Lifestyle

101 things worth the money: Outdoors & Sports

Catch!

Nokona’s AMG500 series baseball glove may be the most versatile piece of gear on the diamond. Cleverly fashioned to let you play both infield and outfield with confidence and ease, this 12 1/2-inch glove has a cowhide, buffalo or kangaroo leather shell that’s tough enough to withstand decades worth of double plays.

“It may take a while longer to break in [than other gloves],” says Terry Shore, a buyer for Olympian Sports Excellence in Saskatoon, “but it’ll last many years.” $219 and up.

Walk softly

Whether you’re traversing Machu Picchu or power-walking the sidewalks of your neighborhood, you’ll want to have Wigwam Merino Wool Lite Hikers on your feet. Made of absolutely itchless merino wool with moisture-wicking four-channel polyester, these socks stay warm in the winter, cool and dry in the summer.

Snug ribbing and ingenious design mean that, once you put them on, they stay on — plus, they keep their shape through repeat encounters with the washer and dryer. $13.50 at Mountain Equipment Co-op (www.mec.ca).

Pump it up

Spalding’s Infusion basketball ($69.99) is guaranteed to put the wind back in your weekend pickup game. When the ball gets a little low on air, don’t bother stopping to find a pump — there’s one built in. Just twist it out, press and play on. Built for indoors and out, in men’s, women’s and junior sizes for the kids.

Cutting edge

Quest is Nike’s answer to the question, “Why can’t hockey skates feel more like running shoes?” Quest skates are all about fit, with a patented design that conforms to the curves of your foot so you have more speed and agility on the ice. Hydrophobic laces resist soaking and loosening. Junior sizes have a special speed-lacing system that helps kids (and their numb-fingered, weary parents) get out of the locker room in record time. $360 for the top-end Quest 1 model.

Hill on wheels

The Specialized Stumpjumper M4 bicycle must have been a mountain goat in a previous life. Its super-light aluminum frame and efficiency-minded design maximize your pedal power on steep trails, while the front suspension gobbles up potholes like two-bite brownies.

Meanwhile, the bike’s fully butted construction (which means the walls of its metal tubing get thicker near the ends where they’re fused to other tubes) ensures it will take all the abuse you can throw at it, and then some. $1,779.

Deep impact

Ah, it’s music to any golfer’s ears — that sweet, metallic ping that says you hit your tee shot right on the money. And the Wilson Deep Red driver can make it happen more often.

The club’s head places weight deep and back from the face, giving it a low centre of gravity, while its extra-broad face makes for a huge sweet spot. Translation: longer, straighter drives that’ll have ’em begging for your secret. $449.99.

No sweat

Kavu Trailrunner is a cool name, but it doesn’t do justice to this multipurpose sports cap. Sure, runners will appreciate its mesh design, which maximizes airflow to keep your head drier. And they’ll like the fact that Kavu has covered the underside of the visor in black to reduce glare from the sun. Yet the hat also floats, which makes it ideal for kayakers, windsurfers and canoeists as well. $22 (U.S.) from www.kavu.com.

Get lost-proof

With the Garmin 12XL global positioning system in your pocket, you’ll never have to tangle with maps again. This easy-to-use GPS clearly displays your route — and where you are on it — on a built-in LCD screen.

It tracks not only how much farther but also how long until you reach Point B at your current pace, and an alarm sounds when you’ve arrived at your destination — or if you drift off course along the way. About $319 from www.garmin.com and outdoor equipment stores.

Bright idea

Banish the bogeyman with Krill’s Ultra LED lamp, a super-bright light source that offers a 360-degree circle of illumination. For emergencies, switch on the extra red LED light, and you’ll be seen almost two kilometres away. The lamp is submersible, so you can use it for diving — or fishing your keys out of the pond. About $31 (U.S.) from www.kriana.com.

Stick it to ’em

What could you possibly have in common with the likes of Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and Joe Sakic? Plenty, if you’re packing an Easton Synergy hockey stick. Made of a Kevlar, carbon and graphite mix, it’s less prone to breaking than other sticks and also super-flexible, to add power and speed to your wrist shot. Yet it’s the lightest stick in the game at just 460 g, so there’s less strain on your arms. Hey, the 177 NHL players who use it can’t be wrong. $250.

Bend the rules

Regular yoga classes can be expensive and inconvenient to get to. With a good yoga video, however, you can keep fit and flexible without leaving home. Richard Rosen, contributing editor of Yoga Journal magazine, gives the thumbs-up to Yoga Alignment and Form at $29.95 (U.S.), a tape that’s appropriate for all levels of experience. He also singles out Yoga Breathing and Relaxation at $19.95 (U.S.), a brisk-paced workout for the more experienced students of Ashtanga yoga. Order online at www.huggermugger.com.

Light fantastic

Petzl’s award-winning Tikka headlamp is small enough to fit in a child’s hand yet delivers big, bright, long-lasting light.

“With three AAA batteries, you’re looking at 150 hours of reading time,” says Rod Taylor, who operates the Uncommon Journeys outdoor tour company out of Whitehorse, Yukon, and leads one- to two-week dogsledding expeditions into the wild.

Fixed to an elastic headband, the sturdy plastic lamp uses three LED bulbs to give you a wide, hands-free field of view for nighttime hikes, expeditions to the outhouse or relaxing inside your tent. $44 at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Splashy

If you’ve dreamed of putting an Olympic-sized swimming pool in your backyard — but barely have room for a hot tub — an Endless Pool may be just the thing. Measuring just 8 by 15 feet and 42 inches high, a standard-size Endless Pool lets you swim for hours without a single flip-turn, by constantly churning the water to create a sort of aquatic treadmill. The price? $17,400 (U.S.) plus installation from www.endlesspools.com. Cabana and towel boy are optional.

No strings

Blading is a pick-up-and-go kind of sport — so why waste time with laces when you don’t have to? K2 Cadence inline skates have stretchy boots that let you slide your feet in, fasten some straps and push off.

Its vented toecap allows air to circulate (no more sweaty feet), while aluminum “bones” mean these skates will last and last. Designed for beginners and intermediates, they’re available in men’s and women’s sizes. About $240 at sporting goods stores.

Hinterland hang-up

Love camping, but hate sleeping with rocks wedged between your shoulder blades? Check out the Hennessy Expedition Hammock. Instead of resting on the ground, this one-person tent hangs between two trees to make you feel like you’re slumbering on a cloud — and the rain fly keeps you dry. Sets up in less than three minutes and weighs a measly 1.16 kg in your backpack. $179 from Mountain Equipment Co-op stores (www.mec.ca).

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