Category Archives: Clothing and Accessories

New First Ascent Clothing for Nordic Walking

Eddie Bauer launches mountaineering line with applications for Nordic Walking

I was attended a local preview of a new Eddie Bauer line of super-rugged mountaineering clothing distributed under the First Ascent/Eddie Bauer/Whittaker Mountaineering label. This collection is promoted as “guide-built gear,” and so it is, having been field tested on Everest, Acondagua and Rainier. In fact, the line was used during a spring 2009 Everest ascent by some of mountaineering’s luminaries: Ed Viesturs, Peter Whittaker, Dave Hahn, Melissa Arnot, Chad Peele and Seth Waterfall.

The First Ascent outer-layer garments are for such expeditions, but I was drawn to the base- and mid-layer pieces that seem well suited to Nordic Walking in fall and winter in northern climes. The breathable hooded jackets with varying degrees of water resistance/waterproofing appear particularly appealing for Nordic Walking. Lightly insulated (sufficiently insulated for most conditions when worn over a base layer), lightweight, surprisingly soft to the hand and quiet without the annoying fabric-on-fabric noise that was once associated with synthetic fabrics.

Award-winning Polartec fleece pieces, hooded and not, are warm and lightweight. Mountaineers would likely wear them between the base and outer layers. The rest of us, perhaps Nordic Walking in town when it’s cool but not wet, could wear them over a light base layer and be perfectly comfortable. The line’s base layers are ultra-soft, highly breathable and comfortable. There are synthetics and a fine Merino wool model.

In scuba diving, early women’s gear was designed on the “SAP Principle” — small and pink. In mountaineering, a similar design attitude once prevailed. The Eddie Bauer team calls it “Shrink It & Pink It” — but that’s not what they have done with their women’s models. First Ascent’s women’s items are designed to fit women, but use the same materials as the men’s models. After all, Melissa Arnot needed the same level of clothing as the guys with who she was climbing.

The clothing is priced reasonably for the quality and most of all, the “guide-tested” ruggedness. For women, base layer items are $49.50 for a tank top to $69 for Merino top or pants. Fleece pieces range from $49.50 to $129, and jackets are $149 to $229, the higher priced items for full-on waterproof storm jackets. Men’s garments are comparably priced, but with the addition of a top-of-the-line men’s storm jacket retailing for $349.

First Ascent has been introduced in a handful of retail stores and will be available nationwide by October 2. For more information, call 800-426-8020.

Comfy Earpiece Adapters for Portable Media Players


Earpiece adapters for comfort, fit and sound quality

If you like to listen to music while you’re Nordic Walking, you know that those flat little earbuds that come with iPods and other portable media players aren’t comfortable, don’t fit well and can slip out. Putting them back in means suspending your poling action, which many Nordic Walkers are loathe to do. Acoustibuds are pliable silicone extenders that wrap around the buds and fit comfortably into the ears and are more likely to stay there via flexible fins that block outside noise, increase sound quality and most importantly, fit snugly and comfortably into the ear canal. The manufacturer’s online compatibility list indicate that Acoustibuds can be used with more than two dozens devices and a short instructional video shows how to use it.

The regular retail price is $19.99 for two pairs, but they are currently on special for $14.99 from PC Tools and Gadgets.

Hot Socks

Lorpen socks from Spain combine innovation and quality

I’ve never tried Lorpen socks. In fact, until I saw them displayed at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, I never even heard of them. But I fondled the materials, read the information and later looked them up on the Net. The MultiSport Light sock developed in Spain a bit more than a decade ago has gotten terrific reviews. The Tri Layer sock’s three layers made of natural and synthetic yarns are reputedly create combine for comfort, durability, anti-microbial protection and moisture management. Though it has not been emphasized, I’m guessing that the tri-layer construction might also help prevent blisters when worn with new shoes or for very long Nordic Walking excursions.

According to Sara Thayer who researched and tested them and wrote about them in About.com, “the first layer, closest to the skin, is made of Coolmax, a synthetic fiber that is designed to move moisture from the skin to the outer surface of the membrane, where it is passed on to the next layer. Coolmax also serves as a barrier to the wicked moisture. The second layer, or middle layer, is made of Tencel, a natural fiber able to hold significant amounts of moisture once it has passed through the Coolmax layer. Tencel is made of eucalyptus wood pulp, a natural resource that also features anti-microbial properties; when moisture is produced it is directly absorbed to the inside of the fiber leaving little moisture available for bacteria to grow. The third layer, made of nylon, is highly durable making the sock resilient and long lasting. The nylon fibers are concentrated in the toe, heal and shin where the sock gets the most abrasion.” This sock retails for under $20 per pair.

Lorpen makes other socks too, including heavier trekking socks and women’s walking socks — the latter a low-rider that probably won’t work as well for long Nordic Walks as the Multi-Sport Light. Lorpen is headquartered at Ctra. General, s/n31760 Etxalar, Navarra/Nafarroa, Spain; +34 948 63 53 84. The North American distributor is at 100 Ironside Crescent, #8. M1X 1M9. Scarborough, Ontario, Canada; 416-335-8200.

Whither Winter?

Colorado’s Front Range has enjoyed prime Nordic Walking weather for weeks

Even though I know about climate change and global warming, a part of me wonders what happened to the winter of 2008-09 and asks, why here? Spring began yesterday on the calendar, but weather-wise, it settled on Denver, Boulder and environs last month. The warmest, driest February ever and first two-thirds of March (normally one of our snowiest months, but not this year) have been devastating for farmers, terrible for home gardens, bring the threat of grass fires and forest fires, and have driven skiing and snowshoeing from many people’s minds. The only bright side is that, with the exception of a few ultra-windy days, conditions have been ideal for Nordic Walking. I had my YakTrax and studded caps for LEKI poles (below) ready to go, but never needed them.

Yamax Upgrades Pedometers

Japanese pedometermaker upgrades its most popular step counter

To make sure that walkers are aware of upgrades to the CW-701, a highly regarded pedometer, the Japanese company now calls it the Yamax Digi Walker CW-701. It features a basic daily memory that counts the most recent day’s steps, plus seven-day memory, plus weekly memory that remembers steps, distance, time and calories burned over a two-week period. A two-line display for easier reading of all this data. The Digi Walker can count up to 999,999 steps, which is retty impressive. The Yamax Digi Walker CW-701 pedometer retails for about $39.

There appear to be two North American distributors: New Lifestyles, Inc., 5201 NE Maybrook Road, Lee’s Summit, MO 64064; 888-748-5377 and 816-373-9969, and Optimal Health Products, 4940 Broadway, Suite 201, San Antonio, TX 78209; 888 339-2067 and 210-824-2099.

Wallet for Nordic Walking

Carry driver’s license, credit cards and mad money in cool-looking wallet

In marketingspeak, Mr. Smith’s Jimi Wallet is is called “the wallet for people who hate wallets.” I call it a good wallet for Nordic Walking, because it is compact (2 2/3 by 4 1/4 inches), lightweight, folds via plastic hinges to keep it slim and comes in a rainbow of tranlucent colors. It accommodates up to four plastic cards — driver’s license, medical insurance card, AAA card, credit card, etc. A clip on the outside holds paper currency or clips onto a belt or armband. Use the Jimi Wallet in good conscience. It is reportedly made of recycled material and is itself recyclable. It is one of the recommended items on the Gear Junkie’s Holiday Gift Guide, has also been written up in the New York Times Magazine and Outside, and shown on Good Morning America — and now here. The Jimi Wallet costs $14.95 and can be ordered online.

More Holiday Gift Ideas for Nordic Walkers

Another short list of gift suggestions

I’ve got to hand it to Midwesterners. They are really up on their holiday gift suggestions for Nordic Walkers. First it was Revel Sports, a Wisconsin running store. Now, Rhea Kontos, a Minnesota Nordic Walking instructor who blogs under Nordic Walk This Way, posted her “Holiday / Christmas Gift ideas for Nordic Walkers.” Her suggestions:

  • “I Love Nordic Walking” baseball cap from Cafe Press
  • An identification wrist band from Road ID that carries a measure of security in case of injury or sudden illness, with the added bonus of part of the profits going to one of five charities of your choice
  • Reusable Sigg aluminum water bottle with waist belt to hold keys, cell phone and other small necessities
  • Wicking, insulating base layer; Kontos did not recommend a particular brand, and many are on the market
  • Gabel Tour XT adjustable Nordic Walking poles that collapse down to 24 1/2 inches which Kontos distributes

NW on Running Store’s Gift List

Suggestions for runners’ holiday gifts include items Nordic Walkers will love

Revel Sports, a Wisconsin running store, came up with a list of great gifts for runners that includes LEKI Nordic Walking poles (for a “time-efficient, low-stress total body workout”) and also clothing and accessories that are also suitable for Nordic Walkers. Clothing on Revel Sports’ list is available for men and women.

Besides the poles, Revel suggests:

  • Sugoi Majik Jacket and Pants Elite waterproof jacket “with amazing stretch, breathability and detailing”
  • Illuminite Reflective Jackets Stylish SoftShell jacket “with 4-way stretch performance, superb fit, waterproof yet breathable for superb fit”
  • Craft Pro Warm “keeps your body dry and comfortable during exercise in cool to cold conditions”
  • Sugoi Wallaroo, “a must have for winter workouts, the Wallaroo 290 Full Zip is a truly multipurpose jersey” and also tights
  • BOA running Shorts, “loads of colors and patterns”
  • GoLite lightweight hydration packs
  • Yaktrax that “have a unique, spikeless, patented coil design, unlike other products on the market”
  • Balega Socks, “the most comfortable running socks that we have worn”
  • Euro Socks, technical running socks

Of course, these brands and items are also available elsewhere, but you can purchase them directly at Revel Sports, 1903 Weston Avenue, Schofield, WI 54476; by phone (866-502-4125 or 715-297-7477) or online.

Trails Tracked via GPS

An interactive website for walking tech-heads — or techie walkers

SPSies.com is an interactive trail finder/tracker from Germany with stats and an indication of activities for which each recreational route is suited, including walking. It includes GPS coordinates and links to Google Earth. Click on the world map and find the location where you want to find a trail. Zoom in and click again. Up will come a list of trails. Click on one, and up come detailed stats and a map that you can zoom in or out on. You can export the map to a Garmin GPS unit. And of course, you can add trails as well. Garmin’s Oregon series is designed for mapping, and the Colorado series is preloaded with maps.

New Women’s Stretch Tights

In some places, fall is already in the air. Time to look at cool-weather wear

With September just over a week away, Nordic Walkers in four-season environments are beginning to think about what they will wear once it gets cool — especially if a recent weight loss means some new activewear.

Patagonia’s new Morning Glory Tights for women are comfortable and flattering. They are made of a stretchy fabric knit of 86 percent nylon and 14 percent spandex. The fabric is a lightweight material that dries quickly after a humid walk or passing squall, and yet is wicking during a heavy workout in warm weather. Comfort features include a low-rise waist and offset, flat-sewn side seams for chafe-free comfort. The stovepipe legs and forward-angled side seams are designed for flexibility and comfort. The tights come in black, blackberry and daybreak, which is a medium shade of gray. Sizes are XS, S, M and L. The suggested retail price is $65.