Gear Deals Of The Day: 4/20/17

Gear Deals Of The Day: 4/20/17

Will the Gearist crew get a little support when you shop through the links below? Absolutely. Will you pay more for this sweet gear? Absolutely not.

Brandon Wood

Born and raised in the great state of Virginia, Brandon is a former opera singer (true story) who’s had the outdoors flowing through his veins since day one. Brandon now lives in Colorado with his daughter Sydney (AKA, Baby Gearist).

Gear Deals Of The Day: 4/19/17

Gear Deals Of The Day: 4/19/17

Will the Gearist crew get a little support when you shop through the links below? Absolutely. Will you pay more for this sweet gear? Absolutely not.

Brandon Wood

Born and raised in the great state of Virginia, Brandon is a former opera singer (true story) who’s had the outdoors flowing through his veins since day one. Brandon now lives in Colorado with his daughter Sydney (AKA, Baby Gearist).

Brooks Cascadia Shell Review

Brooks Cascadia Shell Review

Springtime weather can be a tricky thing to figure out. Ever-changing forecasts bring with them new challenges for those of us who are outside for hours doing our thing. I always say being prepared is key. Wearing a pack to carry extra clothing items, fuel and hydration is a must if you plan on being out on a hike or run for any length of time. Packs can be cumbersome to get on and off though to change in and out of layers. Brooks has come up with a unique way of tackling this issue. The Cascadia Shell is a water and wind resistant jacket designed to be worn over a small pack. This was very exciting for me to hear as I am training for an ultra and am out on the trails getting my long training runs done in all sorts of weather. The less time I take fidgeting with my pack the better. Easy on / easy off…sounds like such a great idea, right? Let’s see..

The Cascadia Shell is a ½ zip hooded pullover made of 100% polyester fabric that is water and wind resistant. The fabric feels soft and is uniform in weight. There is a pocket on the front panel, right over the belly, that also doubles as a carry pouch. A unique feature is that theBrooks Cascade Shell Review | Gearist sides of the shell are completely open from under the arm all the way down to the waist for ventilation. These sides are held together by three, one inch stretchy tabs sewn about an inch apart down the opening.

The length of the jacket comes right to the waist. The back panel is pleated to allow for expansion when worn over a pack and an elastic hem helps keep the shell in place. Attached to the hem on the underside of the back panel is a very small ½” reflective tab. Unfortunately, this could easily tuck under and not be seen. The placement of such an important safety feature is questionable and I’d like to see a large reflective element on the shell since it is covering up any reflective surface you would have on your pack or clothing underneath.

Brooks Cascade Shell Review | Gearist

Brooks has kept the design of the Cascadia Shell very simple. The hood is fitted (yet roomy enough for a brimmed hat) and offers great protection while allowing you to maintain solid peripheral vision. The ½ zip comes up high enough to add to the snug fit of the hood which is a good thing considering that there are no draw-strings to help tighten it down so it doesn’t blow off. For some perspective, it came all the way up to my bottom lip which worked well to seal out wind and cold.

The ½ zip and roomy fit (as well as the elastic tabs on the open sides) makes getting in and out of the shell easy. It’s also nice to have such a large opening for easy access to your hydration and storage on the front of your pack. Just unzip a bit and it’s all right there. Speaking of the ½ zip, I should mention that there is a small notch in the zip pull that is meant for an “unruly” earbud cord.

The pocket/pouch on the front is quite large taking up most of the front of the shell. It would be fine for storing something lightweight like gloves, but when I put anything heavier in it it pulls the entire jacket down. I had my keys and phone in it while on a bike ride, and it was not ideal. This pocket is meant to be a place to pack and stash the shell. I find it worth mentioning that, yes it does fit into this large pouch, however it can become much smaller. I ended up squishing it up and stowing it in my front pocket of my pack where I could easily access it.

Brooks Cascade Shell Review | Gearist
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All-in-all, I have found the Brooks Cascadia Shell to be a great jacket to bring on my trail adventures. It does give me that extra peace of mind that I am prepared for a change in the weather. I find it very easy to get into and out of without having to mess with my pack. It’s a very soft and comfortable layer that is great to have along if the wind picks up or you encounter light rain/snow. I do, however, wish that it had more reflective features on it and I kind of wish it was truly water repellent.

With a $100 price tag (check the links below to see if we found it cheaper) it’s not the cheapest thing in the world for a simple, lightweight shell. However, the uniqueness of its ability to fit easily over a hydration pack may make it something worth the price for many people.

Please support Gearist by shopping for the Brooks Cascadia Shell at our partner links below!

(and click HERE to bookmark our Amazon link!)

Brandon Wood

Born and raised in the great state of Virginia, Brandon is a former opera singer (true story) who’s had the outdoors flowing through his veins since day one. Brandon now lives in Colorado with his daughter Sydney (AKA, Baby Gearist).

Gear Deals Of The Day: 4/18/17

Gear Deals Of The Day: 4/18/17

Will the Gearist crew get a little support when you shop through the links below? Absolutely. Will you pay more for this sweet gear? Absolutely not.

Brandon Wood

Born and raised in the great state of Virginia, Brandon is a former opera singer (true story) who’s had the outdoors flowing through his veins since day one. Brandon now lives in Colorado with his daughter Sydney (AKA, Baby Gearist).

Gearist Adventures: The Switzerland Trail in Boulder, Colorado

Gearist Adventures: The Switzerland Trail in Boulder, Colorado

In this edition of Gearist Adventures, Brandon and Lori head up Four Mile Canyon in Boulder, Colorado to visit the Switzerland Trail. Running on this trail (or cycling, etc) is a fantastic way to get in some trail running without the terrain being super steep or technical.

The Switzerland Trail is the site of a historic 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge railroad line that was operated at different times by the Greeley, Salt Lake and Pacific Railway, the Colorado and Northwestern Railroad, and the Denver, Boulder, and Western Railroad around the turn of the 20th century in the Colorado front range mining area near Nederland, Gold Hill, and Ward. The west end of the trail is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the “Denver, Boulder and Western Railway Historic District”.

The earliest segment of the trail dates to 1883, with continual track growth until 1894 by the GSL&P, when a large flood destroyed many tracks and bankrupted the company. In 1896 the line was reopened as the C&N took over, completing many spur lines and the southern branch of the Switzerland Trail. The C&N is responsible for the name “Switzerland Trail”, given in 1898 in a successful attempt to attract the tourist trade. By the end of the 2000s, the C&N had folded and the DB&W took over. In 1919 the line was shut down and the tracks were subsequently pulled up, but the roadbed remains. A large portion of the roadbed is “maintained” (benignly neglected) as a hiking/biking trail as part of the Boulder County road system. It was, and remains, well known for its beautiful scenic views of the Front Range hills.

The remaining mountain route, about 30 miles (48 km) long, winds between altitudes of 7,000 and over 9,000 feet, from the townsite of Eldora, Colorado, past Nederland, on north through Sugar Loaf and, ultimately, Ward. The line winds past several local historically prominent mines, including the Blue Bird Mine and a few miles from the Caribou Mine in the then-bustling (now ghost-) town of Caribou. The main line originated in Boulder, Colorado, coming up Fourmile Canyon through the mining communities of Salina, Colorado and Crisman, Colorado. It was connected via a three-rail track shared with 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge railroads to Denver, Colorado.

In its heyday, near the turn of the twentieth century, the Switzerland Trail was the major source of bulk transportation in the area, carrying supplies and tourists to mining camps and towns in the front range, ore from the myriad mines to a few centralized mills, and refined metal down to Boulder for transport to the rest of the nation. A federal ore assay office, built at the turn of the 20th century, was located near the now-sleepy community of Wall Street, Colorado, at the intersection of the Switzerland Trail route with Fourmile Canyon. At the time Sunset was a bustling community, driven by the presence of an ore mill and the railroad. The building remains and is now something of a curiosity: the James F. Bailey Assay Office Museum, located in Wallstreet, Colorado, now a somewhat remote grouping of houses at least 20 minutes by car from the nearest town (Boulder). The C&N and the DB&W railroads were more canny than the GSL&P, and did a brisk business transporting tourists from Boulder and Denver up into the mountains. Several dedicated park sites and hotels (including the Mont Alto park site, its location now marked by a sign) were built or encouraged by the railroad to draw day-trippers.

The demise of the line came from a variety of factors, including: the extremely harsh winter conditions in the Rocky Mountains, which limited the tourist trade to about four months per year, forced frequent line closures, and periodically killed train crews; the invention and rise of the automobile; mine closures in Ward and Eldora; and failure of several ventures including a long tunnel/adit mine that was to be dug from Sunset into rich underground gold seams to the northwest.

The Switzerland Trail remains a well known hiking, OHV, motorcycle, 4x4, and biking trail[1] because the smooth grade and 2%-5% slope of the railway make an easy traverse, while the narrowness of the railbed (typically 8–10 ft (2.4–3.0 m) wide) brings users close to the spectacular terrain. [From Wikipedia]

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Help support Gearist by checking out the Skechers GOtrail Ultra 4 and the Vapor Series from Nathan Sports at the links below!*

*when you shop through these links, you get the best price and the retailers show Gearist some love with no cost to you – it’s a win-win!

Brandon Wood

Born and raised in the great state of Virginia, Brandon is a former opera singer (true story) who’s had the outdoors flowing through his veins since day one. Brandon now lives in Colorado with his daughter Sydney (AKA, Baby Gearist).

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