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The X Factor

By Racer X

The X Factor


Hot summer days are here, and it is time for moving your feet at your favorite outdoor summer festival. Whether you are making the trek to Sado Island for Kodo's drumbeats or moshing it up at Fuji Rock, these items will help keep you cool, dry and stylin'.

Sanuk Shoes and Sandals
They just look like shoes.

Climber Chris Sharma is sponsored by Sanuk which got my attention, as I've been a fan since seeing the documentary "King Lines" at the Banff Film festival in Tokyo last year. Sanuk shoes and sandals are all about comfort. The moccasin-like shoes feature textured canvas with a loose fit and an ultra-cushiony foot bed. They are not made for long walks or carrying a pack unless you add an insole. I like the Kingston model with subtle Rasta accents and a hidden compartment for money, a bicycle lock key or other small stuff. The "Yoga Mat" flip-flop sandal is especially popular with surfers.


Coleman Backyard Shade & Screen Sunshade
UV Protection so you can relax under the sun.

Coleman's 4-pole "Backyard Shade" sets the standard for flea markets, outdoor DJ setups or beach front shade that won't collapse with a stiff onshore wind. Stay cool and lounge under water-resistant fabric with a 40+ UV rating.

Great common space for group camping when you want a place to share meals or if it is too hot to be inside a tent. The "Screen Sunshade" is light, easy to set-up and makes a good changing room on the beach. Excellent for young kids and, unlike tents, most lifeguards in Japan will allow them on the beach.


Ice Mule Cooler
Life's too short for warm beer.

The Ice Mule cooler will make sure your favorite beverages (up to 18 350-ml. cans) and imported cheeses are chilled for the show. Padded carrying strap and backpack design distributes the load evenly. When turned upside down, the welded seams and roll-down airtight closure (no zippers or sewing) ensures no leakage, so you can use real ice. Recommended for fishing, group camping and outdoor events. Available via the Internet, although expect to see it on a shelf in Japan soon.

Ortlieb Waterproof Bags for Cameras and Phones
Bags that stay dry, period

Made famous by bicycle couriers the world over, Ortlieb bags are not cheap but neither is the equipment you put into them. Check out the "Protect" model bag for smaller cameras, GPS systems and two-way radios. The square-shaped, waterproof bag has a unique four-point fastening system that can be easily attached to bike bags or packs. There is also an optional harness system for a completely hands-free approach when you something missing here. The Ortlieb "Mobile Phone Bag" is spray-proof and dust-proof. It comes in three sizes for mobile phones, PDAs or mini-computers. Recommended for hiking, cycling or every-day use but not for water sports.