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Showers Pass Updates Spring Classic Jacket for 25th Anniversary

Portland, OR – Showers Pass today introduces an updated version of its Spring Classic jacket, in celebration of the company’s 25th anniversary in the cycling industry. The fan-favorite jacket, also a favorite of pro racing teams, gets an updated look, including a special limited release in the brand’s iconic “Goldenrod” colorway. Performance-oriented updates include Showers Pass’ new eliteAIR™ fabric technology in the underarm construction for optimal breathability. 

Showers Pass Spring Classic Jacket
Showers Pass Spring Classic Jacket

“When competing at a high level in foul weather, regulating the athlete’s body temperature can make or break their performance,” says Kyle Ranson, CEO at Showers Pass. “Be it race day or training day, fully seam-sealed construction is a must for protection from rain and wind; but even in cool weather, the garment has to be designed to maximize the venting of body heat.” 

The Spring Classic’s unbelievably lightweight 3-layer construction delivers an impressive 30k waterproof/20k breathability rating. It also features a trim fit, angled full-zip front, dual core vents, and upper back “exhaust vent” for added airflow and to prevent billowing.  Reflective accents throughout improve visibility while on the road, and a back pocket holds essentials or stows the jacket when not in use. 

Showers Pass Spring Classic Jacket
Showers Pass Spring Classic Jacket

Product:

  • Showers Pass Spring Classic Jacket
    • MSRP: $325 – Men’s Colors: Goldenrod & Cayenne

Men’s sizes; X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large

Available July 6th at  http://www.showerspass.com 

About Showers Pass 

Showers Pass was born in 1997, from the desire to develop clothing and gear that would get people out on their bikes no matter the weather. The brand’s reputation is built on the use of high-performance materials in combination with innovative functional design. Originally specializing in waterproof-breathable outerwear, Showers Pass now offers industry-leading Merino baselayers, active apparel, waterproof accessories, and waterproof bags. The Portland, Oregon based company is made up of a team of outdoor enthusiasts who bike, run, ski, hike, climb and play in the outdoors.

COROS VERTIX 2 – Full Review

When COROS debuted several years ago, it was a disrupter in the field of GPS watch categories. It’s impressive out-of-the-box features and battery life threatened to push Garmin and Suunto off their pedestals.

Three years ago, when I was researching the best GPS running watch I stumbled upon COROS on Instagram and decided to purchase their Apex watch.

This was after using the Apple Watch for a majority of my training. My biggest frustration with the Apple Watch was that I would have to charge it every night and for longer GPS excursions, it would die halfway through.

What made COROS stand out more than anything else was their battery life. And the Apex delivered. Even on heavy training weeks for ultramarathons, I could still go 15 days before I needed to recharge it.

And while it lacked some features that I missed with the Apple Watch (like being able to track non-GPS workouts), COROS’ team of developers started to deliver on those features with firmware updates.

COROS VERTIX 2
COROS VERTIX 2

The new VERTIX 2 landed last summer with a ton of new features, including music playback, dual GNSS functionality, full-color topographic mapping, ECG functionality, WIFI connectivity for updates, amazing battery life, and Insta360action cam controls. Externally it boasts a larger screen and titanium alloy bezels and case to survive any adventure.

I’ve been using the watch all day, every day for the past three months. It has been with me on trail runs, bike rides, ice climbs, gym rock climbing, road runs, backcountry skiing, indoor cardio workouts and indoor bike rides.

So, let’s dive in on why this watch is the best gps watch on the market.

VERTIX 2 Overview

The VERTIX 2 is a massive watch. I have skinny wrists and was a bit uncertain wearing this monstrosity 24/7 over the course of our testing period. And it did take some getting used to: both size and weight. But after the first week, it was as comfortable as the APEX.

On the right side of the watch (if you’re wearing it on your left wrist) there are two buttons and a separate digital crown (which rotates and can be pressed in).

The top button is used to turn the backlight on or off.

The bottom button has a number of functionalities. On the main screen, outside of a tracked activity, it can be tapped to cycle through metrics on the home screen or held to jump to the settings folder.

COROS VERTIX 2
COROS VERTIX 2

With the digital crown, if you press and hold, it will unlock the screen. This is much better than the unlocking function on the APEX. With the APEX, I had to turn the dial to unlock which was especially frustrating when in the middle of an activity, especially in the wintertime when I was wearing gloves.

With the VERTIX 2, I found the crown easy to use, even when wearing gloves. When I was skiing in the backcountry, it was easy to shift between uphill and downhill tracking, as well as pausing for a snack break.

While in the middle of an activity, the digital crown can be used to cycle through your activity metrics. This is great for some activities (like indoor cycling or GPS cardio) when I am focused on duration and heart rate (trying to keep it in the fat burning zone).

While the touchscreen isn’t a new feature for COROS or GPS watches in general, it is still worth highlighting. It is primarily used outside of workout mode. You can click into widgets to slide through your metrics. Or pull up a map and move around easily.

I haven’t found myself using the touchscreen too much outside of the widgets. It is a much easier tool that the dial to cycle through and look at a particular time frame of data.

The watch bands connect using a quick release system. Again, this is a step up from the APEX. The tabs to pull and release are much easier to use, allowing you to swap out bands or remove them all together to connect to the COROS Carabiner so you can climb without the watch attached to your wrist.

On the back of the watch is the charging port and optical heart rate sensor. The heart rate sensor is the set of LED’s and optical sensors (bright and vibrant red and green lights) that measure your heart rate, but also blood oxygen levels and ECG data.

ECG / HRV Feature

To access the ECG feature, navigate to the settings menu and click HRV test. It’ll ask you to place your hand on the bezel.

And it’ll start the ECG, lasting for 60 seconds. Throughout you’ll feel a vibration, similar to a heartbeat. At the end you’re given a HRV value, not an ECG value. Which is confusing.

I’m unsure if this is a feature that will continue being developed.

The HRV value does show up in the app and you can watch the trend over time. The value is scaled from 0-100.

  • 81-100: Superior, relaxed

  • 51-80: High, under minor physical or mental pressure

  • 21-50: Medium, under medium physical or mental pressure

  • 1-20: Low, under significant physical or mental pressure

Widgets for Days

When you’re on the home screen, you can move into the widget menu by unlocking the screen and moving the dial.

Widgets include everything from steps, KCAL burned, workout duration, recovery data, to sleep.

With each widget, you can click into with the dial and scroll through the data with the dial or your finger on the screen.

I have found that most of these widgets are pretty accurate. With the exception of sleep. I think it’s because of the size of the watch, but I have found that if the watch isn’t centered on my wrist that I will miss out on sleep data; viewable as large gaps of “awake” time during the night. Additionally, if I get up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break or to help an awake child, it will register that as the moment I awoke—not counting when I went back to sleep a few minutes later.

I slept like a rock, but COROS is registering a lot of awake time. More than likely because of the way the watch was positioned.

Notifications and Settings

One of the reasons I hated using the Apple Watch as a primary fitness watch was all the notifications I would get. Anything my iPhone received, so did my watch. Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping.

With Coros, I have the ability to be in the same predicament. But I am very conscious about the impact all those notifications have on my mental health, so I have a majority turned off. Right now, phone calls is the only notification I receive. Anything else can wait till I’m at my phone.

But it is fully customizable when you first setup the watch on the COROS app.

If you hold the bottom button, you can also access the settings menu. Here you can access the above mentioned ECG function. But you’re also able to connect to Bluetooth devices, WIFI, Insta360 action cam control, alarms, the compass, and music.

Music and Insta360 Cam Controls

The VERTIX 2 is COROS’s first watch to feature music. Bluetooth headphones are paired through the headphones menu in Settings. You can pair multiple Bluetooth headphones, which is a great feature for ultramarathons when you might burn through a pair or two.

Pairing is easy and once setup, they are easily accessible. When powered on, the watch will connect to them. When tested, it would take over the connection from my iPhone easily.

For music, the VERTIX 2 supports loading MP3 files to the device using a USB cable from your computer. Drag and drop the files you want to the “music folder” and you’re ready to start jamming by selecting the music menu from the settings menu.

You can use the touchscreen to play, pause, skip tracks, etc.

It should be noted though that you can only load MP3 tracks. Services like Spotify or Apple Music isn’t compatible and probably won’t ever be.

Now, at the time of testing, we couldn’t test the Insta360 controls. But to give an overview, if you have the Insta360 Go 2, One X2 and One R), you can control the camera with the VERTIX 2.

Using the dial, you can alternate between photo and video mode, then press the dial to take a photo or start recording a video.

Battery Life

COROS VERTIX 2
COROS VERTIX 2

The VERTIX 2 lasts up to 140 hours of standard full GPS tracking and 60 days of normal use. With light GPS usage, daily workouts tracked, and with wearing the watch 24/7, I have gone 35-40 days between charges. During heavy usage periods, using GPS daily, I have gone 25 days between charges.

COROS VERTIX 2
COROS VERTIX 2

Some features, like the ECG/HRV test, music, and Insta360 camera control will drain your battery faster.

It should be noted that the VERTIX 2 uses a proprietary charger, so don’t lose it!

GPS Activity Tracking and Maps

During our testing period we took the VERTIX 2 everywhere: hiking, trail running, road running, road biking, trail biking, back country skiing, ice climbing, and most recently, paddle boarding (yay! spring has sprung!).

GPS accuracy can make or break a watch.

One of the biggest challenges I had with the APEX was that when I was doing trail races with a lot of vertical gains, the watch would think that I wasn’t moving and stop tracking.

COROS VERTIX 2
COROS VERTIX 2

The VERTIX 2 has improved on this by offering Dual Frequency GNSS. This allows the watch to locate the best GPS frequency available from all five of the major satellite systems at the same time.

Additionally, navigation features include topographic, landscape, and hybrid global mapping. You can load a route by transferring it to the COROS app and loading it directly to the watch from the app. I used this feature in the backcountry and part of the challenge is that on the map there aren’t any labels or turn-by-turn directions. So it was challenging navigating back when I got off course and lost the trail.

COROS VERTIX 2
COROS VERTIX 2

When I looked at the routes tracked, I did find the VERTIX 2 to be pretty darn accurate, including in heavily wooded areas or terrain that had more vertical climbs.

I highlighted a few examples to showcase the accuracy of the GPS data.

In the middle image, this was a point on my run where I transitioned from trail to sidewalk. While it didn’t show me directly on the trail, throughout it caught every little turn and pivot I made, including where I ventured off the paved trail onto a single track.

For the Ski Touring tracking, when I zoom in, you can see all the switch backs I went up.

What I am most impressed by is the fact that the watch is more accurately picking up trail runs on steep inclines. No longer is the watch auto-pausing because it can’t register movement. And that in itself is a huge winner for me as I continue training for ultras this Summer.

Conclusion

Throughout the testing period of the VERTIX 2, I continue to be impressed by the leap forward COROS has taken with this watch.

There are a ton of really awesome features with the music and Insta360 features.

But more than anything, the feature that is worth shouting about is battery life. There isn’t another watch on the market that can match COROS on what they were able to accomplish with the VERTIX 2.

Sure there are some improvements I’d love to see (especially with maps), but if there’s a company I trust to get it done, it’s COROS. Their developer team is amazing and based on what they have done in the last few years, I’m fairly certain they will keep the VERTIX 2 ahead of the competition

If you’re an endurance athlete or avid explorer, I have no doubt that this is the watch for you.

The COROS VERTIX 2 is available online and at several different retailers. It retails for $699.

The Perfect Jacket for Backpacking

One of the challenges with backpacking in cooler / cold weather is the back sweat.

I’ve rarely had a hike where I’ve been in at a comfortable temperature for the duration of the hike.

And it’s always on my back. I’m either feeling too hot in that spot where my back connects to my pack or I’m cooling down and you get a nice chill in that same spot.

Or I’m shedding layers. Stopping on the trail, taking my pack off, taking my jacket off, stuffing it in my pack, putting my pack on, and then feeling freezing a few minutes later and reversing that process.

It’s a horrible cycle to be stuck in, which is why I have avoided winter backpacking.

Until now.

Pak-Jak: The Best Backpacking Jacket

Pak-Jak took on this exact case study to create the best backpacking jacket.

The Swappable Back Jacket

Their jacket is designed for ultimate flexibility on the trail with an interchangeable and flexible back.

  • Puffy jacket back
  • Mesh jacket back
  • Or no jacket back with connectable straps to secure your pack.

With this flexibility, it is entirely possible to start your hike with the puffy jacket back and swap out the back when you feel too warm. And I think that’s a great option for long, all-day or multi-day hikes.

When I tested this feature, it took around 90 seconds to swap out the back for the mesh back and just over three minutes to fully remove the back and connect the straps to the jacket and the pack.

Which isn’t bad. When I swapped backs, I didn’t go back to the full jacket. Because I swapped before my base layers were sweaty, I was able to manage my temperature. Plus, my backpack provided enough coverage from the cold on my back.

Options, Options, Options

I don’t call the Pak-Jak the best backpacking jacket easily.

But this jacket earns that title because of it’s flexibility.

I can’t tell you how often I am planning a day trip and I am standing there, staring at my gear closet, trying to decide what to take with me.

Part of that is because I am trying to account for all scenarios.

When you’re above tree level, weather can change very quickly, and I want to be as safe as possible.

But I also want to be comfortable.

On top of the ability to change out jacket backs, the Pak-Jak also had a detachable hood.

The hood itself adds 2.1 oz. to the total weight of the jacket.

With the full back, the jacket weighs in at 15.7 oz; the mesh back is 16.4 oz; and without any back is 11.8 oz.

Now, while there are three options, I do suggest trying out the mesh back versus the no back prior. That way for your hike, you’re only carrying one option to swap out to instead of two.

Features

The Pak-Jak features Primaloft Gold Insulation; one of the best highest performing synthetic insulations.

It has a great warmth-to-weight ratio, which is why the Pak-Jak is so light.

During one of my test hikes, it was snowing. And even with a heavy, wet snow, I found that the jacket had great water-repellency and wet protection.

The jacket also has a no-chafe guard at the top of the zipper near the neck. During my cold weather hikes I really appreciated this feature because I could keep the jacket zipped tight and not feel like my chin was going raw.

For the puffy back and the mesh back, they are connected with zippers. There are guards on the bottom that fold over the zipper so that your backpack doesn’t accidentally loosen the connection.

Pak-Jak Back Strap

If you swap to the no back option, the straps that are included synch the back of the jacket so that it isn’t blowing free. But the jacket also comes with universal shoulder straps to help keep your backpack connected to the jacket and minimize bounce.

Conclusion

I think the Pak-Jak is the best backpacking jacket on the market.

It’s a new company and I think this product is going to shake up this category.

The product designers were very intentional with everything they put into this jacket.

I should note that this jacket does come in Men and Women sizes. I test a Large and I’m 5’11” and 185 pounds.

Tasc Performance Apparel Review

When I stopped at the Tasc Performance booth at Outdoor Retailer, I knew I had stumbled onto a pretty special and unique brand.

Tasc Performance clothes are made from a bamboo fiber blend, which is great for any type of activity due to its moisture-wicking, anti-odor, and wrinkle-resistant properties.

At Outdoor Retailer, it was immediately noticeable how lightweight and comfortable their clothing was. The bamboo fiber blend made it extremely soft and I knew I had to try them out on the trail.

Field Testing

Tasc sent me a handful of products to review. In this post, we’ll break down two products: the Carrolton Tee and the Recess Short.

The Recess Short

Tasc Performance Recess Short

With the Tasc Performance Recess Short, the softness of the bamboo fiber blend was immediately apparent. It might TMI, but I have been have some chafing issues in the nether region. During the field test I took them out on a mountain hike and several runs and I never experienced any redness or soreness down there. I also through in a handful of home workouts and yoga sessions.

When comparing them to my other go-to running shorts, they also weighed in 2 grams lighter.

The shorts have several pockets for storage. I was able to easily hold a few gels and a flexible water bottle in the side pockets, and my keys in a zippered side pocket. On the bamboo liner, it has a cell phone pocket that easily held my iPhone 12 Pro.

The pockets kept things secure enough so that there wasn’t too much bouncing, but ideally on longer runs, I would store a majority of those things in my running pack.

Not getting chafed by itself made these shorts a winner. But I’ve also just lounged around the house in them. The liner isn’t too tight or constrictive. It kept everything in it’s place while giving me room to stretch out.

I also found that they are suitable to nearly every workout activity I could think of. While doing jump squats or downward-facing dog, I never felt that the shorts were slipping in a way that would expose my butt crack. But I also didn’t find myself constantly adjusting the liner.

The Carrolton Tee

Tasc Performance Carrolton Tee

To say that the Tasc Performance Carrolton Tee is as smooth and as soft as butter may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not. I wish all my shirts were this soft.

While on my mountain hike, I had my go-to running back slung over it, and what I noticed was that I really liked the collar.

The collar sits a bit higher than my other running shirts. And what’s great about it is that I didn’t experience the normal chaffing I would get around my neck from my running pack. It’s the little things that make a difference.

The bamboo fiber also lays a bit different than a normal running shirt. It is heavier and because of that, I didn’t experience the typical riding-up I normally would have during yoga or HITT workouts.

The Bottom Line

Truth be told: I’m a big fan of Tasc Performance.

Not only were they really comfortable during my activities, but I put them through the ringer to test out the other bamboo proprieties: moisture-wicking and anti-odor.

I spent around 15 hours of heavy activity in them and they passed the smell test. I mean, it was a little funky towards the end, but it didn’t have the normal funk of my workout and running clothes.

If you’re looking to upgrade your running apparel or needing something that you just want to be comfortable in, look no further than Tasc Performance.

The Best Lanterns for Camping: BioLite’s AlpenGlow

One of the standouts from this year’s media event at Outdoor Retailer was BioLite’s innovation in the camp lantern market. They debuted their AlpenGlow Series, featuring USB-rechargeable lanterns, and I was excited to have received them to test out in the field.

BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern
BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern


The AlpenGlow models offer 250 and 500 lumens. It utilizes ChromaTeal LED Technology, providing surprisingly accurate color rendering in lowlight conditions. But the coolest feature is the built in accelerometer that will activate “Candle Flicker” mode or “Fireworks” mode.


I brought these lanterns with me to a recent Cub Scout camp and the Fireworks were a hit; the colors quickly cycling between red, blue, purple, green, and orange.

BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern
BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern


As for the functionality inside the tent, it provided adequate lighting (especially with the 500 lumen model) to go about setting up our bedding, changing clothes, or doing some light reading.

BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern
BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern


The bottom of the BioLite AlpenGlow has a hook that can easily hang from the ceiling. And it also has a USB outlet that allows you to plug your phone in to charge or attach a series of SiteLight String Lighting for additional illumination. 


Once my son was asleep, I was able to sneak out of the tent with one of the lanterns and sit at a nearby picnic table with some of the other parents to converse. The lighting modes were easy to navigate back to a warm light that wasn’t so bright it would disrupt our sleeping children.


The next morning, while it was still dark, I navigated the campsite (lantern swinging next to my side) to start preparing breakfast. As the sun was coming up, it provided able illumination so I could make sure the pancake batter wasn’t too think and the bacon wasn’t getting burnt.

BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern
BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern


I was really impressed by these lanterns and the technology they are infused with. I’ve been a fan of BioLite for years and these lanterns didn’t disappoint.

As the days get longer and colder, I look forward to sitting out on my porch with these for illumination.

OLITA Sunscreen – Product Review

Having a solid sunscreen for your outdoor adventures is key.

When I look for the best sunscreen, it’s looking for one that will provide amble sun protection, but will also stay on in the water, but also won’t run into my eyes when I sweat.

That’s why I was excited to get a free sample of OLITA’s SPF 30. It checks all those boxes. Plus it is super gentle on the skin when applied; easily rubbing and blending in.

OLITA’s SPF 30 is an organic mineral sunscreen that is made from non-toxic, fragrance-free, water-resistant, and reef-safe ingredients for up to 80 minutes. 

I’ve tried other sunscreens in the past that were natural, organic, and reef-safe, but I always ran into challenges with them rubbing in and running into my eyes. And my skin is very important to me. Now that I am in Colorado and spending more time outdoors, exposure is high and I don’t want to look 60 when I turn 40. And I’ll avoid rubbing a sunscreen on my face if I know it’ll run into my eyes. There’s nothing like your eyes stinging when you’re trying to crush a 50K.

But I have been very happy with this product, as well as OLITA’s mission to help the environment through their product development.

Lems Version 2 of the Trailhead is versatile and stylish

Lems Trailhead

I am a big fan of companies that listen to feedback from their customers and use it to actually make changes to products! That’s exactly what Lems did when outdoor enthusiasts let them know that their women’s Trailhead shoes were not quite perfect yet. 

I reviewed the first version of Lems Trailhead back in June. I enjoyed the shoe but did find it to be a bit narrow. A lot of Lems loyalists also found the shoes to be narrow, as well as stiff with its rock plate.

So, Lems took the shoes back to the drawing board. They redesigned them to make adjustments where needed while maintaining the functionality that attracted me to this shoe in the first place. The alterations range from practically non-noticeable removal of the bunion area overlay to ahhhhh-inspiring increases in toe box width (read the full list of changes HERE).  

One difference from the original Lems Trailhead design is that the lacing system. It used to have two loops, but Lems reduced it to one to release pressure on the top of the foot. I noticed that with this change, the tongue has a bit more tendency to shift to the side. By paying a bit of attention when lacing up, I can ensure it stays where it should.

They also widened the toebox, but if you have wide feet, these may still be too narrow for you. Even with the increased width in the toe box this shoe is narrower than others in Lems product line.

Flexibility has increased from the first design to the second with the removal of the rock plate. There is adequate tread and cushioning on both of the designs to provide comfort while trekking. The biggest difference is your foot feels more of the impact and terrain with the newer version. I would limit this shoe’s use to walking around town or for day hikes where the added flexibility increases comfort. I appreciate rock plates in my shoes for backpacking to minimize foot fatigue on longer multi-day hikes.

These shoes have become the workhorse of my footwear. They are comfortable for the mundane mile-long walk to school with the kids in the morning, and stylish enough for travel to far-off places where we are on our feet exploring all day long.

I recently took them on a four-mile hike in the foothills of Boulder, Colo. I was pleased with their grip on the sandstone boulders we climbed over. The onyx color does have a tendency to show dust after hikes. But, I can are easily restore them with a quick wipe down. They also pair as easily with leggings as they do jeans or even a casual dress.