Dirtbag Gear

Best budget buys to beat the post-holiday blues

1. Asics GEL-Pulse 2 The GEL-Pulse 2 is a work-horse trainer that’s lightweight without being anorexic and cushioned without being a bed of pillows. Quite simply, it’s a running shoe for a wide range of runners. Most of us don’t need to spend $150 for space-age shoes designed to help us run like a cheetah. We just want comfort without breaking the bank. Not that the GEL-Pulse 2 is completely void of bells and whistles. The new update includes a rear foot gel pocket for shock absorption and an open mesh upper for better breathability. 12 ounces. $85. asicsamerica.com 2. Novara Buzz One Singlespeeds and fixed gear bikes are all the rage for around town commuting, but most of us don’t need to pay a grand for a bike with just one gear. Enter the Novara Buzz One, a chromoly steel singlespeed with a reversible hub introduced at the 2010 Interbike. The reversible hub means you can switch the bike from a free-spinning single speed to a fixie on a whim. $399. rei.com 3. Kelty Cosmic Down 0 Sleeping Bag Kelty stuffed 550-fill-power down into a durable shell to create their new Cosmic Down 0. It’s not the lightest 0-degree bag on the market, but it has some smart details that add to the overall warmth of the package, like the full baffle collar and insulated hood baffle, which work in unison to keep heat inside the bag where it belongs. 3 pounds, 11 ounces. $159. kelty.com 4. Columbia Boarderline Softshell The Boarderline is a lightweight, windproof, water-resistant softshell with super-comfy fleece lining, hood, two chest zipper pockets (perfect for the iPod or phone), and key loop in the hip pocket. And the whole package is coated with Columbia’s Omni-Shield for better water repellency, so if you take header after header into powder, you’ll stay dry. You’d be hard pressed to find a higher quality softshell at this price. $120. columbia.com

THE WRINGER JanSport Catalyst The last time you rocked a JanSport, you were probably using it to tote your geometry textbook.  Last year, the company introduced the technical Cloud Ripper series, a group of packs designed for skiing, adventure racing, and peak bagging. Can a company better known for bookbags build a pack that can withstand the rigors of mountain life?

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