Before the end of 2020, the popular fitness app Strava released data findings from the 73 million people who track activities with its app. Within that report is an easy-to-overlook nugget: nearly twice as many people went hiking between April and June as in the same period the year before. A separate report by KOA estimates that a quarter of all campers in North America went camping for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic.
In retrospect, it isn't difficult to believe, as it seemed like every month there were new stories about gear shortages; first, it was bikes, then it was kayaks and tents, now it's snowshoes and nordic skis. With the virus raging on, we shouldn't expect things to change — the outdoors will still be our best recreational refuge for many months, and gear will remain in short supply to anyone who doesn't think ahead and stay up to date with the latest releases. Get it while it's hot, so they say.
Hoka One One Kaha Low GTX
Hoka used one of its best full-sized hiking boots, the Kaha, as a template to make a lighter, faster pair that bears the same name. The Kaha Low has the same materials (nubuck leather, a Vibram rubber sole, Gore-Tex waterproofing) and comes in the same cushy build as its sibling. Is it too early to be thinking about spring hiking?
Burton x Polartec Collection
When Burton recently released its epic snowboard flick, One World, it complimented the movie magic with an impressive collection of gear. The lineup includes plenty of apparel and a fluffy fleece tote, all made with Polartec fabrics, as well as this tempting invitation to try boarding without bindings.
Cotopaxi Liso Baselayers
Cotopaxi understands that proper layering is all about the base because its new Liso collection is stretchy, wicking and odor-resistant. More importantly, it aims for comfort: a flat, wide waistband on the Liso bottoms are proof.
Outdoor Research Protective Essential Bandana
Outdoor Research continues to adapt its Essential Face Mask — which we've found to be one of the most comfortable and adjustable available — into new forms. The latest is the Essential Bandana, which includes a nose bridge and earloops but offers a shape ideal for winter activities like snowboarding and skiing.
Anon Merak Helmet
There are only a few helmet technologies available that protect your noggin from oblique, rotational falls, even though this is how most falls happen. MIPS is a widely used one. WaveCel is another — it debuted in 2019 and hasn't been available in anything but Bontrager bike helmets since. Now Anon is using the tech in two new ski and snowboard helmets. In addition to WaveCel, the all-mountain Merak has 19 vents, an adjustable fit and a liner made of Polartec fleece.
Kelty makes tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, camp chairs, trekking poles and even military equipment. Now CBD is on that list too. It's not a departure from outdoor gear, though — Kelty's CBD line includes topicals for itch-relief (think bug bites) and sunburns.
MountainFlow Eco-Wax Race Wax
Every year, millions of pounds of ski wax flakes off skis and snowboards onto the snow and eventually winds up in waterways once it melts. MountainFlow's mission is to lessen that seemingly invisible impact with a line of plant-based waxes that biodegrade. Eco-friendliness didn't come at the cost of speed either — its recently released Race Wax tested just as fast as the toxic stuff.
Snow Peak Takibi Tarp Hexa Set M
Snow Peak's newest camping tarp is completely waterproof but also has an included liner that makes it safe to light up a campfire beneath it. It does not, however, come with excuses not to hang out outside this winter.
Lululemon Huckberry Navigation Down Jacket
To their detriment, many people still don't know that Lululemon's collection of men's clothing is really, really nice. Or that the brand doesn't only make yoga gear. Huckberry isn't included in that group, though — the retailer recently recruited Lululemon to create a unique version of its Navigation Down Jacket in a limited sage color. The jacket is stretchy, has an invisible hem and cuffs and is plenty warm with 700-fill down.