient, affordable pickup.
The VW Tarok pickup concept shown is a near-production-ready vehicle. While that production is currently slated for next year in Brazil, it can’t stop us from daydreaming about getting one ourselves.
Think of the Tarok as a pickup as both a great everyday driver and a great utilitarian pickup. With a tiny 1.4L four-cylinder turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the small truck should get great fuel economy.
The Tarok should also be relatively capable off road. It offers up permanent 4Motion all-wheel drive and an impressive 9.6 inches of ground clearance. For reference, a 4×4 Toyota Tacoma has 9.4 inches. You also get impressive entry and exit angles — 23.8 degrees and 26.4 degrees, respectively — and a reasonable 22.1-degree breaker angle with the tiny Tarok.
The real genius with the Tarok is the ability to use a ton of passenger compartment space for gear hauling. Not only does the traditional tailgate provide more load capacity out back, but the lower section of the passenger cabin also folds down to extend the bed even farther into the cabin. Configurable versatility is the name of the game.
The Tarok should also offer up a super-impressive 2,271-pound payload capacity. As an example, the new Jeep Gladiator will have a payload max of only 1,600 pounds.
Besides fuel efficiency, off-road capability, and pickup utility, you also get a nice, modern design with the Tarok. It offers tons of distinctive LED lighting and rolls on a proven global vehicle chassis, currently used in such vehicles as the Atlas and Jetta. Inside, you get a comfortable, modern interior that sports full digital instrument, multimedia, and climate control systems. As an added bonus, you even get a cool removable center-console Bluetooth speaker.
At a media roundtable during the NYIAS VW Group of America’s CEO, Scott Keogh had some interesting tidbits to share about VW’s possible entry into the U.S. truck market.
“I think we can comment with an extremely, let’s say, smart price point,” Keogh said. “I don’t want to, you know, start to give away price points, but I think you could put a vehicle like that in the marketplace in, let’s say, the mid-20s with a proper engine, proper everything.”
While you can for sure get an entry-level midsize pickup in America for $25,000, that’s a stripped-down base model. Even the Honda Ridgeline, which would be the VW Tarok’s closest competitor, starts at about $30,000.
The tiny, car-based, fuel-efficient truck isn’t a new concept. In fact, there are a number of them on sale around the globe. It’s absent in the current American vehicle market, however. And this hasn’t gone unnoticed by companies like Ford and Hyundai, who have both hinted at tiny trucks coming to America soon.
We hope VW and others bring back the tiny truck. Not only will it be better for the environment than the massive trucks the market has moved to lately, but it will also be much more affordable. It will also satisfy a large majority of the gear-hauling needs most people have for daylong, weekend, and big-adventure pursuits.
The post The $25,000 Volkswagen Pickup That Might Be appeared first on GearJunkie.
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For most average surfers, any one of these waves would make a season, if not a lifetime. But Kai Lenny isn’t your average surfer.
“Best Big Wave Season so far? I think so! It is exciting to know I am only just starting to scratch the surface of what is possible,” Lenny writes on his video post.
If he’s just scratching the surface, we can’t wait to see what the professional surfer can do next.
Luzimara Souza, a Brazilian surf phenom, was struck and killed while training for the country's surfing championships. Read more…
The post Watch Kai Lenny’s Big-Wave Season in 4 Jaw-Dropping Minutes appeared first on GearJunkie.
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Mercedes-Benz dealers just got the news that after 2019 there will be no more Smart cars sold in North America.
The quirky, euro-styled city car that first hit our shores in 2008, to great acclaim, will be sold here no more. That first year saw 25,000 Smart cars roll off dealer lots in the U.S. In 2018, only 1,276 managed to find buyers.
That sharp sales decline can be attributed to many factors. But the real sales slump came after it was announced in 2017 that only the plug-in electric ForTwo model would be sold in North America. The gas-powered ForTwo had made up a large percentage of sales up until that point.
“After much careful consideration, Smart will discontinue its battery-electric Smart EQ ForTwo model in the U.S. and Canadian markets at the conclusion of [model year] 2019. A number of factors, including a declining micro-car market in the U.S. and Canada, combined with high homologation costs for a low-volume model are central to this decision,” said Rob Moran, Mercedes-Benz USA spokesman, in a statement.
Smart is owned by Daimler, the parent company to Mercedes-Benz. Select Mercedes dealers in North America have sold Smart cars since their introduction to the market.
The all-electric Smart ForTwo is still available at U.S. dealers. Mercedes is also still committed to supplying service and parts for all Smart cars sold. So is it worth looking into buying one?
You can still pick one up for a starting price of $25,390. We’d wager that values will dip soon as dealers start offloading their remaining inventory. There are also some big federal and state rebate incentives to be had. All of that adds up to a reasonable value proposition if you’re in the market for a tiny city car.
You can buy the Smart ForTwo in both coupe and convertible models. Both models come with four wheels and two seats, hence the ForTwo name.
Remember that the ForTwo is plug-in electric only. It offers an 80hp electric motor, which is actually fun to drive. The rough part for many is that it only gets an EPA-rated 58-mile range on one charge.
While the current model year Smart ForTwo carries the new Mercedes EQ badging, it hasn’t seemed to help sales. Mercedes will be bringing the North American market the EQC electric SUV in 2020. The EQC will be the first in the Mercedes-branded EQ electric vehicle portfolio. It should be a better fit for the current U.S. consumer, as SUVs are hot right now.
The post Death of the Smart Car: Mercedes Will Halt Sales of the Tiny Auto appeared first on GearJunkie.
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The LoadOut GoBox from YETI is a waterproof, rugged container for truck beds, whitewater rafts, and anywhere you need to haul gear.
It’s been more than a decade since YETI upended the cooler world with a burly, rugged food-hauler that can withstand the rigors of seagoing boats and bears. Since then, the brand has “YETI-fied” many products. It sells rugged, insulated mugs and cups. It builds arguably the world’s nicest bucket. And it makes the toughest tote bag money can buy.
And today, it announces a foray into burly cargo boxes that will pit it against the competition in a new way. Meet the YETI LoadOut GoBox, a simple waterproof box that should withstand anything you can throw at it.
YETI sent over a LoadOut GoBox for our team to examine yesterday. We’ve had it for less than 24 hours, so these are indeed early impressions.
But the impressions are good. The LoadOut GoBox is exactly what you’d expect of a box YETI built. It’s heavy. It is rock solid. The latches click shut with authority. It’s just one very rugged-feeling box.
Inside is simple. There is a removable tray and center divider. In the top is a nice “Pack Attic” deployable pouch. These organizational touches are simple and functional. The Pack Attic could prove very useful. It has a large compartment big enough to fit a 15″ MacBook Pro (we tried), which means you could use this beast to stow a computer for a dinghy trip across a rough harbor or raft trip down the Grand Canyon. Two other compartments in the fabric pouch add utility for smaller objects too.
On the outside, multiple tie-down points allow you to strap it onto the roof of your Jeep or deck of your boat. Two locking points allow you to secure it shut, creating a simple safe for the wilds (as long as you lock it in place).
Similar to YETI coolers, it’s a few-frills product that should last forever. And indeed, this one carries a five-year warranty, a warranty I doubt you’ll ever use.
At 20.58” L x 14.7” W x 11.19” H, the LoadOut GoBox strikes us as a useful size. It’s a bit larger than most tackle boxes, a little smaller than a large tool-box. But it should fit most valuables up to a 400mm f-2.8 camera lens, or a Glock and a bunch of ammo. That’s the beauty of it — you can use it for anything you can dream up.
But it does cross into a new market for YETI, one that is wrought with competition from brands like Pelican, Otterbox, and Flambeau. There are several high-end box manufacturers in the market today, so it’s an interesting place for YETI to stake a flag. However, YETI’s solution is somewhat unique from most of these brands. Where Pelican tends to build specialized gear (camera cases, gun cases, and first aid kits, for example), the LoadOut GoBox is a one-box-for-everyone-solution.
Will consumers buy it? We’re guessing yes. But with a $250 price tag, most folks will think hard about this investment.
But for those who need to haul fragile items aboard boats, in truck beds, or, well, where ever, the LoadOut GoBox is a potential solution. It hits the market today in White, Tan, and Charcoal.
YETI is offering the chance to win a kitted out YETI LoadOut GoBox curated by YETI Ambassador Conrad Anker. People can enter for a chance to win a YETI LoadOut GoBox packed with Conrad’s favorite camping gear by following YETI on Instagram and commenting on the LoadOut GoBox Ambassador Gear Sweepstakes Instagram post. The giveaway opens on May 2, 2019, at 8:00 AM CST and ends at 11:59 PM CDT on May 10, 2019.
The post YETI Launches a Burly Cargo Crate, The LoadOut GoBox appeared first on GearJunkie.
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