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

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Category: Tools Page 2 of 10

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 ;)

Sendling Jacket Using Leather Lock Strap

O1O6 Sendling Jacket: European Style and Substance

In the midst of the technical performance menswear revolution, niche as it is, quality counts and is often seen as coming down to production country, but it all seems American. Canadian, at best.

With O1O6 (born as onoo), however, we find a menswear startup that is European, rooted in its Southern German-Alpine background, stylish and modern, and close to timeless in look.

How so?

So:

In the Sendling in Zürich (on the Üetliberg)

In the Sendling (and Veilance Spec Pants) in Zürich (on the Üetliberg)

Watch my review here, or read on below it to delve into the details…

For one, their standout first-collection piece, the Sendling jacket, is made from loden, a wool fabric that would fit the current interest in natural fibers with great performance very well, if only it weren’t used in traditional costumes so much.

Green or grey loden, deer antler buttons, that’s the men’s costume to accompany women wearing a dirndl. Good for the Oktoberfest, but not exactly a modern style to wear to anything but such a festival. Or maybe a hunt.

Not so with the Sendling.

It’s still grey loden, but a very comfortable one, and one treated with a teflon coating adding further to its natural ability to shed rain and snow. Inside, a layer of insulation has been added for cold temps.

Sendling Jacket Inside (Waist)

Sendling Jacket Inside (Waist)

Style

The cut is thoroughly modern in all the best ways:

  • form-fitting but not tight
  • with cooling and stretching cutouts behind the shoulder blades for ventilation and movement
  • stretch cuffs inside the asymmetric outside cuffs protecting the backs of your hands and keeping out wind
  • pockets and main closure (except for three buttons there for style) all closed by waterproof zippers that are thoroughly modern a touch again, but functional as well.
Sendling Jacket Chest Pocket

Sendling Jacket Chest Pocket (and Collar Detail)

Most of those – and more! – details are all made for the intended use of the jacket, as a piece that you can wear on your bike while riding into work or to the next coffee shop or traditional Kaffeehaus, then get right down to business or your individual pursuits and still look dressed like a creative professional.

In their advertising material (see their website), it’s all very much the hipster look and style, but no beard is required to rock that jacket. No fixie bike, either.

And in Substance?

The bit of insulation added to the inside keeps pretty warm while not getting stuffy as long as the temperatures are low enough (summer jacket this ain’t).

Sendling Jacket Inside, while worn

Sendling Jacket Inside, while worn

I have worn my Sendling from February to May, from Munich to Zurich to Rome, and it’s held up come rain or shine.
In Zurich, in downpours, I just added a woolen cap and was fine; only Rome got a bit warm for it.

(One downside: It should not be washed, only dry cleaned. I went ahead and hand-washed the inside at the armpits, where washing became highly advisable, with mild wool detergent, anyways, then hung it up to dry outside. Worked out very well. Otherwise, for all but if you get it too sweaty, loden just needs to be hung out in fog – or in your steamy post-shower bathroom.)

Even then, the leather strap inside, meant to keep the jacket from flapping around in the wind when you’re on your bike, comes in handy for having the jacket open, but not totally, in warm-enough temperatures that you don’t want to have it zipped and/or buttoned up.

Sendling Jacket Using Leather Lock Strap

Sendling Jacket using leather lock strap (and you can also see the headphone garage above the chest pocket)

So, in total, as you can also see in the video review, you can wear this jacket completely open, open-but-unflappable using the leather strap (which can also be removed if so desired… or maybe if you need a tool for a spanking), closing the buttons, zipping it up halfways for the suit jacket-collar look, or zipping it up all the way and putting up the collar for real cold-weather use.

I do hope O1O6 will remain and go on – who else makes performance-oriented menswear that is designed in Germany and sewn in Italy, of European materials? – and they sure sounded like they already had ideas for further improvements and maybe new things.

Their initial collection already includes a bomber jacket, the Westend, and the Lehel short coat…

Let’s see what’s next; it’s sure to be style with substance, “intelligent urban clothing” to keep and feel at home in.

Sendling Jacket Inside Construction

Sendling Jacket Inside Construction: Materials mix inside, O1O6 tag, leather hanger with limited edition number all visible

At €599 for the Sendling, it’s not cheap – until you look at what a nice suit jacket from a well-known brand would cost, all without necessarily making you look as good while protecting you that well.

Suunto Kailash Review: Adventure Timeline-d [Updated]

Suunto has, for a while already, been right in that area of the sports and outdoors technology market where actual usefulness and luxurious aspiration collide.

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