- The bell announcing the end of Outdoor Retailer rung about 72 hours ago, and I am still nursing a gear hangover. In the sea of the show floor, these following "Best For" standouts weren't quite Gear of the Show worthy but they still promise to change the way we think about gear.
Best Camping Accessory: Sea to Summit Premium Aeros PillowCreating a pillow with my stuff sack and a mid-layer is easy during the fall and winter when I carry an 800-fill down jacket. Summer, on the other hand, offers considerably fewer options for comfortable stuffing. My old neck rejoiced when I thought of testing the Sea to Summit Premium Aeros pillow—the 2.8-ounce pillow won't weigh down my pack, blows up to a respectable 14" x 10" size in about a breath, and stuffs down to the size of a tangerine. The fleecy exterior of the pillow is downright supple and Sea to Summit claims they specifically brushed it so it wouldn't stick to beards. Available Spring '14. ($40)
Best Throwback: Stanley Classic Steel LunchboxStanley turned 100 last year and celebrated by releasing their 100th Anniversary Vintage Bottle ($38), which was a replica of their first thermos. On top of the aesthetically pleasing throwback design, the thermos lived up to its thermo-regulating promise when we tested it with hot toddies on casual cross-country skiing trips. While the Stanley Classic Steel Lunch Box doesn't have as sexy of an accompanying story, it's stamped from single-walled SPCD steel, making it light to the touch, and sturdy. Plus, it will make you look like a 1920's riveter when you bring it to work. Available Spring '14. ($40)
(Second) Best Sleeping Bag: Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800This year, Sierra Designs dropped the number of sleeping bags they are offering from 13 to five—saying they focused their efforts on innovation. This choice paid off. We gave a Gear of the Show award to the Sierra Designs' Backcountry Bed 800, and the Mobile Mummy 800 was my second favorite sleeping bag at the show. Arm holes on either side accommodate people (like myself) who sleep with their hands under their head and allow you to access gear in your tent or read without having to fold the bag below your chest. You can also zip the bottom of the bag half way up and button it to your back to make yourself a walking mummy bag. Available Spring '14. ($349 - $399)
Best Tech Friendly Pack: Osprey Portal Series Cyber PackThe Cyber Pack looks like the love child of a waterproof iPad case and commuter pack. Unzip the front panel of the Cyber Pack and tuck it away, and you can access your tablet through Osprey's "portal" without taking the tablet out of the pack. The pack's "powerhouse cord organizer" looks a lot like any dopp kit that you would bring traveling with you, but I appreciate Osprey pushing the point of placing all of your cords in one place. Available now. ($129)
Best Casual Shoe: Salewa Escape GTXI appreciate how sharp Salewa's Italian leather Escape GTXs look, but their real appeal comes from the tech story hidden underneath the outsole. Solid outsoles trap vapor and severely hinder breathability. Salewa fused a layer of kevlar mesh to the outsole so they could break the outsole apart—without damaging durability—to create air flow through the bottom of the shoe. Salewa claims this allows 100 percent vapor release throughout the waterproof breathable shoe. Available Spring '14. ($169)
Best Hardcore Tailgaiting Accessory: Yeti TankBefore we go any further, so I can fully share my Yeti experience with you, please watch this amazing video I saw at the Yeti booth. Okay, now that we have that out of the way, Yeti says the $200 tank—a beer bucket on steroids—is for people who take partying seriously. The Tank shares the same double walled thermoformed exterior with all other Yeti products so it promises to be just as durable. As for the partying, the Tank fits 60 bottles, 96 cans, or one keg of beer. We have tested and been thoroughly impressed with the durability and cold retaining qualities of Yeti's burly top-of-the-line coolers. We look forward to using a Tank at staff parties and deciding for ourselves whether investing $200 in this beer bucket is worth it. Available now. ($200)
Best Deal: Rab AtmosWe love Rab. Outside showers Rab with Gear of the Year awards every other Buyer's Guide or so for good reason—the UK based company makes absolutely bomb-proof jackets. We also realize that the jackets we love so much are out of many people's price range. Enter the Atmos. This year, Rab used Pertex to make a three-layer waterproof breathable jacket—while still maintaining Rab's attention to fit detail—to lower the price point to $215. While still expensive, it is $125 dollars less than the same jacket made from eVent material. Thanks Rab. Available Spring '14. ($215)
Best Steeze: Dakine Wolf Print BagsThe Odell Roller ($130), Capital Pack ($40), and Crescent Hip Pack ($32) are not new models for Dakine this season. What is new is the fact that Dakine built them with a two tone light blue and WOLF PRINT material. I felt rad just taking pictures of them. While I do not wear skinny jeans and have not sported an ironic mustache in a decade, these packs howled to my inner hipster—in a good way. Available Spring '14. ($32 - $130)
Best Workout Accessory: Yurbuds VentureI have tested the Yurbuds Inspire Limited Edition and Inspire Pro models and have been impressed with how comfortably they sit in my ears—as well with their sound quality. Smart editions to the line like near waterproofing and magnets that allow you to snap the buds behind your neck give the Yurbuds Venture more of an outdoor than exercise lean. While I am not personally that into bringing dubstep into the backcountry, I still appreciate the time they took creating a product for people who do. Available now. ($100)
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