Gear Geek: 7 Spring Picks

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Gear Geek: 7 Spring Picks

Whether you spent the last few months buried in snow (looking at you, Lake Tahoe) or in some odd fugue state of an Indian summer that culminated in a final blast of arctic air to help remind us that it was actually winter (looking at you, New England), there’s no denying that warmer days are on the horizon. And here’s a handful of great new products to help you fully exploit the spring season.

1. REI Co-Op Cycles, Prices Vary; 2. Yakima’s New Bike Racks, Prices start at $119; 3. Spy Optic Hunt Sunglasses, $160; 4. Duluth Gale Blocking Umbrella, $50; 5. BioLite XL BaseLantern, $130; 6. Howler Brothers Aransas Shirt, $69; 7. oH, $88.

Main image: Pierce Martin, CC-BY

Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).

REI Co-Op Cycles

As part of REI's continued efforts to re-launch themselves as a Co-Op—one that taps into the enthusiastic community of REI fans across the country, the retailer is introducing a new line of bikes this spring. Dubbed Co-Op Cycles, the new models will take over the former REI Novara line with rigs that were built from the ground up with input from the co-op's most passionate cyclists. The new line will cover the gamut, from commuting and cruising bikes to mountain biking and road riding, but with more approachable price points than you might find on other high-end bikes. The ARD 1.2 ($1,299; pictured) makes for a killer all-terrain rig, with mechanical disc brakes and rear rack capability, while dirt hounds will gravitate to the DRT 2.1 ($1,599), a thru-axel hard tail with 27.5-plus wheels.

Yakima's New Bike Racks

Getting to the trail—or the open country road—will be a lot easier this spring thanks to Yakima's newly revamped vehicle racks for road and mountain bikes. The Highroad ($229) will hit the sweet spot for hardcore cyclists; the rooftop rig was designed with high-end bikes in mind, and includes a streamlined bar-hugging design and can accommodate road and dirt rigs with wheels up to 3.25 inches. They've also introduced two new fork-mounted roof-top racks, as well as the Dr.Tray ($579; pictured), a two-bike hitch-mounted rack that's adjustable enough to accommodate rear car access even when fully loaded. Got a third bike? The EZ+1 ($229) attaches to the Dr.Tray to expand your carrying capacity.

Spy Optic Hunt Sunglasses

At first glance, the Hunt looks like any other pair of shades, with a timeless, slightly-curved front face and modest matte black/navy frames. But hidden within that simplicity lies loads of performance-centric features like non-slip rubber injected into the temples, over-molded grip tips, virtually indestructible and lightweight frame materials, polycarbonate lenses, polarization, and Spy Optic's now-signature Happy Lenses, which diffuse "bad" light and lets in rays that have been shown to improve one's mood.
Spy Optic

Duluth Gale Blocking Umbrella

Most travelers fall into two groups: those who love umbrellas, and those who stick with their rain shells. For the former, the Gale Blocking Umbrella may be the ultimate option. It collapses into a 14-inch-long package, but opens into a quick-drying polyester shelter that's 37 inches in diameter and has been wind-tunnel tested to force nine winds (that's 55 MPH). The frame architecture—dubbed the "Radial Tensioning System"—keeps the fabric taught, but a lack of sharp edges will prevent sags or catches. It might even be sophisticated enough to sway a few jacket enthusiasts to seek better shelter.
Duluth Trading

BioLite XL BaseLantern

Transform the dark confines of your backcountry campsite into a lightshow that would make Pink Floyd blush with envy with the new BaseLantern. The lantern uses BioLite's edge-light tech, which creates more even, less harsh light distribution, and comes with Bluetooth connectivity that lets you orchestrate a full-on multi-colored light show via an app. Beyond the party scene, it offers loads of other features, like sleep timers and proximity triggers that lights the lantern as you approach camp. Big campsites your thing? Up the atmosphere by pairing the BaseLantern with BioLite's SiteLight ($30) or SiteLite Mini ($20) string lights, or opt for the SiteLight XL ($30), which looks like a Chinese dome lantern made specifically for the back woods. Recent Kickstarter success story, the new flat-panel lantern drops April 4.

Howler Brothers Aransas Shirt

Part of Howler Brothers' first line when they started making apparel in 2010, the Aransas is still legit seven years later. The poly-cotton construction offers the best of both worlds for casual wandering: a bit of tech to wick sweat and dry quickly, along with the all-natural comfort of cotton. Contrast stitching, subtle graphic prints, and a straight hem keep things fast-casual, while the chest pocket adds a clever hidden feature: it's lined with sunglass-cleaning microfiber.
Howler Brothers

Nau Astir Tank

The stylish Astir Tank boasts UPF 50 UV protection and a mix of fabrics—organic cotton, a touch of Spandex for stretch, and Tencel, made from the pulp of eucalyptus trees that wicks moisture and dries quickly—that belies the otherwise simple aesthetic. Its clean, simple aesthetic is complimented with two drop-in pockets and bi-level hemline.