Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, December 22, 1998

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Leatherman's compact Seber Tech M2 tool.

Outdoor gear’s
haute, haute, haute

By Cynthia Oi


IT'S come to this: synthetic fleece, once the fabric consigned to the utilitarian wear of rugged outdoor people, has evolved into a fashion statement. Such designers as Vivienne Tam and Helmut Lang incorporate the warm and fuzzy stuff into clothing strutted by pale-faced models who seldom work up a sweat on anything besides a StairMaster in a climate-controlled atmosphere with mirrors.

As it happens, utilitarian products made for certain conditions or purposes often are adapted for more general use. Who'd have thought that work shoes and heavy hiking boots would evolve into a fashion must-have. Or that Jeeps, developed for the U.S. Army before World War II, would morph into sport-utes for shuttling kids and groceries in suburbia. And don't even mention the sartorial change that has overwhelmed what were once known as "gym shoes."

For the trendy, outdoor stores do have fashion offerings, but the mainstays are items that are useful, useful, useful. If you've got an outdoor maniac on your yuletide shopping list, here are five gift suggestions:

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
The storm whistle, available at Powder Edge,
produces big sound with little breath.

Utility tools: Leatherman has a new model this year, called the Wave. The Wave (about $75) has all the doo-dads of the original -- screwdrivers, saw, knife, regular and needle-nose pliers, can/bottle opener, files, lanyard hole, leather case -- but the handles have been smoothed so they don't cut into your hand. Leatherman also has a new compact model, the Sideclip -- that slides on to belt, backpack straps or whatever so you don't have to dig around when you need it. For those who are concerned about tool weight, there's Swiss Tech's micro-version (about $30) that's just 2-3 ozs. even though it comes with two screwdriver heads, pliers, wire strippers and cutters, and rope and line cutters. A lanyard hole makes for easy carrying. Available at Powder Edge, Ward Village Shops; and McCully Bicycle.

Capilene T-shirts: This is a classic and a staple for any outdoor devotee. The shirts (about $30) are light enough for hot Hawaiian hikes, but also keeps the sun from burning your shoulders. They are easy to wash, and dry in about an hour. They pack light and tight, and don't wrinkle. Made by Patagonia, they also come with long sleeves and in mid and heavy weights for those cool camp evenings. The line also includes underwear, leggings and long-john type pants. Available at Powder Edge, Ward Village Shops and Aloha Tower Marketplace; Patagonia, North Shore Market Place, Haleiwa.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Giro Exodus Bicycle Helmet.

"Running North: A Yukon Adventure:" (Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill; $21.95) Ann Mariah Cook tells of her real-life adventure when she, her husband and daughter move to Alaska to run the Yukon Quest dog sled race. It is one of a handful of new outdoor books written from a woman's perspective. Cook's story of struggling against nature and surviving is for anyone who has dreamed of doing something really big. Available at Borders, Ward Centre.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Leatherman side clip tool envelopes the swiss
tech mariner, placed under a quarter.

Storm Whistle: A whistle is one of those things that you really don't want to have to use, but you carry because it may someday save your life. There are lots of whistles; check around your favorite outdoor store. The Storm Whistle ($8.50) is no wussy whistle; it emits a loud, sharp sound with the minimum of breath. So if you've fallen into a gully, your rescuers or trail companions can find you without you huffing and puffing. Available at Powder Edge, Ward Village Shops and Aloha Tower Marketplace.

Giro Exodus: Touted as the best ever, this top-of-the-line, cross-country bicyclist's helmet (about $150) is as jazzy as its name. Bright red and well-vented, it keeps the cyclist's head cool while providing maximum protection. It even has exhaust vents in back for good circulation, and retention straps to fit snugly. Unlike other helmets, its shell is molded to the foam interior to form one solid piece. Available at The Bike Shop.

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