Gadling Gear Review: Patagonia Men’s Lined Canvas Hoody

gadling gear review patagonia lined cavas hoodySo much of the gear that’s out there these days is incredibly technical and specialized. Ski jackets that are impervious to the elements yet breathe so that you don’t sweat too much. Raincoats with 16 pockets and stretchy materials so that you can also scale a rock face while wearing them. These products serve many purposes and are innovative, but they also end up being expensive and including unnecessary advancements that the average consumer doesn”t require. Sometimes you just need a coat that will keep you warm, can handle getting roughed up a bit and doesn’t break the bank. That’s what I was looking for this fall and it’s why I was excited to try out the Patagonia Men’s Lined Canvas Hoody. It’s a seemingly basic coat that’s practical and durable rather than technical.As you can tell from the name, the jacket’s exterior is a heavy-duty canvas, a material often associated with work gear. In fact, at first glance you might mistake this coat for something that Carhartt would produce. Being that it’s from Patagonia, however, its made from organic cotton and recycled polyester (inside the sleeves). It’s a no-frills jacket that’s meant to get dirty.

The coat is incredibly warm, thanks to the fleece lining that wraps your core. The cut of the jacket keeps the fleece close to your body, but also can feel a bit constrictive at first. While it fits properly in the sleeves, the body of the coat can feel tight and narrow.

It’s always nice to look fashionable and have gear that excels in both form and function. In that respect, the Lined Canvas Hoody is a bit of a plain Jane. That said, for activities such as raking leaves, winterizing your home, taking your dogs out for chilly walks and other outdoor chores that come your way as the days get shorter, a useful work coat such as this deserves a place in your closet.

Little details like the fleece-lined exterior pockets and interior breast pocket make the coat even more practical. As does the drop-tail hem, which is needed since the jacket is snug and short. The hem keeps your back covered when you bend down (say to pick up leaves or a pumpkin). What it lacks in space-age fabrics it more than makes up for in durability and usefulness.

The lack of technical advancements and innovations benefits your wallet, as well. As a basic work jacket, the Lined Canvas Hoody is a very reasonable $149.

If you like your gear to be the latest, greatest and fanciest, this isn’t the coat for you. However, if you need something that can handle work – not adventure activities, but real work – or just want a low key piece of outerwear that will keep you very warm, then this coat is perfect for you. And hey, fashion is subjective. Some people like a subdued, almost retro work coat. And there’s no question that this coat will keep you warm and comfortable during less demanding activities such as attending a chilly football game or fall festival.

The bottom line when it comes to the Patagonia Lined Canvas Hoody is this: It’s well-made, practical and will stand up to whatever you throw at it. Sometimes that’s more important than owning the fanciest or most advanced piece of gear.

The Patagonia Lined Canvas Hoody sells for $149 on Patagonia’s website and at other outdoor retailers.

Photo of the Day – Wildlife in Yellowstone

It’s easy to clutter your travel photos with all kinds of random visual information. But sometimes the best shot is also the simplest. For instance today’s snap from Photo of the Day regular fiznatty. While exploring the famous Yellowstone National Park, our photographer spotted this elusive Red Fox trotting through the pristine white snow. Your eye is drawn immediately to the fox’s reddish-orange coat, furry tail and quick movement. It almost looks as if the animal was dropped on a plain white canvas for added effect.

Have any great photos from your travels you’d like to share with the world? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Travel footwear review: Terrasoles Tuckerman Canvas

It’s pretty obvious that a pair of shoes can make or break your trip. You rarely notice the impact that great shoes can have, but a bad decision will haunt you every time you take a step. If you walk a lot, as I do, the effects are magnified. So, I put the Terrasoles Tuckerman Canvas through hell. My five mile daily commute (roundtrip) is just the start of what I did to these shoes, as I put more than 500 miles on them in searing heat and pouring rain. And yes, as the Proclaimers would say, I’d walk 500 more. It’s rare that I find a pair of shoes that I like – and that can withstand what I do to them – and the Tuckermans are among the best I’ve worn.

A bit of context: a pair of shoes tends to last me only three or four months. By then, they are torn, frayed and sporting holes in the soles. I’ll try to squeeze an extra month, at which point it’s time to throw them out. I abuse footwear, and I was suspicious of the lightweight outdoor-oriented shoes from Terrasoles. Anything designed for heavy outdoor use – for the adventure travel guys – rarely holds up against the conditions of the urban jungle. Climbing and hiking are nothing compared to the effects of Manhattan pavement pounding. A pair of standard issue combat boots, the most enduring and reliable shoes I’ve ever owned, didn’t last half a year … and they were designed for war!

The Terrasoles Tuckermans performed as well as my other favorites – the product used by the U.S. Army – and at half a year, it’s time for a new pair. But, that comes with plenty of normal use on top of more than 500 miles of “commute” walking. With every step, they were light and comfortable, like a second pair of socks but with much more support. Initially concerned that I’d feel every pebble and crack in the sidewalk, I was pleasantly surprised by what turned out to be a pain-free experience. The soles provided a sufficient barrier between my feet and the ground.

The design is as flexible as the use of these shoes. They can be worn in any number of conditions – from urban to outdoor – and social settings. Simple and elegant, I routinely wore them to work and even with a suit (though I doubt normal people would do this).

The canvas Terrasoles Tuckermans are versatile and comfortable – and they will last. It doesn’t take long to break them in, so you’ll be comfortable from the start, wherever your travels take you.

Sanctuary Swala reopens in Tanzania

The Sanctuary Swala Camp has just reopened in Tanzania, and the luxury destination is ready for guests. The $1.5 million rebuild has updated the retreat’s 12 canvas pavilions with covered open spaces, large living areas and en suite bathrooms. The indoor and outdoor showers sound particularly enticing to me. But, the best part is probably the view from the large private lounge decks, where you can check out a watering hole that features lions, leopards and bull elephants. If you’re a junkie for exotic nature, this should become the next destination on your itinerary.

Sanctuary Swala is located in a secluded corner of Tarangire National Park, which despite the attractions, is among the least visited in Africa. The high concentrations of unusual animals is certainly a draw, but this is also a great place to hide from the world for a while, and it’ll make for great water-cooler conversations upon your return.

To celebrate the reopening, Sanctuary Swala has a couple of deals – hey, if you’re going to go to Tanzania, it should be made as easy as possible. Book two nights, and the third is free, as long as you travel by November 30, 2009. If you can’t make that timeframe, the camp is holding its 2009 rates through 2010, with Game Package Rates starting at $440 per person per night (all inclusive).