X-Wear Blog: News, Tips, and Tricks for What Inspires You

🎶 Climb Every Mountain 🎶 ........................ At Least Every 4000 Footer in NE!

12 September, 2016 0 comments Leave a comment

Jack Scanlon on X-Wear.com

 

On the first Friday of this month, 68-year-old Jack Scanlon was where he is most at peace - scaling a New England mountain.

It was the latest in his ongoing list of peaks he is looking to conquer in this part of the country. The Falmouth native explained his passion for hiking is tied to his love of the outdoors; it keeps him fit and healthy; and then there’s the ultimate payoff, which are the views.

His most recent conquest was Mount Crawford in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire. As he stood at the summit, he said, “I could probably see eight to 10 of the 4,000 footers I did. I was sitting there trying to remember which ones were which… That gives me satisfaction. Then I was looking at some on my list I still want to do. The views are unbelievable. That’s why it is worth it.”

While Scanlon has always enjoyed hiking – his first climb was popular Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, while still a high school student in 1964 – he started becoming serious about the activity in 1994. That is when he embarked on the task of climbing all 48 4,000 footers in New Hampshire.

He achieved that goal in November 2007, doing the last with his daughter Martha. During that 13-year stretch, he overcame several odds that included cancer, diabetes and arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He has since climbed all 67 mountains over 4,000 feet in New England, finishing that list in 2010.

His latest endeavor is the 52 With-A-View in New Hampshire. He is more than halfway there, scaling 32 with 20 remaining. “These 52 are more casual,” he said. “I’m not killing myself to get it done.”

For Scanlon, who also skis in the winter, mountains are a place to celebrate life. In fact, on his 50th birthday he hiked Mount Katahdin in Maine. When he turned 60, he hiked Saddleback, which is also in Maine. “I’ll do something when I turn 70,” he promised.

Scanlon epitomizes the X-Wear philosophy of embracing the outdoors, regardless of one’s age. For those looking to follow in his footsteps, he provided some additional advice on starting your own New England adventure.

AMC GUIDEBOOKS – According to Scanlon, these are must haves for anyone hiking the region’s mountains as they provide detailed trail descriptions and safety tips that are useful for those of any skill level.

NEW ENGLAND TRAIL CONDITIONS (www.newenglandtrailconditions.com) – This website provides up-to-date conditions on mountains and trails, serving as a great reference point prior to tackling any of the peaks in the region.

MOUNTAINS – When it comes to his favorite mountains, Mount Katahdin is at the top of Scanlon’s list though it comes with a warning – it is strenuous. What makes it worth it, he said, are the views “which are incredible… It’s also the end of the Appalachian Trail so some people are finishing their hikes. It’s exciting because families are meeting them with bottles of champagne.”

For those starting out, he recommended Mount Crawford; Hedgehog Mountain in Conway, New Hampshire; and Mount Moosilauke in Benton, New Hamsphire. The first two will take roughly 4 hours, round trip, he said, while the last is between 6-7 hours.

TIMING – Scanlon recommended hikers begin their ascent in the morning; he usually departs on his treks by 8 am. Because there is still snow in the spring and black flies and mosquitoes are prevalent from May to early June, he does not begin hiking until the middle of June, continuing until around Columbus Day.

HIKING ALONE VERSUS WITH FRIENDS – Scanlon has done both. When he is with friends or family, there is time to talk and socialize. When he is alone, he tends to go slower, pacing himself so he does not get hurt.

WILDLIFE – During his hikes, Scanlon has encountered deer, moose and even a fisher cat. All of his encounters have been benign.

EQUIPMENT – Proper hiking shoes, a first aid kit, compass, rope, backpack and rain gear are just a few of the items Scanlon brings with him on his hikes. He also packs as much water and food as he can.

If you’re looking for gear to start your mountain adventures, you can begin with our water bottles. Our line of Herschel hats are ideal for those fall, winter and spring hikes in colder weather. At X-Wear, we have an assortment of backpacks which you can find here; we recommend our Quiksilver Sea Locker and Smith Borah Travel Pack, which comes in black or grey, as they have plenty of storage space for all your hiking gear.

Every hiker should consider a good pair of polarized sunglasses that are durable, rugged and can properly withstand the elements. Our line of performance brands, which includes Maui Jim, Native, Oakley and Wiley X, are a good place to start.

Finally, if you want to chronicle your hiking experiences consider a GoPro camera which captures the highest quality video, at an affordable price. If you buy one, make sure to check out this blog on GoPro settings and this one on GoPro accessories that will help you get the most out of your camera.

And if you want to read more about hiking, check out this blog we wrote last year when we caught up with Andrew Hamilton to talk about his incredible feat in which he climbed all 58 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains in less than 10 days.

A Great Big THANK YOU From Us To You

06 September, 2016 0 comments Leave a comment

Thank you from X-Wear.com

 

Yesterday, there was a procession of cars departing two seaside communities – Cape Cod and Newport, Rhode Island – where we operate several retail stores. And so marks the unofficial end of summer and the end of our peak retail season.

Like many small businesses in these communities, we not only rely on year-round residents, but tourists to sustain us. And so we wanted to take a moment to say something we sometimes forget to say during the height of the busiest time of the year for us - thank you.

Thank you for a wonderful summer. Thank you for visiting two of what we consider the most beautiful places on either coast. And thank you for stopping in our stores and trusting us with your business.

Because of you, we consider ourselves lucky. We have the privilege of employing a small, dedicated staff of full-time employees, allowing them to live and thrive here. And we get to employ part-time seasonal workers, some who are local and others who came from overseas to experience a summer in Newport, Provincetown, Chatham, Mashpee and Falmouth.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve said farewell to many of them as they return to high school and college. It’s a bittersweet time of year for us. Yes, the crowds are smaller and traffic is less hectic, but it’s also a little less vibrant, a little less colorful. Summer on Cape Cod and Newport is a party that we wish would never end. But of course, it does. And when it does, you can’t wait for the next one to start.

In the meantime, we hope that you consider returning to Cape Cod and Newport in the fall, winter and spring. There’s a special magic to these times of year in both places. And if you do visit, make sure to stop in our stores (click here and scroll down to see the exact locations) and say hello.

As a way to say thank you to our loyal customers, we are having end-of-summer sales on clothing in our Board Stiff stores in Provincetown and Falmouth and in-store sales on sunglasses (buy one pair, get the second half off) at all of our locations over the next few weeks. 

Wishing you all an enjoyable September! Until next summer!

Skateboard Mom and the Sisters of Shred

22 August, 2016 0 comments Leave a comment


Skateboarders come in all shapes, sizes and abilities. Some are young, performing air defying stunts that make us shake our head in wonder. Some are older, like Ben Jaeger-Thomas, taking to the sport in an effort to learn new tricks. And some are in between, like Kilian Martin, using skateboarding less for utility or for thrill seeking and more as a form of artistic expression.

In many respects Laguna Beach’s Barbara Odanaka is a combination of all of these. Yes, she’s 53, returning to the sport a little less than two decades ago as a way to recapture her youth. Today, she continues to skate – at least once or twice a week – most often at skateparks (Etnies in Lake Forest; Vans in Huntington Beach; and Alex Road in Oceanside) near her hometown.

 Her interests range from cruising to slalom to going on skate adventures in ditches and pipes found in popular places like Mt. Baldy. Her exploits have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, by espnW and on NPR. AARP produced this short video featuring Odanaka and friends as part of their “Fearless at 50” campaign.

Yes, Odanaka is not alone in her pursuit of breaking down barriers when it comes to skateboarding, bringing mothers and women like her along for the ride through her nonprofit Skateboard Moms & Sisters of Shred. She epitomizes everything that X-Wear stands for, so we decided to track her down to learn more about her passion for skating.

X-Wear: You returned to skateboarding later in life. What is it that drew you back in? 

Barbara Odanaka: Motherhood! After I had my son, who was quite colicky, I was feeling overwhelmed and sought advice from a counselor. She told me my “homework” was to think of one thing I used to love to do before I became a mom, then do that every day for 10 minutes. I had my answer in an instant: skateboarding. A week later, my husband bought me a new board for my 35th birthday. Once I stepped on that board, I was suddenly 10 years old again. It was the perfect therapy! And it just grew from there. Some might call it an obsession, but really it was an awakening. I realized if you really love something, there is no reason not to pursue it. Who cares what others think? 

XW: There’s a real sense that you’re shattering stereotypes related to both gender and age when it comes to skateboarding. Can you talk about what that means to you and why it’s important to show that older females can, and should, get on a board and embrace the sport.  

Odanaka: When I first started our nonprofit (Skateboard Moms & Sisters of Shred), it was really because I wanted to find other females to skate with. Well, that and I wanted to promote my first children’s book, “Skateboard Mom.” But as time went on and more and more women joined us, I realized it was bigger than that. Women who had skated as kids were really excited to get on a board again. And some women who had never been athletic in their entire lives suddenly wanted to learn to skate. Suddenly, we had this growing sisterhood of women who wanted to talk about wheels and trucks and skateparks and how to drop in, and of course meet up to skate together which is a whole lot easier when you’re not the only woman at the skatepark.

Initially, I guess I was amused by it, but then more and more women starting telling me how skateboarding had literally changed their lives. Skateboarding empowered them like nothing else. It gave some an identity of their own for the first time. And in some cases, skateboarding helped them develop enough self-confidence to leave abusive relationships. At this point, I was the one being inspired, not the other way around. Skateboarding at a middle age can be really challenging—and painful, as all skaters know. But no matter what your age or stage, learning a new trick - or just surviving a long session without a broken bone - gives you a buzz that lasts all day or longer. And once you feel that, it’s pretty tough to give up! 

XW: You often wear sunglasses when skateboarding. Why?

Odanaka: I’ve always been sensitive to glare, and most skateparks are like solar ovens with all that white concrete. I have a tough time skating without sunglasses, though I am careful to wear the kinds that are designed not to break on impact — knock on wood! My favorites are the wraparound styles to better block the glare.

XW: What advice would you have for someone – regardless of age, gender or ability – thinking about taking up the sport?

Odanaka: I think getting some basic coaching always helps. Beginners tend to have some pretty bad falls, and starting out with someone who knows what they’re doing can go a long way in preventing that.

I also think the first “trick” skaters should learn is how to fall as safely as possible. Learning knee slides and other falls can go a long way in keeping you skating for years to come. After that, it’s really up to the individual on how fast or far to push themselves. Some people are naturally adept and learn quickly; others progress at a much slower pace. It really doesn’t matter. The way I look at it, it’s all about having fun. 

XW: When it comes to skateboarding, what’s next for Barbara Odanaka? 

Odanaka: Our nonprofit just started a program called Skate Pals, where we mentor children rescued from human trafficking here in Orange County. We give the kids skate lessons and outfit them with all new boards and gear. We also put on the annual Mighty Mama Skate-O-Rama; 2017 will be our 14th year.

Other than that, I’m hoping to go on my annual skatepark road trip with some of my friends in the Sisters of Shred and I hope to do a weekend with the girls at Woodward West, the Disneyland of skateparks. On a professional note, I will be donning my inflatable cow costume once again this fall. I am a children’s book author and one of my characters is Skateboard Cow. I go to schools and do assemblies where I skate in a cow costume. Life is never boring! 

To learn more about Barbara Odanaka visit her website, www.barbaraodanaka.com. And make sure to check out our skate gear – we have everything from actual boards to trucks to wheels to bearings – that will help you get started on skate adventures of your own. And if you’re looking for sunglasses, these ones  are ideal for protecting your eyes during a long day at the skatepark.

 

X-wear Goes Back To School

15 August, 2016 0 comments Leave a comment

Summer is not over. Yet.

But soon it will be. And every year, the start of school is preparation for that eventuality. Colleges typically begin earlier – the end of August – followed by high school, middle school and elementary school in the beginning of September.

And with that comes an annual ritual experienced at retail stores across the country: Back to School Shopping. We see it at our Board Stiff stores in Falmouth and Provincetown, where we will have sales tied to this time of year. So make sure to stop in if you’re on Cape Cod during the next few weeks.  

We know that not all our shoppers are located in this part of the country. And others prefer the ease of online shopping. With that in mind, we put together a list of must haves for your child to make the experience easy and fun. So let’s shop. It’s back to school time!

BACKPACKS

Those books aren’t going to carry themselves. That’s where we come in. No, we won’t carry them for you either. But, we do have some pretty cool backpacks (click here) that will do the job for you, all at an affordable price.

For girls, we are fond of this Billabong backpack. And you can’t go wrong with these two (click here and click here) from Dakine, one is a little more colorful, yet classy, while the other is a little more subtle. We have plenty of options for boys, but these two from Dakine – this all-black one is all business while this Campus one, which comes in several different colors and styles, lets your personality shine – are our more popular sellers.

CLOTHES

Nothing screams back to school more than an upgraded wardrobe for your son or daughter. At X-Wear, we have you (and them) covered, selling everything from shoes to socks (fun ones) to belts to shirts (really fun ones).

Let’s start with the shoes. Our entire line can be seen here and includes an assortment of sandals (hey, summer isn’t over yet) and comfortable, relaxed footwear. At the top of the comfort scale is our Sanuk Admiral Men’s shoe which epitomizes cool without skimping on the fashion. And for those who want to hold onto summer just a little longer, these Reef Deckhand 2 Boat Shoes are perfect for you.

Continue to show some love to your feet (or your kid’s feet) with our line of Stance socks which are a great way to show the world who they are. Learn more about the company and some of our favorite styles (hint: they rhyme with Star Wars) in this blog.

Your son can express himself in a similar way with these Arcade belts which are ideal for those who are active and always on the go.

Finally, our T-shirts will add an element of adventure to your child’s wardrobe, starting with our ever-popular line of Falmouth turkeys T’s. And your child can proudly show off their patriotism with these Hurley US Olympic T-shirts.

GOPROS

When you’re raising children, time goes by fast. In a blink of an eye they go from kindergarten to high school and then they’re off to college. A great way to remember these special moments is with a GoPro, providing a spectacular view of them in action, before, during and after school.

Our line of gear, which can be viewed here, includes not only cameras, but a variety of accessories (mounts, chargers, batteries and more) ideal for chronicling your children’s adventures. Make sure to check out our interviews with videographer Matt Rissell who provided some helpful tips on how to get the most out of your GoPro and what are the must have accessories when owning one of these cameras.

SUNGLASSES

At X-Wear, we don’t think of sunglasses as merely a fashion accessory, but as a fashion necessity. As we noted in this blog earlier this year, sunglasses should be worn by those of all ages.

Yes, sunglasses are cool. But they are also vitally important to protecting the health of our eyes. A good place to start is our polarized sunglasses. For those who don’t want to compromise their look, our line of fashionista sunglasses will make your son or daughter stand out from the crowd in a good way. 

SKATEBOARDS

Skateboarding is the coolest way to get from Point A to Point B because you might get sidetracked while trying to perfect a 50-50 grind, ollie or kickflip. Our entire line includes everything from wheels to trucks to bearings that will allow you to customize your own board.

If you’re looking for pre-made ones, check out our Loaded Dervish Sama Flex 1 and Sama Flex 2, perfect for cruising, or our Riviera Longboard which is suitable for those looking to ride and fly at the same time.

WHAT ELSE?

At X-Wear, we think music serves as the soundtrack to our lives. So why not make your own with these Kala ukuleles. Research has shown that music can be linked to academic success and the ukulele is a great place to start: it’s fun, affordable and with fewer strings, easier to play than a guitar. And Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder plays it so there’s a definite cool factor to the instrument.

Want even more musical inspiration? Check out our headphones which will allow your child to delve even deeper into the wonders of music.

From all of us at X-Wear, we hope this school year rocks for you and your child!

4 Face Shapes To Help You Choose The Right Sunglass Style

08 August, 2016 0 comments Leave a comment

In a recent blog , we noted that no two faces are ever the same. While it’s universally true, there are similarities – particularly in the shape of people’s faces – that will help determine what style of sunglasses best suits yours.

It’s common for retailers like us to break down face shapes to these four: round, oval, heart and square. Before we go into details on each one, let’s first focus on how you can quickly and easily determine the shape of your face.

DETERMINE YOUR SHAPE

First, make sure you have a mirror, bar of soap and dry erase marker. Next, pull back any hair around your face. Using the marker, trace the outline of your face on the mirror. Looking at the outline, determine whether your face is: round, oval, heart or square.

When done, use water and soap to remove the market outline on the mirror.

ROUND

A round face is denoted by its width across the cheek area. People with these faces can be identified by their lack of lines and angles. We recommend customers purchase sunglasses that contrast the round shape of your face – so rectangular, square and curved sunglasses are ideal options as they can make a round face appear thinner.  The Wayfarer, first made popular by Ray-Ban (see their line here), are ideal for those with round faces. 

To add even more contrast, consider sunglasses with bright colors or those that feature prints.

Options for Men: Bolle Anaconda, Randolph Intruder, Maui Jim Ikaika

Options for Women: Versace 4044B, Maui Jim Cloud Break, Coach Pamela

OVAL

Oval-shaped faces are the lucky ones, at least when it comes to sunglasses. These people can wear nearly everything – aviators, wayfarers, cat-eyes and round glasses – and look good doing it.

Options for Men: Revo Crawler, Maui Jim Mavericks, Smith Clark

Options for Women: Coach Annette, Dolce and Gabbana 4141, Quay High Emotion

HEART

What’s not to love about these faces which are wider at the forehead and taper down in the chin and jaw? Puns aside, these faces don’t follow the rules of opposites that square and round faces do. Instead, your sunglasses should mirror the shape of your face.

Aviators, for both men and women are ideal who have heart-shaped faces.  A number of brands make this style for both men and women. Ray-Ban (click here) is best known for creating the popular style, but many other companies are not far behind, including Randolph (click here), Persol (click here) and Maui Jim (click here).

SQUARE

While square, rectangular frames are ideal for those with round faces, the opposite is true for those with square faces: round frames provide the ideal contrast for those with square faces. These faces are defined by their angular lines around the jawline while still maintaining wide cheekbones, forehead and jaw. 

One important note to remember: the larger your face, the larger your frames should be. Ideally, the width of the frames should extend past your cheekbone.

Options for Men: Maui Jim Hana Hou, Randolph P3, Ray-Ban RB3447

Options for Women: Celine 1E, Ray-Ban RB4203, Lilly Pulitzer Payton Black, Costa Goby

Easy Steps to Find the Right Fitting Sunglasses

01 August, 2016 0 comments Leave a comment

As a longtime sunglass retailer, there are inevitable truths we run into time and time again. Here’s one:  

  • No two faces are ever exactly the same.

Because of that, sunglasses that sit perfectly on one person’s face, will sit differently on another. Why is this important? Because fitting – how sunglasses not only feel, but rest on your face – is the number one reason for returns.

For this reason alone, it’s best to purchase sunglasses in a store where they can make adjustments almost immediately.

Take our Newport Sunglass Shop in Rhode Island, for example. There we have a heating device that allows us to adjust the frame within seconds so the sunglasses you purchase fit perfectly. “Everything is adjustable and can be fitted to be your glasses,” said four-year staffer Dave Jennings, who has done hundreds of adjustments in that time.

With the ease and accessibility of the Internet, we understand that it’s often more convenient to purchase sunglasses online (you can shop our online store here). Because of that, we decided it was important to provide some tips for ensuring you’re ultimately happy with the sunglasses you buy.

FIT AND MEASUREMENTS
If you already own a pair of sunglasses, the sizes are often marked on them. You should be able to find the sizes on the inside of each temple where it provides, in order:

  • Frame size (lens width at the widest part)
  • Bridge size (the distance from lens to lens, measured from the inside of the rim across the frame; this is the piece of metal or plastic connecting the two lens)
  • Temple size (the measurement of the arms of your sunglasses)

It should read something like this: 53-20-130 (53 being the width of the frames; 29 being the width of the bridge; and 130 being the length of the arms).

These distances are usually calculated in millimeters (mm). If you know these sizes, you can include them in the special instructions box found when checking out. This will ensure that the sunglasses we ship to you are the proper size.  

Should you be shopping in a store, you can bring your sunglasses with you. Or bring these numbers with you (if you have a smartphone simply take a picture of the numbers or type it into a note) to decrease the time spent finding the proper size. A good salesperson, like Dave Jennings, can then determine what sunglasses are best for you.

Don’t Know, Don’t Worry (Temple to Temple Measurement)

If you don’t know your measurements, don’t worry. You can measure the distance between your temples to find the perfect sunglass size for your face. Start by looking into a mirror and then placing a straight ruler so it is lined up with each temple. Measure the distance across your face, from one temple to the other. That distance is the best frame size for your face.

You can use that measurement to determine what the best sunglasses for your face. For instance, with Randolph’s Aviators, they recommend the following frame size for the following face sizes:

FRAME SIZE                                      FACE SIZE (TEMPLE TO TEMPLE)

49mm                                                   115mm (or 4.5”)

52mm                                                   127mm (or 5”)

54mm                                                   130mm (or 5.125”)

55mm                                                   135mm (or 5.25”)

57mm                                                   140mm (or 5.5”)

58mm                                                   146mm (or 5.75”)

61mm                                                   152mm (or 6”)

Most temples run from 5 to 7 inches long. The average for men is 5 ¾” (145 mm); for women it is 5 ¼” (133 mm) or 5 ½” (139 mm).

LENS MEASUREMENT

A common trick to finding the width of your lens is to stand in front of a mirror and hold a credit card up to one of your eyes. The credit card should be held vertically (so the numbers are going down). Place the credit card so one edge is at the center of your nose. If the other side of the credit card ends at:

  • The end of your eye, then your lens size : Standard
  • If the credit card extends beyond your eye, then your lens size is: Small
  • If the credit card does not reach the end of your eye (i.e. it is shorter), then your lens size is: Large

NOTE: Make sure to provide the measurements you’ve taken, both for the temple to temple length and the lens (standard, small or large) so we’ll be able to send sunglasses that best fit your face.  

FINAL STEP

When you receive your sunglasses, remember that they may not fit perfectly. If this is the case, then you should bring it into any sunglass store or optical shop for adjustment.

Remember, Dave Jennings? At our Newport Sunglass Shop, he told us that, “we do fittings for anyone who comes in,” explaining the simple reason why: “it is just good customer service.”

Jennings also pointed out one important fact: over time sunglasses will often change shape. Perhaps it’s because you wear them on the top of your head; or you wear them on your hat; or you usually bend one of the arms when taking them off. “People have different behaviors and sometimes we need to adjust for those,” Jennings said.

We have stores throughout the Northeast so if you’re ever in the following areas, stop by and we’ll automatically take your sunglasses (or glasses) and adjust them so they fit like new:

BOSTON: Sol Optics Boston at 329 Hanover Street

CAPE COD:

  • Board Stiff Falmouth at 193 Main Street, Falmouth
  • Board Stiff Provincetown at 273 Commercial Street,
  • Provincetown Coconuts Provincetown at 294 Commercial Street, Provincetown 
  • Sol Optics Chatham at 466 Main Street,
  • Chatham Sol Optics Mashpee at 9 Central Square, Mashpee (Mashpee Commons)
  • Sol Optics Provincetown at 230 Commercial Street, Provincetown

NEWPORT, RI:

  • Newport Sunglass Shop at 109 Swinburne Road
  • Sol Optics Newport at 375 Thames Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rad Dad Skates Every Day

25 July, 2016 0 comments Leave a comment

 

As we age, birthdays are not only a time for reflection, but a time to focus on what we want to accomplish in life. That happened in March 2015 to Ben Jaeger-Thomas as he entered a new decade, celebrating his 40th birthday. 

That was when he decided to start skateboarding.

It may have seemed daring, but as an actor Jaeger-Thomas has constantly put himself out there and taken risks to further his career. So as a birthday present for himself, he went to a skate shop in Brooklyn, near where he lives, purchased a board and took up a sport he had always had an affinity for as a kid, but “I never thought I was cool enough to skate when I was younger… I was aware of the skateboarding culture, but I liked Dungeons & Dragons, wore glasses and had braces and played video games. I was kind of a class clown and fun guy, but I didn’t think I was cool enough to be a skater.”

Fast forward to today and Jaeger-Thomas balances the tightrope between cool and corny, something he recognizes. “To do a lot of things in life you have to push through the idea that this is going to look stupid or be looked at as an idiot or cliché,” he told us.

Setting and Accomplishing Goals

And so, Jaeger-Thomas set modest goals for himself that first year – to be comfortable on a board, using it not only as a mode of transportation, but to build up his confidence enough that he could land an ollie. “The first year I was on the board constantly,” he said. “I went to the grocery store, would push my son in a stroller with me behind him and would ride with my daughter to school as she was on a scooter and then go back home.”

Today, Jaeger-Thomas can land an ollie “pretty good,” in his words, and has also added a solid frontside 180 to his repertoire. And he is slowly working on mastering the shove-it, pop shove-it and backside 180.

Prior to his 41st birthday this March, Jaeger-Thomas started filming his exploits, putting them on his YouTube channel as a way to hold himself accountable as he continues to improve his skateboarding game. “I’m a process-oriented animal so doing these videos, I can see progress,” he said. “And I can see if I’m turning my shoulders properly or people will comment on my 180s that I need to keep my feet over the board… I’m getting lots of feedback and I can also watch other people’s videos and get tips for my own tricks.”

The videos were enough to draw the attention of TIME which recently featured Jaeger-Thomas’ newfound ambition

 While he welcomed the exposure, Jaeger-Thomas said this is less about fame and more about combining exercise with the joy of skateboarding. “Being on a board, there is a freedom to the experience that is so gratifying,” he said. “You are learning and overcoming obstacles and falling down, and getting back up is part of the process.”

As part of that process, he is inspiring those of all ages – a 48-year-old mother of two recently told him she was working on her frontside 180 because of him – to get on a board and experience the thrill of skating.

If you want to feel that same thrill, we encourage you to check out our skate gear here which includes this loaded Dervish, ideal for a variety of riding styles, and this Riviera longboard, not only great for cruising, but ideal for perfecting ollies like our friend Jaeger-Thomas. To learn more about Ben Jaeger-Thomas and some of his non-skateboarding work, visit his website www.jaegerthomas.com

And if you’re ever on Cape Cod, make sure to stop into our Board Stiff Falmouth and Board Stiff Provincetown stores where our staff can help you with all your skate needs.

Are Polarized Sunglasses Right For You?

18 July, 2016 0 comments Leave a comment

Polarized versus non-polarized, it’s like a celebrity cage match for those in the sunglasses industry. But to the average consumer the words can be confusing. What exactly is the difference between the two?

Polarized lenses eliminate glare, blocking vertical light that can be particularly dangerous for people driving a car, boat, bike or any other type of machinery. They are popular among boaters, fishermen, golfers, bicyclists, NASCAR drivers, runners and other outdoor sports enthusiasts.  And they are ideal for those who enjoy a day (or two, or three) at the beach or on the slopes. You can find our polarized sunglasses here.

There are a number of advantages to polarized lenses over non-polarized lenses, including:

  • Minimizes eyestrain
  • Enhances contrast and visual clarity
  • Improves visual comfort
  • Eliminates/reduces glare
  • Provides a more accurate perception of colors

BUT, and there is a big BUT, polarized lenses are NOT for everyone. Operators of heavy equipment and airplane pilots should not wear polarized-lenses as they make it difficult for people to see LCD screens (like the ones found on a cell phone or GPS) clearly.

Additionally, some downhill skiers do not wear polarized lenses because it can be difficult for them to differentiate between snow, ice and hills, only adding to the danger of the sport.

POLARIZED ALTERNATIVES: SOME OPTIONS

So let’s say you are a pilot. Or work in an industry where seeing LCD screen is important. Some manufacturers make tinted lenses (more to come on this in a later post) that will reduce brightness. A quick warning: these sunglasses do not address glare like the polarized lens do as they do not block vertical light.

Because sunglasses come in a variety of tints, they may also impact how you perceive different colors.

And if the lens does not have built-in UV protection, it can put your eyes at risk which brings us to:

THE IMPORTANCE OF UV-PROTECTION

Everyone loves sunny days, but the sun has its dangers to our health. That danger comes in the form of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation which can not only impact our skin, but our eyes.

Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can:

  • Increase a person’s chances of developing cataracts
  • Cause damage to the retina (the nerve lining of the eye used for seeing)
  • Lead to macular degeneration

UV damage is cumulative over a person’s life, something we covered in a recent blog (click here to read). So it is important, as consumers, to always check the level of UV protection a pair of sunglasses actually provides. Why? Because when wearing sunglasses, the pupil widens which allows for harmful UV rays to more easily enter the eyes. 

With polarized lenses, consumers don’t have to worry because they offer 100% protection against UVA and UVB rays. Look for the stickers on the sunglasses to see whether the ones you want to buy meet these standards:

  • Lenses block 99% or 100% of UVB and UVA rays
  • Lenses meet ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Z80.3 blocking requirements
  • UV 400 protection (blocking the tiniest UV rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers)

Of course, if you’re shopping in our Board Stiff stores in Falmouth or Provincetown, our staff will be there to assist you in finding the right pair that will properly protect your eyes while allowing you to properly enjoy the outdoors. And you can always contact us here should you have any questions.

How To GoPro Like A Pro - With Matt Rissell - Part 2

11 July, 2016 0 comments Leave a comment

In a recent blog, we focused on the ideal settings for getting the most out of your GoPro and tips for capturing the best footage, courtesy of videographer Matt Rissell.

This week, we tapped Rissell’s knowledge to look at some of the must-have accessories, from memory cards to mounts, when it comes to the GoPro.

Any discussion of accessories should begin with the basics:

BATTERIES AND MEMORY CARDS

If there’s one downside to the GoPro, it’s that they have short battery lives. “I just buy a lot of batteries,” Rissell said of his solution to this issue. “The batteries are tiny so I just recommend getting a bunch of them.”

You can find extra batteries here. We also have GoPro chargers for your automobile (this one allows you charge two at once) as well as this wall charger which also allows you to charge two cameras at the same time. The wall charger also allows you to shoot videos and photos while plugged into the wall.

Rissell recommended Sandisk for your memory card needs. You can find them here. For those shooting at high formats (4K or slow-motion), he suggested extreme pro memory cards that have high write speeds (minimum of 45 mps up to 95 mps). All cards should be a class 10, like the ones we sell.

CAMERA MOUNTS

Handlebar Mount – This is a great mount for those who want to shoot video while biking. Rissell has attached this to a stick or railing, keeping the GoPro stationary while capturing images of people and objects passing by.

Suction Cup Mount – Attach this to any clean, flat surface like a window or car for either fast-moving shots or still ones.

Clamp Mount – With its bendable arm, this is Rissell’s go-to mount for “shots where I need to adjust something quickly and have to get the right angle. It’s good for run and gun shooting.”

POV Mounts – At X-Wear, we sell three separate mounts – chest, head and one for dogs (yes, that’s right) – that will give you cool, first-person footage from your GoPro.

DRONES

When they first came out, GoPros were heavily used with drones. These days, Rissell said, that is no longer the case. “Drones are now shifting away from the GoPro,” he told us. “Bigger companies are having cameras built into the gimbal and they are pretty much identical to the GoPro.”

For those who have drones where you can attach a GoPro, Rissell recommended shooting at the following settings: 1080p and 60 fps. “You can slow the footage down in GoPro Studio and slow-motion will look a lot smoother,” he said. “And it will extend the actual length of the footage. You can slow it down to 80 percent so what would be a couple of seconds of footage will be 30 seconds in slow-motion and you’ll get a buttery look without the jittery camera movement.”

OTHER TIPS

  • You know the box that comes with your GoPro? Don’t throw it away. Rissell said the box, which the camera is mounted on, can serve as a tripod. “Every time I buy a GoPro I save the flat piece of plastic,” he said. “It’s a cheap tool.”
  • Regularly monitor the rubber o-ring on the back of your GoPro to ensure it is free of sand and debris. If there is too much, there’s a chance that water can get in when shooting underwater.
  • Lost the lens cap on your GoPro or simply want added protection for your camera? Then use a beer koozie which is the perfect size to fit your camera.
  • To ensure your footage is as sharp as possible, make sure to clean the lens and housing of your camera often using a clean microfiber cloth. “Even though the housing won’t break, it’s easy to scratch the lens on the housing,” Rissell said. He suggested purchasing several back-up lens caps which are much less expensive than having to purchase entirely new housing.
  • In cold and warm temperatures, the housing can fog up and impact the quality of your footage. These anti-fog inserts are one way to prevent that from happening.

Tomo: "Ocean Lover" and SUP Pro

04 July, 2016 0 comments Leave a comment

Did you know that X-Wear sells Stand-Up Paddleboards (SUP) and assorted gear? During the summer, we also offer rentals on Cape Cod in Falmouth and Provincetown. Our latest blog below highlights one Hawaiian athlete making waves on her own Stand-Up Paddleboard.

Though originally from Kamakura, Japan, Tomoko “Tomo” Okazaki is as Hawaiian as they come. Tomo has taken to the water like a native, spending many of her days there since first moving to Maui in 1987. She even ends her emails with “Aloha,” a sign that there’s a little (or a lot) of the island culture in her blood.

X-Wear recently caught up with Tomo to discuss her love of outdoor sports. She has been windsurfing for over 30 years, snowboarding for more than 20 years, kite surfing for 17 years and Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) for 10 years, competing in all of these sports at a high level.

Living in Maui, Tomo was exposed to these new sports during their infancy. “It was a struggle to learn, but that made it super fun and exciting,” she told us. “I really like being a beginner because you struggle, but you find and learn something new every day… Being a beginner at something humbles you and we all need that once in a while. Learning how to kite and SUP was a constantly humbling experience. But if you keep at it, there is always a reward when you least expect it. That’s what keeps me going.”

X-Wear: How were you introduced to SUP and what was it about the sport that drew you in?

Tomo: My friend Laird Hamilton (www.lairdhamilton.com) was one of the early pioneers of SUP. Of course, some Waikiki beach boys back in the day used to stand up and paddle on a board, but the sport we call SUP owes Laird a lot.

Anyway, Laird had his first SUP board shaped by the master (surfer) Gerry Lopez. It was a 12-foot glass board and so heavy duty that I could barely carry it. My friends took me out and that first day the water was super flat and glassy. It was easy and beautiful.

The second time wasn’t so easy. There was a South swell and the waves were breaking overhead. I thought it was just a summer swell so it wouldn’t be too powerful and I’d be able to handle wiping out as long as I stayed away from people. I paddled out and fell right, front and back. I managed to shoot that heavy glass board right into my nose and broke it. Since the waves were super good that day all my buddies continued to surf without knowing that I was laying on the beach with a bloody, broken nose. I had to wait there three hours until I got home.

After that incident I decided to take it slow with baby steps. I learned to paddle and balance. Then I would take on white wash that winter before I started going to the real breaks.

XW: How did you make the transition from a casual Stand-Up Paddleboarder to a competitive one?

Tomo: I am not that competitive, never have been. I did some races like The Maliko Run (in Maui) and Island Crossings, but always for fun.

I travel a lot, write travel stories about SUP and teach at clinics and camps for the Japanese, but I’ve never considered myself a professional. More like an ocean lover. And if I compete, it is mostly because I enjoy the challenge and meeting people, not because I want to win the race.

XW: You’re also a pro-kite surfer. Can you describe your training for kite surfing and SUP and what’s needed to compete at a high level for each?

Tomo: These days, I don’t compete in either of the sports very much, but I can tell you what you need to do because I have competed as a pro-windsurfer and kite surfer for almost 30 years.

You need to ride harder and more than others. Talent helps, but more time in the water and dedication, both mentally and physically, is what is needed. Anyone can be at a world class level if you put your energy into it and you believe in yourself. That’s because kite surfing and SUP is not at the level of professional tennis or football. No matter what, you have to give 120% and that includes what you eat and how you think. And you have to surround yourself with world class top professionals if you want to become one.

XW: As an outdoor athlete, how do you benefit from sunglasses?

Tomo: I used to think I didn’t need them, that they were just for cool people. But for the last 15 years or so I started to feel that my eyes were weakening. Being on the water with the sun’s glare hurts your eyes much more than I expected. When I was learning to kite, I was crashing and getting dragged in the water all the time. With the salt water and constant rubbing, my eyes would really hurt. And being on a sand-blasted beach doesn’t help either so now I wear a good pair of polarized glasses to protect my eyes.

XW: In the summer, you can be found on the water, kite surfing, wind surfing or Stand-Up Paddleboarding. In the winter, you can be found on the mountain, snowboarding. Explain your connection to the outdoors and athletics.

Tomo: To me, being in the water and being on a mountain gives me the exact same feeling: surfing waves of all forms.

SUP allows you to surf tiny waves that a regular surfboard won’t be able to catch. And if you’re downwind paddling, it’s a constant glide like you’re surfing for hours. Kite surfing and windsurfing give you that same experience with wind. Snowboarding is so close to the feeling of surfing that you forget you are on the snow. And you can choose which waves to ride all over the mountain.

Each sport gives you a real sense of freedom and being connected to the planet. And they’ll slap you, figuratively speaking, as soon as you get even a tiny bit of cockiness.

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