Pick the right rig, zip up, then get out.

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  Photo: The North Face

The North Face Cesium Anorak 

Best For: Affordable Tech

The Cesium has the soul of a poncho but the smart detailing of a performance shell. We threw it over our other layers in a rainstorm—it has a huge helmet-compatible hood and is made of surprisingly stretchy fabric—and stayed bone dry. It sheds ounces by forgoing extra pockets (there’s one) and an inner liner.

Price $199

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  Photo: Helly Hansen

Helly Hansen Enroute Shelter 

Best For: Ditching Your Yellow Slicker  

This is the workhorse of the rain-jacket world. It’s dependable (the 2.5-layer fabric kept us dry during a squall), smartly cut (we like the extra-long cuffs), and breathable (the front pockets double as mesh-backed vents). But what really sets it apart are the fun details, like the bright, splotchy print and pink zips.

Price $200

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  Photo: Arc'teryx

Arc’teryx Atom SL 

Best For: Lightweight Warmth  

If a puffy married a rain shell, this is what you’d get. The synthetic Coreloft insulation in the body is so thin it’s practically see-through, but it kept us warm during high-output activities down to 30 degrees. It won’t keep you dry in a downpour, but the Atom’s thin face fabric sheds light rain and proved durable on a bushwhacking odyssey outside Santa Fe. 

Price $229

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  Photo: Voormi

Voormi High-E Hoodie 

Best For: Getting Snuggly 

The wool High-E is warm and durable, with its water-repellant outer surface, and super cozy. We didn’t take it off once during a three-day backpacking trip. (A major benefit of wool: no stink.) Too hot for runs and bike rides but perfect for long treks or chilling at base camp.  

Price $229

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  Photo: Dynafit

Dynafit Traverse Gore-Tex 

Best For: Big Days in the Mountains 

Think of the Traverse as a ski shell on a diet. Cut from Gore-Tex Active fabric, it weighs about half a pound and played well on all our adventures, from runs above tree line to multi-pitch climbs. We even took it on a few spring ski tours. All that performance is pricey, but if you want an all-in-one thoroughbred, this is it.

Price $370

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  Photo: United By Blue

United by Blue Day Coat 

Best For: Hiding Your Inner Gear Nerd

You won’t find any fancy membranes or taped seams here, just 100 percent organic cotton and a classic military-inspired design, with four pockets and a snappable zipper flap. On cool days, the buttery-soft top worked great as outerwear, but we just as often found ourselves wearing it to work.  

Price $128

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Fitness

The Best Tents of 2016

When selecting a tent, look at the same factors you’d scrutinize when buying a house: location, size, and amenities. First up, where are you pitching camp? The deeper you lug gear into the woods, the more weight matters. If you’re heading into high-alpine environments or anywhere you might encounter serious weather, you need something with thicker fabric and more poles. If you’re car camping or sticking relatively close to the trailhead or put-in, a bigger tent with higher ceilings and ample storage compartments is a worthwhile luxury. No matter where you’re going, the little things count. Think of features like

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Fitness

The Best Hiking Tech of 2016

Spending the night outside just got brighter, cleaner, and easier.   Photo: MSR MSR Guardian Water Purifier Backcountry water pumps are easy to use and durable. Trouble is, most strip out only protozoa and bacteria, not tiny viruses. Enter the Guardian: the filter’s pores are ten times smaller than the competition’s, stopping even the smallest bugs. Price $350 Buy Now Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Charger Solar panels can be finicky, draining the device you’re trying to charge when daylight wanes. Not so the netbook-size Nomad 7. A light sensor keeps tabs on how much sun’s available. If clouds roll in mid-charge, the unit powers down

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Fitness

The Best Jackets of 2016

For diehard gear geeks, there’s no more exciting category right now than jackets. Experimentation is the name of the game, with companies trying out new cuts, materials, and construction techniques. Weights are in free fall—the lightest shell in our test came in under three ounces—while just about everything has built-in stretch, boosting freedom of movement and comfort. Designers are mixing and matching fabrics in novel ways, using bio-mapping to create jackets that are thicker where they need to be and thinner where they don’t. Even bedrock concepts of how waterproof-breathable shells should be pieced together are being upended. (Exhibit A:

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Fitness

The Best Hiking Shoes of 2016

In the West, following a delightfully wet winter, forests are lusher than they’ve been in years, and hillsides are overflowing with wildflowers and berries. Across the country, the National Park Service is celebrating its 100th birthday with a series of centennial events in our most beautiful outdoor spaces. All of which is to say that it’s a big year for hiking. Fortunately, the latest crop of trail shoes is up to the task. Diverse new models are entering the market: featherweight low-cut hikers, multipurpose boots that perform equally well on afternoon romps and weekend backpacking adventures, and supremely sturdy but

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Fitness

The Best Camp Cooking Tools of 2016

The best kitchen tools for base-camp chefs.   Photo: Inga Hendrickson ​Southwest Disk UFO Discada Enterprise Wok  A two-foot-wide wok made of quarter-inch steel isn’t an unnecessary luxury: it’s a crucial part of your cooking arsenal. With 12-inch legs, it’s the perfect tool for cooking over an open flame.   Price $100 Buy Now   Photo: Timbuk2 Timbuk2 x Blue Bottle Sabbatical Coffee Kit  The bagmaker teamed up with the Bay Area java giant to create the ultimate portable brewing kit: grinder, kettle, dripper, scale, and mugs, all in one six-pack-size bundle.  Price $349 Buy Now   Photo: GSI Outdoors GSI Outdoors Stainless Rim Plate  With a

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Fitness

The Best Sleeping Bags of 2016

Your sleeping bag is arguably your most important piece of backcountry gear. If it’s cozy, you’re a happy camper. If it’s too warm or not warm enough, rubber-room constrictive, or sticky like plastic wrap, a bad bag will ruin the experience. The trick is to pick the right bag for what you’re ­doing. Insulation is the most important factor. For alpine trips, find a sack that’s rated at least ten degrees lower than the coldest temperature you expect to face. Summer trips in mild environments call for a rating between 30 and 40 degrees. During shoulder season, we reach for a

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Fitness

The Best Lights of 2016

Brighten up your night. Goal Zero Lighthouse 400.   Photo: Goal Zero Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini Lantern  Toss this eight-ounce, 210-lumen unit in your pack for the next time you get caught out in the dark. Don’t let the diminutive size fool you: the Lighthouse has some nice features, including a miniature hook, a built-in magnet, and a dimmer.  Price $60 Buy Now   Photo: Black Diamond Black Diamond Cosmo  The three LEDs on this compact three-ounce headlamp combine into a single 160-lumen beam that can light up the trail for more than 50 yards. Even on full blast, it gets 200 hours of run

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Fitness

The Best Packs of 2016

Let’s start with a basic truth: no single pack does it all. Going backcountry camping with all your toys requires a big ol’ bag. Athletes moving fast and light will be happiest with a trimmed-down thoroughbred. Day hikers will appreciate a sack with utilitarian features. But none of this means you need to own a closetful of backpacks. Thanks to design evolution, there are more multi-use options to choose from than ever before. We tested daypacks that can eke out an overnight (like the Osprey Manta) and relatively lightweight big-load haulers (like the Granite Gear Lutsen). Versatility is achievable if

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Fitness

The Best Multipitch Climbing Gear of 2016

When it comes to big walls, light is right.   Photo: Petzl Petzl Arial 9.5 mm Rope   The Arial is a flowy rope that stretches just enough to provide a nice soft catch. It’s pricier than its closest competitors, but it’ll last seasons, courtesy of a Duratec Dry treatment that resists water, dirt, and abrasions. Price $230 and up Buy Now   Photo: Black Diamond Black Diamond Vapor Helmet  With 23 vents, the Vapor is the most breathable lid we tested. The foam is surrounded by a polycarbonate shell, keeping it light enough (just 6.6 ounces) for all-day use. Price $140  Buy Now   Photo:

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Fitness

The Best Women's Hiking Gear of 2016

Everything you need for quick jaunts or all-day trips   Photo: Smith Optics Smith Ramona Polarized Sunglasses  These shades are an elegant update of the classic Wayfarer, with impact-resistant, carbonic, polarized brown lenses that make ocean waves, or even distant grizzlies, pop.  Price $129 Buy Now   Photo: Ex Officio Ex Officio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Tank Quick-drying nylon and breathable mesh make the Give-N-Go ideal for hot-weather hikes. Wide straps cushion a backpack, while a stylish T-back shows a little shoulder from behind.  Price $35 Buy Now   Photo: Icebreaker Icebreaker Women’s Ellipse LS Half Zip Hoodie Made from 75 percent merino and 25 percent recycled polyester,

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