at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

Look Closer, Learn More, #GetAtHome In This World

Category: Tools Page 2 of 10

My Trusty Companion, Photographically: Sony RX100 (M2)

How my main camera is still a Sony RX100 MII, though it’s basically bent out of shape…

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Arc’teryx Veilance Pants of Summer: Align and Voronoi

Last year, making some regular money again and with a view towards a summer trip to China (to celebrate our wedding there, with the Chinese family, finally…), I decided to spring for Arc’teryx Veilance’s Voronoi pants in their light summer version.

These Voronoi pants have been changed from their earlier cotton-nylon material, which seemed the same as the material used in the cargo pants that simply disintegrated with use, to a ‘plainer’ nylon as is also used for the Blazer LT.

(Arc’teryx describes it as “Stretch woven plain weave: 94% nylon, 6% elastane”)

I’d had the earlier Cargo Pants (and Voronoi), and they put me off Veilance pants just as the Spec pants had left me interested in them.

(Whenever I travel into cities or mountains in the cold, it’s still the Spec pants with their windstopper material and on-thigh cargo pockets I happily unpack and use.)

Then I got a Blazer LT in black (and another one from an outlet in Sand color) for the summer and liked that material enough to want to see about the Voronoi in the same fabric.

Veilance Voronoi Pant

These pants, surprisingly enough considering the issues I’d had with both the material and the cut of the earlier ones, turned out just about perfect for my needs and wants.

They are very light and quick-drying, but also durable, meaning that it is no problem to wear them in the heat and humidity of Southern China’s summers, look good, and be pretty comfortable.

With their peculiar pattern and cut, they are not your ordinary pair of pants, but the peculiarity (and luxury, considering the price) of them is nicely hidden in the details; there is nothing that would scream “special” to the person who doesn’t already know what they are seeing.

Unlike other recent Veilance pants, these Voronoi are not cut so tight (“tapered”) in the lower leg that a runner like me can’t fit, let alone lift his knee, in them anymore.

The pocket configuration here is ordinary, if integrated nicely into the special cut pattern, not giving quite the technical menswear versatility I would have liked, but fitting into a normal “technical apparel” wardrobe all the better for it.

All around good, then – and you can still/again get them this spring/summer season.

Veilance Align Pant

Spring/summer 2017, Arc’teryx released a new version of thei Align pants, with a rather more special (seemingly) cargo pocket-inspired design, too.

I thought I might really like that, but there was also yet another of the cotton-nylon blends similar to the dangerous first generation Voronoi and/or Cargo Pants…

It seemed a gamble, but I thought I’d try; the return policy is good enough.

Well, as you can see and hear in my review video, here Veilance experimented far too badly again, in my opinion:

The material might be more durable this time around, or it might not be, but they definitely only work for you if you have very thin lower legs and do not mind sitting on almost anything you put into the cargo/back pockets.

Not for me.

Let’s see now.

I still have the oldest pair of Thunderbolt Sportswear’s softshell jeans in all of Europe, probably, a MarkII version of those, the Spec and Voronoi pants… and there are quite a few technical menswear specialists around, so I should either do with what I have now, or check out something from another brand.

Recommendations? Wishes?

Black Yak Combat Shirt Zipper Pull

Black Yak Performance, as per the Combat Shirt

a.k.a., A Review of the Black Yak Combat Shirt and Notes on My Fascination with this Brand

I have mentioned Black Yak some times before, but it is only now that I really want to talk about them.
About a product of theirs, the Combat Shirt, and the fascination this company provides in the world of technical / performance clothing…

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ISPO 2017 Roundup, Part 1: Garmin, Casio, TomTom, AxSys,…

Once again, the ISPO Munich was on.

Finally, I went there not just a random blogger who sorta-kinda works with brands willing to set him up with product samples, but as someone turning into a pro blogger looking for serious cooperations.

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Mammut Comfort High GTX

High Comfort, So Last Season: Mammut Comfort High GTX Surround Boot Review

When Mammut was looking to provide some people in the German-speaking area with a high Klout score (yep, they had still been using that) with a pair of their shoes to test, back in the spring of 2015, I’m pretty sure they were looking for some immediate support for their PR.

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Icebug Acceleritas5 Side View, Slightly Used ;)

Accelerating in Icebug’s Acceleritas5 RB9X. Running Shoe Review

Shoes are at least as exciting for the runner as they are for the stereotypical shoe-obsessed woman – if they are exciting.

Icebug’s Acceleritas5 are.

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Icebug Mist running shoes

A Summer In the Icebug Mist. Running Shoe Review

Kein Mist! – For a German speaker, the name “Mist” is a bit unfortunate; it doesn’t make us think of light fog, it just translates as “junk.”

Icebug’s Mist are as far from junk as you can get…

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Nike Lunarepic

Nike LunarEpic Running Shoes Review

When I went to the Rome Marathon (and then to Kirchdorf for their part-trail, hilly “Über-Drüber” marathon) this spring, it was the first time in years that I had running shoes made for road running rather than trails.

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Sherpa social media-ized

Outdoors Bloggers, #OutDoorFN 2016

The attention economy, of blogs and (other) social media, of fast fashion and tech, thrives ever more on speed.

The Sped-Up World

Suunto having announced their new Spartan (Ultra and Sport) collection, thus, has everyone wanting to know everything about it already.

This, even though the devices are only coming on the market in August, will need weeks of testing to really get to an informed opinion, given all their focus on training progress over time – and then the Spartan Ultra is due to get major features, including for the same training progress display(s), only in September.

The OutDoor Friedrichshafen only just took place again, and it is one big celebration of novelty that drives attention that drives the market, with the spring/summer 2017 season already in company and trade sights.

Bloggers and (other) social media influencers, of course, are both driven by and driving these trends yet further.

The Not-So-Fed-Up World

Or so, forcing us all into ever-faster news cycles, it all felt while I was caught up in my own ardent desire to put the new Suunto Spartan Ultra through its paces, if only I could get it before I leave for China.

That is only one side of modern geeky and consumer life, however.

Taking a step back to remember that all those new things are there not just to drive sales, but also to help make life a bit more interesting and the outdoors more enjoyable, however, there were great talks to be had.
All the more so as the Friedrichshafen Fair had come around to seeing value in bloggers and worked with the (German) Outdoor Bloggers Network this year, actively bringing them – us – into the fold.

Sherpa social media-ized

Sherpa social media-ized

(Funnily, I still have the problem that my being based in Austria makes most companies’ PR people say that I’ll have to work with the Austrian PR teams – but since I blog and vlog in English, I tend to be of no interest to the PR people who are there to serve the Austrian, German-speaking, market…)

With talks not just with other bloggers but also with sales and PR people of outdoors companies, not just about the new things but also about their experiences and interests, it all got even more enjoyable. Even the new things…

My highlights:

Suunto

Suunto wasn’t really present at the fair, but there were some company representatives to be found, so I managed to wrangle a Spartan Ultra (still only a sales sample) from one of them and finally get it on my wrist.

Suunto Spartan Ultra display Suunto Kailash vs Spartan Ultra Suunto Kailash vs Spartan Ultra side

To me, compared with the Kailash, the fit is great and the display indeed looks promising. Let’s see how it holds up in actual use, whenever I can get to looking at that…

Arc’teryx

Arc’teryx continues to be near-impossible to work with for a small (and not only outdoors) blogger like me, but also to produce innovative and interesting gear, with an attention to detail and function that is very alluring.

Next up in that, an expansion of their footwear into mountain trail running with the Norvan VT shoe, and the return of a Bora backpack with a new “Rotoglide” hipbelt system that promises great things:

Those will be available in men’s and women’s and in standard or Gore-Tex, by the way.

Oh: Their updated everyday/commuter collection is not to be underestimated. Stretch jeans with stylish looks, but also reflector patches that can be folded out or tucked away and a cut and material made for bike commutes, a women’s blazer that closes without a zipper, yet enough to protect against wind and water, and opens to look like a modern take on a standard blazer. – Looks like some of the ideas and approaches of the Veilance line are starting to influence the everyday wear…

Arcteryx commuter clothing

Arcteryx commuter clothing. Yeah, not the official name of the line ;)

Salomon

Salomon will of course expand and update its collection of shoes yet further, e.g. adding an XA Enduro trail running shoe that is like a summer version of the XA Alpine (to be) introduced for winter. It, too, will feature an integrated gaiter, just in a lower and lighter form made for the summer.

For two 360 degree looks at the Salomon booth, check out the two photos on Facebook here and here

Montane

For trail runners, Montane’s VIA series running packs will add a 15 liter model; they still continue with their major models (which I find commendable) but are set to bring out another version of their Minimus jacket in stretch Pertex Shield. Fully waterproof, yet stretchy; I would like to see how well that works and fits…

Outdoor Research

With OR, the major news came in the form of a new jacket with electrospun yarn that is said to be more breathable, yet still waterproof, and with waterproof mid-volume backpacks. Not the worst idea, if rather specialized.

Here, too, I am most happy to see that it’s not all just about new things.

OR Helium II Jackets

OR Helium II Jackets

The Helium II jackets were still being celebrated (rightly so, I’d say), and attention was put on the Active Ice products some of which I have been using since last year and should finally review.

OR Active Ice

OR Active Ice

Strange only, especially in this context, that the Europe team of OR didn’t seem to know anything about a Polartec Delta shirt that is due to come out, which was mentioned in a press release about this new “cooling platform” from Polartec…
Then again, I asked about that material at the Polartec booth, and they knew about it but also didn’t have it with them.

Fjällräven

Not exactly what I typically focus on, given the “anti-travel” writing I sometimes publish, but what interested me most about Fjällräven’s news is that they will be bringing their Fjällräven Classic events to the USA and Hong Kong next.
Hong Kong is exhausting, but just about the most amazing place for hiking and trail running experiences that I know. (And in fact, the last few days of the upcoming trip to China will be spent in Hong Kong.)

Black Yak

After the introduction of Black Yak’s first European winter collection, now Europe also got a look at their first summer offering – and of course, they will continue in style and with what looks to be insanely good quality.

Black Yak booth

Black Yak booth

Black Yak clothing detail

Black Yak clothing detail

I’ll admit, I am also fascinated simply because this is one of the first forays of an Asian company onto the ‘Western’ market, which is very interesting in terms of marketing and access. That said, the looks and details are quite convincing, and I hope to put some of their products through their paces starting later this year.

The North Face

Even TNF is going maximal when it comes to running shoes, and I’m still not convinced by that. Still, more choices here aren’t a bad thing.
Main game in town: We got a sneak preview of the upcoming The North Face Summit Series collection. Nothing we would have been permitted to show, but let’s just say: They really want to relaunch the Summit Series as the top-end, as it was originally intended. And lots of concern are going into not letting this collection be watered down into too many items worn more by hip-hop stars than alpinists this time around.

And lots more…

I could easily go on like this for a while yet, but I’m on the jump to the airport for 3 weeks in China. So, let me just wish you a nice summer, leave you with the few more impressions from the OutDoor Friedrichshafen 2016 above, and promise there’s more to come ;)

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