Perfect Things: 2013 Editors' Choice Awards

From outdoor showers and real cowboy steaks to New Zealand's wimpy wildlife and cops on SUPs (seriously), the picks in our third annual Editors' Choice list all have one thing in common: perfection. (Inga Hendrickson)

This Is Good

From outdoor showers and real cowboy steaks to New Zealand's wimpy wildlife and cops on SUPs (seriously), the picks in our third annual Editors' Choice list all have one thing in common: perfection.

1. Detroit Manufacturing

In particular, startup bike brands Detroit Bicycle Company, Detroit Bikes, and Shinola. The latter builds exquisite city bikes in a former GM building, using lugged steel frames hand-crafted at the legendary Waterford Precision Cycles factory in Waterford, Wisconsin. The three-speed Bixby runs $2,500.

detroit bicycle company bixby
(Inga Hendrickson)

2. A Better Hoodie

One that’s tough on the outside and soft on the inside. One that lasts. One that’s made in the USA. American Giant sews its cotton hoodie in a Northern California factory but keeps the price reasonable by selling it exclusively online. $79

american giant hoodie world's best hoody
(Courtesy of American Giant)

3. Dogs That Heel Off-Leash

At all times. Without fail. Even when distracted by rabbits, bikers, and all the bad-behaving mutts on the trail.

dogs heel leesh outside perfect things
(Barna Tanko/Shutterstock)

4. Cops on SUPs

Last summer, the police department in Truckee, California, began doing daily patrols on Lake Tahoe using stand-up paddleboards. Not because it was hoping to crack down on abundant water-born crime, but just to have some positive interaction with the community.

police on SUPs outside perfect things stand up paddle boards
(Velvet Oceans/Shutterstock)

5. "Sporting"

But only when used to describe a specific moment from a recent mission, as in: “I don’t think I’d shimmy across that ridge again—it was too sporting.”

climbing outside perfect things sporting
(Yuttaset Jannarong/Shutterstock)

6. Bic Lighters

outside perfect things bic lighters
(Inga Hendrickson)

7. The Sounds of Pure Pleasure

The hissing of your skis as they slice through powder. The vibrational hum of a sailboat when you’re really ripping. The low roar of a propane lantern at a campsite.

skiing sounds of outside perfect things
(Volodymyr Goinyk /Shutterstock)

8. Super Slo-Mo

As shot by Vision Research’s HD Phantom v1610, which can slow down action-sports sequences to a glacial pace: water droplets quiver, muscles twitch, and wipeouts become epic Muybridgean disaster studies.

HD Phantom v1610 vision research action sports slo-mo slow motion
(Courtesy of Vision Research)

9. Gravel Grinders

As the exploding number of endurance bike races on unpaved roads have been dubbed. They’re long (often a few hundred miles or more), loosely organized, and primed for misadventure.

offroad biking gravel grinders unpaved outside perfect things
(Stephan Schurr/Shutterstock)

10. Outdoor Showers

contemporary modern outside timber wood contemporary modern outside timber wood wooden floor Danish Denmark EU Europe European North Zealand Scandinavian colour image day nobody outdoors outdoor shower photography running water screen shower shower fitting tap fitting vertical vertical image
(Stuart McIntyreAlamy)

11. Limited Access

Case in point: the north end of the cliff-strewn top of the Bridger Bowl ski area in Bozeman, Montana—known simply as the ridge—is reached via a short rope tow. But you can’t use it. It’s there for ski patrol, in case of an emergency. If you want to ski Bridger Gully and the Apron (and trust us, you do), you have to sling your skis over your shoulders and boot-pack your way up. You have to earn it.

bozeman montana outside perfect things
(Flashon Studios/Shutterstock)

12. Underdoing It

In 2011, rising pro triathlete Jesse Thomas won California’s highly competitive Wildflower half Ironman riding a borrowed bike and wearing $5 aviator shades he bought at a drugstore. He’s worn the same shades in every race since, winning Wildflower again in 2012.

jesse thomas outside perfect things
(Nils Nilsen)

13. Overdoing It

Like Airstream’s 27-foot-long Eddie Bauer Trailer ($80,000). You’d need a giant truck to pull it, but it’s decked out like a modern home (recessed lighting, stainless-steel appliances) and has a rear hatch large enough for a couple of boats and a whole peleton of bikes.

airstream trailer eddie bauer outside perfect things
(Courtesy of Airstream)

14. Cairns

So much more pleasing to the eye than blazes, signs, or any other kind of trail marker.

cairns trail markers outside perfect things
(Dim 154/Shutterstock)

15. A Sturdy Webbing Belt

And pretty much everything else made by Topo Designs, which sews its backpacks by hand in Denver, Colorado. $42

topo designs webbing belt outside perfect things
(Inga Hendrickson)

16. Scrambling

More exciting than simply hiking, not as involved (or scary) as roping up. The best way to cap a long ascent in the mountains.

scrambling climbing outside perfect things
(Juriah Mosin/Shutterstock)

17. A Big Eddy

Especially when it’s really, really big and located right where you need it most: above a gnarly rapid.

eddy eddies kayaking river outside perfect things

18. The Reckless Audacity of Young Men

audacity youth outside perfect things

19. Quality Steaks From Modern Cowboys

Like a T-bone from the guys at family-run Crystal River Meats in Carbondale, Colorado. The cowboys do everything on horseback, and the cattle are raised on open pasture, eat only grass, and aren’t pumped up with hormones or antibiotics. You can taste the difference.

crystal river meats steak dish food garlic herb Italian cuisine meat metal Mid-Atlantic New York State nobody North America one one object pewter plate Port Ewen prepared food produce raw rosemary seasoning steak still life studio shot top view Ulster County USA vegetable

20. The Lonely Call of the Loon

loon outside perfect things
(Wikimedia Commons)

21. Honey

Straight up. Nature’s original energy gel still packs a punch.

honey outside perfect things
(Inga Hendrickson)

22. A Decidedly Simple Watch

Timex’s Weekender Slip-Thru can’t tell you your heart rate, your GPS coordinates, or the barometric pressure. Which is probably why wearing it makes us feel so relaxed. $48

Timex weekender slip-thru slip thru
(Inga Hendrickson)

23. Wet Wipes

wet wipes outside perfect things
(Courtesy of Wet Ones)

24. New Wool Socks

Like L.L.Bean’s Wool-Blend Raggs. $19 for two pairs.

ll bean socks outside perfect things
(Inga Hendrickson)

25. Zing Bars

The only truly healthy (low-glycemic carbs, lean protein) chocolate bars that taste (almost) as good as regular chocolate bars. $3

zing bars protein bar outside perfect things
(Courtesy of Zing Bars)

26. Well-Stocked Aid Stations

Nothing helps you endure the pain more than salty snacks, PB&J wedges, and watered-down energy drinks served up by smiling, cheering volunteers.

first aid outside perfect things
(Ilya Andriyanov )

27. Cutting It Down Softly

The rechargeable Stihl MSA 160 C-BQ chainsaw has 36 volts of cutting power but is quieter than a Prius. Which is another way of saying it’s cordless, yet manly. $350

Stihl MSA 160 C-BQ chainsaw wood cutting outside perfect things
(Courtesy of Stihl)

28. Big, Scary Animals

That keep us from feeling invincible when we're hiking, swimming, camping...


29. Growing an Unruly Moustache

And, when necessary or on special occasions, temporarily taming it with Man’s Face Stuff wax. From $9.

mustache man's face stuff crazy mustache outside perfect things
(Inga Hendrickson)

1. A Tough, Classy Duffel

Call it a train bag, a weekend bag, whatever. Best Made’s waxed-canvas-and-nylon Gear Bag will last forever and looks better with age. $240

Best Made canvas bag outside perfect things
(Inga Hendrickson)

2. Digital Topos

Apps like Mophie Outdoors (iPhone only; $30 annual subscription) let you download high-definition maps to your phone and navigate via ubiquitous GPS signal, even when you’re out of range of a cell tower. Double your iPhone’s battery life and protect it from the elements with Mophie’s Juice Pack Pro Outdoor Edition ($150). Of course, when the screen goes dark, you’d better have....

maps digital topography topography outside perfect things
(Larry Mundy/Shutterstock)

3. Basic Navigation Skills

That is: a traditional compass like Silva’s Guide 426 ($23), a printed map, and the knowledge to use them.

compass navigation outside perfect things
(Inga Hendrickson)

4. A Bit of Color

Especially when it livens up classic designs, like Clark’s iconic desert boots. $119

clarks outside perfect things shoes
(Inga Hendrickson)

5. Namibia’s Land Management

Some 42 percent of land in the country is now under conservation management, the most in the world.

namibia land management outside perfect things
(Wikimedia Commons)

6. Licking the Spoon

spoon outside perfect things
(altanaka /Shutterstock)

7. Packable Hammocks

Because the only thing better than lazing around in your backyard is lazing around at a sweet campsite with an incredible view. Eagles Nest Outfitters’ DoubleNest hammock has room for two, packs down to the size of a softball, and sets up in a few seconds. $65

hammocks double nest hammock eagle outfitters outside perfect things
(Inga Hendrickson)

8. Zombie Runs

Say what you will about the obstacle-racing craze and about events like the Run For Your Lives 5K, in which you must dodge zombies trying to “kill” you by grabbing the flags from your belt. They still remind us why we compete in the first place: for fun.

zombie run Matt Roth Personal Work mattrothphoto photo photographer photography Run For Your Lives zombie 5k Darlington MD Rablewood runners halloween event 5k obstacle course 10 000 participants spectators the American Red Cross
(Matt Roth)

9. Just the Right Number of Gears

When it comes to mountain biking, we’ve often thought that one gear (a singlespeed) isn’t enough, but 24 or 27 (the standards) is too many. Apparently, the bike wizards at SRAM agree. Its new 11-gear XX1 group eschews the finicky front derailleur and instead pairs a single chainring with a gargantuan 11-speed (10–42) cassette. The result is simpler, lighter, and just right for almost all the riding we do.

gears biking mountain biking sram outside perfect things
(Inga Hendrickson)

10. Labradors


labrador outside perfect things dogs hunting companionship
(Wikimedia Commons)

11. Affordable Skiing

As envisioned by the Mountain Rider’s Alliance, a grassroots organization investing in “mountain playgrounds” owned and operated by locals, primarily for their own use.

skiing cheap affordable outside perfect things
(IM Photo/Shutterstock)

12. Forests in the Sky

Or at least over the interstate. Earlier this year, Los Angeles sculptor Stephen Glassman had an epiphany: What if the billboards cluttering L.A.’s neighborhoods were home to plant life instead of advertisements? Others liked the idea. At press time, Urban Air, the non-profit he founded to install bamboo planters on overhead structures around the city, was successfully funded on Kickstarter.

sky forest urban forest forestry outside perfect things
(Stephen Glassman)

13. The Flying Tomato's Wild Night

When Shaun White was charged with vandalism and public intoxication last fall after pulling a hotel fire alarm and destroying a phone, we ... weren’t surprised. Or even concerned. It was like having your overachieving, always-gets-away-with-it little brother finally screw up. You love him more because of it.

flying tomato outside perfect things adult American Caucasian ethnicity celebrities eyewear half-length male men North American one one person people portrait professional sports prominent persons Shaun White skateboarder snowboarder sports sunglasses young adult young adult man
(Kevin Zacher/Corbis Outline)

14. Fancy Marshmallows

Are they the next cupcakes? Who knows? Who cares? They’re delicious. Especially the Maker’s Mark bourbon-flavored ones from Wondermade. $7.50

makers mark marshmallows fancy outside perfect things

15. Gear Co-Ops

Why schlep your ice ax to Chile when you can rent one from a local climber? Why let your tent gather dust in your closet when you can loan it out for a little cash to a fellow adventurer? A new wave of sites like Gearlending and WeekendSwap do for gear what Airbnb did for lodging.

gearlending weekendswap gear co op outside perfect things
(Gorilla Images)

16. Hats With Pom-Poms

Our favorite hat company, Coal Headwear, gets it right with the Freezin. $20

freezin coal headwear outside perfect things
(Inga Hendrickson)

17. Drinking Right From the Stream

But when doing so would be unwise....

drinking from the stream outside perfect things
(Roland IJ Dema/Shutterstock)

18. Waving the Ultraviolet Want

Instead of fouling crisp mountain water with chemicals or futzing with filters, you can use SteriPen’s little germ-and-virus-killing pen-light to zap the wee beasties in seconds. The ingenious device works just as well on sketchy overseas tap water as it does in the backcountry. From $50.

steripen water purification outside perfect things
(Courtesy of SteriPEN)


And everyone else working to broaden the demographic of people who venture outside. Including all the badass outdoorsy women found at.... outside perfect things
(Courtesy of Outdoor Afro)


This non-profit was established on a simple principle: to encourage women of all stripes, from sponsored athletes to newbies, to take their outdoor pursuits to the next level. women skiing outside perfect things
(Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

21. Elkskin Gloves

For $15, the unassuming, uninsulated gloves from your local feed store will serve you just as well on the mountain-bike trail as in the garden. Add a bit of Sno-Seal and they’re even up for spring skiing. Unlike cowhide, elkskin is thin, tough, and flexible. Once broken in, they’ll fit like, well, you know.

elkskin gloves outside perfect things
(Inga Hendrickson)

22. Swiss Public Transportation

Hey, Amtrak, did you know that trains go everywhere in the Alps, quickly and on time?

switzerland trains efficiency outside perfect things
(Alexander Chaikin/Shutterstock)

23. Nostalgic Road-Trip Music

Different landscapes have their own distinctive rhythms. And just as Lyle Lovett makes Nebraska more interesting than it is, and Gordon Lightfoot plays best in the Upper Peninsula, when you’re heading far from home you need the soundtrack of your youth on board.

road trip music outside perfect things
(Courtesy of I.R.S)

24. Your First Passport

(Inga Hendrickson)

25. Coming Clean

Good on ya, Tyler.

(Brian Smale)

26. A Proper Riding Jacket

Thank you Nau, Outlier, Swrve, and other pioneers. Because of you, brands like Levi's now make citified riding apparel. The Commuter Trucker jacket is water-resistant and a bit stretchy, with shoulder gussets and extra-long sleeves for a comfier fit on the bike. It performs surprisingly well in nasty weather and looks just like the company's iconic denim jacket. $128

Check out the first half of our 2013 Editors' Choice Awards.

(Inga Hendricksen)

56. Resisting the Urge to Grow an Ironic Moustache

ironic mustache hipster mustache outside perfect things
(Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock)