Gear we love

Staff Picks

The Best Products of 2017

24 products—for work and play—that we fell in love with this year

(Outside)

24 products—for work and play—that we fell in love with this year

Every year, thousands of products pass through the Outside office. Some we've seen at the bi-annual Outdoor Retailer show and waited eagerly for. Others are pleasant surprises, random and unexpected. These are the few that earned permanent places in our hearts.

Garmin Forerunner 935 Watch ($500)

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After my old Garmin died during a 50 miler (and then my dog chewed it to pieces), I needed a new watch. The Garmin 935 has a crazy-long battery life and doesn't look like a giant piece of jewelry, the way many watches do these days. —Matt Skenazy, senior editor

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MUJI Pens ($10)

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Yes, I use Google Calendar and all of the digital tools at our disposal in this techy day and age. But I'm still very much a paper and pen kind of gal, and these are the holy grail of pens. —Jenny Earnest, assistant social media editor

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Katadyn BeFree Water Filter ($40)

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Katadyn BeFree Water Bottle (Courtesy Katadyn)

After using this filter on multiple backpacking trips this summer, I dubbed it the best ever made. It’s lighter weight, more compact, and has a faster flow rate than any other filter on the market. Plus, it’s only $40. —Ben Fox, associate review editor

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Hydro Flask Food Flask ($30)

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(Courtesy Hydroflask)

I spent most of this year being defensive about my gear-snob coworkers' comments regarding my blue Hydro Flask coffee thermos. "Isn't that meant for soup?" "Why are you drinking coffee from a food container?" In looking up the actual name of this product, I realize they are technically right, but it keeps my daily coffee warm and I refuse to pigeonhole my insulated containers into specific liquid categories. —Erin Berger, senior editor

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Monster iSport Victory BT Headphones ($100)

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Monster iSport Victory BT (Courtesy Monster)

After trying around 10 different pairs of Bluetooth headphones at the gym this year, I’m baffled by how mediocre most models are. But since trying the Victory a few months ago, I haven’t looked back. The rubber earbuds are comfortable and sweatproof, the audio sounds great, and the Bluetooth pairs instantly. —B.F.

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Klean Kanteen Insulated Coffee Mug ($30)

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This is my new favorite coffee mug. (Sorry, Yeti.) I drink a lot of coffee, and I drink it at all hours of the day. This keeps it hot no matter when I get around to finishing it—and never lets it spill in my bag. It's also made by Klean Kanteen, so it's got an earth-friendly backstory. —Abby Wise, managing editor

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Black Diamond Spark Gloves ($80)

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These are technically ski gloves, but I use them for everything from driving on frigid days to moving heavy boxes to keeping my hands toasty on snow. They're warm without being constricting or reducing dexterity.  —J.E.

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Bogs Rio Sandals ($50)

outside buyers guide
Bogs Rio sandals. (Bogs)

I didn't really want to like these sandals, but I ended up loving them. They're easy to get on and off, and they really don’t stink, even after the hours I’ve spent wet wading in rivers. And, most remarkably, their bottoms are sticky as hell in cold rivers. It's rare to be able to scamper up wet granite with rubber-bottomed shoes, but I can do it in these Bogs. They're just about the only thing I wear from April to October in New Mexico, whether I'm in a river or out. —Jonah Ogles, articles editor

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Salt Renzo Sunglasses ($400)

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I was never picky about sunglasses until I tried these ones. They look great and the polarized lenses are tinted yellow which adds a bright filter to everything. I feel happier when I wear them. —B.F.

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Midori MD Notebook ($10)

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I'm on board with the digital revolution, but when it comes to my to-do lists, I'm strictly old school. Last year I abandoned Todoist, my third failed attempt to stick with a cloud-based productivity app. I spent the first half of 2017 consumed with finding the perfect notebook to replace it. Lots of trial and error finally led me to this one. It has a lay-flat binding, a tight-grid, and paper thick enough to prevent one day's tasks from literally bleeding into the next. —Chris Keyes, editor

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Mountain Equipment Randonee Gloves ($80)

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Despite their lightweight and thin appearance, these gloves have kept me warm when skiing in temperatures as low as 10 degrees. Their articulated fingers make them some of the most dexterous gloves and I appreciate the long cuffs, which fits snugly to my wrists preventing any snow from getting in. –B.F.

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SmartWool Women's Ph.D. Light Hoody ($75)

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This thing is the bomb for trail running in cool to cold temps, and layers nicely under a vest when it's colder. It has soft handwarmer pockets, long length, and it doesn't retain odor. It's so cozy I reach for it for Saturday chores as well. —Elizabeth Hightower, features editor

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Avasol Surfer's Environmental Defense Cream SPF 30 and Barrier Stick SPF 50+ ($20; $15)

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Most all-natural mineral sunscreens leave a white haze on my Irish skin, and that's a serious problem for people with medium or dark complexions. And since everyone of every color can get skin cancer, it's kind of a big deal that Avasol formulated its insanely eco-friendly, wondrously nongreasy SPF's in three skin tone-inclusive sheer tints. No white haze, no thick oily film, no excuses. —Aleta Burchyski, copy editor

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Roka Phantom TI Aviator Sunglasses ($260)

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Roka Phantom sunglasses. (Courtesy of Roka)

Quite possibly the only piece of gear I've used virtually every day since I got it, the Phantom has enough tint to ward off the worst of the Southwest sunshine but balances it well so that I never feel like I'm being blacked out. (There have been times I've walked inside and forgotten to take them off I could see so clearly.) Plus, who can argue with aviator styling? —Will Egensteiner, senior gear editor

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Eagle Creek Load Warrior International Carry-On ($230)

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I just traveled to Australia and Tasmania for 10 days and managed to only take the this Eagle Creek carry-on. I couldn't believe how much I could fit and still get it overhead very easily. The bag doesn't waste a lot of space on internal bars, and it's soft-sided, so you can really pack it in, with straps inside and outside to condense things down. Plus it has an expandable zipper for when you need a wee bit more room, and you can attach coats or wet bathing suits to dry with straps on the outside of the bag. It rolls easily down airplane aisles and generally made a trip with a lot of flights so much easier to manage. —Mary Turner, deputy editor

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Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket ($200)

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(Courtesy Patagonia)

Since I got this jacket in October, I've worn it literally every day, in temperatures ranging from 60 to 15 degrees. I've worn it to work, while skiing, and for walking my dog. It's cozy and soft and strikes an almost magical balance between breathability and warmth. I plan to keep wearing it till it's ragged. —Axie Navas, executive editor

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Jetboil Genesis Base Camp System ($240)

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(Jetboil)

I've been on a few massive mountain bike trips this year, and Jetboil's Genesis stove made getting the whole crew fed and on the trail as easy as possible. It packs small, can be used as either a single or double burner, and better yet, can be linked up with other Jetboil stoves so you can cook huge meals off one bottle of fuel. —Nick Hunt, assistant editor

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The North Face Women's Nuptse Vest ($150)

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I am rarely anywhere cold enough to bask in the hug-like plushness of a 700-fill goose down parka. This vest, however, provides all of the cozy and none of the overkill on mild days or indoors, and its long cut never looks bulky. —A.B.

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Well-Kept Wipes ($20)

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As a social media editor, I use my phone, and all my screens, a ton. These screen-cleaning wipes are the secret ingredient to keeping my tech clean and shiny. —J.E.

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Stio Environ Ski Bibs ($425)

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This year was the first time I’ve worn bibs instead of pants while skiing and I doubt I’ll ever go back. I particularly love the Environs, which have a higher waistband to block out snow and looser, more comfortable cut. Plus, they're made from a 150-denier waterproof breathable fabric, so no matter how many times I crash, these pants will probably never tear. –B.F.

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Thule Guidepost 65 Backpack ($265)

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This was a total game changer for me. I have terrible shoulders and the amount of customization, like the adjustable hip belt and shoulder straps, on this pack allowed me to backpack pain-free, even when freighted. —Madeline Kelty, deputy photo editor

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Swix Evo Pro Edge Ski Tuner ($550)

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(Swix)

Bringing your skis to get tuned at a shop is expensive and inconvenient, especially if you have multiple pairs in your quiver. Utilizing three different sanding blades, and able to adjust to multiple angles, the Evo Pro allows anyone to put a race quality edge on their skis in under two minutes. It's so easy and convenient to use that I've already tuned my skis more this year than I have in the past five years. Which, of course, has led to more fun days on the slopes. 

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Clairefontaine Notebook and Uniball Pen ($5; $15)

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I've been a web editor for nearly five years, but the two most important tools I use are analog: Clairefontaine notebooks and Uni-Ball Vision fine pens. Nothing beats paper and pen for taking notes in a meeting or for jotting down those fleeting big ideas. —Scott Rosenfield, digital general manager

Notebook Pen

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we earn an affiliate commission that helps pay for our work.

Filed To: Gloves / Sandals / Insulated / Sunglasses / New Mexico / Media / Mexico / Gear / Pants / Rivers

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