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Manzella Touch Tip Gloves

 

 

The Manzella Men's Power Stretch® TouchTip™ Gloves have a Polartec® Power Stretch™ shell that offers a snug fit, with a Polartec® fleece back for moisture management. Manzella takes touchscreen gloves to a whole new level with TouchTip™ technology. The special material pad on the index finger and thumb allows you to use smart phones, ATM machines and other touch screen devices without removing gloves.


· Polartec® Power Stretch® shell offers a heavy duty, nylon-faced 4-way compression fit with a Polartec® fleece back for moisture management.


· Silicone Control Trax® grip with TouchTip™ on index finger and thumb for touchscreen technology compatibility.


· Elastic cuff to seal out the cold.


· Thoughtfully engineered fit.



 

Merrell M2 Ventilator Low


(Millennium Series)

 

Merrell set out to create a general purpose outdoor shoe that would work in situations from trail running, trekking, and hiking, to scrambling, boulder hopping, and stream fording, to daily wear at home or the office. In a word - they succeeded. (Okay, that's two words.) While GearReview.com's five experienced footwear testers can't recite market share numbers, we can help you, and your customers, find the best footwear products. Merrell's M2 Ventilator shoe falls into that category. And while the success that counts is at the register, having a technically superior product is always a good start.

 

Ratings:

Comfort: A
Break-in: A+
Durability: A
Value: A (MSRP $115)
Overall: A

The Ventilator is primarily a warm weather shoe, as the name suggests. The side mesh panels help the shoe "breathe" reducing perspiration, overheating, and facilitating quick drying. One tester noted, "When crossing through streams, the water drains out and wicks quickly, leaving no water in the shoes, just wet socks. The mesh allows your socks to dry more quickly than other shoes as well."

We especially appreciated the coolness (temperature, not fashion) of the Ventilator when attempting more athletically demanding tests. While not specifically designed as a trail running shoe, our experience proved the shoes to be surprisingly adept. The feet stay cool, traction is excellent, the weight (or lack thereof) appreciated. At 2 pounds 6 ounces, the Ventilator's weight is only slightly more than dedicated trail runners, such as Merrell's M2 Peak Speed (1 lb, 10 oz).

This shoe is equally at home crossing consolidated snow fields. The Millennium series' Vibram "SpeedHiker Sole with Trek Rubber" combines the high traction of a boot with low weight, says Merrell. The sole's performance matched Merrell's claims. From Jean's field notes: "While hiking to a 12,000 foot summit we had to cross several deep snow fields. The snow was densely consolidated from the early summer heat, creating treacherously slippery footing. I was carrying a 15-pound day pack, but the Ventilator's grip was the best of any of the hiker's shoes in our party. While others were slip-sliding, I moved easily across the snow."

At the other end of the spectrum is the shoe's grip while scrambling on slickrock in an uncharted slot canyon in Zion National Park. Negotiating the canyon required boulder hopping, scrambling up steep slickrock slopes, and mild technical climbing (no ropes). I jotted these impressions in my notes: "This rubber sole feels like its got stick-um, like a receiver wears in a football game. I felt more at ease on the steeper slickrock sections than with my boots-both with the grip and the shoe's weight."

COMFORT

Merrell's product literature speaks of "instant out-of-the-box fit". From Bob's ravings this appears to be true. "Without question, the outstanding feature of the Ventilators are their comfort. From the moment I put them on, I've had zero problems. The term 'fast break- in' doesn't do them justice-there's no break-in! Just put on the shoes and go. In four months I've had no blisters, no hot spots, no discomfort."

With three sizes of replaceable footbed, you can tailor the shoe's fit to your customer's foot volume within the same shoe size. Customers can also purchase new footbeds to replace worn ones. The shoes ship with a medium footbed, but you should stock others to offer your customers the best possible "custom" fit. The footbeds retail for around $5 a pair.

The shoe's tongue is nicely padded and bellowed to keep scree from entering around the laces. Since we tested the Ventilator Low, we did find that scree could get in the sides of the shoe where the padding fits just below the ankle bone, which seems unavoidable with any low-cut shoe. For those who have an aversion to an occasional pebble in their shoes, or desire greater ankle support, Merrell offers an M2 Ventilator High boot.

Once on the trail, not a single tester ever complained about any comfort compromises with the Ventilator. Most agreed it was the most comfortable general-purpose shoe they have ever worn.

DURABILITY

One of our testers, Jeff, got an out-of-town assignment from his real job just after starting our tests. Since he was largely unable to do outdoor testing, Jeff volunteered to do durability testing. For the past four months Jeff has worn the Ventilator every day-hey, Merrell said they wanted to create a single shoe that customers could wear on the summit and at their desk.

So how is Jeff's pair of Ventilators holding up? "The Vibram soles show absolutely no sign of wear. These things look like they'll last forever. I have started to wear through the fabric of the footbed, but they're still good for a while longer. Then I'll just replace them for five bucks."

"I did notice one wear point," he adds. "The rubber sole extends up to cover the front of the toe box. One edge of the rubber started to peel just slightly. I put a dab of super glue under the rubber and that fixed the problem." None of the other four testers encountered any difficultly.

For myself, I put over 200 miles of scrambling, trail running, and day hiking on my pair. While mine no longer look new, like Jeff's, there is no evidence they won't last for a very long time.

Summary: The Ventilator is a fantastic general purpose shoe, suitable for almost any warm-weather outdoor activity. The exceptions are serious trail running, technical climbing, backpacking, and long walks on pavement (the soles are too aggressive for pavement!). Comfort is the Ventilator's most outstanding quality. From break-in to extended wear, few shoes pamper your feet any better. If your customers are looking for a day hiking shoe, or a single shoe for a wide variety of outdoor pursuits, we highly recommend Merrell's Millennium Series M2 Ventilator Low.

Atlas BC24 Snowshow



Snowshoes that comfortably fit on the back of a pack.

by: Ben Fullerton

 

[best approach]
“For me, snowshoes are a means to an end,” says one tester who used the BC24s to claw his way to the top of New Hampshire’s Tuckerman’s Ravine—so he could snowboard down. For folks like him—backcountry snowboarders, skiers, mountaineers, and ice climbers—who need traction, stability, and flotation to reach their line without being hindered on the descent by bulky stuff on their backs, the BC24s’ short and wide 7075 aluminum frames (24 x 9 inches) do the trick.

They fit easily on the back of any pack we wore without extending above, where it can bonk you in the head during a fall or get hung up on passing branches. And the low-profile urethane strap binding and shallow nose angle allow the snowshoes to lie flat against the pack. The easy-to-adjust binding was secure on everything but prolonged sidehills, while the stainless steel crampons have plenty of bite for steep snowpack.

Bonus: The binding accommodates bulky (size 14) snowboarding and mountaineering boots. Tradeoffs: You have to adjust your gait to the wider-than-average frame, and bigger shoes have better flotation in deep powder. $230; 4 lbs. 1 oz.; 24 inches; atlassnowshoe.com

Brunton Nexus Elite Compass



Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Price Paid: $50

The Nexus Elite, Models 15 and 25, are top-of-the-line mirror-sight compasses familiar to many in the USA who used to own the old Silva Ranger. That's because, in the U.S. at least, the Nexus Elite is the only top-rank mirror-sight compass actually made by Silva of Sweden, the original manufacturer of the Silva 'Ranger'.

After trying out several mirror sight compasses, I've found the Nexus Elite to be the best made and designed of all of them. The Nexus compass bezel on my compass rotates without slop, the sight is accurately positioned and aligned with the bearing line, the hinges are tight, and only the Nexus has an innovative clear plastic capsule design allows one to read reverse bearings in the mirror.

Fox 40 Sonik Blast CMG Whistle

Get found with this super loud whistle.

by: Steve Howe

 

The 120-decibel Sonik Blast isn’t just loud; it’s super efficient, so testers could produce a big noise without having to huff and puff their brains out. Which is actually a key feature when you’re cold, weak, or injured.

Plastic and rubber construction means you can hold the whistle and blow into it easily in the coldest weather. $10; .6 oz.; fox40world.com

Leatherman Expanse E33T Knife

Courtesy of backpacker.com

If all you need is a sharp blade with a couple of key tools, pack the Expanse. You get a hollow-ground, stainless-steel blade and two sturdy screwdrivers (one flat and one Phillips), which helped testers pick rocks out of boot soles, tighten the clamps on trekking poles, and even fix a car’s fuel throttle on an Alaskan highway. The curved handle feels substantial in hand, and there’s a little tab at the base of the half-serrated, 2.6-inch blade’s spine that lets you open it with the flick of a thumb. $55; 3.5 oz.; leatherman.com.

Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek


If you’re shy about talking to strangers or self-conscious when people stare at your feet and whisper to their friends, the Vibram Five Fingers line of shoes will help you overcome your fears. You will find yourself in conversations in the supermarket checkout line or with random passersby on the street. Everyone wants to know, “Are those shoes?” (Answer: Sort of.) “Are they comfortable?” (Answer: yes.)

The deal with the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek is that it’s designed to trick your feet into thinking they’re naked. The proponents of barefoot running claim all sorts of benefits to going sans shoes. Enhanced leg and foot strength, reduced injuries, improved posture and balance, the list is fairly extensive. The hypothesis is that our bodies were designed to be barefoot and to run around on uneven surfaces. But shoes and the flat floors we walk on have weakened our muscles and connective tissues, dulling our reactions and agility. Think of barefooting like going organic for the shoe crowd.

I’m a regular runner and believer in compound, body-weight exercises, so I was intrigued by the idea of barefoot running. But I also have soft, baby-like feet completely devoid of calluses, and the thought of running around trails barefoot filled my imagination with nightmarish visions of imbedded twigs and infected cuts.

I promise you this: The KSO Treks are unlike any other shoes you’ve ever worn. Instead of supporting your foot, they simply protect it from sharp things and let your foot move naturally. Most noticeable, they have a small pocket for each toe, like gloves for your feet, to let your toes move individually. It’s as close to being barefoot as you can get without risking your skin to the ground. The thin rubber sole provides just a bit of cushion, enough to take the jarring edge off from walking on concrete, but doesn’t feel that different from wearing regular shoes.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the Five Fingers are a little harder to put on than normal shoes. With a little practice I was able to do it in about 1 minute, but getting each toe into its little slot took a little concentration. Sizing is very important, and if your second toe is a lot longer than your big toe you might be out of luck.