Gear reviews & previews

Categories

Preview: Garmin inReach Mini || 2-way satellite messaging for 3.5 oz!

By Andrew Skurka / May 3, 2018 /

Garmin dropped a big surprise this morning: a new addition to its popular inReach line, the inReach Mini. This new device is noteworthy for two reasons: 1. Size The inReach Mini weighs just 3.5 oz (100 grams) and measures 4″ x 2″ x 1″ (5 cm x 10 cm x 2.5 cm), making it about half…

Review: Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro || What am I missing?

By Andrew Skurka / February 22, 2018 /

For a few weeks I have been using a friend’s Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro. I am a longtime user of Suunto’s original GPS watch family, the Ambit, but this is the first Spartan series model that I have worn. It has a few nice features, but my recommendation is to stay away from…

Preview: Trail Designs Kojin Stove, a StarLyte replacement || Russ Zandbergen interview

By Andrew Skurka / February 18, 2018 /

While I am frequently linked with the Super Cat Stove and was a longtime user, for the last three years I have relied on a more engineered system that is more fuel-efficient, wind-resistant, and stable. Its cornerstone is the Trail Designs Sidewinder Cone. Trail Designs has just released the Kojin Stove, which is meant to be…

Long-term review: Suunto Ambit3 Peak || Unmatched performance for the price

By Andrew Skurka / February 13, 2018 /

Last August I upgraded to the Suunto Ambit3 Peak, after using for four years the previous iteration, the Suunto Ambit2 (read my long-term review). Since I train regularly based on heart rate, I bought the HR package, which includes the Smart Sensor Belt. To date I have worn the Suunto Ambit3 Peak for more than 150 runs or…

Preview: Big Agnes AXL Air Pads || Finally, competition for the NeoAir

By Andrew Skurka / February 6, 2018 /

In addition to the new Tiger Wall UL tent, the other Big Agnes product that caught my attention at Outdoor Retailer was the AXL Air Pad. It’s new for spring 2018, and like the Tiger Wall is available exclusively from REI through May 31. It comes in two versions: AXL Air ($140, 9.6 oz), for…

Preview: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 & 3 || Best of Fly Creek + Copper Spur

By Andrew Skurka / February 6, 2018 /

New from Big Agnes for Spring 2018 is the Tiger Wall UL tent. Through May 31 the Tiger Wall is available exclusively from REI, and is available in two sizes: Tiger Wall UL 2 ($400, 2 lbs 3 oz) Tiger Wall UL 3 ($450, 2 lbs 11 oz) The Tiger Wall UL sits between BA’s extraordinarily…

Preview: Primus PrimeTech Stove || Stable, efficient group & winter system

By Andrew Skurka / January 31, 2018 /

Two years ago I shared my five go-to backpacking stove systems, including what I use in the winter and when in a group. These systems are proven, but they’re less efficient than integrated kits, and the a la carte components are less convenient to obtain (and perhaps more expensive) than multi-piece sets. Last week at…

Preview: Salomon S/Lab Ultra & Ultra Pro, and S/Lab Sense 7 & Sense Pro 3

By Andrew Skurka / January 31, 2018 /

For 2018 Salomon has partially reconfigured the line architecture of its trail running shoes, to better leverage a few success stories and to create space for greater product differentiation. It created an entirely new category, Ultra, and then updated the S/Lab and Pro models in its longstanding Sense line. Ultra The new Ultra category is more niche…

Preview: Western Mountaineering Nanolite & Astralite || Premium UL quilts

By Andrew Skurka / January 30, 2018 /

Western Mountaineering is known for not chasing trends and for being supremely loyal to its retailers. So the news that it’s offering a sleeping quilt for spring 2018 says two things to me: Quilts are not a fad, and have perhaps reached critical mass; and, WM retailers became convinced — by either a compelling WM…

Preview: Altra Lone Peak 4.0 || More durable upper & new stickier outsole

By Andrew Skurka / January 26, 2018 /

At the Altra booth I found the Lone Peak 4.0, the next-generation of this popular trail running and thru-hiking shoe. It will be available in August 2018, and in four versions: Low Mesh ($120, 10.2 oz for M’s, 8.7 oz for W’s) Mid Mesh ($130, 12.3 oz for M’s, 10.3 oz for W’s) Low RSM…