Sauce Active’s Winter Finest: Accessories to Keep You Toasty

Sauce Active’s Winter Finest: Accessories to Keep You Toasty

Sauce Active is a USA based brand that produces just about every soft, stretchy material accessory you might need for winter activities. Their products are created from solution-driven designs based on extensive outdoor and elite athletic experience, taking comfort, functionality and fit to a new level! All Sauce Active products are made in the USA including the majority of raw materials. The products are easy to care for, reflective and comfortable! We have been testing a number of Sauce’s products this fall and early winter and have selected a few of our favorites to tell you more about! Bottom-line, if you don’t have a piece of theirs yet, you should add that to your new year’s resolutions!

Headbands

 

We tested three of Sauce’s Headbands, the Swift, Ventilator and Insulator, each offering a different level of warmth depending on your adventure.

gpowers161017_99The SWIFT HEADBAND is ideal for cool fall mornings and warm winter days – or anyone who’s head likes to overheat while running or xc skiing in the wintertime (like me!) The just-right 3”(7.5 cm) width protects the ears and forehead, wicks away sweat,and keeps hair out of the way for an enjoyable workout. The headband tapers at the back in a more feminine style for a smooth fit under hair and over ears and is thin enough you could use it to keep hair back at the gym or yoga class without your head overheating.

gpowers161226_29Taking it up a notch, for cooler outdoor days, Measuring 4”(10 cm) wide and lined with Polartec® Power Dry®, the VENTILATOR HEADBAND offers the best in moisture management, just-right warmth for high-intensity exercise, and ideal coverage for protection from the elements. Where the Swift Headband has a more feminine cut, the Ventilator looks equally great on men, women and youths! This is my go-to headband for a cold winter run or xc ski – it multitasks well, retaining heat and breathability at the same time. This headband fits well underneath a helmet as well!
gpowers161017_106For super chilly days, or maybe a sledding or dog-walking adventure, the INSULATOR HEADBAND is wide and fully lined with Polartec® Power Stretch® fleece for maximum winter warmth. Ideal for lower intensity activities on warmer winter days, or higher intensity exercise on really cold days, this headband will keep you cozy and looking great! My head temp is often too high for this headband while working out but the fleece is crazy soft and I often keep it in my bag to change into after exercise.

 

Toques (Hats)

Two of our favorite hats from Sauce Active are the Swift Toque and the Chill Toque.

gpowers161212_26One of the most popular items in the Sauce lineup is the Swift Toque.  Designed for aerobic winter activities, the SWIFT TOQUE (toque, rhymes with duke) is Sauce Active’s most versatile product: lightweight and ideal for moderate to high intensity exercise in temperatures as low as 15˚F (-10˚C). Out of all of the items from Sauce that we tested, the Swift Toque came out on top(not that there was a competition of course).  The fabric is super soft and offers just the right amount of protection from the elements during higher intensity skis, runs or hikes on warmer winter days.  Once the temperature drops into the teens, however, I reach for my Chill Toque.

gpowers160928_20Ideal for chilly weather or chilling out, the Polartec® Power Stretch ® fleece-lined CHILL TOQUE is one of the warmer pieces in the Sauce collection.The unique SWIRL CLOSURE at the top of the hat provides an escape for excess heat, a hole for a high ponytail, and eliminates pointy seams. Available in two sizes so large-headed people like me can celebrate being able to order a M/L that fits super comfortably! I always have my Chill Toque stashed in my bag to change into after a fast ski or sweaty hike on cold winter days.  The more casual version of the Chill, the Slouchy offers the same comfy, warm technology but in a more casual style that we highly recommend as well (Image below).

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The Bandora

gpowers161226_27The BANDORA has to be one of the most unique pieces we tested this year.  It is a thick tube of fabric designed to be worn under your top layers and over your pants.  It sits just above your hips and looks like a long cami peeking out.  360 degree surrounding pockets allow you to comfortably, seamlessly and securely stash your essentials. The snug fit is more comfortable than constrictive and keeps it in place during jogging, gym workouts or casual wear.  I work in a photo studio in NYC and when I’m not wearing this out on the trails it’s the only way I can wear leggings to work on particularly strenuous days because I have to have pockets to stash my phone, keys, pens and walkie talkie.  When I am done with my work day the Bandora transitions perfectly to a workout accessory.

 

Flurry Tight

gpowers161226_24Another new this year from Sauce Active, the FLURRY TIGHTS offer women something unique. They have quilted fleece panels in cold-weather sensitive areas. Meaning that the tush and thighs are lined with soft cozy fleece, while the areas less prone to numb in cold weather remain unlined. These tights also feature two secure thigh pockets, a drawstring, and 360˚reflectivity for dark winters. I’ve tested these on hiking and skiing trails in chilly and less chilly temps and really love the way they fit and insulate parts of my legs that usually go numb while cross country skiing or hiking.  The zippered pockets are great for a tissue or two, keys, credit card/license etc… though I wish the zippers were a little lower key as they are a little bulky.  The pants come in several different prints and all are machine washable.  I’m excited to get some good use out of these this winter!

 

Chaco Fields Boot Review

Chaco Fields Boot Review

When I wrote about the Chaco Barbary Boot last autumn I said, “Late fall and early winter is a tough time of year for footwear. It’s too cold to keep wearing your summer kicks, but not snowy/sludgy/freezing enough yet for your well-loved winter boots”. New to Chaco’s line of casual boots – perfect for light fall hikes through the woods, pumpkin picking and looking fresh around town, the Fields Boot was not what we expected in the best ways.
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The Chaco Field Boot is designed with a non-marking ChacoGrip full rubber block outsole. The 6mm lug depth and skid-resistant tread design is perfect for a lots of grip on a slippery hiking trail but isn’t too cumbersome for walking around the fall farmers market. This outsole is comparable to the thickness, stability and durability of the classic Chaco sandal that so many know and love. I consider this one of the downsides to this shoe – in my opinion this super sturdy outsole adds quite a bit of weight to the shoe – but then again this is what I don’t necessarily love about my chaco sandals and I still wear those every day during the summer so not a total deal breaker.
Chaco FIelds Boot Review | Gearist
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The Chaco Fields Boot has Women’s specific, removable, mesh-lined LUVSEAT™ PU footbed which is super cushy and gives quite a bit of arch support. A lot of the comfort factor comes from the instant-comfort EVA layer. An Injection-molded nylon shank hugs your foot and the overall midsole support and cushion encourages a natural gait. The heel cup is rather narrow – which is something to consider when ordering these online – I would recommend sizing up a half size from what you normally wear in Chacos especially if you are going to wear thicker socks with them. Also – the instant-comfort EVA layer on top of the hefty outside means that the soles of your feet will stay comfy on even the most uneven, root-filled, rocky ground.
Chaco FIelds Boot Review | Gearist
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At first glance the upper of the Fields looks like a old school hiking boot, made primarily of leather and complete with the classic D-ring crisscrossing laces. Upon closer inspection you will find that the upper is constructed from full grain leather with waxed cotton flat laces and brass D-ring hardware clasps. The rolled collar adds comfort to that spot above your Achilles that can get agitated after too much downhill walking and the waxed cotton laces stay put once you’ve tied them. The base of the upper has a contrasting piece of leather that runs around the whole base that adds durability and a bit of contrast to the style of the boot.

Chaco FIelds Boot Review | Gearist
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As mentioned above I feel that the Fields run a little on the tight side so if you have wider feet or hover between sizes I would size up by a 1/2 size.  I also wouldn’t recommend turning these into your new hiking boots as they are rather heavy, though I did wear them on a short hike in Acadia and was satisfied with the experience.   As mentioned in the “upper” section – breaking these boots in is crucial!  Do not judge these boots the first time you wear them – because they are made from full grain leather they will take time to break in – I’d recommend wearing them a bunch to run errands before you rely on them for a full day on your feet.

Chaco FIelds Boot Review | Gearist
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These boots are great for keeping your feet warm camping, walking your dog on rocky trails and with a pair of cuffed skinny jeans hanging out with friends around town. I think it’s spot on for my own experiences and feel like these are a great lifestyle boot that will last more than just one season.

Thank you for supporting Gearist by checking out the Fields Boot at our partner links below!

Stepping into Fall with Stio

Stepping into Fall with Stio

Just as the Stio winter catalogue hits mailboxes across the country this week, and overnight lows are bringing frost and snow across the country, we just finished up testing four of Stio’s new fall/winter pieces.  “Stio was founded to inspire connection with outdoors through beautiful, functional products infused with mountain soul. Technical performance, quality and versatility are hallmarks you’ll find in every piece of apparel that we make, be it intended for epic alpine pursuits or quieter moments of the mountain life”. These words from Stio’s site ring true to every product of theirs we have had the pleasure of testing – read on for your next online purchase!

Stio Gannett Peak Half Zip

Gretchen Powers Stio Gannet PeakFinding the right weight ½ zip is a challenge and I approached testing the Stio Gannett Peak 1/2 zip with caution. I didn’t want to get my hopes up if it was going to be too tight, too hot, too thin, too thick with arms that were too short, however, this top prevailed. The Gannett Peak Half Zip is made from 100% polyester fleece with a wicking finish and smooth, heathered face. The zipper opens deeper than your typical ¼ zip which is great for added breathability. The arms are the perfect length for ladies with positive ape indexes and the shirt is lightweight and can be easily stowed once you warm up on a fall hike or winter ski.

Stio Azura Insulated Vest

Stio Azura VestI was pretty smitten with the Stio Hometown Down Vest I tested last winter, but love the lighter layer with comparable warmth that the Azura vest provides. The vest features modern baffles filled with 60g of Primaloft® Gold, princess seams for a feminine fit, a fully adjustable hem with low-pro cord locks and zippered hand and interior pockets. It can be layered over light fleeces and under a shell or rain jacket and is perfect on fall hikes, camping trips or early morning or late night bike commutes. The Azura Vest provides lightweight, compressible and windproof insulation you can depend on whether you are layering it over a flannel for fall apple picking adventures or foliage-seeking hikes.

Stio Dovetail Cabin Flannel

Stio Dovetail Cabin FlannelMy heart is still true to it’s first love – the original Dovetail Flannel that I tested last fall, but made from the same brushed cotton flannel, the Dovetail Cabin Flannel is just as cozy, washes and wears well and doesn’t pill. The main difference between the two is that the one with “cabin” in the description has more of a “tunic” fit.  The longer length is nice for wearing with leggings or skinny jeans when you want a bit more coverage. I’ve worn this flannel canoeing, camping and traveling and it was breathable and comfortable and better yet didn’t wrinkle after hours in the car. The shirt has a contrast cuff tab and interior back yoke provide the perfect amount of styled detail and a small pleat at the back adds feminine flair.  For now it only comes in two colors, but I’m sure they will add more next season!

Stio Sweetwater Coat

Gretchen Powers Stio SweetwaterThe Stio Sweetwater Coat is a thigh-length fleece coat that is perfect for fall or under a heavier coat during the wintertime. The sleek and styled fit is great for dressing up to go to a coffee shop, but is comfortable and casual enough for a walk in the park with the pup. The coat is made from a 100% polyester sweater knit face that has the look and feel of wool, while a brushed interior ensures maximum coziness and comfort. The pockets are taffeta-lined which provides a cozy retreat for hands on cold days. A YKK® reverse coil center front zipper locks warmth in, and a kissing welt protects your chin from zipper rub. Stio says, “this excellent lightweight insulator sheds moisture and dries quickly, making it a year-round mountain life must”. My favorite features of this coat are the tall collar that keeps your neck warm on blustery days and the lined pockets are super soft and warm. The length of this coat is really nice as well – it just barely covers my butt and upper thighs, which is great for added warmth but not overly cumbersome for free range of movement.

To check out any of these pieces from Stio, please visit their website!

Topo Designs Klettersack Review

Topo Designs Klettersack Review

Chances are you’ve seen this pack on instagram – it’s the one (or one like) the pack all the “cool” kids are wearing. When it comes to shoes I am always comfort over fashion (socks and chacos anyone?) but in regards to accessories sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in what’s “in” right now regardless of how functional it really is. So I took the Topo Designs Klettersack on a few (lots!) of test runs, flew it across the country twice, up a mountain once, across town on my bike a dozen times and I learned a few things.

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Gretchen PowersFirst, let’s cover the basics of this pack. Made in Colorado, USA Topo Designs considers the 22L Klettersack their “classic” bag and call it “an ideal travel companion, workmate, or packmule for the daily hike up in the hills”. The exterior of the pack is 1000D Cordura and the interior is entirely lines with a coated pack cloth. The square lash tabs are made with natural leather. All of the clips are made from heavy-duty plastic hardware and the heavy-duty straps are reinforced with seatbelt webbing. The top of the pack has an inner drawstring closure underneath the zippered top pocket. The interior of the body of the bag has an unpadded laptop sleeve that fits up to a 15” laptop. The pack also has two side pockets that fit narrow water bottles or the legs of a tripod, umbrella etc…

 

Kulkea Boot Trekker Review | Gearist

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Gpowers160627_5All of this being said, sounds like a tough as nails pack that will last you a few dozen years right? Well given our past reviews of Topo Designs Gear, that’s a given at this point. We’ve grown to expect the highest quality and durability from their packs. So let’s talk about functionality. The pack fits well against the back, and the straps are pretty wide with nice cushioning underneath. The body of the pack is roomy and I was able to fit all kinds of goodies inside while traveling on airplanes or across town for a photo shoot. My 15 inch laptop with a plastic case on it fit easily inside the laptop sleeve which was a major plus. I wish that the side sleeve pockets were a bit bigger to accommodate a larger water bottle or more of my tripod legs but they do fit my 24 oz Klean Kanteens well. My only real issue with this pack was the top zippered pocket – I would open it and then forget to close it and flip it over to open the drawstring pocket and everything I kept in it would fall out onto the floor – I know part of that is me being a bit disheveled on a regular basis, but I think this structural design leaves something to be desired. This has become my go – to photo shoot bag as it easily fits some clothes or accessories I’m shooting, my camera with an extra lens, lightweight tripod, slim water bottle and snacks of course! The pack comes in dozens of colors to choose from on their site and I loved the olive green color Topo Designs sent us.

Kulkea Boot Trekker Review | Gearist

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The Topo Designs Klettersack comes in a range of prices from about $122-$250 (check the links below) depending on the style you go with. So, if you are looking for a photogenic new pack to wear around town or traveling around the world, the Topo Designs Klettersack is an investment that you will find worth it.

Thank you for supporting Gearist by checking out the Klettersack from Topo Designs at our partner links below!

Timbuk2 Tuck Pack Review

Timbuk2 Tuck Pack Review

With school right around the corner, and chilly rainy fall days on the horizon it’s time to upgrade your school,work, or commuting backpack. Big enough to fit a laptop, but not too bulky when empty, sporty enough to wear on a bike but also fashionable. Founded by a bike messenger, Timbuk2 knows how to make a pack that is durable, weather resistant and comfortable and the Tuck Pack is no exception.

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Gpowers160714_10The Tuck Pack from Timbuk2 is a 20L back pack that has a roll-top clip closure with side zip access and is made of a lightweight durable polyester. There is an additional stealth side zip pocket for secret stuff and several internal pockets and slots for keeping little things where you can find them. The pack also has dual side slip pockets for u-lock or umbrella or thinner waterbottles. The zipper pulls are all reflective and the pack has a vista loop for attaching blinky bike lights. The pack fits 15” laptops in a non-padded pocket.

Kulkea Boot Trekker Review | Gearist
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Gpowers160714_12I work in the kitchen of a restaurant a few miles across town and wear the Tuck Pack every day to work. Most days I bike and find that it sits comfortably on my back despite its lack of cushioning on the back side. You definitely need to be mindful of how you pack it – pokey objects will definitely lower the comfort level against your back. Most days I carry my lunch, water, coffee, raincoat, change of clothes, hat, wallet, phone, keys and notebook. On rainy days I don’t really worry about the contents getting wet, the polyester outer holds up pretty well against moderate rainfall for a short amount of time, but I don’t carry electronics I really need to worry about. I’ve also used this pack traveling and found it was a great size to fit under the seat on the plane. It fit my 15” macbook with a hard case but you couldn’t pull it out the side zip laptop pocket and had to unclip and unroll the top to access it – a 13 inch should have no problem with this issue. One of my favorite features of this pack is the front zip pocket that is easily accessed when swinging the pack around onto your front while still keeping one of the shoulder straps in place (as shown in this image) – I use this pocket for my wallet, keys, and cell phone so they remain secure but easily accessible. The two water bottle pockets don’t fit a 32 oz Nalgene, but fit my 24oz Klean Kanteens/Hydroflasks well. The only thing I don’t love about this pack is that the roll top does provide a bit of a “blind spot” while biking and looking over your shoulder. Aside from that I’m a huge fan of this pack – it has plenty of space and internal pockets for organization – keeping my glasses, pens and notebook separate.

Kulkea Boot Trekker Review | Gearist
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At $79 this pack is a great value for someone looking to up their backpack game and wants a pack with clean lines that is versatile, durable and very bike friendly.

Help support Gearist by checking out the Timbuk2 Tuck Pack 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

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