Looking Back at the Year in Outdoor Gear
This Year in Gear: 50 Notable Outdoor Products Released in 2017
With a deluge of new products hitting store shelves and browser windows every day, it’s easy to lose track of everything that happens in a year. So, to jog our memories a bit as the year winds to a close, we combed through our Today in Gear archives and other news briefs to reflect back on all of the notable products we discovered in 2017. The result is a new series we’re calling This Year in Gear, and we hope you’ll enjoy reviewing this snapshot of the outdoor industry’s work as much as we have. Think we missed something, or just want to sound off on any trends you noticed? Let us know by dropping a comment on Facebook, Twitter or email.
Tactical Distributors Carlos Ray Pants 2.1
“Tactical” is a descriptor often applied to knives and flashlights, but not pants. That was, until 2013, when Tactical Distributors introduced The Carlos Ray, with its stretchy and comfy cotton construction that included reinforced pockets, articulating knees and a gusseted crotch. Now the practical trousers are back with even more utility built in. The redesign includes extra mag pockets on both legs, triple stitching in critical zones and even a secret handcuff key pocket —so you’ll be prepared for anything.
Fifty-Nine Parks Posters
Sixteen of the greatest US National Parks, from Acadia to Zion — the “crown jewels” of America, as they are often called — in a beautifully illustrated collection of frame-worthy poster art. An added bonus: 5 percent of your purchase goes to the National Park Service. What better excuse to show your love and pride for wild places?
Aether Alpine Shell
A blizzard-proof technical shell built for long, blustery chairlift rides and for bombing double-black diamonds. The three-layer fabric regulates body heat wonderfully — nice and warm when you’re inactive, then breathable when the riding gets sweaty. It’s also totally wind-repellant and waterproof and has all the pockets you need: two on the upper chest, two near the waist, interior pockets for your phone and goggles. A detachable snow skirt seals out splashes of even the deepest powder, and in the event of an avalanche, an integrated RECCO rescue reflector ensures ski patrol will find you as quickly as possible.
Tenkara Rod Co. The Cascade Package
Tenkara’s smallest rod yet — 8 feet when extended, 18 inches when collapsed. It also comes with two cases (one hardshell, one soft), a basic line spool, fly line and three flies. Ideal for fisherman who desire portability above all else, or for young learners.
Hydro Flask 10-Ounce Insulated Rocks Glasses
Everything that makes Hydro Flask great — clean design, fantastic temperature regulation, guaranteed for life — now in backcountry tumbler form. (You wouldn’t pull top-shelf whiskey from a Nalgene bottle, would you?)
Vasque Breeze III GTX Hiking Boot
Vasque’s best hiking boot, upgraded with better ventilation, better traction and a more comfortable fit.
Snow Peak Field Oven
For those camping trips when an open fire or portable grill won’t cut it, Japanese outdoor retailer Snow Peak introduces the Field Oven. Fitting squarely atop Snow Peak’s Pack & Carry Fireplace and Grill Bridge, the stainless steel attachment converts a fire pit into an oven capable of baking bread and cooking pizzas. A built-in ceramic tray ensures even heating for crisp crusts, while a compact design and lifting harness make for easy transportation.
Scrubba Portable Clothes Washing System
A washboard that fits in your pocket, backpack or suitcase. On the outside, nothing more than a packable dry bag; inside, hundreds of tiny scrub brushes. Simply drop in some clothes and a splash of soap, seal it up, and knead.
HEAdesigns Wingman Pocketknife
Who says a bespoke pocketknife has to look like an antique? Sam Abdelrahman, the founder of HEAdesigns, crafted his latest midsize folder with an eye to the future. “I wanted to design something that looked like it could move at the speed of light,” he says. But the Wingman’s flash isn’t all exterior; the knife’s Wharncliffe blade is forged from high-quality stainless steel and, when folded, hides flush inside its aircraft-grade titanium handle.
Stance Adventure Socks
The folks at Stance have long been masters of sock design, but have mostly stuck to casual, dress and sport. Now they’ve entered into the camping and hiking realm. The new collection includes 10 uniquely patterned socks, several of which have a nice and thick footbed for multi-day treks.
Mountainsmith Slingback Chair
Perhaps the lightest, most portable camp chair ever designed. All it needs it two trekking poles. Wrapped up, it’s no bigger than a burrito.
Goldwin Hooded Spur Coat
The name Goldwin may be unfamiliar to many outside Asia and Europe, but that changes now. At this year’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, the Japanese company showcased a collection of outerwear and lifestyle goods that had it all: outstanding attention to detail, mountain-ready performance, urban sensibility. The Hooded Spur Coat is a perfect example. Its three-layer Gore-Tex outer is soft and seam-sealed against all moisture; the urban silhouette sits low and relaxed; six large pockets are placed thoughtfully inside and out. Also available in navy.
Poler Stuff Rucksack
Poler Stuff’s new spring collection is loaded with bold, outdoorsy goods. This retro backpack is just a small taste. It has a nylon body, two side pockets, a large main compartment and a 15-inch laptop sleeve.
Topo Designs Tech Pants
Hiking season is upon us. Travel season is always upon us. These pants from Topo Designs — with flexible nylon, cinch-able ankles, a quick-release belt and several convenient pockets — are wonderful for both seasons.
Stio CFS Backpack
Stio’s new CFS collection includes one roll-top backpack and two duffels, each of which is designed specifically for the wettest, roughest conditions. The 35-liter backpack is fully weatherproof, and several secondary zippered pockets provide protection for smaller stuff. Excellent for both crusty river guides and urban commuters.
Arc’teryx Bora AR 50 Backpack
With its rotating and sliding hip belt and a weatherproof design, the Arc’teryx Bora AR 50 is the most advanced multiday pack ever made.
Stanley Master Series Vacuum Bottle
As part of its Master Series, Stanley has introduced a 1.4-quart bottle that can keep drinks hot or cold for up to 40 hours (16 hours longer than its Classic Vacuum Insulated Bottle) or iced up to 100 hours. Its meaty three-pound heft comes with a steel-lined pouring stopper and screw-off cup, both insulated with QuadVac, the brand’s new proprietary insulation technology. Dishwasher- and whitewater-friendly.
Matador Freerain24 Backpack
From the Gear Patrol Store: The Matador FreeRain24 Waterproof Packable Backpack uses the finest materials available in the outdoor industry to offer superior performance in the smallest possible package. Ideal for world travelers for use as a summit pack, it packs down to fit in the palm of your hand and unpacks into a 24-liter backpack with a waterproof main compartment. The only packable backpack suited for real adventure.
Mountain Standard Lightweight Pullover Hoodie
An elevated technical hoodie, born in and made for the high-elevation lifestyle of the Rockies. Made of polyester and brushed fleece, it’s lightweight and breathable, and it performs wonderfully both on its own and under a jacket.
Surf Shacks: An Eclectic Compilation of Surfers’ Homes
Even if you’ve never stood up on a board you’ve probably been affected by surf culture in some way. It permeates everything from style to music; this coffee table book filled with beautiful images and beach bum inspiration will make you want to quit your day job and live by the tide.
BioLite SiteLight XL
In close-quarters campsites, headlamps can sometimes be blindingly bright. That’s where area lighting comes in — a concept that, oddly enough, has been shunned by most campers. (“It’s superfluous!” “It takes too much time to set up!”) For those willing to give campsite area lighting a chance, check out BioLite’s new glowing orb. It’s collapsible, extremely lightweight (92 grams — lighter than most headlamps), dimmable (300 lumens maximum) and daisy-chainable (BioLite has loads of other area lighting solutions), and it plugs into any USB power source.
NEMO Riff 15 Sleeping Bag
NEMO’s latest spoon-shaped sleeping bag (that’s a niche they’ve carved out for themselves) is packable like a mummy bag yet roomy like a traditional rectangular bag, making it ideal for side sleepers and late-night tossers and turners. It also features “gills” for letting hot air escape, ensuring a non-sweaty slumber during fall, spring or summer camping.
Sea to Summit Pro Hammock
All backcountry hammocks should be lightweight, compact and easy to use, but it rarely happens that way. Sea to Summit’s Pro Hammock, meanwhile, has risen to become one of the most advanced single-person hammocks available. A high-strength plated-steel buckle system makes tightening or loosening easier than ever. Its featherweight ripstop nylon construction weighs in at just 12.7 ounces and an integrated compression sack that squeezes it down to the size of a baseball.
The Ball and Buck x Randolph Angler
Based on classic pilot sunglasses, the Anglers are designed with the fisherman in mind. The bayonet temples sit steadily on the ears, and the polarized lenses make them ideal for outdoor activities. They’re also great for the city, and the antique brass finish and square frame give them a dash of ’70s swagger.
TrailNest Rooftop Hammock
TrailNest’s origin story follows a logical if not familiar trajectory: man gets sick of sweaty nights camping out in the back of a truck; man buys hammock; man is harassed by coyotes throughout the night while sleeping in hammock; man searches for way to sleep on top of car. And so TrailNest and the rooftop hammock stand were born, ushering in a new spin on overland camping that replaces trailers and pop-up tents with a collapsible, roof rack-style armature capable of supporting up to 250 pounds. TrailNest also makes accessories like floor panels, a telescoping ladder and a stand that supports two free-swinging sleepers.
Wanderlust: A Hiker’s Companion
If you’re a slower Forrest Gump, take a walk with this guidebook, which features “legendary walking routes with inviting maps, practical tips, and inspiring landscape photographs.” Just get the right boots first.
Mondraker Foxy Carbon RR SL
Fifteen years ago, Mondraker revealed the Foxy Carbon. It went on to become the brand’s most iconic mountain bike. In celebration of the Foxy Carbon’s 15th anniversary, Mondraker has enhanced the bike tenfold: thinner tubes, flatter profile, optimized suspension, near-perfect geometry and more.
Vuori Ripstop Climber Pants
Climber style is having a moment. These pants channel that laid-back, West Coast style wonderfully: they are enzyme-washed for a worn-in feel; they contain plenty of pockets, both zippered and mesh, for securing gear; and they’re loose yet tapered, so they work just as great in the city as they do on the crag.
Klymit LiteWater Dinghy Packraft
At just 35 ounces, the LiteWater Dinghy Packraft is among the lightest and most packable pack rafts ever designed. It functions much like a kayak, maneuvering surprisingly well on flat water and minor rapids, and packs down into a small roll-top bag, which, when empty, doubles as a dry sack.
The Edge of the World
For Outside magazine’s 40th anniversary, its senior editors (along with Jimmy Chin, arguably the world’s most famous adventure photographer) created The Edge of the World: A Visual Adventure to the Most Extraordinary Places on Earth: a compilation of Outside magazine’s most stunning photos captured over the past 40 years. In total, the tome contains more than 140 photos, along with firsthand accounts from photographers and journalists.
Phoozy Thermal Phone Capsule
Your phone case does many things, but one thing it doesn’t do is protect against extreme temperatures. This is why your phone goes black whenever you leave it out in the sun or in your car’s glovebox during winter. Slip your phone into the Phoozy pouch, though, and it’ll never overheat or freeze again. The thermal material is adapted from space suit technology; it also protects your phone from drops and keeps it afloat in water.
Primus Kamoto OpenFire Pit
Nevermind that it’s an instantaneous firepit. Nevermind that it unfolds in mere seconds. Nevermind that it’s portable, comes in two sizes, and blocks the wind. The real attraction here is Primus’s incredible story: for 125 years, the Swedish company has been producing camping stoves, making them one of the oldest outdoors brands in existence. Their stoves were used by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay during the first ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953. Their stoves were used by Roald Amundsen, when he became the first person to reach the South Pole in 1911. And their stoves will be used by you, too.
Hydroflask “My Hydro” Customization Program
There are too many water bottles in this world. Worse, none of them are designed for you, by you. With Hydro Flask’s My Hydro customizable water bottle, you can create the only one you’ll ever need. The stainless steel, powder-coated bottle comes in seven sizes with two lid types and 14+ colors; each of the four parts gets its own color, allowing for thousands of different configurations. At its core, it’s a tried-and-true Hydro Flask — cold liquids stay cold for 24 hours, hot liquids for six.
Vargo Titanium Dig Tool
For strapping down to the front of your ultralight thru-hiking pack.
BMC Speedfox AMP
Electric mountain bikes continue to surprise us. BMC’s latest is sure to convert even the most orthodox riders. It has a mountain-specific Shimano E-8000 drive, a powerful battery housed in the downtube, a carbon rear triangle and more.
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
At 9.3 ounces, the Micro Puff is Patagonia’s lightest jacket ever. It also has the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any jacket in Patagonia’s current line.
Helly Hansen HH Pile Fleece
Over the course of its 140-year-long life, Helly Hansen has come to be known as a maker of some of the world’s finest high-performance sportswear and workwear. This year, in celebration of its 140-year anniversary, the company is bringing back one of its most classic garments: the HH Pile Fleece. It is virtually identical to the 1961 original, but with softer, lighter fleece. And the HH Pile Fleece isn’t Helly Hansen’s only commemoration of its roots — the 140 Heritage Collection contains rain jackets, baselayers, hats and more.
Danner Explorer 650
An homage to the original 1979 Danner Light, arguably Danner’s most influential and most classic hiking boot design, the Explorer 650 once again raises the bar even further, adding new hiking boot technology from top to bottom. For maximum abrasion resistance, the Explorer 650 combines full-grain leather with nylon panels, both of which are fully waterproof and superbly breathable. It is a boot that yearns for the trail, just as its ancestor did, but loves a night out on the town just as much.
Five years ago, BioLite reinvented portable outdoor cooking with the CampStove. Now, they’ve reinvented the campfire.
Burton x Danner Snowboard Boot
How’s this for a match made in heaven: a high-performance Burton snowboard boot, merged with Danner’s classic Quarry hiking boot. Best worn with buffalo-checkered flannel.
Leki Aergonlite 2 V Touring Pole
If Forrest Gump ran coast-to-coast not over tarmac and gravel, but over mountains and snow — he’d need these, Leki’s most advanced touring poles to date.
Vasque Coldspark UltraDry Insulated Hiking Boots
After a few hours of trekking in hot weather, hiking boots and socks feel suffocating. You can hardly wait to peel them off. In the cooler months, though ordinary hiking boots chill your feet into more blue territory, so you need boots with proper insulation, like Vasque’s Coldspark UltraDry™. It has 200 grams of 3M Thinsulate insulation supplemented by UltraDry™, Vasque’s own special waterproofing technology. The lug’s dual-density PU compound is built for cold weather, providing sticky traction on both rock and snow.
Salewa has been producing a full range of technical mountain gear in the South Tyrol region of Italy’s Dolomites for over 80 years. But it was only six years ago that the company brought some of its goods to North America (and only footwear, at that). Salewa is cranking things up another notch and bringing its apparel to this side of the Atlantic with a collection built on everything from locally sourced Italian sheep wool to the Gore-Tex you know and love.
Helly Hansen ULLR Powder Suit
One-pieces are often thought of as “throwback” when it comes to winter outerwear, the stuff of thrift shops. Helly Hansen is out to change that with its new suit. Built with a three-layer fabric construction and fully taped seams, the ULLR is a solid piece of technical outerwear in its own right. The suit is extra roomy, which is great for freeriding, but it also means that there was space for some nice features like a pocket specifically designed to keep your phone from dying during sub-zero days on the mountain.
Quiksilver Highline Airlift Vest
There is no more dangerous ocean sport than big wave surfing. The waves are steep, and can be as tall as buildings. Errors can result in long falls and heavy, minutes-long hold-downs beneath crushing waves. Built in collaboration with the dive company Aqua Lung, the AirLift vest aims to minimize this danger and get surfers back to the oxygen above the surface, as quickly as possible. It’s made from neoprene and packs CO2 cartridges that allow the low-profile piece to inflate to keep its wearer above the foam. Available October 14.
Yakima FatCat EVO Ski Rack
There are plenty of ways to cart your ski and snowboard gear up to the mountain — laying down a backseat and squeezing them in diagonally shouldn’t be one of them. (It’s far too slushy for that.) Yakima, the rack brand named for the Washington town it once called home, has plenty of rooftop racks on offer, and its latest is its quietest, most streamlined and fattest yet. The FatCat comes in two sizes — one fits four pairs of skis and two boards; the other, six and four — and it’s designed to accommodate the wider tip profiles of increasingly shapely modern skis.
The North Face Cryos Collection
The North Face’s Cryos line is perhaps its most “premium” winter apparel collection to date. The collection includes jackets, boots, gloves and hats, all of which feature some variation of GORE-TEX, down insulation or cashmere. Like The North Face’s alpine high-performance Summit Series, many of the items are embellished with advanced technical details; what’s different is the collection’s overall aesthetic — minimal, urban, refined.
The North Face x Pendleton Collection
Brand collaborations like this one are a dime a dozen. But rarely are they this good. Paired with Pendleton’s classic wool jacquard patterns, which are processed and woven right here in the USA, The North Face’s products take on a whole new cabin-adventure-ready spirit. The collection includes a vest, two jackets, a backpack, down booties and a ballcap.
Mountain Standard Utility Glove and Mitt
Colorado-based Mountain Standard launched durable gloves and mittens made with premium goat leather. Each pair contains Primaloft Gold Insulation for supreme warmth as well as a waterproof liner, just in case. The gloves and mitts also have accents for durability such as foam pads on the backs of the hands, and all the stitching is done with kevlar fibers.
Salomon S/Lab Shift Ski Bindings
Skiers who want to explore the backcountry have always had to face one crucial decision: buy a second set of everything that’s dedicated to touring (expensive), or use a heavy frame binding that works at the resort, and out of bounds. Not anymore. Salomon’s new binding, the S/Lab Shift, is a true merger of lightweight backcountry and frontside downhill bindings. It’s highly engineered with 300 parts, but the real innovation is in the toe, which uses uphill climbing pins that snap in — transformer-style — when a skier is ready to go downhill.
Additional editorial contributions were made by Tann Bowden, AJ Powell, Michael Finn, John Zientek, Tucker Bowe and Grant Tillery