Equipped for the Outdoors

Each of these items have been test-driven by up!’s roving reporters, so you’ll hear about the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

Flippin’ Cool: The Newest Flip

The Flip’s newest camcorder, the Ultra HD, boasts über-easy and lightweight design. But this version comes with full HD (720p) and a two-inch screen. If you want a little zip on your Flip, then consider one of the many funky designs, or even create your own masterpiece on Flip’s website.

Of course, today’s latest and greatest cellphones produce just as good quality video, but for those who would rather have a separate gizmo just for recording video, the Flip is a fantastic choice. (From US$150)

Hot Stuff: The Hot to Trot Softshell Jacket

On the outside, the Hot to Trot Softshell all-season jacket looks feminine, sleek and velvety and, on the inside, well, a bit like tin- foil. Columbia calls it Omni-Heat thermal reflective material, but basically it’s lots of teeny tiny silver dots that reflect heat back to you to keep you 20 per cent warmer than a normal lining

A personal sauna it’s not, though. The space between the dots allows heat and moisture vapour to escape for excellent breathability. ($140)

Anti-Super Soaker: The Raintech Jacket

With the same shiny, silver-spaceman lining (Omni-Heat thermal reflective material), the Raintech jacket breathes and keeps you warm. But, as the name implies, it’s built for the rain.

With advanced repellency technology, the coated fabric resists all liquids below 76 C from absorbing through, which means a little rain shouldn’t keep you cooped up inside. ($140)

Designed for the Backcountry: The F-Stop

For years, a camera backpack meant a bag with awkward shoulder straps, best suited for short trips on well-worn trails. Then F-Stop stepped in with its line of packs designed with backcountry in mind.

Even the smallest of F-Stop’s mountain line, the Loka, easily carries everything a pro shooter needs for a multi-day assignment. Water-resistant and sturdy, the narrow pack clings to your body, leaving you free to ride, ski or hike the burliest lines, and be exactly where you need to be when the action unfolds. ($279)

Keep it Close: The Lowepro Chest Harness

How many times have you wanted to take a photo, only to realize your camera was buried in a backpack? The Lowepro Chest Harness keeps your kit handy all day—whether you are skiing, climbing or hiking. The Toploader Zoom AW can easily carry a camera body, two lenses and plenty of cards and batteries.

I’ve used this exact combo on all of my long journeys. After 17 years and 2,000 days in the field, it’s still as good as new. Cheap, effective, durable, this combo is a must for active shooters. (Chest Harness, $27; Toploader Zoom AW, $40)

Like a Pillowcase: The AirBak Tech

With umpteen zippered compartments, there was room aplenty for my gear in this AirBak Tech on a recent trip to the Caribbean. The cushy padding hugged my lower back snugly and took the stress off my spine. Plus, the blow-up pillow-like component made it the perfect defence for my camera inside the bag.

All was well and good until the pillow sprang a leak on the second day. Without that support, I immediately felt the spindly little strap system biting into my hips, as the pack doesn’t naturally distribute the weight without the air device. Its techies claim the heavy-duty padding should hold air for two to five years, but mine refused to be resuscitated. (US$80)

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Bruce Kirkby

Bruce Kirkby is an adventurer, photographer and author based in Kimberley, BC. He's the author of two books: Sand Dance, By Camel Across Arabia’s Great Southern Desert and The Dolphin’s Tooth; A Decade in Search of Adventure.

Holly Hofmann

A recent journalism grad, Holly Hofmann has spent the last seven years meandering around the world.  Always looking to tackle a new recipe, it's no surprise that her favourite place to visit in a new city is a grocery store. When she's not travelling, Holly can be found behind the lens capturing images of the curious and the mundane.