Return of the Gear Guide: Summit Games edition
June 3, 2013
In honor of Frisco's first annual SeasonFive Summit Games next week and the re-introduction of our gear guide, this week we're looking at five items from across the spectrum of outdoor sports.
1. SeasonFive's Animas long sleeve t-shirt
First up, a late addition to the guide from Summit Games title sponsor SeasonFive apparel, based in Breckenridge. The Animas long sleeve T may look like run-of-the-mill synthetic activewear, but it's far from ordinary. This shirt was first introduced to us here at the Daily when Ten Mile Kayak shop owner Matti Wade demonstrated it's water repellent capabilities by dumping a glass of water on a shirt hanging from a display rack. Sure enough the water beaded and splashed right off, a credit to SeasonFive's Atmos LT technology.
Made from 46% recycled material, it's not just what the shirt is treated with, but rather the fiber itself that is water repellent, according to Mike Fisher from SeasonFive. And to top it off, it's a light and breathable material that offers 50 spf protection. Fisher recommends it for anything from biking to rafting or paddleboarding. He also says the material doesn't absorb odor. While we didn't have a chance to field test it rafting, it held up solid to our alternative: shower testing.
Some moister stuck, between the fibers on the shoulders, but otherwise the shirt was largely water repellant. Out of the shower, most of the shirt was dry and the rest barely damp. It dried in minutes, making us confident that if you were to accidently take it for a swim, the shirt might dry before your bathing suit. In a pinch it would probably work as a light weight splash guard. SeasonFive also offers apparel with a true waterproof membrane. Apparel can be ordered at http://www.seasonfive.com and a few select area retailers.
2. NRS Earl series inflatible paddleboard
Part of the idea behind the Summit Games, according to event creator Mike Fisher, is to promote stand-up paddleboarding (or SUP) on Dillon Reservoir. The relatively new sport has exploded in other parts of the country, and local restrictions on Dillon have recently been lifted, which Fisher believes will make the sport more grow quickly in Summit County.
We tested last year's NRS Big Earl inflatable SUP. This year's Earl 4 has the closest comparable specs. Paddleboards are essentially oversized surfboards used with what can best be described as an extra-long canoe paddle, with a curved blade. The traditional board is made of material similar to a surfboard. NRS has a line of inflatable paddleboards. The big benefit is portability. They come with a backpack and will fit in the trunk of a car.
The big disadvantage: "You won't win any races with them," says Matty Wade of Ten Mile kayak. The inflatables don't track in water as well as their hard-shelled counterparts. Much like an inflatable kayak vs. a hard shelled touring kayak. Even fully inflated they can still be a little rubbery. A raft pump is a necessity, but we were unable to test the pump that is included.
Large statured paddlers may notice a slight sag. Although the NRS Big Earl held a certain 150-pound sports writer and his 55-pound husky fairly well. The boards are very durable, made out of material similar to a raft, and comparably light. The Earl 4 weighs a little over 20 pounds, 7 pounds lighter than it's Big Earl predecessor.
All that said, inflatable boards can be a lot of fun to play around on, if you're not going for long distances and paddle efficiency. Storability is a big plus compared to the cumbersome hardshell boards. Matti Wade recommends Aqua Glide inflatable SUPs as a cheaper alternative to NRS.
Retail: (approx.) $950-$1050
3. Werner Rio kayak paddle
In sticking with kayaking, we looked at the Werner Rio paddle. The price point makes this an ideal choice for an entry-level paddler, and still durable enough to handle serious whitewater. We're not saying it can't be cracked, but the fiberglass reinforced nylon blades should give you some bang for your buck. The carbon blend shaft keeps the paddle strong and light compared to other entry-level paddles. Ten Mile Creek Kayaks stocks higher end Werner paddles and could order the Rio.
4. Shiva creek kayak by Pyranha
While not an official part of the Summit Games, whitewater kayaking could be in its near future. For anyone just starting out in whitewater kayaking, or someone looking for a nice stable creek boat, the Shiva by Pyranha could be the way to go. We tested the large model on lower Ten Mile Creek. Immediately noticeable, was the boat's strong secondary balance, especially when compared to a playboat. We're not saying you won't flip. You still need to know what you're doing if you step into this boat, but the large volume, accounts for a little margin for error. The kayak will keep you on top of the water to punch through waves, while still displacing enough water to keep you stable. The large volume also makes for a comfortable ride, and the rockered hull keeps it maneuverable. Available at Ten Mile Creek Kayaks in Frisco.
Retail: (approx.) $1,100
5. Specialized Epic Comp 29
In honor of the Summit Games open class mountain bike race, we looked at the dual suspension Specialized Comp 29er. The 29er class of bike, named for their 29-inch wheels, has gained a lot of attention in the last five years. First in hardtail, now in full suspension bikes. The bigger wheel size makes it easier to roll over rocks. It's also more efficient to pedal.
One of the early draw backs to the bike was a larger wheel base that made it trickier to corner on tight switchbacks. Specialized has compensated for that by designing a frame with an arched seat tube, allowing the wheels to be closer together. The Epic series by Specialized makes for a good cross-country or all-purpose mountain bike. With a 4 inch travel in its suspension, a serious down-hill biker may want to opt for something with a little more cushion. But for the average biker this model offers a comfortable frame geometry.
The Epic series also offers Specialized and Fox's customized "Brain" technology. This feature, part of the rear suspension, incorporates a nob that adjusts the amount of flex in the rear suspension. The tightest setting makes the bike more ridged, almost like a hardtail. This allows for more efficient pedaling on less bumpy terrain. The down side, it's one more part to maintain. Still solid with smooth shifting, the Comp model of Epic series bike has the lowest components in the Epic class, price jumps considerably in the higher-end models. Wilderness Sports in Frisco is a Specialized distributor.
Retail: $3,300 (base model)