The best outdoor products make adventures so much fun — or reduce hassles so much — that you can't wait to get back out there and do it again. They are the polar opposite of mediocre gear that breaks down, backfires or otherwise disappointments.
When Outdoor Retailer wrapped last week, we'd seen hundreds of products aspiring to the former description, and we couldn't forget those that really hit the mark. The following 10 stick out as some of our favorites. They'll have you stoked to hit the hiking and running trails, shred some single-track and simply soak up outdoor life from the comfort of your campsite. We know we can't wait to use them this fall, next spring or, in some cases, right now.
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.
Uncharted Park Pack
We took Uncharted's tough, water-resistant offering for a lap around the show floor, and it's converting us from hip pack skeptics into believers. The magic's in a "flop-free" structure and an EVA-molded panel that wraps away from the user's back, doing away with uncomfortable bouncing and chafing. Detachable water bottles evade swinging arms, the included Triage Kit addresses first aid and gear repair, and modular attachments enable you to upgrade it for a variety of activities. The Park Pack will be available for $159 this fall.
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.
Ripping Single Track
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.
Peak Design Out-Front Bike Mount
We covered Peak Design's sweeping new approach to phone cases and mounts when the project launched on Kickstarter last fall. After raising more than $2 million, Peak Design has brought it to life, with a bunch of now products available for pre-order. We are impressed with the multifunctional foldout tripod, but even more stoked about how the case interacts with the bike mount. It locks in with magnets and clips and is super secure — we even gave the bars a vigorous shake (not shown) — yet can be detached using one hand via a clever button-release system. You can also easily rotate the mount to use as your phone as a handlebar cam or turn the flashlight into a bike light.
Hustle Bike Labs REMtech Pedals
Crested Butte, Colorado-based mountain biker Craig Payne was driven to design a quicker-releasing clipless pedal after a brush with death in 2015. His solution? Neodymium magnets, which allow your feet to find their natural position while staying connected with the pedal — and detach as soon as your foot angles out of the magnetic plane (intentionally or unintentionally). The system works with standard two-bolt SPD shoes and will be available for $219 next spring.
Dometic HYD-WF Hydration Water Faucet
One of the top overlanding brands reasserts its dominance with a product that turns any water container into an outdoor kitchen faucet, eliminating waste. Two magnetic bases with double-sided tape let you place it just where you need it and rotate it 360 degrees, while a built-in light eases nighttime use (think brushing your teeth, for example). The HYD-WF dispenses one liter per minute, is good for 150 liters per charge and will be available in February of next year for $99.99.
BioLite AlpenGlow Lanterns
These borderline organic new lanterns from BioLite are as practical as they are fun. Shake them for a magic 8-ball-like effect, generating mesmerizing ChromaReal LED hues at random — or press the button on top to toggle through options including a candlelight flicker effect and a multi-colored aurora borealis-like light show. The lanterns have an IPX4 rating to shine on through rain and splashing, and the long-lasting rechargeable battery can also give life to your devices.
Space Innovation Labs Tail Table
This clever new product enables you to add a sturdy floating table to the back of your SUV, van or car, creating an instant food prep and dining surface that's a snap to transport and deploy. The table expands up to four feet long and 30 inches wide, supporting 200-plus pounds at the base and 25 pounds out on the edge. Complete with a chopping board, six wine glass holders and changeable table mats, it begins shipping in October for $219.95.
Sea to Summit Telos TR3 Plus
We were stoked to see one of the most wide-ranging outdoor brands expand into tents this past spring. Testing the Telos, we loved the Tension Ridge that increases head and shoulder space and Hangout Mode, which converts the rainfly into a semi-open shelter. Now Sea to Summit has introduced an upgraded, three-plus season version with a fabric inner tent to keep out the cold and a higher-spec waterproof floor for wet conditions.