A peek at emerging products from the sometimes cutting-edge, sometimes quirky world of gear design.
Fabric Bike Spokes
Smoother, faster, lighter – Berd aims to improve cyclists’ performance by improving their spokes. The upstart Minnesota brand recently launched its ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) spokes to replace traditional steel spokes. The result is a polymer spoke that can lighten a wheel set by up to 250 grams, according to the brand. Plus, the polymer dampens road vibrations better and can withstand greater blunt force impacts than steel. We’ll be covering Berd Spokes in more detail soon!
Colder, Fizzier Beer
Don’t settle for tepid, flat beer – TrailKeg wants to preserve your brew’s optimal temp and carbonation longer on trail. The $199 vacuum-insulated Gallon TrailKeg keeps beer cold for 24 hours. And with its pressure-venting lid and regulator, it will keep “perfect carbonation for weeks.” The gallon-size growler just launched to the general public.
Gregory goes lighter with its Optic and Octal packs for men and women. The men’s Optic packs, in 48 liters and 58 liters, both hover around 2.5 pounds, and the women’s 45-liter and 55-liter Octal packs weigh just over 2.25 pounds. Both lines come in three different back lengths, sport detachable lids, and offer Gregory’s latest suspension system for better load management. Available now from $190 to $210.
Powerful Electric Chainsaw
Ditch that smelly old fuel/oil jug in the shed and switch to an electric chainsaw. STIHL adds power to their fuel-free chainsaw line with the MSA 140 C-BQ. Benefits include instant-on power, low noise, 45-minute runtime, and enough juice to make 100 cuts in a 4-inch log. The cordless saw will be a nice choice for storm cleanup and suburban dwellers who need a chainsaw for small jobs around the home. Available now.
Stop lugging your commuter up the stairs into your apartment; Bell Cycles made a ride specifically for urban dwellers. We previewed the weird bike, and the brand gathered enough steam to launch a Kickstarter. It costs about $500, assembles like an IKEA product in your home, and sports a modular design so you can add a trailer or extra wheels. It’s available at discount now for $349.
Add life to your Leatherman with the Wave+. Responding to consumer demand, Leatherman adds a replaceable wire cutter to the pliers. Plus, the $100 Wave+ receives a sheath upgrade, with the leather holster now sporting a metal snap in place of a Velcro closure.
Mountainsmith Vasquez Peak Tent
Mountainsmith steps up its backcountry camping game with what it calls its “most advanced backpacking tent to date.” The three-season Vasquez Peak comes in two- and three-person options and offers steeper doors and increased interior space. Plus, both models are designed to work as full double-wall tents or as lighter-weight “fast fly” shelters with just poles, footprint, and rainfly. Available now for $280–300.
Stay low profile in daylight but high visibility at night with “the world’s first all-black night visibility sports gear.” Vollebak’s claim applies to its latest line of matte black t-shirt, baselayer, midlayer, and ski/snowboard shell. Microscopic glass spheres create reflective circles applied strategically to points along the garment that mimic motion-capture technology. Available now from $95 to $645.
Vasque Trailbender II
Tackle more miles this year with Vasque’s latest trail runner, the Trailbender II. Available in men’s and women’s, the Trailbender II series sports a 6-mm drop (28–22 mm), mesh upper, and a flat-lace system to reduce hot spots. Available now for $130.
Multi-Function Dry Bag
Keep gear dry, filter water, and inflate an air mattress – all with this dry bag. Airborne Outfitters’ Multi-Function Dry Bag (MFDB) is an 18-liter bag made from BPA-free materials approved for potable water storage. The bag includes a dual-purpose hose that connects to many air mattress brands, and it can also be used with a water filter for a gravity-hang water system. Available at a discount on Indiegogo now.
Budget Fixie Bike
Curious about the fixed-gear/singlespeed craze? State Bicycles offers an urban ride that’s easy on the budget at $299. The Core Line is a standard build – deep-V rims, flip-flop hub, and steel frame – in four new paint schemes. Surly disposition and PBR beer sold separately.
New 'Bear Butt' Gear Brand
Packs, jackets, and sleeping bags accompany Bear Butt‘s established line of hammocks. The young Utah-based brand took aim at an industry heavyweight with a billboard reading, “We’re Coming For Ya, North Face.” Bear Butt’s ensuing Kickstarter features a retro-themed mesh jacket, 19-liter backpack, and waterproof 40-degree F sleeping bag.
Stable Camp Chair
Sit securely around the campfire with MÜLIBEX‘s lightweight camp chairs, designed for stability. The 1.2-pound Muhl chair utilizes your trekking poles for setup, while the 2.1-pound Capra sets up on its own. Both have ripstop nylon seats, aluminum poles, and mushroom-shaped feet that won’t sink into earth or sand. Plus, MÜLIBEX designs the base to be virtually tip proof. Live on Kickstarter.
Wild Smartwool Socks
All the functionality of wool without the drab, simple colors. Smartwool launches the Curated Collection, a series of 24 (14 women’s, 10 men’s) colorfully designed socks that utilize a “revolutionary print-on-wool process.” The result is merino blend socks unlike any we’ve seen. Available now for $20 a pair.
Solar Camp Light
Keep the campsite bright at night with energy from the sun. The Biolite SunLight offers 50 hours of 100-lumen light with a seven-hour solar-charging time. At 3.4 ounces, you can hang it from your pack while you hike and set it up when you hit camp. Available now for $25.
These boots were made for riding – DZR’s Zurich V2.0 cycling boots are a new take on SPD pedal-compatible footwear. A calf-height Nubuck upper with zipper wraps around a leather liner and sits atop a gum sole. A variable shank on the sole provides stiffness for power transfer while riding and just enough flexibility to make them stride friendly too. And, they’ll clip into SPD bike pedals. Available now for $229.
Cage-Free Bottle System
All cages are confining, so Freedom Cycle innovated its own bottle-carry concept for bikes. The Freedom Cycle Hydration System consists of a pin clip that works with a Freedom’s 600-mL round bottle, 550-mL aero bottle, or its Freedom Fix tool kit. Unlike a cage, the pin won’t damage the finish on a bottle. And while Freedom currently developed the system for hydration and tools, it can accommodate anything the brand outfits with a receiver: pumps, locks, nutrition boxes, etc.