- Buyer's Guide
Best New Gear: March 2021
Tough urban packs, sleek bolt-action EDC pens, stylish multifunctional apparel, and much more. March was a belter of a month for new releases. And we’ve got the best new gear right here, all in one spot, for your reading pleasure…
The James Brand, the small design-driven team in Portland, has once again given their Midas touch to a classic knife. The Barlow was invented in Britain in the 1600s. But it wasn’t until 1785 when the design made it to the John Russell Cutlery Company, in America, that the popularity really took off. The knife is known for some key features: teardrop design, large bolster, and usually one blade but no more than two.
The James Brand’s take on the popular knife brings some fresh approaches. First, the knife is void of any visible hardware, allowing the premium materials to take center stage. It’s available in three scale options: Rosewood, Black Gf10, or Black Micarta. Instead of the typical pen knife blade, TJB went for a three-inch Sheepsfoot blade composed of CPM-S35VN steel. This brings less of a focus on piercing or stabbing and is ideally suited for EDC tasks such as whittling, slicing fruit, or opening packages.
Paired with phosphor bronze washers for smooth reliable action and weighing just 2.8 oz, The Wayland is a much anticipated addition to TJB quiver and a worthy addition to anyone’s EDC kit.
March is turning out to be one for the books in the history of Tactile Turn. First is the return of their Pencil which we originally saw in 2018 but was discontinued in 2020 for a needed update. Now it’s back and better than ever with a slimmer body, bolt on the side for lead advance, replaceable friction erasers on the rear, and a straight clip. It uses a Schmidt DSM2006 mechanism and has the classic grooved patterning found on all Tactile Turn pens. It’s available in both 0.5mm and 0.7mm lead widths.
Speaking of narrow, Will and crew have also introduced the Slim Bolt Action Pen. It has the same refill compatibility as the larger Bolt Action as well as the same aforementioned grooved design you’ve come to love but in a slimmer package. Like the Pencil, it’s available in four materials (titanium, copper, bronze, and zirconium) and in your choice of three lengths (standard, short, and mini). You can upgrade the bolt and clip to titanium damascus if you’re feeling extra fancy.
Tactile Turn takes inspiration from the great outdoors and the pursuit of adventure with their Overlander. The pen features a Mil-Spec Olive Drab Green body and a subtle reptilian scale pattern on the clip. Part of Tactile Turn’s Seasonal Releases, the pen is available for a set period of time (as opposed to a set number of pieces) and each one is made to order.
Andrew Sanderson, who spent the past few years perfecting and producing his take on an heirloom mechanical pencil, is back with his latest masterpiece – the Adjustable Bolt Action Pen. Available in four body materials (titanium, bronze, copper, stainless steel), the Modern Fuel instrument sets itself apart from other BAP (Bolt Action Pens) with some unique features. First, it is entirely metal, with no glue or plastic parts. It has a seamless design so there is no threading in the body; no unsightly break as the nose cone transitions to the main body. It’s thin at ⅜” (9.5mm) and has a 100-year guarantee.
But the best feature might be how you can tune it to your needs. It fits almost any refill. And it’s adjustable through the use of a simple set screw and springs, allowing you to set your tip distance. That means it works well for writers who like to jot at an angle or straight up and down.
It’s available now on Kickstarter. It smashed through its funding goal in just four minutes with under a month to go.
Orbitkey are back in black with their Black Edition Bundle set to launch on 18 May 2021. Ready to keep you prepped in all-black style, the bundle includes a Key Organiser and multifunctional Multi-Tool v2. Options include an All Black Saffiano Leather Key Organiser, Cactus Leather Key Organiser, and Crazy Horse Leather Key Organiser. The updated multi-tool offers a variety of features. These include a box cutter, bottle opener, pry bar, flat-heat screwdriver, PH2 Phillips-head screwdriver, letter opener, metric ruler, imperial ruler, and course file. All neatly stashed in a pocket-friendly profile.
Benchmade fuses form and function in their handsome new Auto Presidio II. The knife features a CPM-M4 blade steel with a Tactical Gray Cerakote and burnt bronze anodization on the T6 aluminum handles. A subtle and stylish alternative to all-black tactical aesthetics, this model is available only with the serrated blade. It makes use of the Auto Axis® mechanism, allowing blade movement with a simple pull on the Axis bar.
If your pen tastes lean towards the bolder, the better, the Chaves Knives Bolt Action Pen may be just what you’ve been seeking to curb your hunger. An undeniable statement piece, the pen has been designed by custom knife maker Ramon Chaves. Its solid titanium construction is lightweight yet durable and comes in three styles (solid, dots, spiral) to suit personal preferences. It features a bolt action mechanism and a Chaves titanium skull pocket clip for added functional flair.
Bellroy Note Sleeve and Slim Sleeve in Baida Nylon
Pocket-friendly and planet-friendly, Bellroy’s Baida Nylon Slim Sleeve and Note Sleeve are made with 100% recycled industrial off-cuts. Ready to perform, while keeping waste out of landfills, the Baida nylon fabric is tough enough for daily use, highly water-resistant, and offers a unique crinkled finish that looks and feels great.
The Aeris Copper Case offers protection in various forms, helping keep your tech safe from bumps and drops while also featuring a proprietary copper composite that offers antimicrobial properties. Add in the unique patina that will develop with use and you have an EDC piece with protection and personality in one.
Precision, efficiency, and beautiful style. The Wingback Mechanical Pencil has it all. The all-metal construction features a bespoke mechanism that holds 10x more lead than traditional mechanical pencils, fitting 2.4m of 0.7mm diameter lead. The pencil is engineered in England using a bespoke mechanism built by a specialist Japanese manufacturer. Available in brass, stainless steel, and a tungsten carbide finish, the pencil offers knurled detailing for grip, along with a retractable lead sleeve that protects the graphite and prevents nib wobble. You can check it out currently on Kickstarter.
Minimalism meets origami in this clever pocket carry from Koshu. Handmade in San Diego, the Koshu Origami Leather Wallet uses a single piece of leather, five thoughtful folds, and a custom brass snap to create a piece that blends dapper style and the kind of character that will have keen observers wanting to know more.
Street / Urban
ORBITGear are always striving to improve and the CORE21.1: CORDURA POWERED Collection is a celebration of this constant and never-ending pursuit for something better. The first in a two-part collection welcomes updates on a range of designs including backpacks, messengers, and pouches, as well as the debut of the brand’s custom-spec CORDURA 500D FD fabric. The fabric offers enhanced weatherproofness and a FULL-DULL CORDURA yarn for an understated matte look.
Multicultural art platform Ghostly has joined forces with DSPTCH to deliver a clean spin on DSPTCH’s Ridgepack, with a hint of color through fun purple zipper pulls. The water-resistant pack features a tough 400D NorthPak recycled polyester exterior, internal laptop storage, and a sleek silhouette to help it move smoothly between a range of urban day-to-day carry needs.
Martin, a former firefighter and founder of REHOSE, has introduced a new EDC pack called the BUDDY. Available in two sizes, 22L and 30L, the EDC-focused backpacks are single compartment bags with an emphasis on ease of organization and access. The packs are made of X-Pac VX42 with your choice of a variety of interior colors. There are two metal stays in the rear which can be shaped as required, a top carry handle, interior PALS webbing for attaching pouches and accessories, and a removable Velcro admin organizer on the inside of the lid.
Olivers, the Los Angeles-based health and fitness clothing company, has launched two new bottoms for SS’21. First up, the Traverse Pant has a utilitarian design, in a durable weft canvas with a bit of stretch, UPF50+ sun protection, button and drawstring waist, and leg pockets for your extra EDC. The fit and comfort are incredible and lie somewhere between chinos/khakis and heavy joggers.
The Channel Short is designed for warm-weather adventures and is made from a quick-dry stretch twill. It’s treated with a DWR finish meaning liquids bead right off. The heavier denier means it’s right at home at the shore but looks great at a social event or dining, without looking like board shorts.
The company’s logo is “clothing for positive change” and their latest sustainable fabric certainly attests to that. The ReZion collection is an evolution of the brand’s best-selling Stretch Zion, which is a community favorite in the pants iteration. This new material is made from bluesign approved materials and is recycled nylon stretch woven with PFC-free DWR. You can find ReZion used in both men’s and women’s pieces, in the Alameda and Alana ranges, for example.
Coming off their success with the NatureDry Jacket, the no-frills wool clothing brand from Seattle, Woolly, is back with their LOFT Puffy. The jacket is the first merino wool, all-weather puffy jacket that is both plastic and chemical-free. It’s filled with 100% merino LOFT insulation which is lightweight, thermo-regulating, odor-resistant, and quick drying. The Puffy’s outer shell is made from a proprietary weaving method to create a weatherproof material from merino wool. It does not need to be treated with plastics or chemicals to achieve this performance. Best of all, it’s 100% natural and biodegradable. The interior is lined with Tencel, a sustainable material made from trees, and has a silky-soft touch.
A key feature is the detachable hood and high-rise neck cuff. The hood is attached with a series of buttons and the high cuff keeps you warm and protected from wind, even without the hood. The NatureDry LOFT Puffy is currently on Kickstarter.
KILLSPENCER are known for their blend of suave, classy aesthetics and functional design. Now they bring that winning combination to the new EDC Bag, designed to hold your smaller daily essentials in style. Available in Small and Medium sizes, the bag comes in various material options including full-grain leather and Italian nylon/leather. The bags offer flexible carry options and even multifunctional use. The smaller option doubles as a pouch and the medium option doubles as a Dopp kit.
Looking for a pack that’s just as tough and functional as Danner boots? Well, they’ve made one. Meet the 26L Danner Daypack. Built with a rugged combo of heavy-duty nylon and leather, the pack includes an interior laptop sleeve, adjustable G-hook closure for varying loads, and reflective lash loops for extra carrying flexibility.
Sometimes the best protection is the stuff you don’t even see. Bellroy’s HeiQ V-Block Collection across their Basalt products features antimicrobial technology that inhibits the growth and persistence of microorganisms on the fabric surface. Safe and sustainable, it only uses bio-based and recycled ingredients, is non-toxic, and doesn’t irritate the skin.
Japanese brand nunc focuses on creating bags that fulfill a necessity and meet your needs now. Their 2021 Spring & Summer collection offers clean, understated pieces that neatly meet a range of needs, from work commutes to weekend day trips. And with tough, water-resistant construction and versatile aesthetics, these pieces can take on changing elements and environments with equal ease.
Aer really know how to nail a great mix of urban-friendly aesthetics, tough durability, and functional build. Their Active Collection showcases all of this and now in its third generation, it’s even better. Redesigned with customer feedback in mind, the new Active Collection welcomes a host of great new features. These include interior liners with an antimicrobial coating, stowaway shoe pockets, laser-cut ventilation details, shorter metal zipper pulls for reduced noise and weight, and more.
Heritage boot meets all-day sneaker comfort? The Huckberry x Danner Logger 917 delivers, striding forth with a waterproof build courtesy of full-grain leather uppers and a Gore-Tex liner. Add in the grippy Vibram® 917 outsole and limited-edition exclusive colorway and you’ll be stepping out in confident style on trails and tarmac alike. If you’re looking for one boot for work and the weekend, this might just be it.
The story goes a little something like this: in 1964, Fjällräven founder Åke Nordin stowed away some fabric that didn’t meet the brief during the development of his Thermo Tent.
Years later, he realized the fabric was perfect for the first Greenland Jacket, now a legendary outdoor piece.
Samlaren is a Fjällräven collection and initiative with an eye towards sustainability, recycling, and preserving the planet for the future. In Swedish, it means “gatherer”. A fitting name for a line of bags and outerwear made of unused materials gathered from their shelves and warehouses. All the pieces are produced in numbered limited editions and feature unique designs and playful color combinations. You can choose from a Kånken backpack, Totepack, jackets, and even a cap. You’ll notice a theme of color blocking, making the pieces stand out against the core models they are riffs from.
Houdini New Pants and Shorts
Fresh off their game-changing Project Mono Air release from Fall 2020, the Swedish outdoor company is back to work some magic with an upgraded pants and shorts line for Spring 2021. Offering everything from light packable travel garments to technical mountaineering pants, there’s something for everyone. Of interest are the Wadi Pants and Wadi shorts which are ultralight, packable, and perfect for warm-weather excursions.
The Omni Pants are light and have quite a bit of stretch. They’re ideal for everyday use, climbing, bike commuting, or other activities which require freedom of movement. The Motion Top Pants are for more technically focused pursuits and all models come in men’s and women’s options.
Japanese camping specialists Snow Peak have teamed up with fellow countryman Masakazu Fukuyama and his fishing brand TONEDTROUT for their latest capsule collection. With an eye towards the rivers of Japan for the sport of fly fishing, the SS20 collection sees an update to Snow Peak’s vest with increased storage for accessories, a fishing shirt, wading shorts, and a rain hat.
One of Salomon’s most famous shoes, the XT-6 was originally designed for ultramarathoner Kilian Jornet. But the cross-functional ability and eye-catching style of this trail running shoe have garnered it love and respect across a broad range of shoe enthusiasts. Now Huckberry are stepping up to give their unique twist on this classic with an exclusive custom colorway. All of the trail running prowess of the original, served up in a distinct style to capture the hearts of sneakerheads, it’s a savvy pick for urban and trail use alike.
Kasperi’s best-selling Fold Top is a definite head-turner. Not to mention a flexible pack that can venture outdoors on adventures and carry your urban necessities too. Now it’s getting a limited-edition makeover in whitetail deer leather, available for pre-order now, with expected delivery in May 2021. The natural tan leather will develop a rich amber patina over time. Plus the pack also comes with a removable laptop sleeve.
Guitar straps have seen little innovation over the past decades. But DSPTCH aims to change this by teaming up with electronic musician The Anix on a collaboration guitar strap.
The Anix x DSPTCH Modular Guitar Strap features rapid height adjustability, allowing for easy mid-performance strap height changes. The strap’s grippy BioThane® webbing keeps the guitar stable on your body over a wide range of angles. The USA-made strap also comes with a Fidlock® magnetic fastener that enables modular color combinations for personalized style, while also enabling easy disassembly for storage.