It’s been a fun summer of testing new products from both established and emerging outdoor brands. In the vein if authenticity, I try to be as honest as possible with companies about what I, as an athlete and human, think is working in the field, at home and on the go—and what’s not. Some gear and healthy-living goodies I find worthy enough to share with readers, so here it goes.
My mac-daddy wetsuit.
Let’s just start with the standout for a summer making waves in open water: Roka’s Maverick X wetsuit. Anyone notice the Roka logo branded front-and-center on Gwen Jorgensen’s kit during her epic performance at the women’s Olympic triathlon in Rio? There’s a reason for that. Roka doesn’t mess around.
This premium brand is churning out some seriously competitive, premium gear for each individual discipline of triathlon, plus a new line of sunglasses to boot. The Maverick is as slick as wetsuits come, with patent-pending “arms-up” design made to liberate swimmers from the typical restrictions of a full suit. They’re calling it “freest, fastest wetsuit ever build.” I’m still putting that to the test.
The sandal for travel and trail.
The beautifully styled Merrell Around Town Backstrap sandal feels as good as it looks. With these uber-comfy sandals, there is no “workin’ ‘em in” period. They’re ready-made for walking out of the box, taking me right from summer in skirts to fall in capris.
A full-grain leather upper in a intentionally toned-down blue and grey combo (sold out) lends some sophistication to the look on the foot, while the cork-covered footbed keeps things natural—and stink-free where you need it. “Floating” is definitely the optimal word to describe how these sandal ride—from trail to travel in any urban corridor.
Super-versatile, worker-bee jacket.
Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, and I can already feel it in the air. But when that nip demands an extra something over that run/hike/bike shirt, this hyper-light, wind-proof hooded trail jacket from Dynafit is the answer to every autumn condition, from crisp temps to cool gusts to light rains.
It also stretches well for quick layering changes, and at just over 7 ounces conveniently compresses for easy stowing on the go. The price tag may seem hefty for this nimble zip top, but judged on sheer versatility this piece’s cost-per-wear is a screaming deal.
In a healthy place.
My friends in college described me as “efficient.” I’m not sure what that means, except that I tend to be very active outdoors, move and act quickly both mentally and physically, and apparently was quite loud while “efficiently” opening my drawers to sneak out for morning runs while others slept off hangovers.
What I’ve learned over the years is going fast is not always a good thing. In fact some wonderful, healthful things are surfacing as I’m trying to go slower. My Manduka meditation cushion is a welcomed reminder each morning of how important some daily serenity is to sanity. Manduka is a yoga lifestyle brand that, like meditation, is subtle yet surprising in quality. Every item I have tried from Manduka exceeds my expectations.
The queen of greens.
There are certain things I can’t stomach, but when it comes to getting more greens in my diet I am more than willing to drink my vegetables. Why would I chop kale all morning when I could quickly swish some collard greens, chard and spinach? Suja has figured out a way to cold-press these organic edibles into tasty bliss, complete with all kinds of complements, from turmeric and mint to lemon and cucumber.
Veg-heavy options are Reef, Glow and Green Supreme, but there’s quite an assortment of other fruit-loaded juices and probiotic waters available from this emerging health brand.
But let’s not overlook another easy way to pack some greens to go: tablets. I’ve tried a few of these, but most recently the wheatgrass-based CitraGreen. These solid effervescent tabs, which come in original and a sport version for recovery, dissolve in water, cold or hot, and taste more like lemon than lettuce.