If Conrad Anker were the CEO of some well-known social-networking site, this is the kind of hoodie that he’d be seen sporting. In short, it does the business when conditions are at their worst, including during several frigid nighttime rides and downpours this winter. The jacket employs Schoeller’s sophisticated Nanosphere technology to offer reliable water- and abrasion-resistance (a claim to which we can attest, with the caveat that water beads up and has habit of dripping off onto other more casual, non-water-resistant apparel like shoes and jeans!). Compared to other burlier winter coats, the Stealth Hoodie almost feels a little flimsy, but this is an illusion. Triple Aught’s “c_change” membrane provides wind- and waterproofing, while offering breathability when things get more aerobic than running from a little rain; the non-fussy nylon exterior protects against abrasion without making you look like Robocop. By itself, it’s not the warmest of pieces, but layer up and you’ll be snug. Overall, as Mark Zuckerberg might say, “Like!”.
Editor’s Note: We also reviewed an earlier model of the Slealth Hoddie LT; the new one boasts additional features (like the use of Nanosphere)…and a higher price.
This March, Princeton Tec will unveil a new outdoor/all-purpose headlamp that should hit the sweet spot for weekend warriors and backpackers looking to light up the backcountry (or brave a power outage). The design of the Vizz itself is nearly idiot-proof, with one big button—and that’s about it. Press the button once and you illuminate two ultra-bright red LEDs, press it twice and get dual ultra-bright white LEDs. You can also hold the button down to cycle through the modes, which includes a 150-lumin max-bright LED that can illuminate up to 90 feet. The Vizz is waterproof down to one meter for up to half an hour, and runs on three AAA batteries—with a built-in power meter to let you how much juice you’ve got left in the estimated 160-hour run time; a low-battery indicator also triggers when you’re down to 20 percent.
Weighing in at a whispery 12.3 ounces, the new Spark is a 850-fill waterproof down sleeping bag that’s primed to become a minimalist’s favorite outdoor resting place. The bag is rated to 46 degrees and packs down to the size of a softball. It’ll be out this August in both regular and long lengths. The 10D Pertex Quantum shell is treated with DWR water repellency, with a soft-touch nylon interior. Through-hikers, adventure races, and dedicated minimalists will love the bag’s awesome weight-to-warmth ratio.
This year, Eddie Bauer is making a big deal about, well, a big deal as 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Jim Whittaker becoming the first American on the summit of Everest. To commemorate the historic achievement, Eddie Bauer is offering limited-edition, commemorative versions of the iconic Downlight Jacket and the Karakoram Sleeping Bag. We expect both pieces to be fantastic in a classic-retro way and something that we expect to maintain value for another 50 years. There are no photos of the new pieces yet, but we expect to test them in early summer, so we’ll report back before they hit the shelves in the fall. One piece that is available now that is a must-have is the BC MicroTherm Down Jacket 2.0 ($299). The warm but extremely well-venting jacket speaks to Eddie Bauer’s expedition creds—the 800-fill down parka is worthy of alpine storms, with waterproofing rated to a bomber 20K (that mean’s it will withstand a hard rain), but it weighs in at only one pound and four ounces. We love the long tail to kept snow, wind, and cold from sneaking up our backside, and the snug (but not too tight) cuffs. Plus, the hood fits over a helmet without restricting side-to-side movement or peripheral vision.
Also, at a recent dinner at Outdoor Retailer Winter 2013, Eddie Bauer and their PR team from Backbone Media hosted Jim and his family (his adventure-parnter-wife Dianne, and youngest son, Leif, who has summited Everest twice), a red-carpet list of media personalities, and an all-star cast of big time guides and mountaineers. Keep an eye out for Eddie Bauer (and its talented offspring, First Ascent) for fall ’13 celebrations of Everest’s first ascent—including a film clip of fantastic footage of the 1963 Everest expedition.
www.bigagnes.com, two pounds, 13 ounces
When you’re camping in winter, a nice warm place to rest can be hard to come by. That’s why I love the Big Anges Blackburn SL down sleeping bag. As the temperature dropped into the single digits I found myself happy to crawl into this zero degree-rated bag. The Blackburn utilizes vertical baffles that run the full length of the bag to great effect. Only moments after crawling into this bag you feel toasty warm. Big Agnes does some clever things here, starting with the integrated pad sleeve; instead of adding insulation to the bottom of the bag that just ends up getting compressed and becomes useless, the Big Agnes system relies on the sleeping pad to provide lower insulation while you sleep. This also cuts down on the weight and packed size of the bag. But if you go from a 1.5-inch-thick, self-inflating foam pad to a three-inch pad, you’ll definitely lose room inside the bag. This bag has a few other trick up its sleeve. The drawstring around the face closure is stretchy shock cord, so as you move around inside the bag the opening can flow and move with you. The top of the bag boasts a pillow stuff sack, perfect for their $30 inflatable Air Core Pillow, or for a rolled-up fleece. And the horseshoe-shaped draft collar tucks comfortably around your neck to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. You can choose between two lengths (regular and long) and which side on which you prefer the zipper. The rectangular fit further enhances the loose feel of the bag; if you hate feeling trapped in mummy-style sleeping pads, but worry about sacrificing warmth by introducing “empty spots” in a more traditional rectangular bag, the Blackburn is the perfect solution to truly comfortable cold-weather slumber.