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Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt Review

The Showers Pass Apex Merino Wool Tech is an extremely comfortable performance t-shirt. They sent us one to test and it’s been the perfect companion on many rides and hikes.

Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt
Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt

The Apex Merino Tech is made with 87% Merino Wool and 13% Nylon blend.

Merino Wool is a powerhouse of a fabric. It provides antimicrobial protection from odors and natural breathability. This makes the Apex Merino Tech the perfect shirt for long activities. When testing Merino Wool products, I always like to see how long I can go between washes before the stink sets in. I did a nice sweaty five-mile run, two 15 mile bike rides, and a four hour hike before I felt that I needed to put it in the wash. Given this performance, I am planning to take this on an overnight backpacking trip.

Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt

The Apex Merino Tech is also designed to reduce chafing. The sleeves and side panels have flatlocked stitching to reduce chafing. During testing with backpacks or hydration packs, I found that the shirt moved less than other performance fabrics, reducing the movement that my packs typically did.

I also appreciate that Showers Pass shirts have a longer back to keep the shirt from riding up. This is a great feature while cycling, reducing back exposure as you’re bent over the handlebars.

Unpacking the shipping box, I was immediately impressed by how light and soft this shirt was. You can tell how much thought and care Showers Pass put into this shirt.

Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt
Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt

The fit is on the slimmer side, but is perfect for the types of activities I’ve taken it on.

It was also comfortable when paired with their Cloudburst Jacket.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a performance t-shirt this summer, Merino Wool and this shirt from Shower Pass is a must buy.

I am 5’11” and 185 pounds and wear a size large.

You can purchase the Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt on their website for $75. Well worth it and it will last for several seasons.

KÜHL’s AIRSPEED™ Men’s Shirt Review

KÜHL sent our team the AIRSPEED shirt to review and I was immediately impressed.

Pirate Blue
KÜHL’s AIRSPEED™ Men’s Shirt

Colorado summers where I live are warm and dry with temperatures fluctuating from early morning to evening. Higher in the mountains, you get a wider range and lower low points in the morning and evening.

I found this shirt to be the perfect outdoor companion for those types of days.

For our test, I took this on an overnight camping and hiking trip.

The AIRSPEED is a long-sleeve shirt, which provides ample, UPF 30+, coverage. It was warm enough for cool mornings hiking through the woods. As the day heated up, the cuffs roll up easily to attach to a button located mid-bicep.

It is constructed using three different fabric types:

  • Fabric 1: 72% Nylon, 28% Polyester | 88 GSM
  • Fabric 2: 85% Polyester, 15% Cotton | 160 GSM
  • Fabric 3: (Mesh): 85% Polyester, 15% Cotton | 160 GSM

This combination of fabrics makes the AIRSPEED a breathable, high-performance shirt. The knit panels provide ventilation and stretch for easy movement. The sleeves are designed with five panels for freedom of motion; making it easy to set up the tent or cast a fishing line.

Pirate Blue
KÜHL’s AIRSPEED™ Men’s Shirt

Throughout the testing period, I found this shirt to be extremely comfortable. While hiking with a backpack on, my back did get sticky. It’s worth noting that the fabric isn’t “moisture wicking,” but as KÜHL describes it: “moisture managing.”

But after my hike, as I rested at the camp site, the shirt dried out quickly.

Additional features on this shirt include:

  • Zipper security pocket where I was easily able to stash my driver’s license and credit card
  • Hidden, button-down collar
  • Two button-down chest pockets for additional storage
  • Sunglass cleaner inside bottom left placket
Pirate Blue
KÜHL’s AIRSPEED™ Men’s Shirt

This is an extremely functional and durable shirt. Perfect companion for the outdoors. And it pairs really well with our recently reviewed KÜHL RENEGADE pant.

I am 5’11” and 185 pounds and wear a size large. Found that it fit true to size.

You can purchase this on their website or at your favorite outdoor store.

KÜHL’s RENEGADE Men’s Pant Review

KÜHL’s PR team sent me a pair of their RENEGADE Men’s Pant to test out. The KÜHL’s RENEGADE Men’s Pant delivered just in time for a trip I made down to San Antonio.

Koal
KÜHL’s RENEGADE Men’s Pant

While it is a great pair of pants for hiking and camping, it also became my favorite pants for travel.

It’s exclusive DURALUX fabric is a blend of 95% Nylon and 5% Spandex. It makes for a light, breathable pant. But these pants are tough! On a hike I lost my footing and slid on my butt over some loose gravel. “Oh no!” I thought, turning around to see if there was a hole or tear on my backside, but there wasn’t. Not even a slight abrasion! I could point to several other brands’ pants in my closet that have abrasions or tears from similar falls.

Movement is great in these, as well. KÜHL’s RENEGADE were designed with articulated knees and a gusseted crotch. Climbing and scrambling over rocks was easy in these. I didn’t feel that there was a time where the fabric was too tight in these over-articulated movements.

Koal
KÜHL’s RENEGADE Men’s Pant

What made these great for traveling was all the pockets; eight in total! There’s a side pocket that is big enough for a cell phone to slip in. There are two zippered pockets on the sides that were great to hold my wallet and AirPod headphones.

It’s also worth noting that these pants offer sun protection (UPF 50+) which is perfect for longer days out in nature.

I’m also a big fan of the style of these pants. They are comfortable, but they look good. When I met other team members in San Antonio they commented that I look like someone from Colorado, so mission accomplished!

These pants are available in a handful of different earth tones.

I’m 5’11” and wear a 34×32 and found them true to size.

They are available for purchase on their website, but can also be found in your favorite outdoor retailer.

COROS VERTIX 2 – Full Review

When COROS debuted several years ago, it was a disrupter in the field of GPS watch categories. It’s impressive out-of-the-box features and battery life threatened to push Garmin and Suunto off their pedestals.

Three years ago, when I was researching the best GPS running watch I stumbled upon COROS on Instagram and decided to purchase their Apex watch.

This was after using the Apple Watch for a majority of my training. My biggest frustration with the Apple Watch was that I would have to charge it every night and for longer GPS excursions, it would die halfway through.

What made COROS stand out more than anything else was their battery life. And the Apex delivered. Even on heavy training weeks for ultramarathons, I could still go 15 days before I needed to recharge it.

And while it lacked some features that I missed with the Apple Watch (like being able to track non-GPS workouts), COROS’ team of developers started to deliver on those features with firmware updates.

COROS VERTIX 2
COROS VERTIX 2

The new VERTIX 2 landed last summer with a ton of new features, including music playback, dual GNSS functionality, full-color topographic mapping, ECG functionality, WIFI connectivity for updates, amazing battery life, and Insta360action cam controls. Externally it boasts a larger screen and titanium alloy bezels and case to survive any adventure.

I’ve been using the watch all day, every day for the past three months. It has been with me on trail runs, bike rides, ice climbs, gym rock climbing, road runs, backcountry skiing, indoor cardio workouts and indoor bike rides.

So, let’s dive in on why this watch is the best gps watch on the market.

VERTIX 2 Overview

The VERTIX 2 is a massive watch. I have skinny wrists and was a bit uncertain wearing this monstrosity 24/7 over the course of our testing period. And it did take some getting used to: both size and weight. But after the first week, it was as comfortable as the APEX.

On the right side of the watch (if you’re wearing it on your left wrist) there are two buttons and a separate digital crown (which rotates and can be pressed in).

The top button is used to turn the backlight on or off.

The bottom button has a number of functionalities. On the main screen, outside of a tracked activity, it can be tapped to cycle through metrics on the home screen or held to jump to the settings folder.

COROS VERTIX 2
COROS VERTIX 2

With the digital crown, if you press and hold, it will unlock the screen. This is much better than the unlocking function on the APEX. With the APEX, I had to turn the dial to unlock which was especially frustrating when in the middle of an activity, especially in the wintertime when I was wearing gloves.

With the VERTIX 2, I found the crown easy to use, even when wearing gloves. When I was skiing in the backcountry, it was easy to shift between uphill and downhill tracking, as well as pausing for a snack break.

While in the middle of an activity, the digital crown can be used to cycle through your activity metrics. This is great for some activities (like indoor cycling or GPS cardio) when I am focused on duration and heart rate (trying to keep it in the fat burning zone).

While the touchscreen isn’t a new feature for COROS or GPS watches in general, it is still worth highlighting. It is primarily used outside of workout mode. You can click into widgets to slide through your metrics. Or pull up a map and move around easily.

I haven’t found myself using the touchscreen too much outside of the widgets. It is a much easier tool that the dial to cycle through and look at a particular time frame of data.

The watch bands connect using a quick release system. Again, this is a step up from the APEX. The tabs to pull and release are much easier to use, allowing you to swap out bands or remove them all together to connect to the COROS Carabiner so you can climb without the watch attached to your wrist.

On the back of the watch is the charging port and optical heart rate sensor. The heart rate sensor is the set of LED’s and optical sensors (bright and vibrant red and green lights) that measure your heart rate, but also blood oxygen levels and ECG data.

ECG / HRV Feature

To access the ECG feature, navigate to the settings menu and click HRV test. It’ll ask you to place your hand on the bezel.

And it’ll start the ECG, lasting for 60 seconds. Throughout you’ll feel a vibration, similar to a heartbeat. At the end you’re given a HRV value, not an ECG value. Which is confusing.

I’m unsure if this is a feature that will continue being developed.

The HRV value does show up in the app and you can watch the trend over time. The value is scaled from 0-100.

  • 81-100: Superior, relaxed

  • 51-80: High, under minor physical or mental pressure

  • 21-50: Medium, under medium physical or mental pressure

  • 1-20: Low, under significant physical or mental pressure

Widgets for Days

When you’re on the home screen, you can move into the widget menu by unlocking the screen and moving the dial.

Widgets include everything from steps, KCAL burned, workout duration, recovery data, to sleep.

With each widget, you can click into with the dial and scroll through the data with the dial or your finger on the screen.

I have found that most of these widgets are pretty accurate. With the exception of sleep. I think it’s because of the size of the watch, but I have found that if the watch isn’t centered on my wrist that I will miss out on sleep data; viewable as large gaps of “awake” time during the night. Additionally, if I get up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break or to help an awake child, it will register that as the moment I awoke—not counting when I went back to sleep a few minutes later.

I slept like a rock, but COROS is registering a lot of awake time. More than likely because of the way the watch was positioned.

Notifications and Settings

One of the reasons I hated using the Apple Watch as a primary fitness watch was all the notifications I would get. Anything my iPhone received, so did my watch. Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping.

With Coros, I have the ability to be in the same predicament. But I am very conscious about the impact all those notifications have on my mental health, so I have a majority turned off. Right now, phone calls is the only notification I receive. Anything else can wait till I’m at my phone.

But it is fully customizable when you first setup the watch on the COROS app.

If you hold the bottom button, you can also access the settings menu. Here you can access the above mentioned ECG function. But you’re also able to connect to Bluetooth devices, WIFI, Insta360 action cam control, alarms, the compass, and music.

Music and Insta360 Cam Controls

The VERTIX 2 is COROS’s first watch to feature music. Bluetooth headphones are paired through the headphones menu in Settings. You can pair multiple Bluetooth headphones, which is a great feature for ultramarathons when you might burn through a pair or two.

Pairing is easy and once setup, they are easily accessible. When powered on, the watch will connect to them. When tested, it would take over the connection from my iPhone easily.

For music, the VERTIX 2 supports loading MP3 files to the device using a USB cable from your computer. Drag and drop the files you want to the “music folder” and you’re ready to start jamming by selecting the music menu from the settings menu.

You can use the touchscreen to play, pause, skip tracks, etc.

It should be noted though that you can only load MP3 tracks. Services like Spotify or Apple Music isn’t compatible and probably won’t ever be.

Now, at the time of testing, we couldn’t test the Insta360 controls. But to give an overview, if you have the Insta360 Go 2, One X2 and One R), you can control the camera with the VERTIX 2.

Using the dial, you can alternate between photo and video mode, then press the dial to take a photo or start recording a video.

Battery Life

COROS VERTIX 2
COROS VERTIX 2

The VERTIX 2 lasts up to 140 hours of standard full GPS tracking and 60 days of normal use. With light GPS usage, daily workouts tracked, and with wearing the watch 24/7, I have gone 35-40 days between charges. During heavy usage periods, using GPS daily, I have gone 25 days between charges.

COROS VERTIX 2
COROS VERTIX 2

Some features, like the ECG/HRV test, music, and Insta360 camera control will drain your battery faster.

It should be noted that the VERTIX 2 uses a proprietary charger, so don’t lose it!

GPS Activity Tracking and Maps

During our testing period we took the VERTIX 2 everywhere: hiking, trail running, road running, road biking, trail biking, back country skiing, ice climbing, and most recently, paddle boarding (yay! spring has sprung!).

GPS accuracy can make or break a watch.

One of the biggest challenges I had with the APEX was that when I was doing trail races with a lot of vertical gains, the watch would think that I wasn’t moving and stop tracking.

COROS VERTIX 2
COROS VERTIX 2

The VERTIX 2 has improved on this by offering Dual Frequency GNSS. This allows the watch to locate the best GPS frequency available from all five of the major satellite systems at the same time.

Additionally, navigation features include topographic, landscape, and hybrid global mapping. You can load a route by transferring it to the COROS app and loading it directly to the watch from the app. I used this feature in the backcountry and part of the challenge is that on the map there aren’t any labels or turn-by-turn directions. So it was challenging navigating back when I got off course and lost the trail.

COROS VERTIX 2
COROS VERTIX 2

When I looked at the routes tracked, I did find the VERTIX 2 to be pretty darn accurate, including in heavily wooded areas or terrain that had more vertical climbs.

I highlighted a few examples to showcase the accuracy of the GPS data.

In the middle image, this was a point on my run where I transitioned from trail to sidewalk. While it didn’t show me directly on the trail, throughout it caught every little turn and pivot I made, including where I ventured off the paved trail onto a single track.

For the Ski Touring tracking, when I zoom in, you can see all the switch backs I went up.

What I am most impressed by is the fact that the watch is more accurately picking up trail runs on steep inclines. No longer is the watch auto-pausing because it can’t register movement. And that in itself is a huge winner for me as I continue training for ultras this Summer.

Conclusion

Throughout the testing period of the VERTIX 2, I continue to be impressed by the leap forward COROS has taken with this watch.

There are a ton of really awesome features with the music and Insta360 features.

But more than anything, the feature that is worth shouting about is battery life. There isn’t another watch on the market that can match COROS on what they were able to accomplish with the VERTIX 2.

Sure there are some improvements I’d love to see (especially with maps), but if there’s a company I trust to get it done, it’s COROS. Their developer team is amazing and based on what they have done in the last few years, I’m fairly certain they will keep the VERTIX 2 ahead of the competition

If you’re an endurance athlete or avid explorer, I have no doubt that this is the watch for you.

The COROS VERTIX 2 is available online and at several different retailers. It retails for $699.

High Camp Flask Firelight 750ml Review

With summertime camping approaching, I have been on the lookout for how I can bring my love of cocktails with me to the campsite. Sure, I could bring bottles and utensils and cocktail shakers, but that is a lot to bring with me. Alternatively, I could buy and bring pre-made cocktails, but where is the fun in that?

High Camp Firelight 750 Flask
High Camp Firelight 750 Flask

High Camp Flasks sent me their Firelight 750ml Flask to test and I think I might have found the perfect solution.

The Firelight 750ml Flask is big enough to hold a bottle of wine or my favorite whiskey, but what I found myself drawn to was making pre-made cocktails to store and serve.

Portable Ranch Water

14 oz. Tequila Blanco

7 oz. Fresh Lime Juice (or 7 limes)

1.5 oz. Agave Nectar

Topo Chico Sparkling Water or your favorite sparkling water

Mix together the Tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar and pour in your Firelight 750ml Flask. When serving pour roughly 3 oz. of the mixture into your drinking vessel with ice and top with Topo Chico Sparkling Water.

Alternatively, this ratio works well with your favorite whiskey. You could also swap it out for rum and swap out the Topo Chico for Spindrift Pineapple Sparkling Water.

Flask Features

What makes the Firelight 750ml Flask so cool is its features.

It stores in a slick fabric bag and comes with two 6-Shooter Tumblers that secure to the top and bottom of the flask using a magnetic locking system. The Tumblers are double-walled, so they keep drinks cold.

High Camp Firelight 750 Flask
High Camp Firelight 750 Flask

Additionally, the flask itself is vacuum insulation, keeping that Ranch Water perfectly chilled or your wine at room temperature even outdoors.

It weighs only 29 oz. empty, so if you’re backpacking, it doesn’t add much additional weight. Essentially it weighs only a little more than your typical vacuum sealed water bottle.

It retails for $125 and can be purchased along with other cocktail accessories at https://highcampflasks.com/.

Sleep Well In DKOTA Grizzly Cade Pants

I am really excited to share with you that I have found the perfect everyday sleepwear pants from DKOTA Grizzly: the Cade Pants.

DKOTA Grizzly Cade Pants
DKOTA Grizzly Cade Pants

They are made with a blend of Cotton, Polyester, and Baby French Terry. The Cade Pants have an elastic waistband with a drawcord, making them really flexible. There are four total pockets, including a hidden zippered pocket and back patch pocket.

Out of all my lounge pants, these are the most comfortable. They have become my go-to sleepwear and weekend lounge pants. The Cade Pants are perfect for sleeping in, but also rolling out of bed to take the dog for a walk.

During a winter camping trip, I also found that these were warm and comfortable enough in my sleeping bag. I didn’t feel overheated or cold.

The Cade Pants can be found at many of DKOTA Grizzly’s retail partners. If you visit their Find Retailer page, you can locate a retailer near you. There are multiple colors available and they retail for $68.

I normally wear 34×32 pants and I wear a large.

Altra Superior 5 Trail-Running Shoe Review

I’ve been wearing minimalist shoes fairly exclusively over the past 12 years.

Even with trail-running, I would wear shoes that had only 5mm between myself and the Earth. I could feel every tree root and rock on my runs.

And I loved that.

But I also recognized that, especially on more technical terrain, having minimal protection was holding me back. I could tear down the terrain as fast as I knew I could because of those rocks, roots, and uneven ground.

The reason why I started wearing minimalist shoes was because of an injury to my achilles. Any shoe I wore that wasn’t zero-drop caused pain and discomfort. And that issue still persists 12 years later.

Enter: Altra

Altra has been on my radar for years. They fit the mold of a minimalist shoe—wide toe box, foot-shaped shoe, and zero-drop—but with cushioning.

Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe
Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe

When Altra sent me a pair of their Superior 5, I was hesitant at first, but was immediately put at ease when I first slipped on the shoe.

When the box arrived, it was a wet, snowy day in Colorado, so I didn’t wear them outside initially to run. I took them downstairs to my workout area for a HITT style workout.

Immediately, I knew something was different.

With all the jumping jacks, jump squats, and even running in place, I was going harder, faster, and stronger than I had in my other workouts.

When I took them out for my first trail run, I noticed that both my speed and my stride had improved. I shaved off 15 seconds to my most recent best mile and my stride was more efficient.

What was going on?

The Altra Superior 5

I chose the Altra Superior 5 out of their lineup because it is their slimmest trail design.

It weighs only 8.5 oz. for a US M9.0 and 7.3 oz. for US W8.0.

While it is still zero-drop (meaning that there is a 0mm difference between the heel and toe placement), the Altra Superior 5 still has a 21mm height. 17mm more cushion than I am typically used to!

Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe
Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe

Even though it has more cushion than I am used to, it still provides some ground feel. While I wasn’t feeling everything, I did notice that my foot still had enough feedback from the ground to adjust how it was running, especially on technical terrain that was rapidly changing.

And if ground feel isn’t your thing and you want more protection, the Altra Superior 5 has a removable rock plate that adds additional protection.

The outsole is also pretty darn grippy with their MaxTrac™ outsole and multi-directional lug pattern. It handled well on a variety of terrain. My first run was on a snowy and slushy day and as a transitioned from dirt to concrete, it responded well.

The upper is pretty nice too. I had read some negative reviews about the tongue causing issues with some runners, especially going downhill and having their foot slip. But I never experienced any issues with the lacing system or the “burrito style” tongue wrap. My foot always felt very secure.

The tongue itself has more padding than I’ve seen in other shoes. It’s also integrated seamlessly as part of the upper, hence the “burrito style” reference.

Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe
Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe

The Altra Superior 5 also has built in gaiter attachments. This was a welcome addition. With other shoes that didn’t have this feature built in, my gaiters always sat a little bit funny and snow typically found their way in. Even after stomping through a foot and half in Rocky Mountain National Park, my gaiters stayed secure.

Hardy but Minimal

During the course of our review, I put on over 50 miles on this shoe.

Going into it, I wasn’t sure I would love it. I had run many ultras with very little protection and was somewhat content. But this shoe shook my belief that I was making the best decisions for my feet based on my previous footwear choices.

I am still happy that I am running minimalist, but in a more hardy shoe. My times have improved and I am able to tear down those trails the way I’ve seen my ultrarunning idols do.

I still appreciate that ground feel isn’t completely gone either. A big reason why I find joy in running is the ability to feel the Earth and Altra still provides that ability—granted it is with a bit more cushion.

Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe
Altra Superior 5 Trail Running Shoe

If you haven’t tried Altra yet, but are curious about minimalist, zero-drop shoes, you’re missing out.

The Altra Superior 5 is available online in Men’s and Women’s sizes, but Altra has a handy tracker to show shoe stores in your area that have them.

They retail for $120.

DKOTA Grizzly’s New Boone Shirt Review

During Outdoor Retailer, I had the chance to visit with the St. Louis based clothing manufacturer, DKOTA Grizzly.

Over the past several years, I’ve been visiting their booths and seeing their products at our local Scheel’s and have always been impressed with their attention to detail when it came to creating functional and stylish clothing.

DKOTA Grizzly specializes in men’s rugged-casual clothing.

Their team walked me through their Spring ’22 line and I could immediately see how their product design had evolved from heavier fabrics to performance fabrics, making DKOTA Grizzly a “crossover brand” that can allow wearers to transition from the gym to work.

A majority of their new products, including the Boone shirt, that we’ll dive into more detail on, were created with active stretch a movement fabrics; making it the perfect spring or summer companion.

DKOTA Grizzly Boone Long-Sleeve Shirt
DKOTA Grizzly Boone Long-Sleeve Shirt

DKOTA Grizzly sent us their new Boone shirt to test out.

This shirt is made from a Nylon / Spandex blend. It is light and breathable. During testing, I wore it on a hike during a fairly warm spring day and found it to be very comfortable. The fabric itself was very cool, which I think would be a great pairing in summer when it is a bit warmer. Or, at the least, pairing it with a jacket on cooler days.

The Boone also has two hidden zippered chest pockets. Now, when it comes to button-up shirts, I don’t really ever use my chest pockets. But I liked the style of the zippers. Typically when buttons or snaps, it was always a pain to undo the button. The zippers made it a heckuvalot easier to access.

DKOTA Grizzly also designed this shirt so that there’s a sunglass wipe on the lower hem and a loop inside to hang your sunglasses from.

It’s little things like this that made their product design standout and I found myself constantly surprised.

I’m a big fan of this shirt.

It’s still warming up in Colorado, but as Spring starts to settle in, this shirt will join me on many adventures. Whether I am fishing, paddle boarding, or boating.

The Boone can be found at many of DKOTA Grizzly’s retail partners. If you visit their Find Retailer page, you can locate a retailer near you.

DKOTA Grizzly New Boone Shirt

They also created another shirt called the Barkley, which is a short-sleeved variation for what we tested.

To learn more about their manufacturing practices, you can visit their website: dakotagrizzly.com.

Backcountry Skiing With 57Hours Guided Adventures

Something that had been on my Colorado bucket list was backcountry skiing.

I got the itch a couple years back when I went snowshoeing with a friend that opted to be on his skis instead. Every time I looked at him, it was obvious that he was having a much better time than me traversing the snow.

And a much easier time. There was a fairly long stretch where we had lost the trail and I was post-holing constantly—sinking up to my hip—while he skied past me with ease.

The second time backcountry skiing wormed its way into my brain was while driving through Loveland Pass. We kept passing parked cars on the side of the road and realized that they were skiers and snowboarders that were traversing the backcountry instead of the nearby Keystone Resort.

And when I saw those skiers and snowboarders, they looked like they were having a blast!

But backcountry skiing was a lot to bite off.

Where do I start?

How do I start?

Who could I go out with?

Enter: 57Hours

57Hours is a new site and app that connects people with guides for outdoor adventures. The goal of their platform is to provide a seamless experience for freelance guides and adventure seekers.

57Hours Homepage
57Hours Homepage

For clients, it eliminates the hassle of calling around to different guides and companies to find the appropriate scaled adventure, a guide that fits your need, and then all the craziness of coordinating dates.

57Hours matches adventurers with the best-fit guide based on need and skill level. Plus, choosing a day for your adventure is as easy as booking an Airbnb.

For guides, the app provides another avenue for acquiring new clients. Plus, they only take a small percentage of your guide fee.

Because of our own mission to connect people with the outdoors, we were beyond thrilled when 57Hours reached out for us to review their guide service.

The User Experience

Navigating the 57Hours website and app was a breeze.

When you first land on their site, you can select your ideal adventure type and location. You can also browse through all adventure types and locations to see the scale of their platform. You can choose to do something locally or all the way across the world.

For myself, I chose backcountry skiing and selected locations in Colorado.

The closest adventure opportunity to me was in Rocky Mountain National Park, so I chose that.

57Hours Trip Booking User Interface
57Hours Trip Booking User Interface

As mentioned before, the user interface was very similar to Airbnb.

I selected dates that would work best and added a note for the guide about what I was hoping to get out of the experience.

Once I hit “continue,” I was taken through a checkout portal and had follow-up emails confirming my adventure and notified me that a guide would be in touch.

Pairing with a Guide

Based on my adventure, availability, and level 57Hours paired me up with a guide and pretty soon we began trading emails to lay out the details of the trip.

57Hours goes through a vetting process for their guides, so when they paired me with Max Lurie from Alpine to the Max, I knew I was in good hands.

Max was great at communicating and making sure that I felt comfortable going into this adventure.

I had a lot of questions about equipment and he was there, ready to answer every single one.

As we laid out details for the backcountry trip, he made sure that I knew exactly where we’d meet up, confirmed that I had all the equipment I needed, and helped me rent additional equipment.

Since we were heading into the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park, it was important that I rented appropriate skis, skins, poles, boots, and avalanche gear that included a shovel, probe, and tracker.

So far, the experience had been great.

As a newbie to backcountry skiing, I felt that I was at a place with my guide that I trusted him and I trusted myself and my ability to go out, have a good time, and not die.

The Day Of

Finally, the day had come. Time to go out into the backcountry.

I met Max at the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and we drove in. After about 15 minutes we reached our destination: the Hidden Valley trailhead.

We spent some time at our cars making sure the gear worked. Max walked me through how to use my tracker and showed me how to put the skins on my skis.

Backcountry Skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park

The trailhead, at the very base, was flat, so we spent some time familiarizing me with the motion of backcountry skiing, which took a while to catch on. It’s very different from regular skiing and you can’t use the same motion as snowshoeing or hiking.

“Pick up your heel and glide,” I kept telling myself.

Once I had enough confidence in the movement, we started up on the trail.

When we reached switchbacks, Max paused again and showed me how to turn while on a vertical incline.

And we continued on.

Soon we reached the top of a small hill and after removing the skins, Max used that opportunity to check to make sure I could ski well enough.

It was at that point I realized that my ski boot rentals weren’t going to cut it. If there is one lesson here, it is to make sure your equipment is the right fit before you get out to the slopes. My boots were too tight and when I tightened them for downhill skiing my foot would cramp. For this test slope, it wasn’t so bad though. My foot was relieved when I made it down and loosened the boot for backcountry skiing.

Putting skins on

Once skins were back on, we continued on, going up about a mile until we reached the snow covered Trail Ridge Road.

We hydrated and refueled and it was time to ski down.

Throughout the entire process, Max was extremely knowledgeable and patient.

When we made it back down to the cars, we had some time left and Max took the opportunity to do some basic backcountry avalanche training. He familiarized me with my rental equipment and we practiced beacon retrieval.

Conclusion

Overall, this was a great experience.

Getting the experience in the backcountry and avalanche training is something I’ll be able to carry with me and use during my next adventure.

And I know that I wouldn’t have done this without having someone like Max to guide me.

57Hours made is easy to find a guide and an adventure that was a good fit. If you’re wanting to get outdoors for an adventure, but not sure where to start, checkout 57Hours. You won’t be disappointed.

Swiftwick FLITE XT® TRAIL Sock Review

Swiftwick recently launched their new FLITE XT® TRAIL line of socks and sent our team of product testers a couple pairs to test.

Swiftwick® FLITE XT® TRAIL
Swiftwick® FLITE XT® TRAIL

Previously we had highlighted the Swiftwick VIBE™ and Swiftwick PURSUIT™, but this new sock line was built for the trail and built for speed.

The FLITE XT® TRAIL combines Merino wool and Swiftwick’s proprietary GripDry™ Fiber that is incorporated into the heel and forefoot of the sock to provide traction and grip inside the shoe. When tearing down the steep terrain of Mount Sanitas, the sock stayed in place, not sliding or bunching as my foot shifted in my shoe.

Around the ankle, Swiftwick uses their AnkleLock™ Technology with strong elastic to make sure that the sock stays in place, but also provides a sense of stability on rocky terrain.

Over the course of our testing, we wore them in a variety of conditions, including trail-running and snowshoeing. During these colder activities, we found that the Merino wool performed as expected. During these activities, we never felt like our foot was overheated or too cold.

“After the release of our original FLITE XT® socks, designed with advanced stability technology, we heard growing feedback from our hike and trail running customers on their love for the line’s performance features,” said Joanna Mariani, Chief Marketing Officer of Swiftwick. 

“Using that feedback, we set out to combine the FLITE XT’s signature stability features with the natural wonders of Merino wool to provide the best-performing outdoor sock on the market. FLITE XT TRAIL was inspired by our customers and ardently crafted by our team– we’re excited to see what adventures our customers take these socks on.” 

Swiftwick® FLITE XT® TRAIL
Swiftwick® FLITE XT® TRAIL

These socks are a welcome addition to our gear closets. We’re looking forward to ultra season and being able to put more miles on these.

The FLITE XT TRAIL sock line launches in a Two and Five cuff height. Learn more about the FLITE XT TRAIL line at : https://swiftwick.com/pages/flite-xt-trail