Welcome to the first installment of Sports and Outdoors Staff Picks. Each week, we’ll select our favorites from the gear coming across our desks, in addition to mainstays in our kits. We’ll show you glimpses into the gear we’re testing and what we’re stoked on. Have something you think we should check out? Or just want to say hi? Drop us a line at

Skullcandy Barricade

Bringing your music into the outdoors can be difficult. Many Bluetooth speakers won’t stand up to the elements, and many are clunky and heavy — which weighs down your pack. Skullcandy’s Barricade, though, boasts an IPX7 waterproof rating, is buoyant in water, and can easily attach to the exterior of your pack (ah, the perks of proper waterproofing). Also, with an 8-hour battery life and the ability to charge your phone (and other devices) through the USB port, you can hike assured you’ll have tunes for your entire trip. – Presented by Skullcandy

Topo Designs Mountain Rolltop Backpack

You’d lose your appetite if you saw my last backpack. It looked like a witch had cursed a hobo into an inanimate object. A few weeks ago, I finally put the old bag out of its misery, and this is the backpack that took its place. So far, it has served me the same way my old one did. It holds my climbing gear: harness, shoes, chalk bag, water bottle. It holds my weekend-jaunt gear: clothes, sneakers, whatever else. Just this past Thanksgiving weekend, I somehow managed to stuff it with four days’ worth of clothes. Admittedly, I wasn’t crazy about the white and yellow and red, at first — but it has grown on me since then. It is retro, sentimental. And I like sentimental things. (Why else would I keep a disgusting backpack for two years?) – Michael Finn

Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini

The Lighthouse Mini is small enough to jam into the last gaps available in my pack but shines more than bright enough light to cook or play cards by. The adjustable dimmer keeps the battery lasting forever, and the metal hook loop is great for hanging the lamp in the tent. I bring it on every trip — and I also use it as a bedside reading lamp in my apartment.
Tanner Bowden

Arc’teryx Tantalus Jacket

Shoulder-season weather in New York is ugly, and although it’s a ski jacket, my Arc’teryx Tantalus has quickly become my go-to inclement weather piece. It’s more durable than any standard rain jacket, has a very minimal liner and is 100 percent waterproof. The fit is great too, just roomy enough to layer underneath, but trim enough not to look out of place in the city. – AJ Powell

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