Need a boost this summer to keep you cycling, walking, backpacking? We found some kicky, off-the-wall options that will get you (and sometimes your dog) out the door.
Just looking at DeFeet's Air-e-ator Socks for cyclists may be enough to get you stoked. Bright orange suns adorn El Sol, one of several style options. Moonie (presumably for night riders) has a gray moon in a purple sky. Flower Power is psychedelic. Schmeily (with smiley faces) comes in white or black. And the Police model, black with "Police" across the top, might keep fellow cyclists guessing.
The socks are made of CoolMax, Dupont's fabric that promises to wick away sweat. There's just enough nylon (10%) for abrasion resistance, according to the manufacturer, DeFeet International.
Our try-on test of the bright green Money socks (with "That's what I want" on the sole): as comfy as bedroom slippers but cooler. And the cuffs seem to be knit tightly enough to ward off bagginess after a few trips through the washing machine.
About $9 to $11 per pair at local cycling shops or by mail order from DeFeet, (800) 688-3067.
Hydrate or Faint
Drinking fluids during exercise is especially important during hot summer months--and is much less of a hassle with the Aqua Solo, a new fanny pack from L.L. Bean that has a built-in bottle holster that carries the 20-ounce plastic bottle provided. There's room for other stuff, too, in the two mesh zippered pockets that flank the bottle holster.
Our test drive: This fanny pack is much more comfortable worn while walking than while jogging. And, during walking or running, a full bottle bounces up and down too much unless the waist belt is tightly cinched.
Bonus points: The pack is hand-washable and includes a tag for name, address and telephone. The red-and-black Aqua Solo we tested is $15. A version made of illuminated fabric is $19.
To order, call (800) 221-4221.
Hydrate or Pant
Hydration is important for your hairy walking companion, too, especially during those dog days of summer. Making it easier: Ruff Wear's Go Between, a foldable bowl for dogs on the go. It's made of pack cloth with a nylon liner and is hand-washable. Small enough to be rolled up and stuffed into a fanny pack, it holds a quart of water when unfolded.
Our trial run: After a quick walk to the post office and back, the family pooch was ready to drink. At first, he needed to conduct a sniff test to be sure this bright purple contraption was actually a water bowl. But then he lapped up the water.
About $14 from Title Nine Sports, (800) 609-0092; for store information call (888) RUFF WEAR.
Roughing it can be tough on the neck for backpackers and campers, but not with the Fleece Backpacker's Pillow from L.L. Bean. It measures 18-by-9 inches, but folds down to 9 1/2-by-7 1/2 inches to fit in its own tote. There's a fleece side for cool weather and a microfiber polyester side for warmer days.
In green and blue. About $16 by mail order: (800) 221-4221.
Our rest test: Not as comfy as your at-home bed pillow, but does the job.