It's around this point in the winter when cabin fever starts to set in, but this year that seasonal sickness seems chronic given how long we've all been cooped up for. Some are still braving the cold and getting out, though, like Ty Olson, who's cross country skiing 255 miles of the Minnesota-Ontario border to raise funds for the Lakota people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
The less intrepid of us can revel in the few extra minutes of sunlight that every new day brings, knowing that spring will indeed come, no matter what Punxsutawney Phil predicts. Outdoor gear companies are already prepping for it with a slew of newly released items — more on that below.
VSSL brought its handheld coffee grinder to Kickstarter, and it emerged with nearly $300,000. Coffee aficionados will approve of its burr blades, 50 grind settings and ball bearings, while backcountry brewers will appreciate its aluminum body and built-in carabiner. It's finally available for immediate purchase, and nothing's preventing you from using it at home as well as at camp.
Alpine Start with Benefits
Speaking of campsite coffee Kickstarters, now's your chance to fund Alpine Start's new instant coffee and matcha products. The With-Benefits blends include adaptogens and vitamins like lion's mane and coconut-derived MCTs.
The North Face Vectiv
The North Face is revamping its entire footwear line with Vectiv, a new suite of shoe tech that the company plans to adapt to different types of outdoor hiking and trail running shoes. It has the potential to put TNF's shoes on the map like never before — as proof, the brand's trail athletes have already set the fastest known times on 17 trails around the world while wearing it. (Vectiv footwear is available now to VIPeak members — join here for free.)
Altra Lone Peak All-Wthr
Spring running conditions can get soggy, but that's no excuse not to go. The All-Wthr version of Altra's Lone Peak trail running shoe is sog-proof yet remains breathable and comes with key features the company established itself on, including a wider foot-shaped toe box and zero-drop platform.
Saucony Peregrine 11
Saucony is also prepping for trail season with a revamped version of its Peregrine shoe. The 11 features mid-sized chevron lugs for traction on any surface and a rock plate for when the going gets tough. It also has a comfy yet lightweight upper that helps slim the shoe down to a mere 10 ounces.
Ultra-distance endurance feats require ultra-long gadget batteries, which is what Garmin is serving up in the Enduro. The GPS watch has the longest battery life of any unit it's ever made — the company says it can run for 80 hours in GPS mode, 65 days in smartwatch mode or up to a year in conservative battery save mode, thanks to built-in solar charging.
Cake Kalk AP
Here's more proof that electrified motorcycles are the future: park rangers can use them to thwart wildlife poachers. Cake, the Swedish company making gorgeously futuristic e-motorcycles, recently partnered with the Southern African Wildlife College to adapt its Kalk for just that task. Unlike typical dirt bikes, the Kalk is relatively quiet and can reach remote areas that cars cannot, recharging via solar when necessary. You can buy one for yourself, and doing so gives one, plus a solar power station, to the Southern Africa Wildlife College.
Hobie Mirage iTrek Fiesta
Another place cars can't go is open waters, but Hobie's new "kayak" takes to the seas (and lakes) with room for four. The vessel has seats and uses a kick-fin system to propel its way across the water.
Nite Ize Radiant Rechargeable Shineline
Outdoors or in, ambiance is essential. Nite Ize's new Shineline is like an upgrade to your standard string lights, featuring an uninterrupted line of LEDs in green, blue or white that you can power via a plugged-in connection or through its USB-rechargeable battery.
Arc'teryx Aerios 15
New in Arc'teryx's 2021 collection is the Aerios, a streamlined backpack for hiking. The bag is available in 30- and 45-liter versions for lightweight overnights, but the 15 is no slouch. Even with its small volume, it has places for trekking poles, water bottles, snacks, extra layers and more.
Keen Ridge Flex
With its Ridge Flex hiking boot, Keen is debuting a new technology called Bellows Flex. Flexible TPU panels at key compression points in the boot reduce every step's effort by 60 percent, which quickly adds up over long trail miles. Because the panels are placed at high-stress points, they also make the boot more durable.
Sitka Nodak System
Whether you hunt snow geese or not, Sitka's new outerwear dedicated to the activity is impressive. The outfitter worked with Gore to measure the UV reflectance of the geese's feathers as well as decoys to create the fabric that makes this jacket-pant set as camouflaged as can be, despite being completely white.
Kora Yushu Collection
By now, you probably know that merino wool is naturally warm, wicking and odor-resistant. But did you know that yak wool is too? Yaks keep their soft, garment-quality wool beneath their hardier outer coats, and Kora sources it from Tibetan communities and weaves it into fabrics that you can wear under yours. It makes its new Yushu fabric with 60 percent yak wool 40 percent merino, claiming both animals' best properties.
Thule Tepui Foothill Tent
A major drawback to rooftop tents is that they take up prime gear storage real estate on top of your vehicle. Not Thule's new Tepui Foothill, though, which folds out to create a shelter big enough for two while leaving room for a kayak or bike next door.