All posts in “Outdoors Desk”

These 9 Upcoming Products Will Seriously Upgrade Your Next Winter Adventure

Fresh off a couple days of backcountry skinning and sk’riding (skiing and riding) and three days trekking the floor at Denver’s Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, our heads are still spinning. Blame the altitude, the 80-plus meetings we took or 1,000-plus products we saw — or maybe those final night margaritas. Regardless, it’s a lot to process. 

But now that we’re coming up for air, we can take a moment to reflect on everything we saw and start to make sense of it. In the big picture, a ton of awesome stuff will be dropping for next winter. But zeroing in on our favorite upcoming releases, a couple of trends emerge.

The first one is accessibility. From a layering jacket that’s simultaneously warm and breathable to the perfect winter duffel and hiking shoe to snowboard and ski bindings that make life easier on the resort and way off-piste, several innovative new products stand out simply by lowering the many barriers to entry of cold-weather activities. 

The second one, critically, is sustainability. We’re stoked to see that apparel and gear makers are taking more and more steps to make use of existing resources and minimize footprints, be that in the form of solar-powered gear, an eco-friendly hoody or an earth-friendly reinvention of a product most of us rarely think about: ski wax. 

The future of cold-weather adventure can be scary to think about: it’s hard to know how long the powder will last. But as long as the passion we saw this past week remains, you can be sure we’ll be making the most of every flake. Without further ado, here are our Editors’ Picks for the best upcoming winter products. 

Additional contributions by Tanner Bowden and Steve Mazzucchi.

We attended the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show 2020 and covered it extensively. To see all of our product coverage, not just our award winners, you can head here.

Adidas Terrex Free Hiker C.Dry

Adidas proved with the original Free Hiker that sneakerhead-approved style and trail functionality aren’t mutually exclusive. With the upcoming winterized C.Dry version, it’s demonstrating that it can maintain that visual appeal within a highly technical set of features. The Free Hiker C.Dry uses a stretchy Primeknit upper that zips instead of laces, and Gore-Tex’s insulated Duratherm waterproof membrane supports it with weatherproof warmth. Adidas also gave the boot a grippy Continental rubber outsole and its beloved and springy Boost foam.

Black Diamond StoneHauler Duffel

When nearly every equipment maker has added a rugged duffel to its collection in recent years, it takes a lot to make one stand out (let alone win an award). But the StoneHauler does that, thanks to carefully designed features. Inside is an integrated storage bag that cinches shut, enclosing and separating anything that might be dirty from the rest of your stuff. The 35- and 45-liter Pro models even include an exterior-access padded laptop sleeve and the requisite backpack straps. To top it off, Black Diamond made all the StoneHauler duffels with an ultra-rugged fabric that’s 100 percent recycled.

Houdini Mono Air Houdi

It’s a sad reality that the more science progresses, the more we learn about the damage some of our manufacturing processes can do. For example, microplastic pollution in our waters, the byproduct of microfiber shedding from synthetic fleece. Upstart Swedish brand Houdini and Polartec teamed up to do something about it, and this hoodie featuring Polartec Power Air — a microfiber fabric that traps air and generates heat in small pockets — is the result. It boasts the performance of traditional fleece but sheds fives times fewer fibers. It’s also made of 73 percent recycled fibers and can be recycled again. The fact that this slim-fitting, functional garment is as comfortable and stylish as they come is just a bonus.

K2 Clicker x HB Binding

A couple weeks back, we applauded the efforts of CLEW, a German brand that won an ISPO award for rivaling Burton’s Step-On binding with its own innovative tech. Now K2 has leapt into the fray, revamping its Clicker tech with a new system featuring a highback and toe-heel mounts to better mimic the feel of a classic strap-in set-up. Potential advantages over Burton’s approach? K2 Clicker boots can still be used with traditional bindings, and the process of getting in and out may come naturally to cyclists, as it’s somewhat similar to engaging an SPD pedal. Not unlike the Marker binding below, we’d love to spend more time with the Clicker x HB to fully vet it, but our limited exposure has been promising.

Marker Duke PT Ski Binding

Marker has long been a critical player in the ski binding space, but Salomon earned yards when it released its versatile uphill-downhill Shift binding. Marker’s comeback will finally arrive in the Duke PT, a transformer of a binding with a removable toe piece that lets backcountry skiers walk uphill with 10.6 fewer ounces beneath each foot (weight counters rejoice!). When it’s time to ski down, the toe piece locks back into place and stays there thanks to a lever that engages when skiers click in their boots.

MountainFlow Eco-Wax

Here’s something you probably don’t think about much: all that petroleum-based wax on the bottom of your skis or snowboard slowly sloughs off into the snowpack, and last year, an estimated 2.5 million pounds of the stuff wound up in U.S. waterways when the snow melted. Enter MountainFlow Eco-Wax, an exhaustively researched and tested blend of plant-based waxes and oils that rivals the performance of traditional ski wax and costs the same or even less. We tried it out on some Colorado slopes and hardly noticed it, which is exactly what you want from ski wax. 

POC Cornea Solar Switch Goggle

Taking a bold swing in a snow optics market flooded with photochromic, LED and interchangeable lenses, the Solar Switch is a  liquid crystal lens that changes its tint in response to dynamic conditions, darkening when the sun is bright and lightening in clouds or shadows, quickly adjusting to accommodate everything from bluebird days to tree runs. And because it’s solar-powered, you never have to worry about charging it up or running out of juice on the slopes.

The North Face Summit L5 FutureLight Ventrix Jacket

Never mind its jargon-y mouthful of a name; all you need to know about one of The North Face’s newest jackets is that it combines two of the brand’s most impressive technologies. FutureLight is an incredibly breathable waterproof shell that launched this winter, and the somewhat-older Ventrix is a lightweight and breathable insulation. Combined in this jacket, they work to create a warm mid-layer that can hold its own as an outer layer too. Together, they prove The North Face is thinking creatively about how it mixes and matches its various apparel innovations.

Yakima CBX Solar Roof Box

Like it or not, electronics are part of heading to the outdoors. When they’re at their best, they improve rather than impede the experience. By integrating a solar panel into the lid of its forthcoming cargo box, Yakima is ensuring that happens by letting you charge an external battery or power bank while you cruise to your campsite. Sunflare produced the panel for Yakima’s purposes and made sure that it’s lightweight, thin and can stand up to anything that comes after it, like hail, falling sticks or an errant trekking pole. No surprise, then, that it was named Product of the Year at the Outdoor Retailer Innovation Awards — almost as lofty an honor as cracking our list.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

10 Products That Will Make Skiing Awesome in 2021

North America’s biggest outdoor industry tradeshow is on right now. Catch up on our highlights and follow us on Instagram for up-to-the-second coverage!

Skiing isn’t the foundation of the winter sports scene, it’s the bedrock. It only makes sense then, that skis, and the gear associated with skiing, are a primary focus of the biggest outdoor industry trade show in North America. Ski gear has come a long way in the past decade — no, nobody says “parabolics” anymore — but gear makers still find ways to push the sport further each season. Here are some of the latest examples.

Line Blade

Price: $900
Release Date: Fall 2020
So many skis these days try to give you everything you could ever want; lightness and power, float and edge control. Some do an excellent job of it, but we’re just as impressed by a ski that knows its place and owns it. Like the Blade, which Line made with one thing in mind — carving. After all, not all days are deep.

Marker Duke PT Binding

Price: $725+
Release Date: Fall 2020
Salomon proved that skiers no longer have to decide between uphill and downhill capabilities when it introduced the Shift binding, and it was only a matter of time before Marker followed suit. The Duke PT is by no means a copy though — its unique construction uses a toepiece that’s removable to keep weight down on the uphill. When it’s time to descend, lock it back in for full security.

Black Diamond Cirque 22 Vest

Price: $160
Release Date: Fall 2020
Black Diamond calls the Cirque 22 a vest, but you should think of it as a backpack. We’re not saying that it’s misnamed, just that it packs more utility than you might believe otherwise: it can carry skis, climbing skins (in a separate compartment), a helmet, avalanche safety tools and more.

Faction Agent 3.0 & 4.0

Price: $849, $899
Release Date: Fall 2020
Faction’s ski touring-focused Agent collection claims the best strength-to-weight ratio of any ski Faction makes (and it’s won awards that back the claim). For Winter 20/21, Faction is expanding the line with the wider 3.0 and 4.0, which have waist widths of 106mm and 116mm, respectively. That’s excellent news for those of us who like deep snow and don’t mind walking to get to it.

Sweet Protection Looper MIPS

Price: $159
Release Date: Fall 2020
When World Cup skiers top speeds of 75 miles per hour, they do so with an enormous amount of trust in their helmets. Sweet Protection has inspiring such faith for a decade and a half, and it’s latest helmet adapts racing tech for more casual skiers and snowboarders. The Looper MIPS has a shell with varying zones of elasticity and rigidity to provide protection without excess bulk and comes with a MIPS liner.

Dalbello Quantum Series

Price: Quantum Asolo Factory Boot $950
Release Date: Fall 2020
As with skis, today’s skiers want one pair of boots that can go everywhere. Dalbello has provided that with the resort- and backcountry-capable Lupo for years, but it’s never produced a touring-specific model until now. To create the Quantum Series, Dalbello is using an infrared welding process to bond two pieces of the shell, allowing for varying contours and a better overall fit. That, coupled with a lacing system that includes Dyneema and the ability for custom fit work, makes for a backcountry boot that’s lightweight, powerful and comfy.

POC Cornea Solar Switch

Price: TBA
Release Date: Fall 2020
The latest goggle technology allows skiers and snowboarders to ditch spare lenses entirely — when conditions change, they can adjust the tint with the push of a button, thanks to electrochromism. The best of them still use batteries and buttons, though, but not POC’s Cornea Solar Switch. The new goggle adapts to light conditions instantly and automatically and draws all the energy it needs to do so right from the sun.

Black Crows Justis

Price: $960
Release Date: Fall 2020
The Justis bridges the gap between two Black Crows all-mountain favorites. Where the Navis has a traditional rocker profile and the Daemon full reverse camber, the Justis makes do with early rise in both the tip and tail. Black Crows sandwiched a double titanal plate into its layup for power and, with a 100mm waist, created a ski that can pretty much go anywhere.

RMU Outdoors Ski Pack

Price: TBA
Release Date: Fall 2020
RMU started out making skis, but it proved itself to be a formidable power in the bag world when it introduced the travel-oriented Core Pack and BRFCS. We’re excited to see expertise from both realms combined into one product that brings tons of features — a helmet sling, rear zipper entry and dedicated avalanche tool organization, to name a few — to one slim, chairlift-friendly profile.

Rab Khroma Tour Infinium

Price: $100
Release Date: Fall 2020
Go to any ski resort, and you’re bound to see the locals eschewing dedicated ski gloves for a pair of leather Kinco’s, likely purchased at the hardware store or gas station for $20. Rab’s new Khroma Tour Infinium glove gets at the same idea — it has nimble leather fingers — but upgrades it with a Gore-Tex Infinium back and cuff. It is more expensive, but it’ll also last longer than a season and stay warm on cold days.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tanner Bowden

Tanner Bowden is a staff writer at Gear Patrol covering all things outdoors and fitness. He is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and a former wilderness educator. He lives in Brooklyn but will always identify as a Vermonter.

More by Tanner Bowden | Follow on Instagram · Contact via Email

Here’s How to Make Your Outdoor Gear Last Forever

Our warm-weather playground is closing for the season, which means that soon, you’ll be trading wheels for skis and waders for down jackets. We know — the winter stoke is real. But resist the urge to shove all your gear into the garage to be dealt with next spring; there’s work to be done.

Dirt and grime do a good job of hiding damage that’s accumulated over six months of fun. When it comes to something like a mountain bike, that buildup can impede the function of your drivetrain and other components. “Nothing’s more frustrating than trying to ride when the weather clears and getting stopped by surprise mechanical issues,” notes Nick Martin, founder of The Pro’s Closet, the largest e-retailer for pre-owned bikes and cycling gear.

And when it comes to a sport like climbing, poorly cared for gear can become a safety issue. “Taking a couple of hours in between seasons to go through all your gear is what sets you up for success — and safety — next season,” says Matt Hickethier, senior outdoor instructor for REI’s Denver location. Plus, you paid serious money for some of this stuff. “If you take care of high-quality hiking boots season after season, they can last you 20 years,” he adds.

Caring for your gear might not be as simple as leafing through the instruction manual (which you probably threw in the trash anyway). Below, you’ll find the best way to clean, dry, care for and store all your favorite summer gear so it’s ready for action at the first sign of a thaw next year.

Camping Gear

Sleeping Bags

Clean: You want to wash your sleeping bag as little as possible, especially if it’s down, since it makes the insulation clump and reduces its lifespan. (Hickethier likes to sleep with a liner and just washes that every few trips.) At the end of the season, place the bag in a front-load washing machine and use a mild detergent. The centralized spin on top-load machines can tear the stitching apart; if that’s all you have, lay your sleeping bag out and scrub it with an abrasive plastic brush and mild detergent. Then hose it off.

Dry: Hang to dry.

Care: If your bag came waterproof from its maker, use a spray (like Nikwax TX-Direct Spray-On) to restore that repellency.

Store: Once it’s completely dry, either hang the bag in your gear closet or put it in a mesh or breathable cotton bag that’s larger than the stuff sack you keep it in for trips. You want to keep the insulation as high a loft — that’s the fluffiness — as possible. Compression compromises the bag’s resilience, Hickethier says.

Cooking Equipment

Clean: Wipe down stoves and pots just like you would those in your kitchen, getting rid of any food particles that could breed bacteria or mold over the winter months. If you have a gas line, light the stove, then shut the gas off at the bottle rather than on the stove. According to Hickethier, this lets the gas flush through the line to the burner completely, and when it stops, you know the line is clear.

Dry: Let all components air dry. If the stove uses jet fuel, dry upside down so water isn’t pooling through the system.

Store: Your stove and cooking gear should be stored inside, away from the elements, which can erode the metal. Regulations for storing fuel vary by state and area, but if you have a flammables closet in your garage, that’s ideal. Otherwise, make sure it’s in an area that’s well ventilated, well contained and not going to overheat.

Tents

Clean: It’s important to get all the dirt off and out of your tent before storing it — any sand will act like sandpaper and degrade all your soft materials including stitching, Hickethier says. Turn the tent inside out, shake it, then scrub both it and the rainfly with a mild detergent (like Dawn) and a soft-bristled brush. Clean the ends of the poles that go into the ground and the stakes. Hose everything down.

Dry: Reassemble the entire tent and let it dry out somewhere indoors like in the garage, basement, even living room — UV rays actually wear down the materials over time, and since your tent obviously sits in the sun most of its erected life, you want to limit exposure as much as possible, Hickethier says.

Care: Put a UV treatment on the outside of the tent and the rainfly to extend its life. If there’s any peeling on the rainfly, treat with a waterproofing material like Nikwax. Check all your seams and cover any tape that’s peeling with silicone glue.

Store: Break down the poles and load them into the tent bag first. Never store poles under tension since they can start to wear out if taut over time, Hickethier says. Next, stuff the rainfly in the bag randomly, in a kind of circular pattern, followed by the body of the tent, then the footprint. Contrary to common sense organizational instincts, folding your tent is a no-no. “Every time you fold your tent, you’re creating constant wear on the same spots which will eventually break down the material, waterproofing and seams,” Hickethier explains.

Sleeping Pads

Clean: Inflate the pad, then hose it down, scrubbing with a mild detergent if it’s dirty.

Dry: Dry inside, out of UV light and inflated to ensure no water gets caught in creases.

Store: If it’s pillow style, pack the pad back down and store in its stuff sack. If it’s foam and self-inflatable, store the pad partially inflated with valves open to prevent the foam from breaking down under compression.

Hiking Gear

Hiking Boots

Clean: At the end of the season, do a thorough version of what you should do after every hike: Pull out the insoles, then give your boots a light wash with water, mild detergent or leather cleaner (if applicable) and a soft brush.

Dry: Hang boots upside down to allow air to flow in and excess moisture to drain out until they’re completely dry.

Care: Check all materials for degradation. If your boots are leather and puckering, turning a lighter color, or starting to look like dry skin, apply leather conditioner (Nikwax makes a good one) and let that set, then re-waterproof with a wax-based solution or silicone-based wax. Unlace your boots and check the strings’ conditions — if they’re fraying anywhere (it’ll likely be where they’re crossing a grommet) replace them. Check all metal components, like the hooks that help cinch the ankle cuff, and make sure there’s no damage or warping there. If the soles are separating anywhere, use a silicone glue (though if your soles are Vibram, contact the manufacturer because they should put a whole new one on for you).

Store: Keep boots in a dry, low-light spot, like the bottom of your closet or in a container in a low-humidity garage.

Backpacks

Clean: At the very least, empty your pack, turn it inside out and shake it to get all the small pieces of dirt and food out. If your pack has seen a lot of mud, turn it right side out and use a mild soap (like Dawn), a vinyl or plastic scrub brush and lukewarm water, scrubbing in a circular motion until all the dirt is gone. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, so it doesn’t shrink the material, Hickethier says. Check the straps and the buckle components for embedded mud or dirt.

Dry: Lay flat outside to dry.

Care: Check that the stitching isn’t fraying or peeling anywhere and that all hard components (i.e., plastic buckles) are still functioning correctly. Replace before storing.

Store: Don’t hang the bag — leaving the straps under tension, even lightly, will cause the material to stretch over time. Instead, compress the pack in a storage bin and store it somewhere with low moisture.

Water Reservoirs

Clean: A poorly cleaned, sealed reservoir is the perfect environment to breed mold and bacteria, Hickethier says. If your bladder had anything other than water in it (like an electrolyte drink) or there are signs of mineral buildup from hard water, use a dissolvable tablet, like Bottle Bright or CamelBak Cleaning Tablets, which create a bubble effect to scrub the inside of the reservoir. Run through the line, then rinse the whole thing out. (You can also use warm water, silicone-safe soap like Dawn and a soft brush, but the soap is harder to get out completely.)

Dry: Disconnect the line (if it has one), drain all the water, then hang vertically to dry (like over a hook). Some newer bladders will turn inside out, which is ideal. Otherwise, invest in a reservoir hanger (like this one from Camelbak) which is designed to keep the rubber and silicone components open so the bladder can drip dry completely.

Store: Keep the cap off, then fold the hose in half and tuck the bend into the mouth of the bladder to keep it open. Store it with the rest of your hiking gear. Some people also like to store the whole thing in their freezer to ensure no mildew develops.

Biking Gear

Road and Mountain Bikes

Clean: It’s definitely possible to wash a bike too much or too hard, says Martin. “Bikes are full of moving parts that are small and delicate,” he explains. “Overzealous washing can actually force crucial lubricants out of these parts and push dirt and grime in.” Be gentle: fill a spray bottle with warm water and a little mild dish soap (this, according to Martin, works just as well as bike-specific degreasers) and spray the whole thing down. Use a soft brush or cloth to agitate dirt and grime, especially on the chain and drivetrain. “A dirty or unlubricated drivetrain will cause a lot of premature wear, noise and shifting issues,” he adds. Rinse the frame and components with a hose or a bucket of clean water.

Dry: “Leaving your bike dripping wet is a recipe for corrosion,” Martin says. Take a small cloth and wipe down everything you can reach, including the chain and drivetrain. You can use a detailing spray (like Pedro’s Bike Lust) on the painted surfaces for an extra sheen and help in repelling dirt and dust during storage and on your next ride.

Care: Once dry, apply a chain lubricant to your drivetrain. “Only the chain needs lubrication and only on the rollers,” Martin warns. Use a rag to wipe away any excess lube that lands outside the chain or on the cassette, chainrings and derailleur pulleys. Run your shifter up and down through all the gears to make sure it doesn’t need any more tuning before you store. Then, take an inventory of what maintenance you can do during the off-season. For mountain bikes, you want to service the suspension once a year, either on your own or at a bike or suspension shop, Martin advises. On any bike, check all your consumable components like the chain, tire and brake pads for wear, and replace them if needed.

Store: Store your bike indoors — namely somewhere dry and shielded from the weather, because sun, wind, rain and snow will damage and shorten the lifespan of every component on your bike, Martin says. (If you have no choice but to keep it outside, get a waterproof cover and maintain it regularly.) You can keep it on the ground, but the most convenient way to store a bike is on a hook. For road, cyclocross or gravel bikes, hang them however you like (i.e., upside down or vertically from the ceiling or wall). Mountain bikes with suspension forks should be hung vertically — never upside down — with the front wheel up to keep the seals and foam rings in the fork from drying out.

Cycling Shoes

Clean: Pull out the insoles and wash with water, mild detergent or leather cleaner and a soft brush.

Dry: Stuff with newspaper and set in an airy space to let dry. Be sure they dry completely before storing.

Store: Keep shoes in a dry, shady spot, like a container in a low-humidity garage.

Helmets

Clean: Take a brush and clean with warm water and a gentle soap or shampoo, since you already know that won’t irritate your skin, Martin points out.

Dry: Hang to dry in a well-ventilated area.

Store: Store in a container in a low-humidity garage (out in the open risks dust and cobwebs).

Fishing Gear

Fly Lines

Clean: “Your line is exposed to dirt, sand, rocks and all kinds of funky stuff in the water that wants to decrease slickness and start breaking down the line,” observes Shawn Combs, Director of Product Development for Rod & Tackle at Orvis. Run the entire line through a Scientific Anglers cleaning pad — or a paper towel if you’re in a pinch.

Dry: Air dry.

Store: Re-spool your reel and store.

Rods

Clean: Wipe down with a clean, dry cloth. Wash reel in warm water with a soft cloth.

Dry: Air dry.

Store: Store in a rod tube.

Waders and Boots

Clean: River water should be rinsed off with a hose, and any mud on your boots scrubbed off with a soft brush and gentle dish soap.

Dry: Hang your waders to dry. Stuff boots with newspaper and leave in a well-ventilated area.

Store: Fold waders and store alongside boots in a container.

Climbing Gear

The most significant care aspect of climbing gear is to adhere to the manufacturer recommendations of life expectancy since your life depends on the reliability of these products. “Even if a rope was never used, it still has a life expectancy for how long that piece of gear is serviceable,” Hickethier explains. Info for harnesses, ropes and protective equipment can all be found on the manufacturer’s website.

Harnesses

Clean: You may still use your harness inside during the winter, but you want to clean all the dirt and grime from the outdoor season off. Always handwash it to prevent fraying and breaking, Hickethier says. Scrub the soft material and metal parts with warm, soapy water.

Dry: Hang inside to dry.

Care: Before you store it, as well as before each use, inspect the stitching, lacing and hard components of your harness. Fix anything immediately — if you forget and head out with a broken buckle, it’s hazardous, Hickethier points out.

Store: Pack flat, somewhere dry, so the material doesn’t stretch out.

Climbing Shoes

Clean: Since bouldering shoes get more dusty than dirty and have a particular grip to them, skip the soap and rinse with warm water until it runs clear.

Dry: Stuff with newspaper and set in a well-ventilated area to dry.

Store: Store alongside the rest of your climbing gear.

Ropes

Clean: Fill your bathtub or sink with warm water and add rope wash (like this one from Beal) and let it soak according to the package instructions. If the water is exceptionally dirty, drain and repeat until the water runs clear.

Dry: Set rope outside to dry.

Store: Wrapping a rope tightly can create kinks and degrade the fibers over time, Hickethier says. Instead, coil it loosely on the ground or hung on two supports (like nails). Store away from UV light.

Cams

Clean: If the metal parts have gunk built up inside, rinse with hot water and mild soap.

Dry: Wipe dry with a cloth.

Care: Lubricate the metal parts you washed, as well as any clean cams in need of some slickness (use a product like Metolius Cam Lube). Check the webbing to ensure it’s clean and not wearing down. If it’s degrading, most companies will re-sling it for you, Hickethier says.

Store: Attach to a carabiner to keep organized, then store with the rest of your climbing gear.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

This Is the Best New Outdoor Gear, According to Experts

While our team headed to Denver’s Outdoor Retailer to check out all the awesome adventure gear to look forward to in 2020, Europe has its own showcase for innovative products called OutDoor by ISPO, which went off last week in Munich. And amongst 203 items in 28 categories, judges chose just four Outstanding OutDoor Award winners. Here’s what caught their attention and is worth keeping an eye out for next year.

Vaude Redmont All-Weather Jacket

Judges loved the sustainability touches in this wind- and waterproof jacket. Vaude eliminated pesticides and herbicides from the organic cotton that forms the building blocks of this coat. All the accents, such as the trims and logo, are made of certified cork, keeping with the earth-friendly trend. Plus, the jacket looks great on city streets and the mountainside.

The North Face Futurelight Jacket

Our team is very familiar with The North Face’s newest technology, Futurelight, thanks to an Aspen ski trip this past winter. It’s no surprise that this waterproof yet breathable coat won at OutDoor by ISPO. Nano-spinning technology changes the level of breathability throughout the jacket, keeping it comfortable and waterproof through winter storms and sweaty uphills.

Petzl Mountaineering Belt Fly

Petzl’s newest harness aims to please ski mountaineers. The combination of metal and conventional buckles is both balanced and lightweight at just 90 grams. The comfort foam is removed to make more space for gear loops that will hold your ice axes, ropes, carabiners and more.

Adidas Terrex Myshelter Parley Jacket

This Adidas jacket passes muster with us too thanks to its cowl-like collar and beautifully tapered fit. The all-white three-layer piece is breathable (surprise!) and built to keep you dry during your commute. OutDoor by ISPO judges liked the blend of performance fabric with a lifestyle cut and design, plus the Parley sustainability mission means ocean plastic makes up at least part of this jacket.

BioLite’s Newest HeadLamp Offers A Rare Feature: Comfort

BioLite has a knack for taking heavily used gear and re-designing it into something you’ll reach for day after day, all while helping to increase access to energy off the grid. At Gear Patrol, we’ve been big fans since day one. Starting with the CampStove, CampStove 2 and the portable grill, and followed by many other successful fire starters, pizza grills and backcountry chargers, BioLite has paved the way for outdoor enthusiasts to get outdoors with an easy power supply — whether that’s grilling over a stove or lighting up the campsite. BioLite’s latest success story is the HeadLamp. We carried the re-engineered light with us through sunrise summits in upstate New York (hello, Mt. Marcy), as well as along the sidewalks of Brooklyn to light up our night runs. After a hugely successful kickstarter after Outdoor Retailer last year, the headlamp is available for preorder as of this Outdoor Retailer Snow Show.

The Good: BioLite’s HeadLamp features a split light in the front and battery pack in the back, all in a lightweight package that is comfortable, even in the wee hours of the morning. There are four light modes: red flood, white flood and spot (both with dimming) and the strobe, all of which provide you with hours of vision and ways to alert everyone around you. Even after hours of use, it was not headache inducing. The stretch fabric is soft and adjustable yet reinforced, so you don’t have to re-arrange once it’s on your forehead. It comes fully charged in four different colors: red, teal, yellow and grey.

Who They’re For: These lights are for everyone. Whether you’re a runner, hiker, walker or someone who likes to lead the dawn patrol, the BioLite HeadLamp works.

Watch Out For: It can be a bit tricky to use with gloves because of the thin rim around the light. The button to turn on and off, and the lever to aim the light down are both located on the skeletal frame of the light, so it takes time to get used to it.

Alternatives: Most other running headlamps I’ve tested have the battery pack and light all on the same side, so it’s heavy. The Petzl Reactik+ was the last one I tested ($100), and it worked just fine for everything I needed. You can also check out our list of Best Headlamps.

Review:
From unboxing to using, it takes less than two minutes to get started with the BioLite HeadLamp. Brushing my teeth takes longer. With just a few adjustments on the moisture-wicking band, the headlamp sat flush against my forehead. One of the first things I noticed was just how bright the slim light was. It’s 330 lumens at full brightness, and if you happen to turn it on while looking at the light, you’re sure to see some spots for a while. Reading while wearing the headlamp caused no issues thanks to the high visibility and comfy band.

For me, one of the most important things to test on a headlamp is to see how it performs when I’m running. Most lamps that I’ve used bounce around — I’ve run with them through two Ragnar Relays and an entire training circuit for a marathon which resulted in a lot of night activity. The BioLite lamp stayed put, likely because of the separation of the battery from the light itself. The battery sat low against the nape of my neck, while the light laid flat against my forehead. In the past, I’ve had to wear a hat under my headlamp to keep it from bouncing, but with this light, I can wear right where I want it. Now also seems like a good time to mention that I didn’t have any of those pesky red lines around my forehead after I ripped the light off post-run.

The band gets damp after a long run, but chafing wasn’t an issue. At first, I needed two hands to get the front tilt exactly where I needed it — illuminating the uneven cobblestones that line the Brooklyn Promenade and nearby roads — but after my initial mile or so, I had it down. It’s a breeze to click through all the different light options, dimming it when I run near street lamps and quickly turning it off when I finished running. It’s become my go-to lamp whether I’m heading out on a night run or just walking down to the campfire.

Verdict: If you’ve had issues with headlamps in the past, the re-jiggered BioLite HeadLamp is worth giving a shot. At a competitively priced $49, the lamp is hard to beat, simply based on value. With a run time of three and a half hours on full brightness, you can knock out a sunrise summit and nighttime run without sweating over battery life.

What Others Are Saying:

• “But where the brand stands out from the crowd is its comfortable design and lightweight. By integrating its electronic components into the soft 3D SlimFit fabric of the headlamp, BioLite created a light that wears more like a sweatband. For those looking for a light, comfortable headlamp for camping or hiking, this is a solid choice from a cool brand. It fits well, stays comfortably on the head, and will light up the night.” — Sean McCoy, Gear Junkie

• “here are plenty of small headlamps out there, but BioLite is taking a wise approach to the genre with this new unit. If you’re anything like us, you’ve got a closet full of lights. This would include at least a few you don’t use, because they’re dim, uncomfortable, or flop around on saggy elastic when you move your head. It’s not just lightweight — there’s already plenty of light… lights…but this unit stays put to an impressive degree. It’s not a tight head-grabber torture device either.” — Kel Whelan, Off Grid Web

• “BioLite didn’t just make the HeadLamp small and bright — it put a lot of emphasis on comfort too. Using what it calls “3D SlimFit Construction,” the company has managed to squeeze all of the electronic components into a surprisingly small space. This allows the light to nestle neatly into a flush housing, while also providing improved stability and balance while being worn. The headband that holds the lamp in place is made from moisture-wicking fabrics that are designed to be comfortable to wear, even while running, cycling, or hiking in warm conditions.” — Kraig Becker, Digital Trends

Key Specs

Lumens: 330
Battery: Rechargable with Micro USB
Weight: 69 grams
Materials: composite textile headstrap, PMMA, high efficiency lens material, ABS plasic housings, nylon plastic hardware (buckles)
Run Time: 3.5 hours (max brightness), 40 hours (minumum brightness)
Weather Resistance: IPX 4

BioLite provided us with products for testing purposes.

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The Best Gifts for Hikers

Hiking is a simple activity. Really, it’s just walking, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t call for a vast array of apparel, equipment and accessories you might not use in other aspects of life. This is especially true when trekking farther through the woods and higher up mountains becomes the goal. It’s arduous and requires a particular mindset. Luckily though, this makes hikers especially easy to shop for — they’re always in need of something, be it a new backpack or an additional pair of socks.

Powderhouse Titanium Omni-Heat 3D OutDry Boot

Winter hikers need a boot that can withstand the elements. Columbia’s Powderhouse Titanium Omni-Heat 3D OutDry Boot does that better than most with advanced thermal-reflective lining and a high-grip Michelin outsole. It’s also constructed with OutDry waterproof leather to keep feet warm and dry. The hiker on your list can stay on the trail all winter long with the Powderhouse Titanium Boot.

Alltrails Lifetime Membership

Hiking hasn’t lost pace with technology, and while you should always carry a paper map as a backup, smartphones have become helpful tools that aid in exploration. Alltrails crowdsources trail maps, reviews and photos from its community of nine million so that you can find trails wherever you go (and download and print maps for use in areas with no service).

Naglev Unico Hiker

Born in the Alps, the Unico brings the heritage of hiking together with contemporary materials in one high-performing trail shoe. It has an upper made of a single piece of durable Kevlar fabric and contains a sock-like wool liner for a conforming fit. It’s as tough as hiking footwear comes.

Parks Project National Parks Candle

The experience of being in the woods and hills shouldn’t have to end when you get back to the parking lot. Parks Projects’ collection of National Parks-themed candles bring the scents of cedar forests and Rocky Mountain lavender into the home, so the hiker in your life can at least pretend to be out in the trail, even when napping on the couch.

America the Beautiful National Parks Pass

In the outdoors, there’s no better gift than that of access, and while we’re all collectively the owners of our nation’s National Parks, they do cost money to get into. An annual pass provides entry to all federal lands for its holder and might be just the thing to inspire next year’s big trip.

Osprey Stratos 24 Daypack

The Stratos leaves nothing to want — outfitted with all the pockets, compression straps and access points you’d expect, but surpasses all other hiking packs with its floating mesh back panel that’s both comfy and incredibly breathable. It’s our favorite daypack for hiking, and we think everyone will agree.

Patagonia Houdini Jacket

Hiking is an inherently peaceful activity, but it’s also strenuous, and doing it in a jacket can be a sweaty affair. That’s why Patagonia made the Houdini as breathable and lightweight as possible. At 3.6 ounces, it’s barely noticeable, except when it’s protecting you from wind and drizzle.

Good To-Go Mexican Quinoa Bowl

Just because you’re in the woods doesn’t mean you have to eat like a barbarian. Avoid the rehydrated slop and reach for something made with ingredients like raw organic cacao powder and ancho chiles.

Darn Tough ATC Socks

Proper hiking socks are as essential as boots, but they can also be expensive. Thankfully, Darn Tough backs up its peds with a lifetime guarantee, so no matter how many miles are put on them you know that they’ll be good for just as many more.

Kammok Firebelly Trail Quilt

Unfamiliar with trail quilts? The best, like Kammok’s Firebelly, are lighter, more versatile alternatives to sleeping bags. Wrap up in one inside a tent or hammock or just use it to keep warm while watching Netflix at home.

Hilleberg Nammatj 2 GT

Hilleberg’s bomb-proof tents have accompanied expeditions across the globe and are standard-issue at the National Outdoor Leadership School. The all-season Nammatj 2 GT sleeps two, has a vestibule for gear storage and is very easy to pitch with a handy one-piece design, all of which make it suitable for the weathered pro and the casual weekend warrior alike.

BlackYak Modicana Jacket

Blackyak categorizes the Modicana as a “midshell” — it’s neither an outer- or mid-layer, but both at the same time. The jacket is soft to the touch, breathable and stretchy, but it’s also waterproof and warm with a merino wool lining. It’s about as technical as a shell can get, and versatile enough for activities beyond the hiking trail too.

Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Rain Pants

Hardcore hikers know that it’s a rain-or-shine activity, but the former calls for some additional thought to apparel. Black Diamond has made its Stormline pants as comfortable as possible; they’re waterproof (as required), but they’re also stretchy, allowing for enough freedom of movement to make walking in the rain a pleasant experience.

Oakley Frogskins Lite

In the eighties, Oakley created the Frogskins, its first lifestyle sunglasses, and asserted that its eyewear wouldn’t just be about sport. But the shades, which have endured through the decades, contain all of Oakley’s up-to-date performance optics to supply more clarity and contrast in shifting light conditions.

Western Rise Icon Camp Hat

Any ballcap will help provide that bit of much-needed shade from the sun during a full day outside, but the Icon Camp Hat goes a step further. It’s constructed with a durable cotton ripstop fabric in a five-panel profile that functions on the trail but looks good in town too.

Picky Bars

Hikers who still buy the same old energy bars that have been on shelves for decades are missing out on the current golden age of trail food. Picky Bars, which were dreamed up by a group of athletes and come in flavors like “Chai and Catch Me” and “Cookie Doughpness,” are crafted with real food ingredients to provide clean energy before and during long jaunts.

The James Brand Ellis Tool

The Ellis is The James Brand’s reinterpretation of a Swiss Army-style tool; it comes with two locking implements in one sleek package that’s worth its weight (only 2.8 ounces) on and off the trail. Use its tool to open bottles at the summit and turn screws on your gear and its partially-serrated blade to make repairs and cut rope (or sharpen sticks for marshmallow roasting).

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Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series

Accidents happen. It’s best to be prepared, and wilderness wanderers don’t need an entire backpack’s worth of supplies to do so. Adventure Medical Kits makes carefully-considered medkits for all types of outings — from a day hike to a 28-day expedition.

GSI Outdoors Essential Travel Spoon

Forks don’t exist in the backcountry. Seriously, you can eat anything with a spoon, and tiny-tined sporks never really work anyways.

Petzl Tikka

Sunsets and sunrises are best viewed from mountaintops, with a companion and a warm beverage. Hiking in the dark is no excuse to miss one with a headlamp as affordable and powerful as Petzl’s classic Tikka. It boasts 200 lumens of light that can be utilized in separate modes for proximity, movement and distance vision.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

21 Terms Every Knife-Lover Should Know

Blade, handle — the vocabulary that describes the different parts of a pocket knife are simple… right? The sharp tools may not be as complicated as mechanical watches or automobiles, but there’s more to knives, both folding and fixed, than that. Aficionados will bandy around terms like action and slipjoint, but these aren’t even the most complex or specific words that can be used to describe every part of a pocket knife. For those new to the world of blades, this guide will act as your shortcut from novice to pro.

Action: Refers to how a folding knife opens. A knife’s action can be described in many ways, but it will be either manual or automatic.

Belly: The curved part of the blade used for slicing.

Bevel: The tapered part of the blade that extends from the spine down to the cutting edge.

Butt: The end of a knife’s handle.

Choil: The unsharpened portion of a knife’s cutting edge that’s close to the handle. Some choils are notched.

Clip Point: A common blade shape, the clip point is characterized by a spine with a front section that appears to be clipped off. This seemingly cut-out area can either be straight or concave and results in a fine point.

Drop Point: One of the most common blade shapes, the drop-point is characterized by a convex spine that curves down from the handle to the point. This creates an easily-controlled point and a bigger belly for slicing. Ideal for hunters.

Guard: Part of the handle designed to prevent the hand from slipping onto the blade. This can be integrated into the handle or a separate component.

Gut hook: A sharpened hook on the spine of a hunting knife designed for field dressing.

Jimping: A notched portion of the spine close to the handle, designed for extra grip.

Quillon: The part of the guard or handle that extends beyond the tang of the blade to provide additional protection to the hand.

Ricasso: The flat and unsharpened portion of a blade between the handle and the bevel. Not to be confused with choil, ricasso refers to the flat side of a knife, not its edges.

Sheepsfoot: A blade shape characterized by a straight edge and a spine that curves down to meet it at the point. Sheepsfoot blades are designed for slicing while minimizing the potential for accidental piercing with the point. Originally made to trim the hooves of sheep.

Slipjoint: A common type of folding pocket knife that uses a spring to keep the blade in either a closed or open position.

Spear Point: A symmetrical blade shape with a point that’s in-line with the center of the knife. Commonly used for throwing knives.

Spine: The unsharpened “back” or “top” of a knife. The spine is the side opposite the sharp edge. Double-edged knives do not have spines.

Swedge: Also known as a “false edge,” this is a portion of the knife’s spine that is unsharpened but has been ground to give the appearance that it is.

Sweep: See “belly”.

Tang: The portion of the blade that extends into, and is held by, the handle.

Tanto: Inspired by the short swords that were worn by Samurai in feudal Japan, this blade shape replaces a curved belly for an angular edge transition that makes for a much stronger and prominent point.

Wharncliffe: Like a sheepsfoot blade, this shape has a straight edge and a curved spine, but the curve extends gradually from the handle to the tip. The shape is similarly ideal for slicing while minimizing the possibility for an accidental puncture with the tip.

RX Nut Butter Is Weird, and Insanely Good

I know what you’re thinking — eating peanut or almond butter out of a squeeze pack is weird — but hear me out. Individually-packaged nut butter has been around since Skippy pedaled tubes of viscous peanuts to third graders in the nineties. Skippy was ahead of its time; it no longer packages its peanut butter in nine-ounce Squeeze Stix, but portable packets have picked up a following since, chiefly from athletes and protein fiends. It was good in grade school, but it’s better now.

RXBAR is the latest brand to take on nut butter. The company redefined protein bars — and the graphic design on protein bar packaging — with its “no B.S.” bars that contain only three or four pronounceable ingredients, all of which are listed in bold on the front of the wrapper. It’s taken the same tact with its nut butter.

RXBAR’s 32-gram packets come in three flavors: Vanilla Almond Butter (one egg white, 18 almonds, one half of a date), Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter (one egg white, 27 peanuts, one half of a date) and plain old peanut butter (also one egg white, 27 peanuts and one half of a date). The three vary in flavor due to a handful of minor ingredients that aren’t listed on the package, like cinnamon, coconut oil, vanilla, honey and sea salt.

Like its bars, RX Nut Butter is quite tasty, but requires a little bit of open-mindedness, mostly due to texture. Try an RXBAR next to a Clif Bar, and you’ll get the picture. The nut butters are smooth but slightly gooier compared to the peanut butter you keep in a jar at home. In this case, different is good though. Eat these with yogurt and granola in the morning, as a condiment for an apple during a day hike, or plain when your stomach starts to growl audibly in the office at 11 am.

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