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January 14, 2010

The Right Winter Gloves


Jalapeno Gloves I picked up Mountain Hardwear's Jalapeno gloves mid-season last year, but that winter proved to be more a murmur than a roar, and outside of confirming their snug fit, the gloves remained tucked in my closet. Wishful thinking for next season.

The talisman must've worked. This winter in DC we've seen one bona fide blizzard, a few flurries and one-inch storms, and a near-record amount of days with temps that barely shoulder past freezing.  Cold enough, in other words, to send my colleague from Mississippi scouring for every piece of warm clothing she owns and for me to put the Jalapenos to the test.  And after several dark, cold-weather commutes, I can now report that these gloves are my go-to pair for winter cycling.

The fully-insulated leather glove ($100) boasts a hearty waterproof shield that bonds the breathable/waterproof membrane to the inner nylon shell for hardcore protection against all foul and unfriendly elements. The wide, long cuffs swallow my jacket cuffs, preventing any squalls from sneaking inside, and twin wrist leashes keep the gloves within reach (and out of whatever elements pollute the ground) whenever conditions demand bare-handed dexterity. That said, the abrasion-resistant goatskin palm and fingers offer more touch than you'd expect from a glove this warm.  I also appreciate the aesthetic nod to the old-school, all-leather gloves worn by most of the country's ski lift operators, though sadly I was forced to dirty the Jalapenos while doing roadside repair to a popped bike chain.  Some argue that the black grease on that tan lambskin actually makes 'em look more authentic. But to me, it's just the excuse I need to get another pair. The stained ones for cycling, the new ones for skiing...

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Related Topics: Outdoor Adventures · Skiing & Snowboarding · Travel Gear

November 24, 2009

Introducing the iPhone PicTranslator



By Lacy Morris
11/24/2009

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PicTranslator Trekking through Portugal tops my list of fun things to do; attempting to navigate using the Portuguese language does not. In response to every world-traveler's linguistic conundrum, iPhone has unleashed the PicTranslator, an application that can translate any high-quality text in 16 different languages, including Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. The gadget works on a point-and-shoot technology. To avoid a jumbled response, make sure you are cropping out everything except the words you want translated, plus that you are positioning the camera in a way to avoid glares or shadows. Depending on the length of the text, you should see the translation within 10 to 60 seconds. PicTranslator is currently only translating to English, but it can read a selection of the translated text aloud to you in five of the languages; French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. A useful app indeed, and one that is most likely going to get better. The masterminds behind PicTranslator are already thinking up ways to improve the technology with additional languages, better customer feedback, better quality of translation, and additional apps. PicTranslator can be purchased for $1.99 per month for one language or $3.99 for all 16. Follow them on Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Do you have any other favorite iPhone travel apps? Share them in the comments section.

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Related Topics: Travel Gear · Travel News · Travel Tips

November 19, 2009

Burton Offers Free Lift Tickets and Lessons


Burton-snowboarding

If you've been talking about learning how to snowboard, but never actually put words into action, Burton might be able to push you over the edge. This leading snowboard company continues its "Go Snowboarding" program.  Purchase one from a group of select boards and you can go online to obtain a free lift ticket and lesson, which are also transferable to other friends or family members. 

Seasoned riders may also find the reason they've been looking for to get a new board. Burton's "Get Lifted" program, which applies to most boards in their line, gives you a free lift ticket to top resorts including ones in California, Utah, Alaska, Vermont, West Virginia, and throughout Canada.

So get going. You're running out of excuses.

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Related Topics: Skiing & Snowboarding · Travel Gear

November 06, 2009

Nau Lets You Test Apparel Before You Pay Full Price


Nau-changing-room

We're huge fans of Nau, the apparel company who dared to break the mold by creating high-performance apparel from recycled materials, which boast all the expected backcountry and travel-friendly tech features without the hardcore, logo-centric look that often plagues other outdoor gear companies.  They've already successfully initiated a donation program (wherein 2 percent of all purchases go to one of five social/environmental organizations), and recently they've stumbled on another innovation.

Dubbed the Changing Room, the customer can choose from a selection of Nau's line, pay only half price, and receive the product to try on and test over a 30-day period. Fall in love with what you've bought, and you pay the remainder of the price. Decide you can live without it? Send it back and receive a refund on the first payment. They even offer free UPS shipping—both ways.

It's one of the more innovative approaches we've seen in getting people in touch with some of the best products on the market, so give it a go. Our picks from what's currently in the Changing Room? For men, the three-layer Assylum Jacket ($450 regular price), perfect for any and all winter sports and après action.  For the ladies? The water- and wind-resistant Shroud of Purin Hoody ($290 regular price), a great all-poly soft shell with hardcore performance and the right measure of aesthetic savvy.

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Related Topics: Outdoor Adventures · Travel Gear

October 09, 2009

Mountain Hardwear's New Battery-Heated Jacket


Ardica-moshi-mh

Endlessly reliable gear and apparel manufacturer Mountain Hardwear has partnered with Ardica Moshi Power System to introduce the first jacket to offer electrically-powered heating on demand that's also prewired to power and recharge all variety of handheld electronics, from GPS devices, cell and smart phones, mp3 players, and digital cameras.

Available as of October 8, the jacket comes in men's and women's models (Refugium and Radiance, respectively) and retails for $240. The design includes a bevy of MH-approved tech features like a quilted body with ultra-thin insulation, fleece-lined hand pockets, laminated cuff tabs with Velcro closure, and a micro-chamois-lined chin guard in a refreshingly fashion-forward design. Moshi's standalone power system sells for $145, along with a $50 tech connector kit.

Depending on your tolerance for cold and your love of pocket electronics, this new product will either be the holy grail of snow-sports apparel or... just odd. But I suspect backcountry skiers and 'boarders, heli-skiers, and Gen Next resort-goers will eagerly embrace this latest advance.

Check back soon—we'll test it and give our input.

What do you think? Too much? Not enough?

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Related Topics: Outdoor Adventures · Skiing & Snowboarding · Travel Gear

September 28, 2009

America's Best Idea



By Karen Chen
09/28/2009

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Bryce-Canyon---PhotoDisc
The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park (Photodisc)

Master documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' most recent project, The National Parks: America's Best Idea, premiered on PBS last night. Like each of Burns' hugely popular documentaries—including Baseball, Jazz, and most recently, The War, about World War II—National Parks promises to be yet another epic, in-depth look at an important part of our country's history, focusing on the people who helped to pioneer and shape the creation of these important public spaces, something that was a uniquely American idea. We encourage you to watch at least some of the six-part series (although if his other films are any indication, you'll probably find yourself glued to the TV night after night). But of course, the best way to appreciate the national parks isn't just to watch pictures of them scrolling across your TV screen. Get out and visit them! Gaze up at soaring mountain peaks, hike through enormous canyons, raft roaring rivers, climb over sand dunes, and experience for yourself the natural beauty of our country.

If you've visited any of the national parks already, and have some great photos to share, don't forget that this is the last week to submit a photo to our National Parks Photo Contest!  You could win more than $200 in hiking gear from KEEN, and have your photos featured on Away.com!  We've already gotten tons of great submissions—see them all at our Facebook page.

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Related Topics: Away.com News · National Parks · Outdoor Adventures · Travel Gear · Travel Photography

September 14, 2009

Share Your Best National Park Photo to Win KEEN Hiking Gear!



By awayblog
09/14/2009

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Park-photos-blog

Master documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' most recent project, The National Parks: America's Best Idea, premieres on PBS on September 27.  We know many of you seasoned travelers out there have visited national parks and have some great photos to share, so in celebration of this new documentary, Away.com is having a contest to spotlight our country's parks.  We're looking for your best photo, taken in or of a national or state park, forest, or seashore, that shows off the park's natural wonders, as well as your photography skills.  But choose your very best photo, because you're only allowed one entry per person!  All you have to do is:

1. Go to the Away.com Facebook Fan Page.

2. Become a fan of Away.com.

3. Type a descriptive caption of no more than 100 words—being sure to include where and in what park the photo was taken—in the text field at the top of the page (where it prompts you to "Write something...").

4. And before you hit the "Share" button, use the Photo icon below the text field to attach your most impressive national park photo.

Your photo and caption will then appear on our Facebook Wall to be shared with fellow travelers.

The grand prize winner will receive more than $230 worth of trail-ready gear from outdoor pros KEEN, to include hiking boots, a backpack, and merino wool hiking socks.  The winner, along with several runner-ups, will also have their photos featured on our site.  So start looking through your photo albums now, and send us the one that has the greatest "Wow!" factor.  We're excited to see what you've got!

Contest ends midnight on October 2.  Click here for the Official Contest Rules.

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Related Topics: Away.com News · Free Stuff · National Parks · Outdoor Adventures · Travel Gear · Travel Photography

July 17, 2009

You Tell Us: The Top Gear and Apparel for Hot Weather


Kaenon Spindle S3

As my packed-to-the-point-of-bursting closet demonstrates, I have what could be called an unhealthy gear obsession.  My friend mockingly refers to it as REI smashed into a single one-bedroom hall closet, but I always reply with one of my central tenets: it's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.  Sorta goes with "the right tool for the right job." (Although I will admit, eight different types of jackets may qualify as overkill.)

That said, there is nothing better than falling in love with a new piece of gear—and for me that happens about once a season.  This summer? I'm definitely in love with the Spindle S3 sunglasses from Kaenon. I put 'em on for the first time, and I knew they'd be the lens through which I'd be witnessing the rest of my warm-weather days, from sailing on the Chesapeake to D.C. roof-bar hopping to visiting San Fran for the first time. 

So I present the question to you: What is your tried-and-true, ever loyal must-have summer gear item?  New or old, there's no wrong answer.  Tell us by adding a comment!

And, to start the conversation, we also present a list of the newest, latest, and greatest gear for hot-weather climates.

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Travel Gear

May 15, 2009

Safe Hiking in the Spring


Mount-Ranier-hiking
A hiker at Mount Rainier, Washington (Photodisc)

Ah, spring! Time to get out the hiking gear, lace up the boots, and hit the trail! Right?

Well, sort of.

After a long winter like the one we had in the Pacific Northwest, who wouldn’t want to get out and do some hiking when the sun comes out? But spring and early summer also demand caution. Here’s why:

- Weather. Here it is mid-May, and we had snow in the mountain passes a few days ago. As I write this it is 33 degrees and raining at 4,000 feet of elevation. Prime hypothermia conditions. Spring weather is fickle and changeable; never assume things will stay as they are when you leave the car. Carry more clothes than you think you will need.

Continue reading "Safe Hiking in the Spring" »

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Related Topics: Outdoor Adventures · Travel Gear · Travel Tips

April 08, 2009

Hip New Travel-Inspired T-Shirts


Hip-travel-tshirts-1
Red, White & Beer's Airport Code T-Shirt (left) and Patagonia's Heart in the Mountains T-Shirt

As my colleagues can attest, I have what might be called an unhealthy affection for T-shirts. My ideal travel souvenir is a T-shirt from whatever country I'm fortunate enough to visit, preferably inscribed with text in the country's native tongue. Thing is, outside of Southeast Asia and a long line of wonderfully disastrous uses of U.S. grammar, cool travel-inspired T-shirts are just hard to come by (and don't get me started on the... uninspired universe of scuba-diving shirts).

But there ARE good shirts out there, and with the advent of the Internet, you don't even need to travel far and wide to acquire some of the cooler designs in circulation.

And so, as we head full bore into T-shirt-wearing weather, allow me to present a few of my favorite apparel resources:

Continue reading "Hip New Travel-Inspired T-Shirts" »

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