How does some of the coolest new gear come about? Here’s the backstory on some new products we love.
In 2015 Guillaume Linossier was working in Boulder, Colo. as the general manager of the company that produces apparel under the brands Eider, Millet and Killy. A biker, skier and trail runner, Linossier had a vision: he wanted to lower the carbon footprint for…shoes. According to one 2013 study, producing one pair of shoes generates 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. Linossier moved back to France, joined the outdoor industry incubator that had just launched in Annecy, in the foothills of the Alps, and created Saola (named for an extremely rare Asian mammal discovered in 1992 that resembles an antelope). The upper parts of the shoe feel like suede but are in fact made from recycled bottles, the laces are recycled organic cotton and the outsoles are made from “Bloom Foam”—which is made from algae gathered in lakes, dried and pulverized into a powder. Saola now has a half-dozen models for both women and men. We recently tried the slip on Saola Tahoe ($109.95) women’s pull-on and found the cork soles do indeed mold to your feet. If the rest of the shoe is everything Linossier says it is, that’s a footprint you can feel good about.
When Deuter set out to build what it claims is the first “women’s specific Kid Comfort kid carrier,” it didn’t kid around. The manufacturer known for its line of technical packs went for grassroots feedback from Hike It Baby, an online community of new moms and parents. The result, the Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL ($240) backpack is a slim and dynamic pack that’s comfortable and adjustable without adding the bulk of many packs. It weighs in at under 6 lbs and can be adjusted to meet varying torso lengths. The slight frame is perfect for a fit mama and easy to lift and load independently. Straps are comfortable and easy to buckle for the little one, with a side entry that’s useful as they grow. One of our testers, a new mom, writes: “On a recent trip to Colorado, the Deuter kept my 20-pound 10-month-old happy for 50+ miles over the course of a week! He slept happily on the comfy pillow and stayed protected from the harsh wind and alpine sun.”
Tantric Muscle Butters
Tania Doric has been many things: a fitness and wellness leader at a large government agency in Washington D.C., a yoga instructor in Hinesburg and now an entrepreneur who just launched a line of what she calls “Freedom & Unity: Vermont Cannatopicals.” Made with full-spectrum CBD from whole hemp plant extract, Freedom & Unity’s Tantric Muscle Butters ($29 per 2 oz tin) come in two varieties, Shiver and Smolder. It was only last year that cannabis and cannabis derivatives with very low concentrations of THC were removed from the illegal controlled substances list, so few conclusive scientific studies have been completed. One of our testers who has been plagued with a repetitive strain injury tried Smolder for a week. She notes: “The pain is due to inflammation, something that CBD is particularly well-suited to address, advocates say. I lathered it on my wrists twice a day, morning and night. After a week, I did feel a difference. Notably, I had fewer extreme tweaks (the most painful kind) which, when they occur, lead to greater inflammation and on-going pain.” While it’s hard to isolate what brought that about, she notes that “If nothing else, Smolder reminds me to take care of my body and it smells really nice.” Both butters contain oils of organic coconut, sweet almond, avocado and jojoba, along with mango and shea butters, beeswax, and healing arnica and calendula extracts—plus organic essential aromatic oils and of course cannabis extract. At present, the best way to find the products is at freedomandunityvt.com
A Pre-Season Training App
Waaayyyyy back in the 1990s, when inline skating was big, Rollerblade launched a series of Skate to Ski videos to help skiers train in the off-season. Now, Rollerblade is relaunching its Skate to Ski program as a free downloadable app that walks you through how to use inline skates to train for everything from carving through gates to building the leg muscles you need. Olympian Doug Lewis has been using inline skates for years at his ELITEam camps for young ski racers in Waitsfield and appears on the app, helping to talk you through the turns. Rollerblade is also rolling out the program with members of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the National Ski Patrol. Now, all you need is to find those old inlines (or better yet, upgrade to new ones).