Our Favorite Hard Tops

Best Bicycling Helmets for Every Rider

The tricky thing about an aging helmet is you never know when it's time to replace it, and you definitely don't want to be too late. If you're in the market, there are many good options this year, equipped with new materials, new technology and new innovations in aerodynamics. These are five of the best.

Buying Guide
Embrace your baggage

10 Best Daypacks for Every Adventure

While the lifetime warrantee on your North Face pack from grammar school is meant to be honored, there’s something to be said for retiring before things unravel. Today’s daypacks will haul your climbing gear or your laptop over mountains and through airports. These are our favorites.

Buying Guide
Light shoes, fast hikes

The Best Hiking Shoes of 2014

If you’re traveling light and fast in the mountains or just need something to walk the local trail system, you can skip a full-fledged hiking boot in favor of a hiking shoe. These are our five favorites.

Buying Guide
Warm, Dry, and Comfortable...that's far from base

Second Skin: 5 Best Base Layers

Whether you're training for a ski mountaineering race or just sick of shivering on your morning commute, staying warm and dry is objective number one. The base layer you choose to wear while doing battle with the elements can't guarantee success, but it sure as hell can guarantee ruin. But have hope. New synthetic fabrics offer amazing moisture-wicking properties, while merino wool is experiencing a renaissance with temperature regulating properties that are borderline miraculous. We've done the leg work to find the best base layers for every outdoor activity and situation for upcoming winters, falls and springs.

Buying Guide
Earn Your Turns

Kit: Ski Mountaineering

Ski mountaineering is the ultimate punishment tour in the mountains -- moving uphill with heavy gear through deep snow and ice -- with a perfect payoff when it's time to go down. We spent this winter testing the best winter mountaineering and ski gear on some of the biggest peaks in Utah and Colorado as we trained for the Power of 4 Ski Mountaineering Race. If you're looking to start going further in search of deep powder, look no further for the best extreme-condition gear for any winter climbing mission.

Buying Guide
Powderhound Perfection

Photo Essay: Wagner x GP Skis

The pipe dream of skis built to fit your style and body has long been the realm of pro racers and big mountain free skiers. Decidedly unsponsored skiers like us have always had to make do with off-the-rack solutions -- until now. One small Telluride, Colorado boutique manufacturer, Wagner Custom Skis, has a secret formula for designing and building the best personalized skis in the world at prices that are accessible to most serious skiers. Together with Wagner's engineers we designed a pair of ultimate ski mountaineering boards; then we put them to the test among the famous 13,000 foot peaks of Telluride Mountain Resort.

The Skiing Issue
Pow, Wow

Kit: Powder Day

Deep powder is a religious experience, and it takes just one perfect day of blue skies and bottomless snow to become a pious worshiper. From Alyeska to Taos, powderhounds feverishly monitor weather reports for the next big storm, and after spending a weekend skiing 12,000-foot ridges in Telluride, we know exactly why: powder skiing is as close as man can get to flying in the mountains. The best way to enjoy the fluffy stuff is with the right gear. Here’s what we pack on Powder Day.

The Skiing Issue
Bound for Success

Locked In: 5 Best Ski Bindings

Bindings often go overlooked in favor of the flashiness of a new pair of skis or boots. But as your only contact point for control and power transfer along the 170-180cm boards you’re strapping on, and your final line of safety in a major crash, they’re the most important piece of gear for a successful and safe season. Read on for a breakdown of the best ski bindings for this season.

The Skiing Issue
Two Boards Good

Mountain Chargers: 5 Best Skis of 2014

A new pair of skis is more than just a new piece of expensive gear: it’s an investment in winter stoke. It doesn’t matter if you’re a stone cold powder hound or a retired gate-crashing racer, we’ve got five pairs of skis to cover your needs this season.

The Skiing Issue
Crash into me, baby

Tested: Evolv Iceman Bouldering Pad

Bouldering is a relatively new evolution in rock climbing, and lacking ropes or other protection makes it one of the more dangerous. With steep overhangs and extremely technical moves, you're going to spend a significant portion of the day falling on your butt, making a good crash pad absolutely essential. We recently had an opportunity to practice bouldering in the limestone caves of American Fork Canyon and the sandstone crags of Moab, where our well-worn Evolv Iceman Crash Pad ($135) was a constant source of support.

Because it's too cold to go out alone

K9 Cool: Winter Gear for Fido

Whether it's a morning stroll through the local park or a multi-day trek down the Pacific Crest Trail, there are plenty of adventures that we want to share with our four-legged buddies. Winter weather presents challenges, but the right gear makes all the difference. We're not talking about the latest matching sweater set your great aunt and her little Yorkie were sporting at Thanksgiving dinner. No, cold weather gear for your canine buddy is as high-tech as anything you might find for yourself. We round up the best products to keep your furry friend on the trail all winter long.

Buying Guide
Gear for the Top of World

Kit: Free Solo Climbing

Sometimes the mountains just call your name. Whether you've got a season to train for a summit bit up Mt. Rainier or just a Saturday afternoon to log some miles hiking up the local ski hill, the right gear can mean the difference between enjoying the majesty and struggling through misery (or worse). Here's the gear we used for our recent solo free climb of Mount Olympus in Utah -- but it's perfect for any ultralight mountain mission.

Buying Guide
Gifts For The Wilderness Explorer

12 Guys of Christmas: The Adventurer

What do you get the guy who spends more time sleeping under the stars each year than most people do in their entire lives? The guy who has gear for every season, every sport, journey, and surprise bug-out? When buying for the discerning backpacker, climber, skier, and general "live larger" type, you can't simply walk into the nearest outdoor shop and buy something flashy. These explorers live and breathe in the world of Gore-Tex, crampons, and ice axes -- and a gift card will get you dropped faster than the cell phone coverage on his last jungle trek. Stumped? Don't be. We've tested out some great gear this year and zeroed in on the best selections for the adventurer. He might destroy your gift on his next expedition into the wild, but he'll be grateful you bought the best.

Gift Guide
Mother Goose

Patagonia Encapsil Down Belay

If there's one constant in almost all mountain activities, it's that sooner or later you're going to come across nasty weather. It doesn't matter if you're chasing big walls in Yosemite, powder lines in Courcheval or summit days in the Canadian Rockies -- staying warm is the difference between owning a harrowing expedition and bailing back to civilization with your tail between your legs. Patagonia's Special Edition Encapsil Down Belay Parka ($699), a perfect fusion of purpose-driven engineering and uncommon design, is the most formidable backcountry armor on the market.

GP100
Race. Rinse. Repeat.

Get Well: 5 Best Recovery Tools

If you think that your performance on race day is only tied to your best efforts on the track or your bike during training, you're overlooking the most important part of your training cycle: recovery. By spending all day focusing on how you're going to break your body down during your next CrossFit binge and not on how you're going to rebuild and progress, you're already two steps behind your competitors. Read on for the best recovery products to step up your game.

Buying Guide
A Dozen Gifts for the Mountain Man

12 Guys of Christmas: The Outdoorsman

We've all got a guy in our lives who's more at home chopping a cord of wood or filleting his latest fly fishing catch than spending the day lazing in front of the TV or playing Halo with the bros. He'd wear flannel and hiking boots to board meetings if he could. For that ultimate outdoorsman on your gift list this year, forego the REI gift card and DVD set of Duck Dynasty. Whether he spends his time hunting big game, scouring the river for the best brook trout lies, or just enjoys living in front of a campfire instead of a laptop, we've got the best gifts for the modern day backwoodsman.

Gift Guide
Initiate Ghost Protocol

Five Ten STEALTH MI6 Rubber

In 2010, the crew of the latest Mission: Impossible movie called Charles Cole, Five Ten's president, with one simple question: could he design a shoe that could climb up a glass wall? Cole and his team went to work on their Stealth C4 rubber, rebuilding it stickier than ever. The result? Rubber that is viscous enough to gain purchase on glass (just watch Tom Cruise use it in Mission: Impossible), while maintaining the durability to do battle with even the sharpest rock faces. We got a look at Five Ten's Team VXi and Freerider VXi Element ($125), two groundbreaking pieces of footwear.

GP100
Home away from home

Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 DP

A tent can be your portable backcountry palace or can just as easily feel like a nylon coffin with a view. Unless you're looking to shell out a few thousand dollars to set up a basecamp in the Himalayas, the Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 ($550) is your best bet for logging serious miles and catching serious Zs during your down time.

GP100
The Only Skis You Need

DPS Wailer 112RP

We first heard about Utah ski brand DPS from a few locals after poaching some storm day powder lines at Snowbird Ski Resort a couple of seasons ago. Over a few apres ski beers in the lodge they spoke in hushed tones of ultralight carbon fiber skis that a few of the pros were using to rip steeper lines and push faster speeds than ever before. Turns out, if you're hunting for the best ski of 2013, adding to your growing quiver, or even downsizing to a "one ski fits all", there just isn't a ski that handles the entire mountain like the Wailer 112RP ($1,249).

GP100
No Trail? No Problem

Flexible Footwear: 5 Best Approach Shoes

Somewhere between short day hikes in Yellowstone and forays above the tree line to bag a couple of Colorado 14ers last year, you probably realized your trail runners or light hiking shoes just don't cut it on off-trail, gnarly terrain. Technical approach shoes blend everything you like about your trail-running shoes -- ankle support, beefy soles, light weight -- with the sticky rubber and technical details of a climbing shoe or heavier boot. If you're going to spend a few hours tackling slot canyons in red rock country or slogging long miles to your favorite local peak -- or even if you just want a little extra support to stick on the mountain, these approach shoes will keep you on the trail.

Buying Guide
The antithesis of the treadmill

Switchback Sprinters: 10 Best Trail Running Shoes

After a long day stuck in the office or boardroom, sometimes pounding pavement just doesn't cut it. The right shoes make the difference between enjoying the boulder field at 10,000 feet and calling it a day at the first stream crossing. Whether you're training for the Sky Running Race of Champions or just looking to trade your tried and true 5k evening run in for some time on gravel and dirt, GP's testers have a shoe for every off-road run.

Buying Guide
Neither rain nor sleet nor snow...

The Best All-Weather Running Jackets

If we had it our way, every run would start and finish in perfect weather. But Mother Nature's idea of perfect isn't always a picturesque sunset or a sunny beach. For those of us not living in a running commercial, sometimes the long-mileage day may start with a thunderstorm or a few inches of snow. Whether you're just heading around the block a few times, working on your interval training or putting in a marathon, we've found the best running jackets for soldiering through the tough stuff.

Personalize Your Ride

Dialed In: 5 Bike Fitting Systems

If you've ever spent time in a local bike shop, you've heard the salesmen, repair techs and riders talk about getting the perfect "fit"; talk to a cycling or triathlon coach and they can wax all day and night about optimal hip and knee angles. But what does that mean for you? What exactly is a bike fit? We've broken down five of the most popular fit systems and algorithms you might run across in your search for the perfect bike.

Limits
Crank it out

Clipped In: 5 Best Road Bike Pedals

Relatively few upgrades have as lasting an effect as changing your bike's contact points -- saddle, handlebars, and pedals. Pedals in particular are often overlooked in our quest to go faster, but a good pair makes you forget that your feet have been locked into your bike for a few hours as you power through the toughest parts of a ride. We've got the best road bike pedals for every budget and type of rider so you can turn heads while you turn the cranks.

Limits
Tomorrow's Gear, Today

The Best of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013

Every summer the outdoor industry gets together to show off their latest products and innovations for the next season -- and every summer we drool over the best climbing, hiking, and outdoor gear money can buy. If you spend hours researching your next ultralight backpacking kit purchase, geek out over climbing shoe rubber, or spend late nights planning your next backcountry camping trip, the Outdoor Retailer show is a mecca. We were on hand to scope out the best gear for this fall and next spring so you can be first in line when the time rolls around.

Buying Guide
Run Like You Mean It

Pavement Pounders: 10 Best Running Shoes

Summer heat waves are on the edge of winding down, and that’s good news: you can run without your shoes melting to the road. If you've been stuck all summer plodding along on a treadmill in the gym or running in the predawn hours to avoid scorchers, now is a great time to reassess your aging kicks and consider an update. We could go on about minimal vs. conventional, the merits of cushioning and drop angles and tread patterns, or we could just find the best shoes of the year to help you with one thing: working on your fast. Our search for the best running shoes of the year yielded more than a few contenders, and unless you plan on leaving them in your closet to collect dust, there's not a single shoe here that won’t help you get to the front of the pack.

Buying Guide
Pack it in

The 10 Best Backpacks for Every Adventure

From easy day hikes to multi-day treks, a good pack on your back can make carrying a load a joy (relatively speaking), especially if you draw the short straw and have to carry the extra beer on a five day expedition through Zion National Park. The perfect pack is a simple one: it carries everything you need and nothing you don't. In practice, this is much harder than it seems and involves careful planning and design. Beware of the old trap. If you have the space, you'll try to fill it with something. Whether you're throwing gear together for a short hike to your favorite fly fishing spot or taking a month-long stroll down the Continental Divide, less is more. With that in mind, we've picked the best backpacks to put a few miles on this season. Features like load distributing-straps, rainflys and easy access to hydration all made the cut. Heavy materials, unneeded space, and dead weight? Not so much.

Sponsored Post
Celebrating Adventure Sports in Vail, CO

Photo Essay: GoPro Mountain Games

Somewhere between my third (or possibly fourth) spill off my paddle board into Gore Creek and my first lung-busting lap up the mountain bike course, it finally sunk in that the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, CO was so much more than just the suffering I was subjecting myself to. Featuring adventure and mountain sports like freestyle kayaking, bouldering (think rock climbing 25-foot walls with no rope), mountain biking, a dock dogs competition, and slacklining, the Games has a competition for just about everyone. That's not to mention the carnival of fun one-offs: the gear expo, open air concerts, a mountain film festival and demos of new bikes and boards. See everything the Games had to offer in this photo essay.

Limits
Lighting Up the Backcountry

Tested: Goal Zero Solar

Even the most seasoned adventurer has had that terrible moment: miles from the car on an arduous hike back from the latest backcountry adventure, your headlamp sputters out on a moonless night. If you’d prefer to make it back to civilization in one piece -- and have a little luxury -- on your next mountain excursion, having back-up batteries and a solar charger goes a long way. We tested out some of Goal Zero Solar's newest back-up batteries and portable solar panels on a recent backpacking trip through the Uinta Range in northeast Utah.

Limits
A stand-up guy, a stand-up board

Tested: Boardworks Surf Badfish MCIT SUP Board

After spending my morning commute passing the Stand-up Paddling Yoga group (yes, it's a thing) at the local pond, I got curious and found the perfect venue to explore this blossoming sport: the Vail Summer Mountain Games. The only disconnect between registering for the SUP river sprint at the Summer Mountain Games and actually racing? I'd never been on a paddle board. But first times are a charm, so I settled on the ten-foot six-inch Boardworks Surf Badfish Board ($1,429) and made for the water.

Limits
Made in the Shades

Polarized Perfection: 8 Great Shades For Every Summer Activity

With the latest heatwave glaring down on us, it's important to remember the basics. No, we're not talking about getting in a few bottles of water a day -- though that is essential. We mean the perfect pair of sunglasses, that underrated adventurer's friend. Whether you'll be spending your summer hitting the roads on two wheels, kicking back and enjoying the beach life, or hiking into your favorite backcountry hideaway, we've got the best sunglasses (along with similar, more affordable options) for your summer adventures.

Buying Guide
Come for the Uranium, Stay for the Adventure

72 Hours in Moab

Forty miles south of an absolutely barren stretch of I-70 on the Colorado-Utah border sits the unlikely adventure travel capital of the Southwest desert. What Moab, Utah lacks in vegetation it makes up for in the sheer volume of red-rock activities local adrenaline junkies have dreamed up. We came to Moab with one thing in mind: to summit Ancient Art Tower -- but our free days were easily filled with stunning hikes in Arches National Park, exceptional sport climbing and bouldering along the Colorado river, and more than few local craft beers and wines.

Gear to get you up the Wall

Kit: Climbing Ancient Art Tower

No other sport relies quite as heavily on gear during life-and-death situations as climbing. Your gear is the only lifeline (and sometimes when you're a few hundred feet up a sheer wall, no amount of gear seems to be enough) holding you to the rock. Selecting the right harness, rope, and protection, then, makes the difference between not just surviving your time on the wall, but enjoying every agonizing toe hold and finger-cramping crack jam. Here's what we hauled up the rock on our climb up Ancient Art tower in Moab, Utah.

Buying Guide
For The Ski Bum In Denial

Kit: Summer Skiing

Every year for Memorial Day a few die-hard friends and I skip the barbecues to indulge our powder habit one last time. Summer skiing is our way of throwing a middle finger to the sun before our precious snow melts for another year. The festivities begin with early morning hikes above the treeline and finish with goggle-tanned, smiling faces telling stories of epic wipeouts and slushy runs around the campfire. Here's the gear we used to tackle the last runs of the year.

Roundup
Strokes of genius

Paddle Proper: 5 Great Kayaks

There’s no easier way to cool down on a hot summer day than an adventure at the local lake or river, and no better way to enjoy said body of water than a kayak. A good one will help you ditch the crowds and find the perfect hidden spot for some summer fun –- all while traveling the water less paddled. Don’t know the difference between a whitewater creek boat and an ocean kayak? We’ve got you covered with some great kayaks for summer adventure.

Summer Preview
Zero Drop, Zero Limits

Design Spotlight: Altra Zero Drop

The vernacular of the running shoe industry has morphed in recent years. While we were out pounding pavement and burning trails, the polo-clad retailer who spoke of under- and overpronation (often interchangeably) has been replaced by a more sophisticated runner who uses terms like “minimalist”, “zero-drop” and “windlass effect”. New slang is good, but it can be confusing -- and it doesn’t necessarily bring us closer to understanding what makes the perfect running shoe. To get a better grasp on what goes into running shoes today we spoke with Golden Harper, founder of Altra Zero Drop Footwear.

Original Series
A Hard Shell for the Hard Charger

Tested: Westcomb Focus Hoody

Traveling fast and light on a backpacking or climbing trip is a worthy goal. But while less junk stuffed in your pack means easier miles of trail, sometimes what's left behind would otherwise keep you warm, dry and comfortable. Westcomb's Focus Hoody claims to provide excellent protection in an ultralight form. We took it into the elements to see how it would fare.

The Right Boards For Any Mountain

Hotshots: 10 Best Skis of the 2012-2013 Season

It seems that you can’t walk through a ski resort parking lot without seeing a few new brands of skis and boards being toted around. Some of these new styles are grounded in real testing and evaluation, while others miss the mark in favor of design flashiness, but how to tell? Our intrepid ski testers put quite a few sticks to the test this season to make sure you’ve got the best ski out there. Whether you’re searching for a burly, rockered pow slasher for your upcoming Alaska trip, or you're on the prowl for the perfect park-rat set up to impress the ladies with your mute-540s in the half-pipe, the end of the season is often the best time for great deals. We’ve got the skis you should be after right here.

Buying Guide
Look Like a Local

Mountain Style: 10 Items to Try Above the Treeline

It doesn't matter if you're heading to Whistler for early spring powder turns or Fort Lander for the summer climbing festival; mountain style is a little different than your garden variety runway fare. Put the moonboots and sweat pants down. You're not fooling anyone. We've put together a few indispensable mountain style standards, chock full of storied, quality brands, to help you blend in with the locals -- unless you're heading to any ski resort in Montana. In that case, it's time to stock up on Wrangler and Carhartt.

Kit
On the slopes with ski patrol

Avalanche Rescue: Let Loose the Dogs of Snow

The call comes on the radio almost as soon as Belle and her handler, Gerald, reach to top of the Snake Creek lift. There's been an avalanche in the resort boundary. Two skiers are buried. They spring into action, the tension and excitement apparent in Belle as the two head along the Snake Creek Bowl traverse to the slide area. Within seconds, Belle has caught the scent of a victim and barrels across the snow field, letting the ski patrol members know where to follow with her eager barking. Her nose leads here directly to the first buried skier, whom she helps dig out. Read on to find out what it's like to spend a day on the slopes with an avalanche rescue squad.

Photo Essay
Great outdoors, great coffee

Camp Caffeine: Lessons in Outdoor Brewing

Something about sitting atop an unexplored peak to watch the sunrise while enjoying your favorite coffee just feels right. Maybe it's the sub-freezing temperatures and obligatory wind chill, or it's the all night trek catching up with you. With that in mind, we’ve got the best tried and true methods for brewing your favorite coffee for you next adventure, be it a weekend of car camping or a full blown backcountry expedition.

Fortnight of Coffee
Stay warm in the woods

20 Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags

Nothing ruins a backpacking trip like a terrible night's sleep (or a lack of clean underwear, but if you can't figure that one out you're beyond our help). A good sleeping bag is the key to staying warm and dry when you're crashing under the stars -- so you're at your best crossing that next 8,000 foot mountain pass. Sleeping bag tech has made its way into the space age in the last few years: your 20-year-old bag from summer camp or the Boy Scouts is no longer up to snuff. Here's our list of the best 20°F (or below) bags to ensure comfort and safety for three-season camping.

Roundup

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