Level Up Your Entire Gaming Experience With This New Tech

The way your gaming rig is set up can have a HUGE impact on the way you play. From the right balance of keyboard and mouse vs the top wireless controller to the best headphones and chair, every little detail has the potential to affect your game.

That’s why it’s worth getting it right. You can level up your reaction times, your awareness, and your focus simply by tweaking a few bits of kit. Here we run you through exactly how and why these upgrades are must-haves in the ongoing battle to be the best.


Mouse

Upgrading your mouse is hands-down the best way to level-up your playing experience overall. The changes from an average computer mouse to a gaming-specific one are significant. Not only will you improve your reflexes and sensitivity within the game itself, you’re able to train your muscle memory with greater accuracy and skill. Repetition is the key in this but having a weight in your hand that you are comfortable with, that you can move reliably and consistently, is going to help you adapt to new games with ease.

The Logitech G502 is pretty hard to walk past and consistently tops the charts when it comes to a gaming mouse. With adjustable weights, spring action buttons, and a dual-action scroll wheel, it’s pretty much the go-to for serious gamers and one to very much consider if you’re looking to level up.

Equally, the Razer Deathadder V2 is pretty much best in the market if you want something a little simpler. Incredibly smooth action and very little delay in gameplay, it’s another serious contender for hardcore gamers.

Mousemat

In addition to this, there is little point in getting a top-level gaming mouse if you haven’t got the surface to play on. Mousemats might seem a little late 90s but trust us, getting that friction and response is essential if you want to improve your accuracy and performance.

We like a wider mouse mat personally as there is much less chance of slipping off it at crucial moments. The HP Omen 300 covers a huge amount of desk space that it’s almost like a rug for your desk. If you’re after something a little more high end, the Logitech G PowerPlay doubles as both mousemat and wireless mouse charging system.

Mouse bungee

Another point of consideration when looking at a good gaming mouse is how it’s going to work with the rest of the space you have. A mouse bungee might seem like overkill but it can have a huge difference for a small cost.

Effective at keeping your mouse cable up high and out of the way, the mouse bungee is good for making sure you don’t get tangled or experience drag for gamers who need that precision. Razer does a good second-gen mouse bungee but pretty much anything will do in this category as long as it keeps your cable away from the action.


Keyboard

Arguably the second most important bit of kit after the mouse is the keyboard. With this, it’s pretty much a given that you’re going to be going for a mechanical keyboard here as the tactile reaction, speed, and response you get from a mechanical keyboard is much, much greater than you would from a dome or scissor-switch. Granted, the prices are higher, but sometimes it’s worth it if you really want to up your game.

The Razer BlackWidow Elite is kind of the kingpin in this territory and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more ergonomic, responsive, or just very cool looking keyboard. For something a little less pricey though, the Razer Cynosa V2 is very much up to the challenge.

Headset

If you play a lot of shooters, a good headset is another crucial element of your set up. Headphones with a dynamic audio range and surround sound capabilities are super important for audio cues and enhancing situational awareness while a good mic is going to allow you to be understood with ease. Unfortunately, a lot of gaming headphones can be pretty clunky and you can be better off using a good pair of non-gaming headphones which will be able to keep up with you while also providing great sound.

The HyperX Cloud II are lightweight and come with 7.1 surround sound. The digitally silenced mic is good for eliminating background noise and the memory foam earcups make these a dream to wear.

If you want top quality and dont need a precision mic, anything from Senhieser is going to be a great choice but their latest HD 458BT wireless headphones are top of the range. AudioTechnica ATH-M40X would also be a great choice in this regard (if you can get your hands on them).

Monitor

Being able to see what you’re actually doing on the screen is, of course, crucial to the whole thing. While most gaming monitors on the market will be able to handle the demands of higher-level PC gaming, it’s important you get something that has a 5 millisecond response rate. Competitive gamers use monitors in the 1ms response range but the trade off in terms of cost here and the actual noticeable quality you will get is negligible.

That being said, the jump from a 60hz monitor to a 144hz monitor is noticeable and so getting something in this range is definitely preferable. The ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q is pretty much ideal in that respect as it operates in 144hz as standard and can be overclocked up to 165hz. The 27inch screen is a great size and it runs at 1440p which won’t overheat your machine.

Mounting arms

Going for a dual-screen setup (or more) is pretty standard nowadays with most gamers preferring the twin-screen system over a bigger or a curved screen. With this though, the ability to move them around and order them in the way you want for different games can provide a big boost.

For that purpose, mounting arms make the switch simpler, easier, and cleaner in terms of cable management. We recommend something like the Ergovida double monitor arms which are a durable build and won’t let you down.

Chair

Sitting for hours on end plugging away at a screen can do a number on your back which is why it’s super important to get yourself an ergonomic chair that is going to support you and not have you crawling off to the physio after an all-night session.

In this regard, The SecretLab Omega gaming chair is a super sophisticated update on their 2018 model that will give you hours of support and even comes with two memory foam neck and lumbar pillows.

Similarly, Noblechairs Icon gaming chair has a detachable pillow and comes in a sleek black design that wouldn’t stand out in the typical home office. Excellent gaming chair that won’t take you out of the zone.

If you’re looking for something that is a standout not only in the gaming chair world but the chair market at large, Herman Miller’s Aeron chair is a stone-cold classic. It’s essentially the comfiest thing you’ve ever sat in, with adjustable parts that support your every move in ways you didn’t think possible. Pricey, sure, but worth it if you’ve got the cash.

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Cram it! ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 1 Recap

With The Mandalorian season 2 coming October 30th, it’s high time we recapped what happened in season 1. From robot super assassins pointing a blaster at a 5-year-old baby to being just awful at his job, check out our Cram It video for the essential events from season 1 of The Mandalorian.

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What We’ll Be Wearing in The Future If Sci-Fi Films Got It Right

From Blade Runner to Star Wars, we have seen an array of movies set in the future predict what we might be wearing one day. In this article we look at what films have got it right so far and what we might be wearing 50 years from now based on recent films & TV shows set in the future.

One of the best things about making a sci-fi film is having to make educated guesses over what exactly people will be wearing in the future. Given the fluid and random nature of fashion trends, it’s virtually impossible to predict just how we’re going to be dressing. If anyone in the 80s had created a sci-fi film set in the far-flung future of the early 2000s in which everyone was wearing their jeans down below their bum, we all probably would have laughed.

This being said, there have been some incredible predictions that we hope will come true and a few stabs in the dark that have not been too far off the mark. We take a look at the best of the best to give you some ideas of what the future of fashion might hold.

Back to the Future


It’s impossible to talk about the future of clothing in film without discussing Back to the Future. Specifically, Back to the Future II in which Marty has to go into the mystical future age of the year 2015. In 2015, Doc dresses Marty to blend in with the kids of the era. That means self-adjusting power laces on his shoes, a self-drying jacket, and jeans pockets turned inside out (as is the style at the time). Other characters wear two ties, talk to each other on single-lens chrome VR headsets, and Biff wears a spiked bike helmet on his head. There’s a lot of fluro which wasn’t too far off the mark for the early 2000s but really we just wish we had those cool hoverboards.


I, Robot


I, Robot might be remembered as a classic Will Smith action blockbuster with a bit of Matrix-style philosophising going on but it’s actually one of the most hands-down off-the-wall bonkers pieces of cinema to ever grace our screens. Set in 2035, it features long leather jackets, black beanies, and some of the most hilariously in-your-face product placement by way of the all-leather “Converse All-Stars, vintage 2004”. “Don’t turn your face up like that, I know you want some!”, Smith’s character tells his grandma. We’re not so sure but that cool robot arm he uses to beat up the hostile NS-5s would be nice.


Event Horizon


The 1997 sci-fi classic Event Horizon features Sam Neill and a young Lawrence Fishburne as they explore a lost spaceship when things quickly head south in an Alien/Interstellar/Prometheus kind of way. Great film and totally worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. A cool little Easter Egg was recently revealed showing that Sam Neill had requested his Australian character wear the shoulder badge of what he thought the Aussie flag might look like in 2047 on his not-so-futuristic jumpsuit. The badge features the Aboriginal flag in place of the Union Jack in an updated design, a nod to the idea that this may one day become our perhaps more inclusive national banner.

The Matrix


This is the film that sparked a generation of slick, all-black, neo-gothic designs, the reverberations of which we are still seeing today. Although the actual date the film is set in is up for debate, we do know it’s somewhere in the distant future. If they got it nearly right, we’ll all be wearing tiny sunglasses, tight leather bodysuits, and shiny trench coats. Actually, that’s not too dissimilar to what is going on now on runways and trendy spots around the globe. Whether or not we’ll be keeping up this look into 2199 or beyond is hard to say but it’s certain the Matrix did a stellar job of not only predicting but influencing the future of fashion.


Star Trek


Tonnes of the on-screen garb you see in sci-fi films takes its influence from the OG science fiction series, Star Trek. Back when a love of sci-fi was something you kept to yourself, Star Trek was busting out some killer costumes and bold designs we would love to be rocking in the distant future. The signature is of course the semi-roll neck velour knits in single colours worn by the crew of the star ship enterprise. Then you’ve got the iconic VISOR worn across the eyes by Geordi La Forge and the trademark red minidress worn by Uhura. Really though, Star Trek was revolutionary in giving lead roles to non-white and non-male actors and showcased a future in which it wasnt about what you wore or who you were that mattered, it was about what you did.

Blade Runner


Both the original Blade Runner and the sequel Blade Runner 2049 made some excellent predictions for the future of fashion. Who can forget the huge shoulder pad jackets, the sweet black stripe eye makeup, or those massive fur jackets that we all wore in the future of 2019? It may not have been spot on but Blade Runner was a huge influence on couture fashion which is why the sequel was just as bold in its fashion choices. Perhaps in 30 years time we’ll all be decked out in neon fur coats, black kimonos, or darting about in huge shearling coats like Ryan Gosling. Sounds pretty good actually.

The Hunger Games 


Set in the not-too-distant future, if the year 2020 is any indication of the way the world is headed, The Hunger Games series was iconic for putting fashion at the forefront of its fictional future. If we wind up in the slums of District 13, it looks like we won’t have much to choose from except which shade of grey our boiler suit is going to be. The silver-spoon holding elite of District 1 however will be rocking huge powdered wigs and fluro ruffled collars and jackets a la Marie Antoinette. If you’re a hunger games champion of course, you may even be busting out the flame-proof dress and waistcoats to blaze a path through the area while literally on fire. Now that’s hot.

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From Console To Closet — Fashion Trends Inspired by Video Games

Somewhere in the intersection of art, history, and culture lies fashion. Like any art form, fashion trends are inspired and informed by anything and everything: pop culture moments, architectural movements, a song, a sound, a word, you name it. And games are no exception.

That’s right, your favourite games — PC, console, or otherwise — have been known to inspire widespread fashion movements, and whether or not you knew it at the time, you may well have found yourself wearing an outfit that has origins on your screen.

Below, we uncover four key fashion trends that were started by, or since most fashion trends are cyclical, have been resurrected by the games you’ve grown up playing.

Carmen Sandiego: Monochrome



Nobody does monochrome better than Carmen Sandiego. The international thief and elusive nemesis of the ACME Detective Agency is known for her criminal antics through space and time, crimes which she carries out in an impossibly chic outfit of head-to-toe carmine.

It’s a bold look for someone who’s essentially aiming to go undetected, but that’s just it with Carmen Sandiego — she wants to be seen, because that flash of red as she leaves the scene is often the only evidence a detective can gather of any wrongdoing.

Offscreen, Carmen Sandiego’s look of a cinched trench, pumps, and a wide-brimmed fedora consistently makes it onto just about every red carpet and runway.

It’s a timeless look that can be adapted to suit seasonal colour trends. Just refer to Lady Gaga, who style steals from Sandiego on the regular.

Assassin’s Creed: Hoodies and Sweats


In a game like Assasins Creed, where characters move swiftly and artfully to take trained swipes at one another with deadly weapons in combat, it makes little sense to wear such heavy drapes of fabric and hoodies that get in the way of your eyes, but in real life, an outfit like this is 100% appropriate for lazing about on the sofa for an entire Sunday after a big Saturday night.

One only has to look at Kanye West’s Yeezy Season Two to see the influence. Heavy fabrics, layered outerwear, ominous silhouettes and cowl-like hoods are hallmarks of the rapper’s collections, though he’s not the only designer to embrace this style.


Resident Evil, Cargo Pants and Combat Boots


Safe to say every character in every iteration of Resident Evil games gets a pat on the back and a generous handful of style points. As the main characters battle it out against the Umbrella Corporation, who developed the T-virus which turns humans and animals into zombies, they’re dressed the part in garments like protective combat boots, cargo pants, lightweight singlets, and protective jackets. It’s actually a pretty practical assortment of clothing for a game!

Of the crew, we’re mosy likely to look to Jill Valentine for IRL style inspiration. As the ‘90s make a comeback some 30 years on in 2020, we’re inspired to make like Bella Hadid and don low-rise cargo pants, leather combat boots, and a form-fitting singlet. Beret and holster optional.


GTA Vice City: Hawaiin Shirts and Jeans



You can pretty much thank Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for the conception of the festival shirt. The 2002 game saw you, the player, follow along with the antics of mobster Tommy Vercetti after his release from prison. The game’s creators based Vice City on Miami, which may explain the tropical influence on the characters’ costuming.

Throughout most of the the game, Vercetti wears a Miami-appropriate outfit of white, classic Adidas sneakers and worn blue jeans, and changes only his top — the most notable of which is a blue Hawaian short-sleeved shirt adorned with palm trees. It’s a timeless look easily replicated today, and in fact, is worn often by the fashion forward in the warmer seasons.

 

The post From Console To Closet — Fashion Trends Inspired by Video Games appeared first on FANDOM.

Greatest Kicks In Gaming History

Over the years, video games have featured some of the most innovative footwear of all time. An often overlooked aspect of the costume can have a major effect on gameplay, aesthetic, and overall memorability of the character. Shoes add layers to the world building of immersive video game universes and it turns out, most virtual folk appear to prefer boots over low-cuts. There’s even a guy out there who has even made a whole art project around photographing NPC footwear. It’s not that weird, I swear.

Here we run you through some of the most iconic footwear in all of video game history from the red thigh-highs of Mrs Pac-Man to the bizarre transportation system of the Kuribo Shoe to show off just what kind of fresh kicks your favourite characters have been rocking.

Sora’s Shoes



The cheery teenage protagonist of the Kingdom Hearts series has some incredible style when it comes to footwear.

Though they’re pretty over the top, you’d be hard pressed to miss them in a fight and this fashionista inspired a whole generation of awkward teen dress sense so it’s only fair we include them.

Chun Li’s Boots 



The hard-hitting feminist icon from the Street Fighter games was the first playable female character in fighting game history.

Her powerful kicks have inspired works from Niki Minaj to Arctic Monkeys and none of it would have happened if she hadn’t been decked out in those stylish knee-high white lace ups.

Sonic’s Power Sneakers



Sonic’s flashy red and white high tops actually enable him to reach his true running potential.

Made from a sturdy but unknown material, they allow Sonic to run at super speeds without suffering any undue stress from friction burn.

Given to him by Dr Kintobor, the shoes allowed Sonic to break the soundbarrier and transform from a regular brown hedgehog to the blue speed demon we know today.

Bayonetta’s Shoe Guns



The scantily-clad Umbra witch from Vigrid is the title character of her own video game series.

You might recognise her from the Super Smash series in which she stands on her hands and shoots down her opponents with her pistol-packed stilettos.

How she is able to load and fire these guns is down to magic (cos she’s a witch and all) but they’re still supremely badass.

Yoshi’s Boots



 The little green dinosaur who first made his appearance in Super Mario World on the SNES would be nothing without his trademark tan boots with the yellow treds.

It is possible these are some kind of physical feature of his dinosaur race as he pops out of his egg wearing them but you cannot say they’re not damn icons in their own right.

Zero Suit Samus’ Jet Boots 



It would be wrong to overlook the ject boots given to Zero Suit Samus in Super Smash. You wouldn’t think that a street fighting woman with a plasma whip and a pistol would choose high heels to fight in but hey ho she’s got them.

While they caused a bit of controversy at the time, the jet power function of the silletoos makes them pretty practical overal.

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Mr and Mrs Pac-Man’s Thigh Highs



Both the original Mr Pac-Man (or simply “Pac-Man”, as he was known back in his bachelor days) and the red-lippy wearing Mrs Pac-Man run about in matching ruby red boots.

Mrs Pac-Man, who is just kind of a dolled-up version of her male counterpart, cuts about in scandalous thigh-high numbers that wouldn’t be out of place in the musical Kinky Boots.

Will the sexual gaze of video game developers stop at nothing?

Link’s Pegasus Boots 



Returning again and again throughout the Zelda series are the highly practical Pegausus Boots.

These are winged adaptations invoking the mystical powers of the Ancient-Greek flying horse that allow Link to dash, run, and jump higher and faster than before.

In the open-world games of Zelda, this can be a huge benefit, though they didn’t appear in the most recent Breath of the Wild.

Kuribo Shoe



Now we’re getting into the realms of madness.

The Kuribo Shoe or Goomba Shoe is a giant mechanical wind-up boot worn by the rarely seen Shoe Goombas who hop about trying to squash Mario.

Knock one over and the shoe is yours, allowing Mario to jump on enemies at will with only his head sticking out of the giant green foot covering. Introduced in Super Mario Bros 3, we last saw it in Paper Mario and are not sure we want to see it again.

Ratchet’s Grind Boots



The iconic series Ratchet & Clank was surely a thief of many of our weekends when we were just beginning our gaming journeys.

Overcoming obstacles, working out puzzles, and blasting away enemies with a huge array of weapons was made all the easier with the innovative footwear Ratchet could adopt.

The Grind Boots were the original and the best, adding a sweet skating-like element to the game which was so popular in the early 2000s. 

Kirby Feet



Finally we come to the red shoes/feet of Kirby.

The little pink marshmallow is differentiated from his footwear by the red colouration but it’s unclear if these are part of his physical being or something he can take on and off.

We’ve added them in here for the pure horror of this image in which we can see what Kirby might look like without the shoes (if they are shoes) because frankly I came across it and now you have to as well. You’re welcome.

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How to Ski COVID-Safe This Winter

This may not be the winter for flights to far-off destinations, but that doesn’t mean good skiing is out of the question. With resorts adjusting to make in-bounds activity as safe as possible, your best bets are staying local or stringing together a low-contact road trip. We called up some experts for tips on how to ride consciously this season.

Wear a Face Covering

Masks can prevent COVID-infected droplets from traveling far when we cough, sneeze, or yell to our friends. Most resorts, including all those on the Epic Pass, will require a mask in common spaces and lift lines, as well as on lifts. Your simple neck tube is not ideal, but it may be more effective if doubled up. “If you can blow out a candle through your face covering,” says Daniel Pastula, an expert in ­neuro-infectious diseases at Colorado’s UCHealth, “that’s probably not enough fabric or material to be protective.”

Stay Outside

“The biggest risk to skiers isn’t riding lifts,” says Brent Russell, an ­emergency-room doctor and COVID survivor from Ketchum, Idaho. “It’s indoor dining. People take off their masks to eat and drink.” For lunch, sit outside or go back to your condo. For après, tailgate or go somewhere with outdoor space. Layering up your clothing with the intention of being out all day will keep your options open. Resorts like Steamboat and Mammoth Mountain—both Ikon Pass destinations—are beefing up outdoor decks with fire pits, heat lamps, and open-air tents.

Space Out Six Feet

“Ideally, people should only ride chairlifts with those in their group,” Russell says. “Strangers would need at least one space in between.” Aspen Snowmass, among other resorts, will allow only existing groups to load the gondola together. (Jackson Hole will do so upon request.) Even then, keep the windows open for airflow.

Skip the Bus

This is the year to splurge on slopeside lodging for easy lift access. “Buses could be OK as long as the windows are open, there are six-foot barriers and everyone is masked,” Russell says. But ideally, you should walk or drive your own car. 

Use the Apps

Many resorts are moving to improved apps, so you can sign waivers, buy passes, ­order food, and reserve lessons ­without any ­face-to-face contact.

Original source: https://www.outsideonline.com/2418237/ski-safety-covid-winter-buyers-guide?utm_campaign=rss&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=xmlfeed

Building Stoke for a Winter Unlike Any Other

For me the itch usually hits sometime in August, in the heat of the summer: speculation fueled by stoke films, the tease of the forecasts, and the Farmers’ Almanac. I start dreaming about snow. Is anyone geekier about the future than skiers? Who else starts to pick out their January outfits in June? 

This season, the calculus for a good winter has changed. COVID-19 has loaded so many personal choices with existential angst, including the somewhat selfish pursuit of dropping everything for a powder day. The question isn’t simply what the conditions will be, but whether we can ski safely during a pandemic.

In dark times like these, skiers are accustomed to envisioning the bright side, because by its very nature, skiing is a gamble on an unknown future. You never really know when storms might hit, or which mountains might get hammered and which might get hosed. Part of the preseason buzz is leaning into the unknown, letting yourself get jazzed just enough to keep you going while remaining realistic about the fact that things might not turn out the way you imagined.

The hazards of the sport are different now—more than just injured limbs and bruised egos, our very health is on the line. But part of skiing’s speculative thrill has always been assessing risk: gauging danger, deciding if it’s smart to drop in, and trying not to let your desire for adrenaline put anyone else in harm’s way. It’s about looking at the blurry future and trying to choose the right line.

It’s impossible to say what this season will look like. With so many other things to worry about, I don’t know if we’ll all still be watching barometric pressure like it’s news. But skiing has taught me to sit with that preseason itch—the hunger for motion and change, the belief that this winter will be the best one yet—with the resilience to go on if it’s not.

Original source: https://www.outsideonline.com/2418203/ski-season-covid-2021-winter-buyers-guide?utm_campaign=rss&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=xmlfeed

The Best Cold-Weather Surfing Kit of 2021

Here’s a poorly kept surfing secret: winter is the best time to ride waves.  One reason? Large swells consistently pound coastlines in the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, and Northern California. But winter surfing creates the ultimate conundrum: brisk offshore winds groom these waves into great conditions that just keep rolling—but they’re in sync only with what most sane folks would consider unbearable weather. Your kit is the key to enjoying this bounty. If you find the right mix of gear that’s thick enough to keep the chill out but also gives you freedom of movement, you’ve hit the sweet spot to score all winter long.

Isurus Ti Evade 4.3 Hooded Chest Zip Winter Wetsuit ($600)

winter surfing
(Photo: Courtesy Isurus)

Developed with the frigid waters of the company’s Northern California birthplace in mind, Isurus wetsuits have serious cold-weather chops. But the design makes them stand out: the company has borrowed heavily from triathlon and swimming, utilizing compression technology so the suits form-fit to the body to support your muscles and thus help you surf longer and more comfortably. Then there’s the warmth. The Ti Evade features 100 percent premium Japanese rubber lined with titanium, which reflects your body heat back to you, and a cozy fleece next to your skin also helps keep your core toasty. Having used several Isurus suits over the years, we can attest to their durability. They’re expensive but well worth the coin if you frequently surf in brisk waters. Women should check out the Ember series for a similar suit.

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Patagonia R4 Yulex Three Finger Mitts ($79)

winter surfing
(Photo: Courtesy Patagonia)

Fact: if your hands get cold when you’re surfing, the rest of your body will soon follow. The Three Finger Mitts solve that problem. You might think that one orphaned digit (your pointer) would get cold, but that isn’t the case, and it actually adds control for your hand, allowing you to feel the rails of your board when getting to your feet or duck diving—a sensation you often can’t get in full mittens. The 85 percent Yulex (Patagonia’s proprietary rubber, derived from hevea trees) keeps your hands extremely warm, while a heavy-duty wrist gasket seals out water. We put these through the wringer for months, both surfing and kiting, and noticed little wear. Take care of these and they’ll live in your kit for years.

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Patagonia R5 Yulex Round Toe Booties ($95)

winter surfing
(Photo: Courtesy Patagonia)

These booties are 85 percent Yulex like the Three Finger Mitts, but the ultra-warm thermal microgrid polyester-spedex lining—which warms the water trapped in there—makes them stand out from the competition. That interior will have you ready for a post-session beach fire and beer despite the season. They’re minimalist but durable, and ours have survived countless walks across sharp rocks and trail jaunts for water access, thanks to the diamond-grip rubber sole.

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RinseKit Pod Shower ($116) and Pressure Booster Pump ($40)

winter surfing
(Photo: Courtesy RinseKit)

When you’re dealing with cold weather, hot water is key for an after-surf rinse. RinseKit’s new Pod attaches to a hose for filling and pressurizing like the original, but it’s also compatible with an optional aftermarket pump that can replace the drain cap. It allows you to rebuild the pressure later (optimal pressure sans pump lasted about three minutes). Before you paddle out, fill the Pod with hot water, seal it, and you have a toasty shower at the end of your session a few hours later. Even with the pump, it’s difficult to empty all the water, but it works well when full, giving you or your gear a warm rinse.

Shower Booster


Rip Curl Departed Anti Series Fleece ($90)

winter surfing
(Photo: Courtesy Rip Curl)

Hoodies work anywhere, but there’s nothing like a cozy, reliable one for a surf check. Rip Curl’s Departed Anti Series Fleece features a super-warm fleece lining, a DWR coating, and a new full zip and high collar that almost make this a jacket on its own. But it’s also light enough to be a midlayer when skiing or riding if you feel like crossing over.

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POC Men’s Liner Jacket ($200)

winter surfing
(Photo: Courtesy POC)

Cold offshore winds are the norm when you’re searching for off-season waves, and a solid puffy makes the quest a lot more bearable. POC’s Liner is just the jacket: with its lightweight ripstop nylon outer and tightly woven taffeta lining, it’s formfitting but ready to move with you—ideal while getting your gear in order for a session. A well-placed zip pocket in the chest is perfect for fin and car keys, and the hood fits tightly over your noggin for guaranteed warmth, thanks to synthetic insulation that keeps you warm even if you get wet.

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Slowtide Digs Changing Poncho ($70)

winter surfing
(Photo: Courtesy Slowtide)

Slowtide has nailed the towel game and the company’s Digs poncho is the tool you want for changing in parking lots or next to highways. Simply throw the beast on and get busy underneath—no worries about your towel falling off. It’s made from 100 percent terry cotton, which is plush and feels like a warm blanket. Use it to dry off like a normal towel, then simply hang it up in the laundry room.

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OluKai Kipuka Hulu Slippers ($120)

winter surfing
(Photo: Courtesy OluKai)

Morning surf checks are all about comfort: cup of coffee in hand, robe (or poncho) over the shoulders, and slippers on the toes as you drive from one break to another deciding where to paddle out. OluKai created the Kipuka Hulu with just these chilly dawn patrols in mind. The shearling lining makes these things super cozy and, being slippers, they’re easy to get on and off. With a rubber sole you can walk down a dirt trail, and the leather upper is plenty durable. Whether you’re searching for waves or letting the dog out, they’re the antidote to cold piggies.

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The Best Snowshoes of 2021

Dion Model 120 Laser LT (starting at $145)

snowshoes
(Photo: Courtesy Dion)

Vermont-based Dion makes some of the lightest, most versatile running snowshoe on the market. The frames themselves are lightweight for a model built for speed, at only 1.3 pounds, and, depending on the conditions, you can swap out the standard cleat for ice or deep-snow models. The easy-to-use but sturdy bindings stay put across long distances, but if you’re not a fan, simply use a drill and some basic hardware to mount the LTs to your favorite trail runners.

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Crescent Moon Luna Foam Shoe ($120)

snowshoes
(Photo: Courtesy Crescent)

A few years ago, Crescent Moon debuted the Eva, the first-ever all-foam snowshoe, which one tester called “a fat bike for your feet.” The Luna is a smaller version, at seven by 20 inches compared to the Eva’s eight by 24, but it has just as much cushion and a similar rockered shape, plus optional screw-in studs that offer extra traction in icy conditions. Not that you’ll be getting rid of it anytime soon, but when you do, it’s recyclable through athletic-shoe recycling programs. 

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Atlas Helium-Trail ($140)

snowshoes
(Photo: Courtesy Atlas)

It’s not often that snowshoe companies come out with all-new models, so testers were excited about Atlas’s new-to-market Helium series of backcountry, all-mountain, and trail-walking models. Our favorite, the Trail, is an all-purpose composite snowshoe that comes in 23- and 26-inch sizes and flexes gently as you walk. Steel crampons keep you upright on icy terrain, traction is built into the deck for stability, and an easy-to-flip-up heel lift takes the edge off of steep climbs.

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TSL Highlander Adjust ($250)

snowshoes
(Photo: Courtesy TSL)

A fantastic all-around snowshoe, the French-made TSL Highlander Adjust comes in three sizes. Once you’ve selected your model, a one-time adjustment fits the binding to the length of your entire boot. From that first use onwards, all you have to do is step into the binding, cinch the Boa down across your toes, and secure a strap around your ankle. “I had the entire system set to accommodate my boots in less than two minutes,” said one tester, who added that the Adjusts were also nimble and confident on spring melt, ice, hardpack, and deep drifts.

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Garneau Premiere Première ($245)

snowshoes
(Photo: Courtesy Garneau)

The company has finally updated its popular Première backcountry snowshoes with the increasingly popular Boa closure system, an alternative to laces that involves a quick twist of a knob that tightens the binding uniformly around the toe and heel—no pulling straps or fiddling with buckles required. Available in two sizes, the Première proved well-designed for breaking trail through deep snow.

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Northern Lites Honey Badger ($299)

snowshoes
(Photo: Courtesy Northern Lites)

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you needed snowshoes and ice crampons, what you really needed was the Honey Badger. Named after the world’s “most fearless animal,” these snowshoes feature aggressive—very sharp, very long—stainless-steel cleats from toe to heel to keep you steady on slick, steep surfaces. And at only 25 inches long and 3.75 pounds, they’re not unwieldy or too heavy, although testers who weigh more than 175 pounds may want a bigger snowshoe or risk sinking in deep powder.

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The Best Hats of 2021

Patagonia Snowfarer Cap ($39)

Hats
(Photo: Courtesy Patagonia)

From backcountry laps to après beers, keep your cool in this brushed synthetic-lined flat-brim. The low-profile back clip and flat seams make it comfy under a helmet, and the 100 percent recycled nylon material is DWR coated to shed all the pow you encounter.

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Simms Dockwear Insulated Cap ($40)

Hats
(Photo: Courtesy Simms)

This classy five-panel protects from harsh winter sun and fends off flurries with burly waxed canvas. Its quilted polyester insulation and flannel-lined front panel lend warmth on chilly days.

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Nathan Reflective Ponytail Beanie ($30)

Hats
(Photo: Courtesy Nathan)

On our first test run, we didn’t even notice this beanie’s ponytail hole, which, it turns out, accommodates even the thickest of manes. The light microfleece lining and snug fit were perfect for high-output activities, and the reflective detailing kept us visible.

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Buff Merino Wool Fleece Hat ($35)

Hats
(Photo: Courtesy Buff)

Two layers of Buff’s new merino fleece—a blend of 98 percent wool and 2 percent elastane that is stretchy, soft, and snug—make this lid special. It has all the warming, wicking, odor-resisting, quick-drying benefits of wool in a tight knit that keeps winter winds at bay.

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Tentree Classic Rib Beanie ($35) 

Hats
(Photo: Courtesy Tentree)

Tentree uses recycled plastic water bottles to craft its stretchy rib-knit merino and polyester beanie, which keeps you fashionably cozy whether you wear it slouchy or cuffed. Even better, if you register it online, Tentree will plant ten trees and give you a code to discover where they put down roots.

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Flylow Barracuda Pom Beanie ($30)

Hats
(Photo: Courtesy Flylow)

When it comes to poms, we say: go big or go home. The Barracuda fits the bill, with an ample yarn topper that’s hard to ignore (a slouchy fit keeps things casual). We also love the super-soft, quick-drying acrylic that keeps you toasty no matter the conditions.

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