Warmer weather has us anticipating the arrival of spring, the longer days and shorter sleeves that accompany the change of seasons.  Here’s a few new and exciting items with a softer touch for spring. If, like me, you clean out and organize your gear closet to prepare for the adventures that await in spring and summer, consider adding these toys to replace some of your worn out gear.

Eagle Creek 2-in-1 Backpack/Duffel

Ec 2in1 Ultra Light duffel_backpack flame orange (pack) S14Eagle Creek continues to innovate and offer practical, durable bags and packs for the weekend traveler, trail user or urban warrior.  The 2-in-1 Backpack/Duffel is compressible and convertible. It can be worn as a backpack for hiking or roaming around town, or converted into a duffel to accommodate your travel needs.  By reconfiguring the straps, you can transition the bag from backpack to duffel and in doing so, add 15 percent more capacity. I used it on a couple of weekend trips and day hikes with much success.  The bag is ultra lightweight, highly functional, and very comfortable.  Although it doesn’t have a dedicated reservoir for a hydration bladder, there is a long pocket that that can easily and conveniently accommodate a bladder of up to 50 ounces.  Side compression straps keep bulk to a minimum, reflective accents provide for safety at night or dusk, and the bag is machine washable.  (MSRP $80)

 

Keen Gallatin CNX

1011048_3QKeen continues to improve the adventure sandal — the shoe that helped put the company on the map — and there’s really nowhere that the Gallatin sandal cannot go.  From the lake to the river to the beach to the trail, the Gallatin CNX can handle it all and still comfortably carry you to the market or happy hour. The Gallatin sandals are featherweight, weighing in at under 10 ounces, and quick draining.  I use them when saltwater fishing down around Folly Beach and can climb over oyster rakes without worrying about cutting my feet up.  Unlike many other sandals, the Gallatin CNX shoes offer arch support for all day wear.  They run a tad small so order up a half size.  As with most Keen sandals, the Gallatin CNX sports patented toe protection technology and comes in a wide variety of colors.  (MSRP $110)

Mountain Hardwear CoolHiker

S14_OL5870_417_f (2)Mountain Hardwear claims this is the coolest technical hiking shirt on the market, and they may just be right. I’ve run, hiked, and worked out in this shirt and find the patented cooling technology does provide a more comfortable experience.  As you begin to sweat, the temperature of the fabric actually begins to lower, which in turn, cools your body. The shirt has the soft feel of your favorite well-worn cotton t-shirt, coupled with the technological advances  you expect from Mountain Hardwear. The CoolHiker also has built in sun protection (UPF 25) and an antimicrobial finish to control odor. Seams on the CoolHiker minimize chafe and provide stylish lines making this shirt attractive enough to wear on weekend errands or on vacation. (MSRP $45)

–Hayley Wells