Gear: Osprey Zealot
The folks at Osprey just know how to construct a pack and really are producing some of the finest on the market. A new line for Osprey this year, the Zealot, is billed as a mountain biking pack … and with good reason. All your mountain biking gear, whether that’s downhill or cross-country, has a home in this pack. Osprey has this great way of making the outside of the pack more functional so the interior doesn’t have to be so large, thus saving weight while keeping things more accessible. A large open stuff pocket in back has room for all your body armor and is designed with a fastening system for a full face-shield helmet. If you’re not into lift-serve terrain, there’s also a trademarked bungee attachment on the front of the pack for regular helmets. The bottom of the pack unzips to reveal a roll-out tool pouch that you can detach from the pack and hang up for easier access during repairs. There’s even a diagram that guides you through your bike’s componentry. Side pockets neatly hold your shoes, and a hydration system holds 3 liters of water (the reservoir is included in select markets only). The only small gripes: they probably could have left off the Velcro covering the tool pouch (it’s just sort of annoying), and one tester felt that the magnet that holds the drinking tube’s mouthpiece in place (along a chest strap) gathered and retained dirt easily, making the magnet less powerful. Of course, ceasing to perform endos might prevent dirt from getting there in the first place. You can stash all your gear in this satchel after your ride, then just pick it up and go when the itch to ride again strikes. Making your life more organized and simpler will ensure that the itch comes soon!
$128–$149, depending on size; CC Outdoor Store, Waterbury; Mountain Travelers, Rutland; Sam’s Outdoor, Brattleboro. Online at REI.
Gear: Keen Owyhee
For testing this product, we let trail director of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Walter Opuszynski, take these shoes out with his work crews and really put them to the test. Here’s what Walt had to say: they stayed on exceptionally well, even in “mud up to my shins,” an important feature when portaging in boggy areas. He also felt that they dried relatively quickly—in an estimated six hours on a cloudy but not-so-humid day. The time it takes to dry footwear is crucial when attempting not to carry invasive species like milfoil from one body of water to another. On the other hand, Walt said he felt that the footwear ran a little wider than most and tells me that others have corroborated this notion, yielding a bit too much lateral play in the foot. He liked that even though the shoe was light, the sole stood up to the test and protected his feet during longer portages. He wasn’t crazy about the lacing system with the draw cord flopping, but found it tolerable when he tucked it in.
$90; AJ’s Ski & Sports, Stowe; Paradise Sports, Windsor; The Mountain Goat, Hanover, N.H. Online at REI.
Beer: Trout River Rainbow Red
This brew is an oldie-but-goody. This amber-colored beverage is topped with a rapidly falling head. Fragrances of caramel, nuts, and faint fruits rise from the glass. The taste comes across as caramel-y, too, with some toasted malt, but very little hoppiness. It’s pretty easy drinking, if you’re not one for bitterness. It’s also quite light-bodied for a red, so it doesn’t cling real strongly to the palate. Don’t take my word for it, though, try it on tap at the brewery itself in Lyndonville (with pizza on Friday and Saturday nights), or pick yourself up a six-pack at most major grocery stores and many town general stores.