Our Best, Most Thorough Gear Reviews

We have 40 years of gear-testing experience. Trust us when we say these are the most in-depth reviews we’ve ever written.

These are out best gear reviews. (Left to right: Sarah Jackson; Marie Sullivan; Courtesy Ryan Stuart)
gear reviews

Our testers spent months in the field using and abusing the latest and greatest gear. Then we compiled their notes into the following reviews. They’re the best, most thorough reviews we’ve ever published, and we hope they will help inform your next gear purchases.

The Best Running Socks

Testing 59 pairs of running socks, we ran everywhere from the French Alps to the sunny beach paths of California. Here’s what we found.

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59 pairs of socks ready for testing. (Cory Smith)

For the past several months, we’ve been searching for the perfect pair of running socks: socks that wick sweat, don’t stink or cause blisters, and feel good on the road and trail. To find these unicorn socks, a group of six experienced runners tested 59 pairs of socks from 16 top running brands in locations around the world. Here are the results.

The Best Backpacking Stoves

After testing 29 models, our favorite stove nailed the sweet spot of boiling quickly, simmering well, and being reasonably priced

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Our workbench covered in 29 stoves ready for testing.

What’s the best backpacking stove? To answer this question we tested 29 stove models, from six different brands. These six came out on top


The Best Stand-Up Paddleboards

After a summer of testing, these four SUPs came out on top

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The trick is knowing what you want from a board before buying. (Dylan Silver)

Paddleboarding is a young sport, and each year boards seem to become lighter, cheaper, and more finely tuned. This year, I spent 13 days testing a collection of boards new for 2018 and came away impressed with several that specialize in river trips, tandem paddling, or lake cruising.


The Best Women’s Active Underwear

Five testers brought 20 pairs of underwear around the world. Here are their favorites.

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(Nick Cote)

The best underwear is the kind you don’t notice. When you do, it’s probably not doing its job. Finding out mid-run or mid-hike that your underwear just won’t stay in place sucks. A literal pain in the butt. 


The Best Backpacking Tents

Here’s our comprehensive guide to choosing the right backcountry shelter

tent
(Courtesy Ryan Stuart)

Outside has reviewed backpacking tents for 40 years, and during that time we’ve tested a lot of well-designed models. But if we had to choose the best all-around tent to take backpacking right now, we’d buy the Sierra Designs Flash 2 FL. Read more about the Flash and other great models here.


The Best Women’s Backpacking Packs

Women need packs that are just as capable as men’s—and they need them to fit right. Here are the best, most comfortable performers for all-around backpacking.

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(Danielle Zimmerer)

Most hikers need a middle-ground backpack, one in the 40-to-60-liter range that can manage loads for one- to five-day trips. For this test, we looked at 18 leading packs, some slightly smaller and some larger, and wrote about the nine best.


The Best Hiking Shoes and Boots

Say goodbye to cement blocks—the latest crop of hiking shoes and boots are lighter and comfier than ever

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(Kelly Bastone)

Every hiker and backpacker who has ever stomped lugs on dirt can tell the same sad story of painful blisters and bashed toes. In search of a solution, we evaluated 37 hiking shoes and boots that are new for spring 2018. These are our favorites.


The Best Winter Boots for Men

Fifteen testers picked these five kicks as the best of the season

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(Sarah Jackson)

If you spend time in the mountains or just spend weekdays trudging along snowy sidewalks, then you know life is better with a pair of winter boots. But not all are created equal, so we put together a team to evaluate 15 of the top-rated styles.


The Best Winter Boots for Women

The author spent the season testing the warmest kicks in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Here are her favorites.

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(Eva Holland)

In the winter, you're doomed without warm, dry boots with the right amount of traction. Here's our exhaustive test.


The Best Fleeces for Women

After a winter of testing, these four came out on top

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(Marie Sullivan)

We like being warm when it’s cold outside—you probably do too—and nothing kills a fun day faster than shivering. Which is why we have fleece: technical fleeces wick away moisture so you don’t get chilled when you sweat, and nontechnical fleeces are soft and toasty. After two months of testing, here are our favorites


The Best Duffel Bags

After putting our favorite bags through the wringer, we found a clear winner in this cavernous category

duffel bags
(Joe Jackson)

At the end of the day, duffel bags are just big sacks. But they’re really important big sacks, and the best will carry and protect your stuff with a minimal weight penalty in situations that range from hauling climbing gear on a donkey to rolling up to a fancy hotel with your best flip-flops and a bunch of grooming supplies. A good duffel is worth its weight in gold.


The Best Sports Bras

We tested dozens of bras to come up with this list of ten finalists for women size A to D+ who get after it outside

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Every pair of boobs is unique, and different activities demand different kinds of support. A great bra supports with effortless comfort, whereas a bad one can feel like a medieval torture device. We tested 30 sports bras from ten brands to find the best ones.


The Best Workout Earbuds and Headphones

Comfy, sweatproof designs for the gym and the trail

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(Will Palmer)

We’re living in a golden age of earbuds and headphones. They sound better than ever, magically connect without wires, and keep getting smaller. In 2018, there’s a wider array of really good stuff on the market than we’ve ever seen. For this review, four testers took 30 pairs of earbuds and headphones on runs, rides, hikes, and gym workouts. 


The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers

For backyard to beach, trailhead to hotel room, these speakers keep the party close at hand

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(Will Palmer)

A great-sounding, travel-friendly Bluetooth speaker is an investment we can get behind. Right now, the market is overflowing with colorful plastic boxes that promise to deliver music anywhere. But not all speakers are worth your money. Here are the ones we recommend.

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

Filed To: Gear / Technology / Hiking and Backpacking / Running / Boots / Tents / Bags
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