I spent all summer beating up my gear, and I came out with a few favorites. They’ve been those “go to” items for a number of outdoor activities, so they’re totally worth checking out. Ready to find out what they are?
EMS Incline Shorts & EMS Cadence Fleece
As many people know, I’m an EMS junkie. Sometimes it feels like I have one of everything they make, but it’s usually for a good reason. Their designs usually perform the best and oddly enough don’t make me broke. This summer my favorite two pieces of EMS gear were a pair of shorts and a fleece (oh yes, another fleece – like I didn’t have enough).
The EMS Incline Short is all around awesome. Unlike the traditional bulky knee length short, the Incline shorts were definitely designed with motion in mind. I’ve used them over and over for climbing, kayaking, and everyday usage. They never seem to disappoint. To make them even better, they’re designed with a stretchy wicking material that is also water repellant and abrasion resistant. Sure enough, they really do dry incredibly quick while kayaking and they’ve held up perfect to a few cheese grater slab climbing attempts. Win! (Link to men’s version can be found here.)
The EMS Cadence Fleece is pretty much just yet another fleece, but it’s proving to be an essential piece of gear due to the fit and hood. Unlike many fleeces out there, it’s well fitted with a real live functional hood (WOAH!) that actually goes over your head instead of just making a fashion statement in pouring rain or howling wind. I’m also loving the fact that EMS opted to go with a lightweight fleece so it’s still functional in those “I’m kind of cold, but not that bad” temperatures. I’m pretty psyched to pair it up with other layers this winter.
Last summer I picked up my first Buff. I was skeptical as to what could be so magical about a single piece of cloth. Well, it turns out there’s a lot. I’m now the proud owner of 3 Buffs: half Buff, UV half Buff, and an insect repellant full Buff.
Buff is just one of those super versatile things. So far I’ve used mine as a headband, bandana, a hair tie, neck protector (from mosquitoes), thing to cool me down (just dunk it in water), and for cleaning up some bloody scratches. I know that there’s about 1,000 more ways to use them, and I’m finding that pretty cool. I’m really hoping to pick up a few winter Buffs as well. Seems like they’d be perfect for snowboarding.
Merrell Mix Master Glides
I actually got these towards the very end of last summer, so didn’t really get a chance to give them the entire summer experience they deserved. It looks like Merrell has now updated them to the Mix Master Move Glide, but regardless they are phenomenal all around shoes. Unlike most shoes with a sneaker appearance, the Mix Masters actually do really well on mixed terrain. So far they’ve gone small scale hiking, done a few too many climbing area scrambles, and have held up (and I’m not nice on shoes). They’re also great for runs, walks, and all that usual everyday stuff.
One of the features I love about these shoes is the availability of colors. I have to admit I was getting rather tired of the constant browns and blacks of outdoor shoes, so the Mix Master’s array of bright colors is pretty awesome. And yes, I sound like a girl for a moment. 😉
Link to men’s version can be found here.
Black Diamond Hollowpoint
At the very beginning of the summer, I was still lugging around all my climbing equipment in a fairly normal backpack (so normal it had a laptop sleeve). After an excursion out with a bunch of really outdoor savvy people, I was feeling like a total newbie. I needed a backpack made for gear that wasn’t constantly dropping its contents out. Some research (and sticker shock) led me to the Black Diamond Hollowpoint.
At about $60, the Hollowpoint is one of the best priced climber specific bags I’ve found. It’s seriously rugged and perfectly designed. It’s top loading so gear stays put (none of that everything falling out the front when you need something). So far I’ve been able to fit 2 harnesses, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 chalk bags, a pile of guide books, my DSLR camera, a massive soft sided water bottle, and lunch. That’s a lot of gear. The backpack comes with a waist and chest strap, so it’s great for long or sketchy approaches. And for the record – I can still fit my laptop in there when I’m headed to the rock gym for a work/climb session.
Last but not least, I’ve been loving my pair of KEEN McKenzie’s this summer. I picked these up in December of last year, and they sat lonely and unused for a long time. Finally, June hit and I introduced them to whitewater rafting, kayaking, and a whole lot of other things water related.
Unlike most water sandals, the KEEN McKenzie was designed more like a shoe. It has a fine mesh all the way around the shoe structure to allow great drainage, but it also keeps rocks and other debris out. Another perk? The sole of these hybrid shoes is fantastically grippy. I was surprised to find that I could easily scale up sketchy river side trails and move pretty quickly in them. If you’re looking for a water shoe, these are awesome.
Link to men’s version can be found here.