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How to choose: Jetboil backpacking stoves || Zip v. Flash v. -Mo v. Joule

By Andrew Skurka / November 16, 2018 /

Yesterday I attended a Jetboil press event in Boulder. It was an opportunity to examine the product line and to speak with Jetboil reps in a less time-crunched setting than Outdoor Retailer. Stove system overview To simplify decision-making for its dealers and customers, Jetboil seems to have worked hard to keep its product line tight. It…

Brand intro: Norrøna || Premium & technical, ubiquitous in Norway

By Andrew Skurka / November 14, 2018 /

Outdoor Retailer is an opportunity to learn about brands I’ve never heard and brands about which I know little. So when I was invited into the Norrøna booth, I said yes. Norrøna is a 90 year-old Norwegian company that is still owned and managed by the original family. The intended application, materials and construction quality, and…

Preview: Hoka Challenger ATR 5 || Multiple changes, wide sizes

By Andrew Skurka / November 13, 2018 /

The intended use of the next generation Challenger ATR remains the same: easy and moderate trails, and runs with mixed pavement and dirt. But multiple changes have been made to its construction and features. The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5 retails for $130 and will be available exclusively from REI on December 1, 2018. Distribution…

Preview: Hoka Clifton 6 || Mix of old & new generations

By Andrew Skurka / November 13, 2018 /

The first three generations of the Hoka One One Clifton (my review of the Clifton 2) were wonderfully plush and lightweight. They were widely adored, to the degree that Hoka recently re-released the Clifton 1 for a limited time. But v1, v2, and v3 were not flawless. Specifically, the fit was too narrow and low-volume for…

Preview: Hoka Speedgoat 3 || Tweaks to a top-seller

By Andrew Skurka / November 13, 2018 /

For two years the Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 (my review) has been the brand’s top-selling trail shoe. So in developing the third generation, it was understandably reluctant to mess with success. The most significant change to the Speedgoat is the midfoot lockdown. The TPU overlays have been re-mapped, and a yoke-like collar has been…

Preview: Salomon X Alpine Pro || For scrambly runs, maybe high routes

By Andrew Skurka / November 12, 2018 /

Update (October 19, 2019: Read my full review of the Salomon X Alpine Pro. When running and racing on trails, I normally wear Salomon Sense or Salomon Ultra shoes. But for hiking and backpacking, I currently have to look elsewhere. For two years my go-to has been the La Sportiva Bushido (my review; and my preview…

Preview: Altra Tusher || Hiking boot with zero drop & foot shape

By Andrew Skurka / November 11, 2018 /

My coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2018 starts with Altra, which has developed a cult-like following among hikers and runners for its zero drop shoes, wide lasts, and gender-specific fits. Altra revealed three new shoes at the show: the Tusher, Grafton, and Wahweap. They will be available in July 2019. Availability is uncertain at this…

Review: SPOT X Satellite Messenger || I’ll keep my inReach, thanks

By Andrew Skurka / October 23, 2018 /

Exactly one week after Garmin announced the inReach Mini in May, SPOT released its first new device in five years and its first device with two-way satellite messaging. The SPOT X retails for $250, weighs 6.7 oz, and features a 2.7-inch dot matrix illuminated screen and physical QWERTY keyboard. It looks like an orange Blackberry with an over-sized antenna.…

Review: Ultimate Direction FK Trekking Poles || Dreamy performance but inherent limitations

By Andrew Skurka / October 22, 2018 /

For two weeks last summer I used the Ultimate Direction FK Trekking Poles while guiding trips on the Pfiffner Traverse in Rocky Mountain National Park. The FK Poles were new for spring 2018 and are part of an adventure-oriented collection that also includes the FK Tarp, FK Bivy, and FK Gaiters. FK is short for “fastest known,” as…

Review: Big Agnes Insulated AXL Pad || Very light & comfy, not very warm

By Andrew Skurka / October 20, 2018 /

Until last spring, Big Agnes had no sleeping pads in its line that interested me. The pads looked comfortable, but they were considerably heavier than my time-tested Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite ($170, 12 oz). But with the AXL sleeping pad, Big Agnes caught my attention — its weight and thickness looked promising. The AXL comes in two…