WINTER GEAR GUIDE PART 2
DANNER RAINFOREST BOOTS - $360
We've said from the beginning that we want to highlight local brands making iconic product. Danner is certainly one of Portland's premier local companies that make world famous product by hand, right here in town. As far as I'm concerned the Rainforest is THE choice for trail work. They're 8 inches tall, which is the minimum for chainsaw work. Here's their copy: “A great all-purpose work boot, the Rain Forest GTX boot is lined in GORE-TEX for breathable, waterproof protection and features full-grain leather for rugged durability. Stitchdown construction means a wider platform for greater stability, and angled lugs in the outsole provide substantial support whether ascending or descending. Center lugs deliver maximum traction on wet and dry surfaces.” The only thing I need to add to that, is that it's recraftable, which means Danner can restitch an entirely new sole onto your boot. That's what I'm talking about. Buy nice things, take care of them with some good Granger's boot leather, and you won't need to buy new boots every year. Now, get in touch with your local trail group and help them fix up those trails!
MSR LIGHTNING ASCENT SNOWSHOES - $299
I'm going to save words on this one. These are the ones to get. Made in Seattle by real people. Made with quality materials, so they're not going to break on you in one season. The design is time-tested. MSR just make small tweaks over the years - things like the strap material. They're easy to put on, they stay put. They handle icy conditions as well as fresh snow. Speaking of fresh snow, unless you're constantly tackling deep powder and/or carrying heavy loads, you probably just want the 22 inch size.
ORTLIEB DUFFLE 85 - $200
We were looking for a bomber waterproof bag we could take to trail work parties. You're often tent camping and gear lives outside the tent, so rather than risk soaked gear, we looked to the Ortlieb duffle for true waterproofing. Because of the welded construction and the truly waterproof zipper - if you close it completely you could submerge the bag and the contents would stay dry. If you've had any other Ortlieb bags - trusted by messengers in rainy cities like Portland - you know the fabric simply won't wear out. It's indestructible. The 85 is pretty huge. It's definitely got room for a week's worth of gear. If you're looking for just a bomber weekend bag to throw in the car, maybe check out their 65 size. There are nice inner pockets at either end of the bag for small things you don't want to lose inside. That brings up the one beef we have with duffles is that with a bag this size, you have to bring all kinds of mini bags to sub-divide your gear, or risk rifling through every damn item you brought to find that one little thing you're looking for. I waste so much time on this maneuver when traveling. The outer mesh pockets are a nice touch, but since the mesh doesn't stretch you're limited to pretty small things in that pocket. They were thoughtful to add lightly padded backpack straps, which work well. This bag is starting to be too big to carry as a pack, but it still works. Final quibble is the waterproof zipper is hard to pull. It's the price for true waterproofness, so we're not complaining. There are also loops to carabiner or strap the bag down if you're hitching rides or doing international travel. It's a bomber bag, but because of the lack of interior pockets, it's not everyone's bag, but what it does, it does really well. All things considered, one of the best duffles we've used.
MSR TRAIL SHOT - $50
This little item quickly became the MVP on our Oregon Timber Trail trip this past summer. The Trail Shot replaced another heavier MSR filter. This guy is only 5 oz. and they say it filters one liter per minute. Many water sources are just a trickle, and the hose attachment lets you get at those water sources with no problem. I tend to use my SteriPen on flowing water sources and this filter for everything else. It's easy to use and fits in your pocket, and it's affordable. An essential piece of gear!
MSR DROMLITE 2L - $27
MSR updated their much-loved dromlite water carriers this year. They ditched the cordura material in favor of a rugged film with RF welded seams. The cap is the heaviest part of this unit. I appreciate that about MSR - they save weight where they can, and the parts that need to be durable and easy to use stay that way. BPA-free food grad lining guarantees your water won't taste like plastic chemicals. They fold down small when you don't need them and the material is easy to stuff in your luggage. These are easy to bring car camping as well.
SPOT GEN 3 - $75
If you're spending any time in the outdoors, whether hiking, XC skiing, or mountain biking. If you're doing multi-day trips into the backcountry, pick one of these up. They're basically peace of mind for that one time that you lose the trail and/or hurt yourself and can't get out under your own power. Sorry to be a downer during the holidays. We know people that got lost in the woods. Basically, this works when your cell phone can't because it talks to satellites, not cell towers. You can send pre-programmed messages to your loved one - like - “still out here ripping singletrack, kisses” and if things go really wrong, the SOS button will alert a team to come look for you…and they'll have your coordinates. You don't want to rely on this, but loved ones can track you and it could save your butt.
LEZYNE SV-11 MULTI TOOL - $47
We've gone through our share of multi tools over the years. Truth be told, they don't get that much use, but don't you dare leave home without one, because that's the time you're going to need it. This is the one to get. It has all the tools you'll need to work on your bike on the trail, and the most important is that chain breaker (don't forget to bring a quick link too) When you break a chain, this tool and that quick link will get you back on the bike. I only know because I forgot my multi that one time I broke my chain. Luckily it was a group ride and I could flag down my savior. Yes, I was that guy. Don't be that guy. Oh, this tool is great because it's super slim, light and doesn't take up too much room in your kit. Buy one for every tool bag, and another for your MTB ride pack.
WOLF TOOTH COMPONENTS - DROP STOP CHAINRING - $64, REMOTE- $60, VALAIS25 - $25
Wolf Tooth makes a huge amount of accessories for your bike - stuff that often didn't exist, but should have. For example their Drop Stop chainrings. They're a great upgrade for your bike. They're lighter, look great, and I have yet to drop a chain. Most importantly you get more tooth options - I chose the 30T for my OTT 1x build. The Remote might be my favorite upgrade, it replaces your stock dropper post lever and nests beautifully with your brake lever, thus cleaning up your cockpit. You should check out their site for the full explanation of how they're designed and built. “In order to allow saddle bag mounting on dropper posts, the Wolf Tooth Valais 25 mounts to the seatpost upper, providing a secure mounting point while protecting the stanchion from wear and the wiper seal from damage. Injection molded from an engineering-grade thermoplastic, the Valais 25 can also serve as a temporary crutch in the event of a backcountry dropper failure. The dual-lip design securely holds packs with straps up to 25mm wide and at full compression the deep skirt contacts the seal collar first, protecting delicate seals from damage.” The Valais25 allowed me to run a light Revelate saddle bag on my dropper post. Worked like a charm. All highly recommended bits from Wolf Tooth.
GRANGER'S MERINO, DOWN, PERFORMANCE WASH- $9-12 /PERFORMANCE, FOOTWEAR REPEL $9-12
We're not here to tell you to buy more or new gear if you don't need it. Are you in the habit of washing your base layers, mid layers, and washing and retreating your outerwear? If not, you're probably not getting the most out of your clothing. The good news is that it's not too late to take care of your kit. Let's start with washing your merino pieces. Merino makes great base layers, but it's delicate. Using Granger's Merino wash is the best, because it neutralizes odors and removes the dirt from all of your merino gear without damaging the fibers. Did you know that you should be washing your down sleeping bags once or twice per season? If it's a down jacket that you wear all the time, you should probably wash it more than that. It's not just being fussy, it's making sure you're pieces keep working properly. Down loses its loft when dirty, and so a down piece will keep you less warm. This is a good video about washing down. The performance wash is for washing your outerwear and synthetic pieces. Outerwear loses its effectiveness when the pores get clogged, so the trick is to wash it every 10-12 wears, pull it out of the wash and spray it with Performance Repel and then throw it in the dryer. Arc'Teryx did a nice video on how to wash your Gore-Tex jacket. It's worth watching. Wash your stinky fleece every time you wear it, or every other time if you don't perspire heavily. The Footwear Repel works on a variety of materials like suede, nubuck, nylon. Highly recommended especially for those wet PNW winters. Learn how to take care of your quality outerwear and it will take care of you. Investing in some quality product like Granger's will extend the life and function of your gear.
HEART COFFEE - HONDURAS DAVID MUÑOZ - $19, ETHIOPIA GUJI - $20
Black cherry, cacao, molasses, mandarin for the for the David Muñoz. Rose, honeycomb, peach, caramel are the tasting notes for the Ethiopia Guji. I asked Wille for his favorite Ethiopian and he suggested the Guji. I asked him for his favorite Guatemalan and he suggested the Honduran David Muñoz. We don't just love Heart for it's aesthetic - Wille is a well-traveled former snowboard pro from Sweden and he has an artist's eye, so of course their packaging and cafés are all modern and Euro cool. (I think their Woodstock café might be their third Portland location.) We love Heart because they're leaders of third wave coffee. You could shake your head and ask how much can we obsess about coffee or you can be thankful that they're traveling the world to maintain relationships with the growers and pay them what their beans are worth. That's a big part of what you're paying for when you shell out $20 for a 12 oz. bag of beans. So worth it.
STUMPTOWN COFFEE - ETHIOPIA MORDECOFE, GUATEMALA INJERTO BOURBON $18-19
Stumptown is a great company that's worth supporting. They're a huge Portland success story, with cafes all over town, not to mention cafes in LA, NY, Chicago. Go to an OTT trail party and we'll serve you Stumptown in the morning. They're supporters and we love them for that. But the thing is, they roast good beans. The coffee is good. We sampled a few and our top two are the Ethiopia Modecofe and the Guatemala Injerto Bourbon. Also, about that new packaging - bold use of the Hobo font (designed by Morris Fuller Benton in 1910)
WATER AVENUE COFFEE - ETHIOPIA LIMMU KOSSA, EL SALVADOR AYUTEPEQUE $15
Water Avenue is loved by Portland cyclists. OK, we love many coffees, but their Water Ave. café has been a great meet up spot for rides for years. They support the Breadwinner team. Better than all those things, they roast a high quality bean at a great price. Our favorites this season have been the Ethiopia Limmu Kossa and the El Salvador Ayutepeque. Hard to go wrong with Water Ave.