A typical water shoe for me is a ragged, end-of-the-road pair of old sneakers. But now that I’ve cycled, canoed and swam in my ultra-lightweight, almost-instantly-dry Columbia Powerdrain water shoe, I can see why the hubbub. They drain, they breathe, they don’t stink and they stick to rocks (say, on a canoe portage) when they should. Sure, the sole follows your foot when you slide out of these toggled lightweights, but then that dries in a ridiculously quick moment. ($100)
Gear review: Columbia Women’s Compounder Shell
Some designers of technical jackets seem to believe your typical woman is of the freakish offspring of Gwyneth Paltrow and T.rex. Yes, women’s arms are shorter than men’s and their necks, longer—but that doesn’t mean sleeves should end at your elbows or that collars have to bunch under your chin. That’s why the Compounder shell is a relief, with sleeves that extend far enough that you can scrunch your fists into a ball and tuck them up into your sleeve, if you get chilly.
Gear review: Tempur-Pedic sleep mask
Rest easy on your next overnight flight with Tempur-Pedic’s sleep mask. I’ve used slim, nylon masks (that slide off with every turn) and big, foamy goggle-affairs but never anything that is as perfectly moulded—precisely why it blocks out all light—to your face as this cozy design. It comes in a navy blue velour-like fabric with an adjustable Velcro strap. Sure, it’s a little bulkier than other masks, but perhaps the company that gave us great mattresses knows a thing or two about designing effective travel-sleep accessories. (US$29)
Gear review: Day Packer utility knife by Victorinox Swiss Army
I so wanted to love the ultra-groovy, lime green, super-slim, Day Packer—made by Victorinox, founders of the traditional red Swiss Army knife. With a four-inch handle, a one-clip super sharp blade, perhaps this is all a person really needs—I thought before taking it out on a day hike. When you think about it, how often do we actually use the tweezers, scissors, toothpicks and umpteen blades? OK, not so much—but a corkscrew and a handy ring on the end so I can clip it to something, are my essentials in even the most basic knife.