We honestly didn’t think that Stanley—who’s been making great food and beverage containers since 1913—could improve upon their Classic Flask. But they proved us wrong. This spring, be sure to save a Jackson for their new eCycle Flask.

This eight-ounce container is made from recycled (and recyclable) plastic, and it boasts two lids—an attached bottle-style screw-top, and a large hinge top. The latter open the top wide for a thorough cleaning, so you can use this flask for any variety of drink (mixed or straight, non-alcoholic or otherwise) without worrying about lingering tastes or smells. The dishwasher-safe flask is also leak-proof. Better still, thanks to the wide-mouth opening, you can also use this flask as a makeshift dry box for your various electronic must-haves….

Alite Designs already won our hearts when they announced their innovative program to lend camping gear, but the products they’ve released in 2012 keep ‘em on the shortlist of outdoor companies to watch in 2013.  And their creative approach to common camping woes continues with the announcement of the Clover Cook Set cooking utensil, which is currently getting crowd-source support on Kickstarter.  The three-in-one tool includes a big spoon and a spatula with a serrated edge that join together to form a pair of tongs, arguably one of the best tools for cooking, full stop.  Flip ‘em around, and they slide together into a thin, space-saving package.  The tools are constructed from heat-resistant, dishwater-safe BPA-free nylon. We had the chance to play with a prototype last August, and liked what we saw….
The first production run is slated for late March/early April 2013

$20 for Initial Backing and One Set

What seems like a no-brainer of an idea is often times something that takes a while to get to market.  After years of enduring 1,001 different hard and soft plastic water bottles, aluminum and stainless steel vessels, and a similar number of hydration reservoirs, what we often yearned for was something that kept our precious fluid hot on the cold days, and cold on the hot ones—without lugging an old-school, heavy and bulky thermos into the backcountry.  Enter Hydroflask, who employ double-wall vacuum insulation in their stainless steel water bottles, keeping hot liquids hot for an advertised 12 hours (without creating a scorching—or even warm—exterior), and cold liquids cold for up to 24 hours. We tested both claims, and they were accurate (insulation times, it should be noticed, that are comparable to other vacuum-sealed bottles on the market).  The high-quality food-grade 18/8 stainless steel (the same metal used in most cutlery) means the bottles are BPA free and highly resistant to retaining odor, taste, and bacteria. The double-wall insulation also means the bottles won’t “sweat” with condensation, so you won’t saturate everything when you stash the bottle in a bag.  The bottles come in practically every size you’d want, with both narrow and wide mouths.  We’ve already gushed about their Growler, and we’re also enamored with the 18-ounce wide mouth bottle ($24) as a travel-friendly companion, the 2.2-inch mouth makes it easy to fill from an airport water fountain after clearing security. But the 21-ounce “standard” mouth bottle may be the perfect bottle for the active set. It provides more storage (of course), and the narrower mouth means less spilling, but it’s also compatible with Hydroflask’s Revolve water filter ($40), which threads into the bottle and can generate 75 gallons of water devoid of most fresh-water contaminants, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

This year, our New Year’s resolution is to get back to “fighting” shape. That means more running, more skiing, and more just-plain activity. But training takes its toll. Whether it’s the bonk after a ten-mile run, or post-gym exhaustion from hours of weight training, sometimes it takes us longer than we’d like to shed that muscle pain and general fatigue. Firming up and dropping ten pounds is a great goal, but face it, we need all the help we can get. We love GU Energy Gels for a mid-workout boost, and now we have their new Chocolate Smoothie Recovery Brew, a tasty treat designed to help your muscles recover and energy levels return. It tastes surprisingly good (not too chalky or artificial), much better than the average muscle milk and protein supplements we’ve relied on in the past. It’s made with premium ingredients, including whey protein isolate, for a boost that’s tastier and nutritionally more sound than our stand-by Snickers bar.

$45 canister; $44 for box of 12 packets

www.camelbak.com, one pound, one ounce
Anyone who has paid the price for drinking questionable water knows the peace of mind that bottled water brings. But when you’re on the go, especially in the backcountry or traveling, pure stuff can be hard to find. The CamelBak All Clear offers a great solution. The All Clear employs a built-in UV-C light bulb that kills all illness-causing organisms in just 60 seconds.  I really like the simplicity of this system. The lid, which houses the UV bulb, battery, display, and charging port, only has a single button. Push the button, the UV light goes on, you wait a minute, and the bacteria and viruses are zapped. The light and bottle do all the work, with an easy-to-see LCD display that counts down the time remaining, so you know when your water is ready. It’s that easy. One big difference between the UV purification and more traditional filtration is taste, color, and particles. With UV purification systems (like the All Clear) the water you put in the bottle is exactly the same as the water you get out—only it’s safe to drink. If you’re drinking from puddles and swamps, you might prefer a standard filtration system that not only purifies the water, but cleans it as well. But, as our testers found, most of the time they weren’t limited to pond scum or mud puddles as a hydration source.  The bottle is slightly heavy for backpacking and does take five hours to fully charge but it’s ideal for any trip where the prospect of drinking local water sends a shiver up your spine. I also found that it works as lantern in a pinch, even if it does only runs for a minute at a time—likely the longest it’s taken me to pitch my tent after dark. When you first charge the All Clear, you need to do the full five hours—otherwise you’ll get an error message (and the UV light doesn’t glow).
-Chris Boyle