Billy Brown's Blog


Backcountry Boozing: Clif Family Winery Climber Pouch

  I like wine. I like the outdoors. It seems natural that the two would go together, but hauling a few bottles out into the woods adds serious weight to a pack and runs the risk of shattering said bottles if you end up on your back for one reason or another.  Enter the Climber's Pouch from Clif Family Winery. Yeah, it's not just the bars anymore; they make wine, too, apparently. Climber's Wine Comes...
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Gear Review: E-Lite Hydration Vest

Going small is the new going big in the running world these days; lighter weight shoes with a dearth of cushioning and a negligible heel drop are hotter than Hansel right now. The trend isn’t limited to shoes anymore – hydration system company Hydrapak is taking aim at thirsty minimalists with the E-Lite hydration vest. The vest sports a 1-liter version of Hydrapak's great reservoir system and five points of adjustment to let you dial...
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Running From the Bulls: Five Ten's Atlas Pamplona

Footwear company Five Ten is known primarily for their rock climbing shoes. If you look a bit closer, though, they seem to have a shoe for every application you can think of, from mountain biking and hiking to BASE jumping, freerunning and slacklining. My personal favorite is the Atlas Pamplona running shoe ($150, fiveten.com). It doesn't have the super-techy sole of the Mizuno Prophecy, and it's not the newest, baddest Five Finger shoe on the...
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Beat My Sleeve: Finding the Perfect Headband

Despite all of the sweat-wicking, breathable, fast-drying materials that the gear industry showcases, I'm at a bit of a loss lately. I’ve tried a series of headwear options to keep my ears warm in the winter and keep the sweat out of my eyes in the summer, and all of the experimentation has led to one question:    Why is it that my favorite headband is a cutoff sleeve from a shirt that was so...
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Gear Preview: Black Diamond's 2012 Icon Headlamp

When I first saw Black Diamond's Icon Headlamp redux for Spring 2012 ($79.95), I was immediately intrigued by its cool metal body. So intrigued in fact, that I accidentally hit the power button while I was staring into the bulb. It was like getting maced with light. That's how I met the 2012 Icon's QuadPower LED bulb, whose 200 lumens (versus the current model's 100 lumens) are estimated to throw a beam up to 100...
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Gear Preview: Eddie Bauer First Ascent Alchemist 40L

"Guide Built" is one of the mantras of outfitter Eddie Bauer's First Ascent mountaineering line, and with folks like Ed Viesturs and Dave Hahn in their lineup, that's no small statement. Apparently it's working out, because I just got to take a sneak peek at one of their upcoming packs, for an upcoming Backpacker Magazine gear guide, and there's no shortage of innovation there. The Alchemist 40L backpack (due out in Spring 2012) sports a...
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Gear Review: FITS Socks Live up to their Name

There's not much you can really say about socks, so I'll just come right out with it - FITS ultra-fine merino socks are the most comfortable ones I've ever worn. I've spent the last few months wearing the Light Runner Low ($15.99), the Performance Trail ($17.99), and the Medium Hiker Crew ($20.99) and they all fit phenomenally. We don't ask much from socks. Just fit well, keep blisters away, and feel good. That shouldn't be...
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Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Pro Review

  Running with headphones can be a pain in the ear. If you manage to find a set of buds that don't fall out while you run, it's usually because they're wedged in your ear so tight that it's going to hurt like heck within a few minutes of putting them in. Yurbuds is aiming to solve this problem with their Ironman Inspire Pro earbuds. A unique "locking in" feature allows the buds to slide...
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Menage a Comfort: Columbia Ultrachange Jacket

As most of the country has seen this year, winter weather can be a fickle beast. With bright and sunny conditions one day, pouring rain and snow the next, just one jacket isn't going to cut it. Columbia Sportswear's Ultrachange 3-in-1 Jacket ($450) does its best to accommodate your comfort in a variety of conditions. The setup consists of Columbia's waterproof OmniDry outer shell with the breathable OmniWick liner and a removable synthetic insulated jacket...
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Happy Feet: 2012's Most Anticipated Running Shoes

Gear nuts have a lot to look forward to every year, and it looks like this year is going to be no exception. Fancy footwear abounds in 2012, giving runners plenty of choices. This year, it looks like the quest to go lighter minimal and/or natural is still going strong. Here are some of the most drool-worthy shoes coming out this year.  Trend note: Are more people going sockless in 2012? Could be a stinky...
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