Gear Review: 6 Products Worth Checking Out
I’m not a gear junkie but I sure love wandering around stores like MEC, REI, Patagonia…anything with an outdoor angle to it. I’ve tested and tried a few products this summer – some of them sent to me and some I’ve discovered on my own that are worth mentioning.
Arc’teryx AR Jacket I’ve had a wonderful pink/rose coloured jacket (instead of my usual basic black) for many years now. It is one of the few coats I own that takes me through the worst downpour and still leaves me dry – and granted it should at the price I paid. I take it backpacking, cross country skiing – really anywhere outdoors. Unfortunately the draw cord and tape seal at the bottom had come undone so I sent it in last week for repairs. I had a reply the minute they received it and a phone call yesterday. They told me that my hood was also starting to delaminate and it wasn’t worth repairing. So guess what Arc’teryx did? They have sent me a brand new jacket – worth $560 – that is in the same flattering style but with even newer technology. That is customer service that I am happy to tell the world about.
Tevaspere Shoes I was sent a pair of these shoes to try at the beginning of the summer. Now that they’ve had lots of wear I feel like I can make a fair comment about them. These are shoes that to me feel like slippers. They were designed as an outdoor trainer so they have lots of cushioning. They are lightweight (7.7 ounces) and super comfortable. I’ve taken to bringing them along as a camp shoe. I love slipping my feet into them after a day on rough trails wearing my heavy duty leather hiking boots. I also wear them out dog walking all the time. Their sizing is bang on. I asked for a pair of Size 8 ½ and they fit; that doesn’t happen very often for me with shoes. (The shoes are on sale and retail for $84 right now.)
GoStak Blender Bottle I received this set of stacking and locking lightweight plastic jars have been useful for backpacking trips I’ve done this summer. You take only the number of jars you need. Although you could really put everything in Ziploc bags, I know I’ve been trying to get away from throw away items. I like the fact that these slide into my backpack while taking up next to no room and adding nothing to the weight.
The Blender Bottle filled with oatmeal condiments
I’m not nearly as creative as the company that sells these things but one look at the photo below and you can see there are a myriad of things to put into them that aren’t just camping related.
A set of four bottles retails for $12.99 and can be purchased online.
Other ideas for the Blender Bottle
Loki Tak Light Shell Jacket I do not consider myself to be an impulsive shopper but this is one jacket I saw that I just had to have. I was in Saskatoon last February – in the depths of winter – ready to go kicksledding with Johnathon Storie from Escape Sports. He was wearing a Loki jacket – a winter version – and told me that their store was one of the biggest sellers of Loki in Canada, perhaps even North America. I was instantly drawn to the brilliant design. Within my waterproof coat there is a pair of built-in mitts in case the weather turns nasty as well as a neck warmer built into the hood that can be easily worn for more protection. It’s got a big back pocket and the whole jacket can be folded into that as well. I’ve not seen a coat quite like it – and I love it. I bought mine on sale though full retail will set you back $239.
Neck warmer and mitts built into this raincoat
Mosquitno is another product I received in the mail. It’s a band made of silicone-rubber infused with non-toxic citronella oil to repel mosquitoes. It seems to work though to thoroughly test it I think I need to do as a Facebook fan suggested and walk the Grease Trail in central BC where the mosquitoes practically eat you alive. I had my daughter try it as she’s a mosquito magnet. She reported that she still got a bite but way fewer than she normally got which is saying something. I tried it last week backpacking and didn’t get any bites. I would have to think in terrible situations you might need more than one – though I’m not ready to get myself into that kind of situation. The bands last for six days after which they are no longer effective. Keep the band in its’ resealable packaging so it will last a full 150 hours! It’s also possible to recycle the band. If you’re like me and you hate using DEET then this is a simple and seemingly effective way of repelling those nasty critters. Bands are $3.99 each and can be purchased online.
A Mosquitno band
StrapGear is a product I don’t own but I’ve seen it in action so I know I have to get some. They’re like a bungee cord but better. They are utility straps with adjustable eyelet holes. They come in assorted lengths and colours and really should be included as one of those essential items in every backpack or your car. What made me a believer is how they saved the backpacking trip of one of my fellow hikers on Baffin Island. Within 30 minutes of starting our two week trip his leather boots came apart – the ones that were essential to the trip. He had brought along several of these straps and managed to keep his boots together for the duration of the trip. They have a zillion uses other than saving a trip from certain disaster. You can buy them online – $8.99 for two or a six pack of assorted lengths for $24.99. I believe my hiking buddy bought his at Mountain Equipment Coop.
Hiking boots held together with StrapGear – Photo credit: Matthew Lawrence
As an aside the boots Matthew was wearing were made by Zamberlan. They were 10 years old but as he told me – even Zamberlan agreed that glue was the problem – but they did nothing to replace, repair or even subsidize a new pair. They did tell him if he buys a new pair at full price he would never have the same issue with the glue again. They need to read my Arc’teryx story.
Have you had any particularly great customer service experiences? And is there any new must have gear you have recently discovered?
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