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Review: 6 outdoor products to make adventures better

POSTED: October 7, 2017 11:41 a.m.
Grant Olsen/

Summer may have passed, but the weather is pleasant and there are plenty of opportunities for fun ahead.

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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Summer may have passed, but there are plenty of opportunities for fun ahead. Here’s a quick look at six outdoor products that make the grade.

OluKai Pehuea Shoes

PRICE: $80

GRADE: A

Lightweight and comfy, these OluKai shoes are perfect for low-impact outdoor activities. The dual-density PU foot bed gives plenty of cushioning, while there’s also substantial heel and arch support. And the foot bed is removable and washable.

The shoe’s upper is a lightweight mesh, which provides ventilation and keeps your feet cool on simmering summer days. The heel uses OluKai’s “Drop-In” functionality, so it can be folded down to make the Pehuea a slide.

The non-marking outer sole is thermoset rubber, a hybrid of natural and synthetic rubber that won’t scuff surfaces of any type. The outer sole provides above average traction for a casual shoe, but certainly isn’t up to the task if you want to take it somewhere too far off the beaten path.

Granite Gear Daywalker Backpack

PRICE: $99

GRADE: A-

Granite Gear has a Minnesota Made Collection of bags, which are all hand-sewn at their Minnesota headquarters. The packs and bags in this line are made for versatility: mountain-ready, but streamlined enough for everyday use. You won’t find an assortment of bells and whistles on these packs, but they’re top quality. In fact, Granite Gear’s production team in Minnesota has been creating high-end packs for the U.S. military for nearly a decade.

The Daywalker is the smallest of the Minnesota Made Collection. It has a 17 liter capacity and weighs less than a pound. It’s made of 210D Nylon Cordura fabric, with 500D Nylon Cordura in the high abrasion areas.

True to its mission of being an everyday pack as well as an adventure pack, the Daywalker has an interior organizer sleeve for tablets and laptops. It’s a reliable little hauler that can be used for a multitude of uses.

Costa OCEARCH Half Moon Sunglasses

PRICE: $249

GRADE: A-

Costa sunglasses are specifically made for those who spend a lot of time on the water. Sure, they’re great for daily activities like driving to work or attending your kid’s soccer game, but it’s their “seaworthiness” that really sets them apart.

These half moon sunglasses are actually part of the OCEARCH collection, which means that every purchase helps fund the research expeditions of OCEARCH. You can learn more about the organization’s important work here.

Like all Costas, these sunglasses have incredible lenses. You get crisp vision that helps you see into the water and discern depth. The glass lenses give 100 percent UV light blockage and their complete polarization eliminates reflected glare to save your eyes a lot of strain. The glass is a bit heavier than plastic, but gives you the greatest clarity and scratch-resistance.

Kelty Camp Cabin Tent

PRICE: $229

GRADE: A

This tent from Kelty lives up to its name, with a spacious design that really does feel a bit like a cabin. It all starts with the steep wall angles, which create a room-like feel. There are mesh windows on all four sides for maximum visibility and ventilation.

When the walls finally meet at the top, it’s high enough to allow you to freely move around without bumping your head. And while it has a somewhat boxy design, the roof is still angled enough to shed water and prevent pooling.

To give the tent strength, without adding too much weight, the poles are made from a steel/fiberglass hybrid. The walls, floor and fly are 68D polyester, with taped seams for added protection from the elements.

Burley Honey Bee Bike Trailer

PRICE: $399

GRADE: A-

Burley’s commitment to quality is legendary, and the two-rider Honey Bee definitely lives up to the family name. It boasts many of the excellent features of the brand’s higher-priced models, with a more reasonable price.

First off, you’ll notice how easy it is to assemble the Honey Bee. Out of the box, all you have to do is snap the “push-button” wheels into place, attach the tow arm and hitch, and then pop the trailer open. You’ll be ready to hit the road in only a few minutes.

One thing that Burley does better than anyone else is make kid-friendly harnesses for their trailers. They use a patented harness system that ensures the straps keep their shape at all times. So instead of sagging down to the bottom of the seat, the straps are open and ready for when you need to buckle your child in. It's amazing what a difference this makes.

Other features include a stroller converter kit, adjustable handlebar, tinted windows, hub-engaged brake, internal aluminum roll cage, wheel guards and safety reflectors on all sides.

Chicco NextFit iX Car Seat

PRICE: Varies by retailer

GRADE: A-

If you’re taking youngsters on the road for your adventures, it’s always important to have a reliable car seat. The NextFit iX from Chicco is one of the best on the market, with tons of features to make the ride more pleasant for everyone involved.

For starters, the seat has a SuperCinch system that makes it incredibly easy to secure it to your vehicle’s LATCH ports (it can also be secured with a seat belt). You can get years of use from the seat because it effortlessly adjusts to accommodate children from five to 65 pounds. So it’s a true “newborn to preschool” product. It also has nine recline positions, making it compatible with nearly any vehicle in either rear- or forward-facing mode.

The five-point harness in the NextFit iX is super easy to use, with padded straps that are easily adjusted. For safety, the seat has a steel-reinforced frame as well as an energy-absorbing foam lining to boost the side-impact protection. All these upgraded safety features obviously add some bulk, and this seat is nearly 30 inches tall and tips the scales at about 26 pounds.
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