For products to stand out in the outdoor space, they usually have to nail at least one of a few key superlatives: lightest, smallest, quickest. And while some of the year’s best releases do just that, others simply go against the grain. From a sleeping pad that’s intentionally big to a surfboard made of sheep’s wool, the best outdoor products might even make you wonder which superlatives really matter.
Products are listed alphabetically.
Adidas Terrex Free Hiker
As evidenced by the wave of Canada Goose jackets status-symboling down city streets these days, outdoor products and urban style trends continue to cross paths. At the confluence of function and fashion reside excellent items like the Adidas Terrex Free Hiker. This clever, sneaker-fied hiking shoe finds itself equally comfortable at both clubs and campsites. Active ingredients? Foot-hugging Primeknit uppers, energy-returning Boost foam soles and funky styling rarely seen on trails.
Weight: 13.5 ounces
Collaboration: Continental rubber outsole
Bonus: Waterproof Gore-Tex for an extra $50
Firewire Woolight Seaside
For all the “connecting with nature” allure it touts, surfing’s dirty secret is that most wetsuits and boards feature materials derived from fossil fuels that are harmful to the environment. Case in point: petroleum-based fiberglass fabric makes up nearly every board’s outer shell. For the Woolight Seaside, Firewire replaced that material with wool sheared ethically from New Zealand sheep — introducing the surf world to a naturally occurring alternative to unsustainable fiberglass.
Sizes Available: 5’2″ – 6’1″
Volumes Available: 26.5 – 46.5 liters
Fin Setup: Quad
Watch Now: The 10 Best Outdoors Products of 2019
The spork became a camp cutlery classic by uniting spoon and fork. But in doing so, sporks diminish the effectiveness of both utensils. The Compleat avoids this master-of-none trap; not only does it boast a separate spoon and fork, but also it has a dual-edge spatula (one edge serrated, the other rubberized) and a peeler-equipped tool that opens bottles, packages and cans. Slide the fork or spoon’s handle into the spatula for the coup de grâce: tongs.
Weight: 2.3 ounces
Materials: Heat-resistant nylon and anodized aluminum
Total Number of Implements: 8
As the mega-cooler wars between Yeti and its imitators rage on, Igloo is taking a different approach. The Recool — an entirely recycled-material, biodegradable 16-quart cooler — provides an Earth-friendly alternative to those pervasive Styrofoam units found at every gas station. Sturdy and reusable, it keeps beer ice-cold all day long. While it might not replace the giant ice chest in your truck bed, it’s easily the best, most conscientious cheap cooler around.
Weight: 1.6 pounds
Material: Compostable recycled paper
Capacity: 16 quarts (or 20 12-ounce cans)
The Adventure Pro is an advanced adventure tool that will help you explore further with your Yamaha. And you can share your experiences with friends and family along the way, too, thanks to its social media integration. The Adventure Pro also features GPS mapping and navigation, as well as online adventure planning — making it even easier to share your latest journey. Buy Now: $749+
Leatherman Free P2
Like its predecessors, the P2 is a plier-centric implement with handy functions that swivel out of its handles. The difference? Internal magnets allow the Free P2 — and its big brother, the P4, which adds saw and serrated-knife blades — to stay closed until the magnets are disengaged with a firm flick of the thumb, at which point the handles butterfly open without friction and lock with a satisfying click. The internal tools swivel open by pushing on tiny nubs, instead of wedging fingernails into annoying little knicks. The result? You can deploy every single tool using one hand.
Weight: 7.6 ounces
Knife Blade Length: 2.76 inches
Number of Tools: 19
Nemo Equipment Roamer
Sleeping pads keep shrinking, with the slimmest ones now packing down to the size of a soup can. But does smaller + lighter = better? Nemo says no with the Roamer, which addresses a camping reality: most of us make basecamp near our vehicles, so why not bring the most luxurious pad available? This pad self-inflates, is available in two sizes and is still lighter and comfier than the blow-up air mattress you might otherwise stuff into a tent. Sweet dreams.
Material: 50-denier stretch fabric, polyester top
Weight: 5 pounds, 3 ounces
Lets You Sleep Like: The happiest baby ever
Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2
The first iteration of the S/Lab Ultra was widely available, but Salomon really made it for one person: world-class ultra-runner François D’Haene, who used it to win 50-plus-mile races (and set the speed record on the 211-mile John Muir Trail). Salomon has since gone slightly more egalitarian, releasing this pared-down design with a lighter yet more durable upper. Nonetheless, the streamlined profile, close fit and all-terrain tread remain, making this version the ultimate trail running shoe.
Weight: 10 ounces
Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert
A few years ago, early electric mountain bikes promised to revolutionize the sport. But that promise was overblown, because …well, they sucked. Specialized’s new Turbo Kenevo Expert leads the charge of the third generation of E-MTBs — the first ones that don’t. It’s designed to rip down hills and climb up them again with equal aplomb. Like a Leatherman, it can do things you probably never will, but it’s cool to think you might.
Frame: M5 premium aluminum
Battery: 700 watt-hours
Travel: 180mm (7.1 inches)
The James Brand Hell Gap
When you can buy a knife at the hardware store for $20, why would you spend $300 on a fixed blade you intend to prep a campfire meal with? Simple. Because a cheap knife won’t last. But the Hell Gap, with its purebred Crucible S35VN, micarta construction and timeless good looks, will. Plus, its distinctly non-tactical dress and reasonable size make it a joy to deploy at home, too.
Weight: 3.1 ounces
Length: 7.8 inches
Blade: 3.8-inch drop-point full-tang
The North Face A-Cad FutureLight Jacket
To create an ultra-breathable jacket, The North Face harnessed a process called nanospinning (a.k.a. electrospinning), in which liquid polyurethane is extruded through more than 200,000 microscopic nozzles into impossibly thin threads. Those threads are overlaid atop each other to create a lattice with thousands of gaps too small for water to penetrate, yet big enough to promote airflow. Laminate that membrane to fabric, and voilà: a truly waterproof-breathable snowboarding jacket like the A-Cad. Or a running jacket. Or the perfect mountaineering shell. With FutureLight, they’re all better equipped to handle the rigors — and weather — of outdoor sports.
Materials: 100% recycled polyester with brushed tricot backer and DWR finish
Weight: 2 pounds, 1 ounce (size medium)
Ideal Use Conditions: Whatever comes your way
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