Gear: Scarpa Rapid LT
This year Scarpa is covering more ground in active footwear by adding a minimalist Alpine hiking and approach shoe. The Rapid LT delivers a comfortable glove for your foot at first wear. The laces weave into the tongue in a number of places, so the tongue stays in place, keeping the top of the foot stable and pain-free. The laces also extend far down toward the toes, allowing for a snugger fit if desired, and hence more precise foot placements on hikes or scrambles with small footholds. The toe box also protects well with an extra layer of sticky rubber. The body of the shoe is black, however, which makes for some significant heat build-up when trekking on sunny days. Also, Scarpa made the pull-on heel loops quite small and hard to make use of. Admittedly these are relatively miniscule drawbacks, especially when the sole boasts really excellent traction, with good hard rubber triangular studs that face every which way so that there is plenty of surface area for additional grip on a variety of surfaces and conditions. All these features make a really good shoe for quickly bagging a peak or two.
$110; Umiak Outfitters, Stowe; Outdoor Gear Exchange, Burlington
Gear: Outdoor Research Sensor Command Bag
The folks at OR, who have brought us some wonderful innovations over the years, make a foray into boating this year with this new deck-mounted dry bag. It’s structured so it tilts a waterproof sheath back toward the paddler in order to see a map, tablet or other GPS device. The material is touch-screen sensitive, and the sleeve is touted to protect electronics in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Hopefully if you drop your Droid in the drink, you’ll find it in that amount of time. The clasp mechanism to remove this sheath from the rest of the deck bag is somewhat awkward and requires some finger strength and dexterity, which I guess is both good and bad, since you really don’t want it to come off on its own, but it’s also a little frustrating to manipulate. The bag features a main compartment that has an additional ziplock dry sleeve and a mesh section, as well. A simple pull tab opens the larger part, but the setup allows any small items in the mesh part to slide out very easily … just something to be aware of. The apparatus hooks securely to bungees or rails using plastic clips that, while perhaps not durable, are easy to use. Enjoy dry electronics and clothing at your fingertips with this great deck bag.
$159; Canoe Imports, Burlington; The Mountain Goat, Manchester Center
Gear: MSR Trail Lite Duo System
Mountain Safety Research, always looking to improve how we experience the outdoors, brings a nice nested cookware set for two to the playing field. A 2-liter ceramic nonstick aluminum pot houses two bowls, which in turn contain two double-walled insulated mugs with sippy lids. The cups do smell pretty strongly of plastic when fresh at first whiff, but MSR assures that they are free of BPA (and many other acronyms). Also, the cups would benefit from the fold-out handles found on many other camping mugs. Holding it all together, the lid for the pot has a built-in strainer, and the handle for the pot folds over top. A compact setup made even more utile by being able to fit one of MSR’s stoves (either the PocketRocket or MicroRocket) and folding utensils. This stellar cook set will take up minimal room in your pack. With a pretty unbeatable price, it won’t cook your wallet, either!
Beer: Northshire Hefeweizen
From the southeastern part of the Green Mountain State comes a bright, shiny, clear brew. This one is not cloudy like a traditional hefeweizen, but it’s tasty, and has a big billowy white head, like a giant cumulus cloud on a hot, muggy summer day. This reflects the high carbonation, which gives it a very light airy feel in the mouth. Smells emanating from the bubbles include ripe bananas and wheat. The taste is poignantly citrusy and dry, almost having a lemon-infused hard-cider-y way about it. I drank it on a sticky night in July, but I imagine it might be really nice on a slightly cooler summer night like we tend to have in late August or early September.