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Review: 8 outdoor apparel products for summer

POSTED: June 14, 2018 1:39 a.m.
Grant Olsen/

June usually brings warm weather in the valley, but that can change pretty quickly as you ascend higher into the mountains.

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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — June usually brings warm weather in the valley, but that can change pretty quickly as you ascend higher into the mountains. Here’s a look at some reliably comfortable gear that’s designed for a wide range of outdoor activities.

Kora Upside Down Socks

PRICE: $22

GRADE: A

These trekking socks are unique because they’re made with yak wool (30% polyester, 27% yak, 24% merino, plus some nylon and elastic). It may sound like a novelty, but yak wool is actually quite comfortable. And the merino wool adds warmth and odor resistance, while the polyester provides durability and breathability.

For longer outings, these socks are nice because they have just the right amount of cushioning. The streamlined design reduces irritation and overheating, while still ensuring the upper foot, upper heel and Achilles areas get the support they need.

Chaco Mega Z/Cloud Sandals

PRICE: $115

GRADE: A

These iconic sandals may now be a common sight around Utah, but it wasn’t too long ago that they were simply the brainchild of a guide on the Colorado River. After making a mountain of prototypes, he began manufacturing them out of his home and the rest is history.

The Mega Z/Cloud shares a lot of traits with those early sandals, but it also has updated elements like better cushioning, antimicrobial treatment to prevent odor and a no-nonsense metal buckle. The 35mm webbing straps keep them snug on your feet, while the improved adjustability helps eliminate discomfort.

As for performance, the outsole has “ChacoGrip” rubber compound with substantial lugs. The tread is specifically designed for traction in wet conditions, and the good news is that it delivers.

Lorpen T3 Polartec Trekking & Expedition Socks

PRICE: $49

GRADE: A

To set the record straight, these socks would be a terrible choice for your neighborhood barbeque. But if you’re planning a high-elevation ascent this summer, you’ll appreciate the incredible warmth they provide.

Lorpen designed their T3 Polartec socks based on feedback from mountaineers who said that most wool socks were too cumbersome and trapped moisture inside. Wet socks can be annoying at any elevation, but they become a major problem in extremely cold temperatures.

To solve this problem, Lorpen uses a wind- and abrasion-resistant outer layer and a softer inner layer that pulls moisture off the skin. There’s also a Polartec Power Dry layer that helps keep you drier as you work up a sweat. The result is a super comfortable sock that performs well at high elevations and becomes a national treasure in extremely cold conditions.

Muck Pursuit Shadow Tall Boots

PRICE: $264

GRADE: A

While Muck’s boots are traditionally known for their ruggedness, the Pursuit Shadow is also one of the lightest hunting boots you can buy. Each pair only weighs about 3 pounds.

And the lack of weight doesn’t mean Muck scrimped on the other stuff. These boots are still super warm, with 5mm of neoprene with fleece lining and waterproof gusset. Where the boots have reduced weight is in the EVA midsole and rubber Pod outsole, with a design that still provides enough cushioning and stability.

Because these boots are hunting focused, they include features like REALTREE XTRA camo styling, excellent traction on slick surfaces, an Inscentable scent-masking barrier and an Agion antimicrobial treatment. And if you’re not a hunter, these boots are still great for all-around mountain use.

OluKai ‘Ohana Sandals

PRICE: $65

GRADE: A

OluKai sandals are always high quality, but sometimes they lean a bit more on the style side than the performance side. These ‘Ohana sandals are definitely made with performance in mind, however, with breathable materials that are impressively lightweight and can dry out quickly.

The ‘Ohana sandals have a soft nylon toe post webbing, plus they’re weather-resistant so they can take a beating and last for more than a few summers. And, best of all, they float.

These sandals are super comfy, with a compression-molded EVA midsole that conforms to your foot. And while the non-marking rubber outsoles aren’t intended for rough terrain, they definitely provide adequate traction.

Astral TR1 Merge Boots

PRICE: $140

GRADE: A

Astral footwear is known for being exceptionally amphibious. After all, there are lots of waterproof boots out there, but how quickly do they drain water? Would you really want to go kayaking in them? The TR1 Merge fits the bill, with its enhanced breathability and quick-dry canvas upper material.

For hiking and other land-based activities, the TR1 Merge provides ample protection and stability. It has toe and heel caps for added protection, a stabilizing heel counter and brass hardware. Plus, the insole is removable.

On the undercarriage, these boots have gnarly 5mm lugs with flex grooves. The outsoles are made with G.15 high-friction rubber and they really bite into the terrain. The boots fit true to size and are ideal for just about any summer outdoor activity.

HOKA ONE ONE CLIFTON 4 Running Shoes

PRICE: $105

GRADE: A

The Clifton line of running shoes from HOKA ONE ONE is known for being among the most comfy and supportive on the market. In fact, they’re often worn by doctors and professionals who have to be on their feet for long shifts.

The Clifton 4 builds on this solid reputation by decreasing the weight, upgrading the cushioning and making the upper mesh more breathable. These shoes fit true to size and have a molded Ortholite sockliner and full EVA midsole for comfort.

Where the rubber hits the road, the Clifton 4 has a heel bevel for smooth heel transitions, plus a flat-waisted and full ground contact design for improved stability. The traction is good enough for most terrain, though you probably wouldn’t want to take them on the rockiest trails around.

Flylow Rainbreaker Jacket

PRICE: $140

GRADE: A

If you’re out for a hike at higher elevations, you should always be ready for the event of a summer storm. The Rainbreaker from Flylow could be a handy option, as it’s super lightweight and provides ample protection.

It all starts with Intuitive S/G Lite waterproof fabric (it’s 100% nylon), which packs down small enough that the Rainbreaker can easily be stuffed into an external pocket on your backpack. As soon as the weather turns nasty, the jacket’s DWR treatment and taped seams keep you feeling snug and dry.

While the Rainbreaker is lightweight, it’s not dainty. The fabric is robust and has some give to it, so it can take the rigors of mountain use. And features like the upgraded zippers and adjustable hood ensure that when the weather gets nasty, you won’t be left feeling soggy.

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