Each month we review outdoor gear and local beer. Want us to review something in particular? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gear: GoMotion Litebelt 100
As the daylight hours start to sadly grow shorter again, many of us find ourselves, year after year, vexed by the difficulty of pursuing our love of the outdoors while coping with darkness. Oncoming cars, wildlife, losing our way—all pose potential obstacles to outside activities in the fall and winter months. GoMotion, a relative newcomer to the market, has a somewhat unique solution: a waistbelt with built-in lights. In wearing this on a dirt road run late one summer evening, I found that this fits snugly and has a low profile enough that I really didn’t notice it much. The three AA battery pack (included) powers a small red blinking light in back and a single bright (100 lumen) LED in front that has adjustable angle, focus, and three-level beam intensity. The power and dimmer buttons could be a little larger, but they are certainly manageable on the fly. The hip belt also has two small mesh pockets, one with an outlet for headphones and each big enough for an mp3 player, small wallet, or snack. However, there is no good way of carrying any water with this particular model. The belt seems much more stable than wearing a headlamp, which tends to bounce around. Hunter orange mesh and reflective trim round out an invaluable article for safer runs, walks, hikes, bikes, and skis when the luminescent hours start to dwindle in our lovely state.
$59.95; The Mountain Goat, Manchester Center; gomotiongear.com
Gear: Platypus Sprinter XT 35
Platypus is pretty well known for their amazing water reservoirs and huge bite valves, which deliver good high-flow hydration. They are also making some awesome packs, too, as evidenced by the Sprinter XT series. Very lightweight—just over two pounds for a pack that holds more than 2000 cubic inches—this product was designed with the minimalist in mind. While it’s streamlined, it also has amenities like being quite weatherproof, with taped seams, waterproofing-coated fabric, and water-resistant zippers in locations less likely to get wet. They could have cut even more weight if there were not a separate zippered pocket containing the water reservoir, but admittedly it is nice to have this. Also as plus, a massive stuff-it pouch in back lends easy access to essential gear and numerous simple tie-in points on the exterior provide ample options for lashing. All of the lash straps stash neatly away, so they don’t get snagged when not in use. Big affordability for a performance rucksack!
$159.95; Clearwater Sports, Waitsfield; Eastern Mountain Sports, Rutland
Beer: Fiddlehead IPA
Freshly-made from Shelburne, this medium bodied American-style India Pale Ale pours a hazy golden color with just a twinge of orange. Using a special blend of three different types of hops, the brewers create a luscious aroma and taste of citrus and pine that’s zesty and inspiring. At 6.2% ABV it’s strong, but not overpowering. And the 53 International Bitter Units (IBUs) make it flavorful, but also approachable for those just getting into the wonderful world of IPAs. A crisp, dry finish leaves you smacking your lips in a good way. Get your own at The Reservoir in Waterbury, The Perfect Pear Cafe, in Bradford or Sneaker’s Bistro and cafe in Winooski, as well as a variety of other locations throughout the state.