No matter what your outdoor predilections may be, you want gear that justifies its size and weight. That doesn't mean it has to be the smallest or the lightest — though that certainly doesn't hurt — but it has to deliver enough value to be worth the space it occupies in your car or pack or kit.
That trait can manifest in doing one thing really, really well, just as much as it can in standing up to different kinds of weather or performing multiple tasks. The common key, really, is a lack of waste; every element should serve a worthwhile purpose, eliminating fluff and maximizing function.
That notion resurfaced in our minds while walking the beat at Outdoor Retailer, and the following products are loosely unified by adherence to that reliable standard.
Rab Windveil Pull-On
Intended for winter running, this half-zip pull-on stashes in its own little packaway pocket, ready when you need it. It's wind and water-resistant, breathable and quick to wick moisture, courtesy of Pertex Quantum Air fabric and body mapped panels on the back made of Motiv jersey fabric. But the real deal sealer here is the weight: just 3.5 feathery ounces. It'll be available next spring for $100.
Arc’teryx Beta LT Hadron Jacket
This minimalist jacket also battles the elements, though in more of an alpine hiking or climbing context. Arc'teryx's proprietary Hadron 3L Gore-Tex material — a liquid crystal polymer gridded face fabric — keeps the outer layer light but still durable, waterproof, windproof and breathable. An adjustable, helmet-friendly storm hood and hem cord seal tight when the wind is whipping. It launches next spring for $450.
Flylow Wesley Shirt
We had to fight the urge to grab the Wesley off the rack and make a break for it. With a playful pattern, athletic cut and snap buttons, it's perfect for rocking around town. But it's secretly a high-performance mountain-biking base layer featuring a 50+ UPF rating, a stretchy, fast-drying poly-spandex blend fabric and a zippered rear stash pocket. The Wesley will be available next summer for $85.
Osprey Atmos AG 65
What do you do when your flagship backpack is an bona fide best-seller? Make it even more comfortable, of course. Osprey has boosted the Atmos's Anti-Gravity suspension and paired an easy-access cam-lock torso adjustment system with a new Fit-on-the-Fly harness to help this pack rest easy on your back. There's also a new integrated rain cover. The new Atmos will be available in January for $300.
Vasque Torre XT GTX
XT GTX is short for Extended Terrain Gore-Tex, meaning this aggressively styled, crampon-compatible boot is optimized for epic adventures. The Vibram outsole strikes a balance between durability and weight, the molded mesh collar amply supports your ankles, and the waterproof Gore-Tex lining keeps your toesies nice and dry. The Torre XT GTX will be available this spring for $250.
Poler Nobo Knife
Alright, we cheated: This handy tool isn't necessarily brand-new, but it just became available again — and it's so compact and cool and clever, we couldn't resist. Folded up it's just a bit bigger than your average pocket knife — before it detaches and unfurls into three separate, fundamental utensils. It may not be as sleek as the Gerber Compleat, but it packs a helluva lot of functionality for an Andrew Jackson.