Gadling goes to Greenland!

So, there’s this huge, ice-covered country at the top of the world–a place that we all fly over and love to overlook. Though perhaps you are more conscientious–perhaps you count yourself among the rare breed of traveler that is drawn to remote, disregarded landmasses where the mighty musk oxen roam. If that is the case–well then, Greenland is definitely the place for you.

I can say that with a straight face because I am blogging from Greenland right here, right now, even as the glowing green northern lights swirl outside my nighttime window. I’ll be up here all week, investigating the country that all the maps tend to chop in half, or else distort wildly. To kickstart our Gadling coverage, I’m sending you this cheerful message of hope LIVE (nearly) from Greenland and–get ready for this: in Greenlandic! That’s right. Good travelers know that learning a few words in the local tongue is always the best way to blend in with the locals, as is wearing national dress. For example, this reindeer-skin parka is de rigueur in much of Greenland (although quite inappropriate for the warmer month of September).

The local Inuit populace call their country Kalaallit Nunaat, which simply means “Land of the People”. Now right away, I can tell you this is false advertising because honestly, there are not that many people in Greenland at all. This wee video clip was filmed in a village boasting exactly 50 inhabitants, all of which you can hear milling about in the background. In point of fact, Greenland is mostly empty, which is why it’s so awesome.

*The author traveled to Greenland as a guest of Branding Greenland. This does not mean he is confederate to a sinister public relations plot. He is merely blogging from and about Greenland. Even so, the opinions expressed do not reflect those of the Greenlandic government, Gadling, or AOL.

Gadling gear review: Cloudveil Koven Plus Down Jacket

$500. That’s all I could think about as I tested the Cloudveil Koven Plus Down Jacket. That’s a lot of money for a jacket. For $500, I expect a jacket to exceed all of my expectations. It has to have virtually no flaws. For me to recommend a $500 jacket, it has to be perfect (or, at least, perfect in terms of what it is attempting to achieve).

With a trip to New Brunswick and Newfoundland, Canada on my radar, I was eager to see if the Cloudveil Koven Plus truly was a $500, perfect jacket. As the trip approached, I eagerly checked the weather forecast for Atlantic Canada and was actually excited to see the frigid temperatures predicted for my time in the Acadian Peninsula. The Koven Plus was going to get put to the test and I’d finally be able to decide if a $500 jacket really was “perfect.” When the time came, I took the Koven Plus to Canada for a week of outdoor activities in the middle of February. What I discovered is that price doesn’t always dictate quality.Let me make one point very clear: Cloudveil typically makes fantastic products. The exterior of the Koven Plus is incredibly well-made. All of the seams are sealed. The zippers are water-resistant. It provides a snug-but-not-tight fit. It’s incredibly durable. And it is warm. Incredibly warm. My first several days in New Brunswick welcomed me with temperatures that hovered around 15°F with wind chills making it feel as if it was below zero. The Koven Plus kept my core warm and dry while still being breathable enough to not stifle me the moment I walked indoors.

It also packs a plethora of pockets. Two chest pockets, two hand-warming pockets, one sleeve pocket and one interior pocket. They are all roomy and feature zippers that handled the intense tugging that occurs when you try to open a pocket while wearing thick gloves. And the sleeve pocket is a perfect place to store lip balm, which is necessary in cold, dry and windy conditions.

But after a few days, I started to notice an alarming trend when I removed the Koven Plus. My top layer of clothing would be covered in feathers. I’m not talking about a few rogue feathers that managed to leak out of the jacket. I looked like I had just gone 12 rounds with a goose. And I couldn’t help but linger on my initial thought: A $500 jacket better be perfect. To have it leak down every single time it’s worn is a major disappointment. At that price point, the jacket should not show such early signs of deterioration, let alone from the inside out.

I also was alarmed by another flaw that I had never encountered on a coat before. While kitesurfing on the frozen Bay of Chaleur, I removed my camera from one of the chest pockets only to find that the it was damp. I checked the pocket to make sure that nothing else was inside that could be leaking. But it was empty. I assumed that I must have gotten some snow on my gloves and then gotten the camera wet. Later, however, I removed my Chapstick from the sleeve pocket with my bare hand and noticed that it, too, was wet. I slid my hand into the chest pockets to find that moisture had accumulated inside both of them, as well. Somehow, condensation was getting trapped in the pockets. While I appreciate the seal around the seams and zippers, having my expensive gear become damp rather than be protected in my pockets was very disconcerting.

As the trip continued and my adventure activities kept me outdoors, I continued to get covered in down and while my gear got covered in condensation. I was warm but frustrated. For $500, a jacket needs to do more than keep me warm. It needs to protect my gear and become an integral part of my winter wardrobe. But it’s hard to wear a jacket all the time when you fear that it’s going to leave you looking like a goose molester.

Let’s break it all down:


  • Incredibly warm
  • Exterior is durable and water-resistant
  • Abundant pockets
  • Excellent fit


  • Leaks an alarming amount of feathers
  • Condensation forms and is trapped inside the pockets (posing a major risk to electronic gear)

Sure, the pros outnumber the cons, but the magnitude of those negatives is too great to ignore. It all comes back to that price. For $500, those two negatives are major deal-breakers. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend the Koven Plus Down Jacket until Cloudveil addresses these two major issues.

If you are interested in the Cloudveil Koven Plus Down Jacket, it is available on the company’s website for [sigh] $500. At the time of this article’s publication, it was out of stock. However, Cloudveil products are also sold at most outdoor gear suppliers.

Outdoor Gear for Metrosexuals

I was browsing through this morning and found an article titled Multipurpose Outdoor Gear. Needles to say, it caught my eye. What can Forbes possibly say about outdoor gear?

Actually, I learned a lot. Apparently, parkas by Prada are all the rage.

It is not a shocking revelation, I suppose. Just like Jeeps are no longer seen off-road; outdoor wear is not really for the outdoors anymore. The “ruggedly handsome” look is in. Facial hair, casual clothing…you get the idea.

David Makuen, vice president of marketing for Eddie Bauer said to Forbes that “George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey, even Brad Pitt really made an impact on casual clothing, with their rough-around-the-edges looks. The unshaven, disheveled look became mass, and it inevitably had an affect on clothes.”

REI is apparently packed with guys buying outdoor gear that “looks good” yet they have little intention to ever actually take it outdoors. Is it a strange world we live in, or what.

(By the way, the Loro Piana Outdoorsman Vest from the photo is available for $1325 at Bergdorf Goodman. It will look splendid in that $15/night hostel in Uzbekistan, trust me.)