We test a lot of gear every year, from skis and bikes to camping equipment and every shade of technical apparel. Inevitably, certain pieces rise to the top and find their way into our packs day after day. Often, these aren’t the flashiest, most innovative items, but simple basics that fit well, are comfortable, and perform in a variety of situations.
Here are the products Outside’s gear editors have used the most in 2018.
Skida Tour Neck Warmer ($20)
A lot of companies make the same style of neck gaiter, but in my opinion, Skida’s are the best. The fabric is hard-faced on the outside and brushed, almost fleecy on the inside. The colorways are more sophisticated than anything else I’ve seen in outdoor apparel—florals, geometric patterns, and eye-popping abstract designs. I’m not one to care about fashion when I head into the mountains, but with the variety of styles and affordable price, I’ve bought several Tours to go with the different outerwear in my closet. —Ariella Gintzler, assistant gear editor
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Pants ($250)
Everyone in my life this year is definitely annoyed by how much I’ve talked about the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer down pants. I wrote about them, I shot a video about them, and I’ve spent most days in them at the crag since the weather got cold. They weigh 0.8 ounces (the material is dainty—be nice to it), pack down super small, and fit so well I forget I have them on. If down pants are the future, I’m already wearing it. —Emily Reed, assistant gear editor
Nordica Enforcer Ski ($700)
Growing up ski racing in Maine, I developed an affinity for heavy, directional skis. The Enforcer fits this bill and has become my go-to resort ski since I first tested it on an early season day in Taos a year ago. I love its zero-chatter stability at high speeds and unprecedented ability to tear through piles of crud—characteristics that are the result of the wood core, vertical sidewalls, and metal-reinforced construction. My only gripe? Its nearly boundless speed limit leaves my legs screaming after every run. —Ben Fox, affiliate reviews manager
Blundstone 550 Boots ($190)
These rubber-soled leather boots are insanely comfortable, can take a beating, and are the perfect weight for year-round use. They’ve kept my feet warm during a harsh New England winter, performed well as last-minute stand-ins for snowshoeing, and transitioned well into summer for day-to-day life in the hot New Mexico desert. The plush midsole, removable cushioned footbed, and elastic panels along the ankles (for easy on-off) make them comfortable and convenient for long multi-activity days. I take them on most, if not all, of my adventures. —Jeremy Rellosa, assistant gear editor
Black Diamond Momentum Climbing Shoes ($90)
I’ve covered the Momentum, the standout of Black Diamond’s launch into the climbing shoe market. We were excited enough when it debuted to give it a Gear of the Show award at Summer Outdoor Retailer 2017, and it has lived up to the hype. The flat, stiff last is comfortable and supportive—good for smearing and edging on vertical routes and boulder problems. The fit—even for someone with wide feet—is superb, thanks to the engineered-mesh upper that’s tighter around the sides for more support and looser at the top for give and ventilation. The Momentum has proven to be a workhorse over the year-plus I’ve had it, enough to make me ensure it’s in my pack virtually every time I head out the door for the gym. —Will Egensteiner, senior gear editor