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Here at Outside, we evaluate gear for a living, so it takes a lot to impress us. There’s plenty of new gear every year, and my eyes roll when something is lauded for its “new colorways!” or “fabric that evaporates sweat 0.17629 percent faster than the competition!” Progress for the sake of progress is often not progress at all. Still, just as it seems that I’ve sunk into the depths of jadedness, something comes along that truly excites me. And our brilliant corps of testers have a hand in that. Each one is an expert at separating the wheat from the chaff, and I can’t help but get amped up about what’s new this year. So sure, some years the innovations come fast and furious, while others see more modest advances, but there’s no ceiling in sight for how good outdoor equipment can get—and, consequently, for how great it can help make our time outside.

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