Each month we review outdoor gear and local beer. Want us to review something in particular? Send a note to [email protected].
Gear: Terra Nova Laser 20 L
The designers of this pack sure skimped out on this one … but just on the weight. This daypack, just a mere 11.6 ounces, should make any dayhiker jump for joy. Even loaded down with 15 pounds, I found this pack comfortable due to a pretty forgiving 4-inch waist belt and chest strap (which is also removable, in case you feel the need to cut even more weight). The back panel is quite soft, though, and requires some thoughtful packing in order to not get jabbed in the back by harder items. While many packs in this weight class are little more than durable garbage bags slung with shoulder straps, the Laser 20 slickly incorporates full-length, waterproof zipper access to the main compartment, as well as generously sized hip belt pockets and exterior mesh bottle holsters and stuff pockets. These pockets do sit a bit far back to reach conveniently without taking the pack off, however. Another small qualm is with the shoulder straps, which are a tad flimsy and tend to easily turn inside out when putting the pack on, but this is a minor nuisance and doesn’t really effect the pack comfort once readjusted. Overall, for its size, weight, stability, comfort, and price, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a daypack of comparable quality.
Gear: Eagle’s Nest Outfitters Lounger
We here at Vermont Sports magazine tend to focus a lot on intense outdoor activities, so I figured that for the lengthening, warming days of spring, we could review a product that instead focuses on unwinding after that first-of-the-season road bike ride, run, or rock climb: the Lounger by our friends at ENO. It’s a 3-pound, 9-ounce hanging recliner that totes around in a 6-by-18-inch package and sets up in a minute or less. It’s replete with a headrest and adjustable footrest and even has a drink-holder and a couple of pockets to keep books, magazines, or snacks at hand. It’s a really nice cozy contraption for good old car camping or having with you at a base camp. Sometimes it’s a good day to get all hot, sweaty, and exhausted, but let’s not forget how relaxing the outdoors is too.
$109.95; Clearwater Sports, Waitsfield; Onion River Sports, Montpelier; Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, Brattleboro.
Gear: Sugoi Versa Jacket
More jackets?! There are a lot of jackets on the market for sure, but this one has an innovative twist that I just couldn’t keep to myself: the sleeves are attached with magnetic strips to the body. It effectively is a two-layers-in-one — a jacket that easily converts to a vest without even having to unzip it. It’s useful when the weather or temperature is changing rapidly. I know this never happens in Vermont, but I like the idea of it anyway. The sleeves come off quickly and easily (sometimes a little too easily) and stash neatly in the hand pockets, or in the nice, large lower back pocket. I do think it might benefit from slightly burlier Velcro at the cuffs. Also take note: this jacket is definitely designed with trim, athletic, endurance bodies in mind. I almost exclusively wear a medium across the board, and the medium size in this product makes me feel a little like the Hulk … consider ordering a size up or trying one on first. Then enjoy water and wind-resistance (with the option of nearly effortlessly cooling off) while running, hiking, biking, or even late-season skiing.
$120; Ski Rack, Burlington; West Hill Shop, Putney.
Beer: Otter Creek Hop Session Ale
Notes of pine and citrus will waft through your nostrils and alight on your tongue as you take in this lucid, light-gold, luscious liquid. Otter Creek has done a nice of updating their portfolio of brews, and if you gain an obsession with the Hop Session, no one will blame you. It’s a really approachable American Pale Ale—not too sweet, not too bitter—juuust right, if you’re finding your palate warming up to hopped-up ales. Hop Sessions has an approachable 35 international bitterness units, which are imparted from a mix of Apollo, Cascade, Citra, Centennial, and Chinook hops. Plus, the ABV is less than 5 percent, which is a nice break from the proliferation of higher-alcohol-content beers. And just to make it that much more accessible to you, it’s readily available in many grocery stores and on tap at Jay Peak.