Rights Of Spring: The Season’s Best Gear

Summer is coming. The rivers are running, the trails are drying out and the race season is already in full swing. Here are our picks for the must-haves for this season.

challenger-atr-3-landing-page-mb-one-11-10-16The ATV Of Shoes

There’s been a long debate amongst runners as to what’s a better choice as an all-around shoe–a trail shoe (heavier, sometimes a compromise on fit) or a road shoe? Those who like to run on gravel roads or trails might lean toward a trail shoe. Ultra runner and mountaineer Susana Johnston, our cover story in the March/April issue, swears by her Hoka One’s as her all-around footwear in the mountains. With the new Hoka One Challenger ATR 3 ($130), we agree. It’s a super cushy ride (sort of like a fat bike), but it’s far lighter (9.5 oz for a men’s and 7.9 oz for a women’s size 8) than the usual trail beast and feels right at home on the bit of pavement we start out on. The fit is a little looser than some might like, but the 4 mm lugs grab on any surface. With the third iteration of the Challenger, the hope is that this one will address some early durability issues. We have yet to see any blow-outs and Susana Johnston, who hiked 3,181 miles this past year, would know. And no, she’s not sponsored by the brand.

The Amphibious Backpackcycloneiidrypack36l-tabor-main-gs

If you have ever wished with all your might that your backpack was waterproof (that time you paddleboarded across the lake with your phone in a pack?) the DaKine Cyclone II Dry Pack ($130) is for you. Though we didn’t actually put a cell phone inside to test it, we did try dumping the pack overboard with a roll of toilet paper. It came out bone dry thanks to the roll-top dry bag seal and PU-coated, gasketed zipper closures. We really love that it’s relatively light and the fabric, while heavy duty, doesn’t have the rubbery feel of a lot of waterproof bags. A genius feature is its two-way purge valve that lets you blown it up to oat (in case it does go overboard), or purge it for space saving. The 36-liter bag comes with a laptop sleeve, two exterior pockets and a nicely padded back panel and straps.

11422Eco-friendly Eyewear

We look for sunglasses that are lightweight, bullet-proof and filter out the sun’s rays without making you feel like you just stepped into the dark. Oh yeah, and they need to look good, too. A lot of brands fit those bills. But what sets Zeal Optics Incline ($149) and Magnolia models apart is the product is about as eco-friendly as eyewear can get. Frames are made with biodegradable M49, a material made from cotton and wood fibers, with spring hinges. The polarized ellume lenses are plant-based as well. The frames come in four colors and the lenses in three ellume models, designed for conditions ranging from low light to bright sun.

BREWS & PUBS | Foam Brewers

If you want a real reward for running and biking the Burlington bike path, head to Foam Brewers, across rites-of-spring-foam-brewingthe street from Waterfront Park. Settle in to the patio or the cool industrial/artsy indoor space, order a plate of charcuterie and take a long cool sip of the Kubrick. The double IPA, with notes of soft, crushed citrus, is a thirst-quencher—but at 8.8 percent abv, pace yourself. Another lighter choice is the Waterloo Sunset, a 4.8 percent abv. The choices change with the whim of brewmaster/owner Todd Haire (who’s brewed at Magic Hat and Switchback) and many feature locally grown hops or other ingredients. You can bring your own growler to take home your favorites or wait in line for one of the coveted “black dot” bottle releases (follow Foam Brewing on Facebook to find out more). But one thing doesn’t change: the consistent quality. Since opening in 2016, Foam Brewing has been named one of the 10 best new breweries in America by RateBeer.com, and its Saison do Foam made Men’s Journal’s list of 100 best beers in the world. Foambrewers.com