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My around-the-town jacket this autumn and early winter so far has been the Men’s Rove Tech from Merrell, a nice-looking insulated piece released last month. Merrell calls this jacket a technical piece, but for me it is more middle-ground — you could employ it for skiing or hiking, though it’s just as at home for a winter walk in a city.

 

I would not take it into the rain, but water does roll off the face fabric, a thin polyester. And the jacket’s insulation, PrimaLoft’s One variety, makes for a toasty coat that’s not as noticeably stuffed as a down puffy.

 

But for performance, I would want big inside pockets to stuff extra hats and gloves. I’d maybe like a hood. And the face fabric would need to be more durable if you’re heading into the woods. (A small tear developed out of no where on the back of my jacket after a hike.)

 

 

That said, I love how this jacket fits and feels. It has a sharp look, almost a Members-Only quality to its style (for those who remember the ’80s) though with a modern aesthetic and no shoulder-strap passants.

 

I will layer this piece under a shell on extra cold days this winter to add significant warmth. Indeed, this jacket pumps heat with 100 grams of the aforementioned PrimaLoft One insulation in the body and 60 grams in the sleeves.

 

Features include four zipper pockets and comfy internal wrist cuffs to seal off the sleeves. Overall, I am a fan of this jacket — if not for strict performance, then for its smooth look and its adaptability to outdoors situations urban or otherwise.

 

Retail price: $129

 

Link to buy: http://merrell.com

 

(Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eleven U.S. newspapers; see www.THEGEARJUNKIE.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog, and an archive of Regenold’s work.)

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Gear Junkie now has a forums section! Sign in now and start contributing, asking questions, swapping stories, or writing your own gear reviews. Click here: http://thegearjunkie.com/forum/

 

BONUS: To get the ball rolling, the first 50 forum contributors who sign up and make two (2) genuine, quality posts — either by joining a discussion or starting one on their own — will win a Gear Junkie grab bag prize with one or more of the following mailed direct to your home or business:

 

-Official Gear Junkie Headsweats athletic cap

-Official Gear Junkie winter fleece hat from Headsweats

-Two packs of Bear Naked Granola

-Two pair of Wigwam athletic socks

 

Go here to sign in: http://thegearjunkie.com/forum/

 

After making your two posts, email stephen@thegearjunkie.com with the following info to claim your prize: 1) Your Name; 2) Address (U.S. citizens only); 3) Forum Username; 4) Links to your posts.

 

We will confirm if you made the first 50 and ship the prizes out asap.

 

Happy posting!

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“Snow crunched underfoot as I trekked toward the chute, a shadowed corner pinched between cliffs at 11,000 feet. It was a Monday morning, cloudless and quiet, the sun just poking above distant peaks of the Uinta Mountains in northeastern Utah.”

 

Thus starts my story in the New York Times for Friday, November 14. In this article — “Climbing as High as You Can Go in Utah” — I tell the tale of my two-day ascent of Kings Peak last month, which at 13,528 feet is the state’s high point.

 

 

The trip started in Salt Lake City, where we drove east and north into Wyoming then dipping back south across the state line en route to the High Uintas Wilderness, a protected region of peaks and pristine lakes that are among the most remote in the lower 48 states. The hike to Kings Peak — a 28-mile round trip — led us into an alpine Eden then up and up through a chute and a long talus climb to the top.

 

We even encountered moose on the hike in by headlamp, two large shapes moving away off the trail, their eyes sparking blue in the artificial glow. We then slept tentless, the sky utterly clear, stars dusting in three dimensions on the black void above, before getting up the next day to climb.

 

Read the whole story here: www.nytimes.com/2008/11/14/travel/escapes/14utah.html

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As a longtime city bike commuter — and an advocate for cycling on several recreational, economic and societal fronts — I was happy to see news today of REI’s new online resource promoting biking as an alternative to driving your car.

 

The site — http://www.rei.com/bikeyourdrive — was made, according to the Recreational Equipment Inc. press release, to “inspire more people to cycle by exposing myths and breaking down common barriers associated with using a bicycle as an alternate means of transportation.”

 

To point, the site has how-to video demonstrations on fixing a flat tire and hand-signaling a turn; a calculator to show estimated environmental, caloric and financial savings of cycling over driving; and recommended cycling gear picks. Other tips cover bike maintenance and rules of the road.

 

 

REI says that nationwide urban bicycle sales have increased substantially in 2008 as more people are riding around town to save money, get exercise and cut down on traffic congestion. But less than one percent of all U.S. trips, REI says, are made by bicycle, even though many trips are one mile or less in distance (i.e., easily bike-able).

 

“REI continues to see increased interest in using bicycles to get to work, the coffee shop or just for running errands around town,” says Brian Foley, REI’s product manager for cycling. Indeed, REI’s intent is to make biking more mainstream. “You don’t have to wear spandex to ride your bike.” Foley adds.

 

Click here — http://www.rei.com/bikeyourdrive — to go to the site.

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