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Preview: Salomon S/Lab Ultra || Tweaks to a best-seller

By Andrew Skurka / August 6, 2017 / 15 Comments

Originally posted August 6, 2017. Updated January 25, 2018. If I was forced to choose just one shoe for all of my runs, I would pick the current Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra (read my review). Most importantly, it fits my small-volume feet. Beyond that, it excels on most surfaces and for most distances: from cruiser…

Preview: Ultimate Direction FK Poles || 4-oz fixed-length carbon

By Andrew Skurka / August 12, 2017 / 18 Comments

All things being equal, fixed-length trekking poles will be lighter, stronger, and less expensive than telescoping or foldable models like the Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Poles or Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles. Yet there is currently only one off-the-shelf fixed-length pole that is suitable for backpacking: the Black Diamond Vapor Carbon 1 Pole.…

Preview: Ultimate Direction Deluge || Waterproof/NON-breathable jacket & pants

By Andrew Skurka / August 14, 2017 / 16 Comments

The Ultimate Direction Deluge Jacket and Deluge Pants — which will be released in Spring 2018 — are awesomely light, at 5.5 oz and 2.3 oz for men’s Large. But I’m more excited about the fabric. No, they’re not made of the latest-and-greatest membrane that is more waterproof and more breathable than anything the world…

Osprey Levity/Lumina vs. Exos/Eja: What will you sacrifice for 12 oz?

By Andrew Skurka / January 25, 2018 / 36 Comments

This spring Osprey has released a new backpack design that is aimed squarely at the ultralight and thru-hiking communities. It’s available in men’s and women’s sizes, each in two volumes: Levity 45 ($250, 1 lb 13 oz) and Levity 60 ($270, 1 lb 14 oz) for men; and, Lumina 45 ($250, 1 lb 12 oz) and…

Preview: Sea to Summit Alpha Series Cookware || Remarkably thoughtful

By Andrew Skurka / January 26, 2018 / 24 Comments

So much thought went into the new Alpha Series Cookware from Sea to Summit that I feel compelled to write about it. The retail prices and weights are very good, but I was most impressed with the attention to detail and the willingness to look with fresh eyes at an otherwise tired category. The Cookware…

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

By Andrew Skurka / January 26, 2018 / 90 Comments

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…

Buyer’s Guide: Kathoola Microspikes vs K-10 and KTS Crampons || Differences, intended uses, and limitations

By Andrew Skurka / January 29, 2018 / 32 Comments

Kahtoola was showing off its new gaiters at the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow, but I was more interested in its time-tested traction devices. These spikes and crampons are crux for: Running on snow- and ice-covered trails and roads; and, Hiking on glacial ice, crust-covered snowpack, or steep-ish lingering snowfields. All the Kahtoola devices are compatible with soft-soled…

Sneak peak: Ultimate Direction Scram || Anton Krupicka scramble pack

By Andrew Skurka / January 30, 2018 / 2 Comments

After a Sierra Designs meeting this morning (re updates to the High Route Tent for 2019), I swung through the Ultimate Direction area to ask about the new pack they are designing with the ridiculously fit but chronically injured Anton Krupicka. None of the Exxel Outdoors brands — notably SD, UD, Kelty, and Slumberjack — had…

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

By Andrew Skurka / January 30, 2018 / 17 Comments

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

By Andrew Skurka / January 31, 2018 / 30 Comments

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…