A climbing staple and one of our favorite pieces of gear in our 2019 Summer Buyer’s Guide, the Petzl GriGri is an excellent addition to anyone’s kit. The latest version of this assisted braking belay device accommodates a wide range of rope widths.
Water-Purification Gear for Under $50
Collect stream water in one of Sawyer’s 32-ounce pouches, then filter it through the hollow-fiber membrane to remove bacteria and protozoa. The pouches are collapsible (each weighs only three ounces) and reusable, and you can drink straight from the filter’s nozzle or pour the water into a bottle for later.
Like the LifeStraw, MSR’s TrailShot lets you drink straight from the source, but it’s also good for filling a water bottle. Drop the long straw in the stream and squeeze the hand pump to get the magic started. It works fast, treating a liter of water in 30 seconds.
Katadyn took a handy one-liter water bottle, which rolls up small to save space in your pack, and put a 0.1-micron microfilter in its nozzle that removes 99.9 percent of nasties. The BeFree can purify up to 1,000 liters over its lifetime.
Removing 99.99 percent of bacteria and protozoa, the Meta Bottle is a collapsible and BPA-free. Fill it with water, then shake for speedy filtration—up to two liters per minute. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe.
Instead of filtering water, these dissolving tablets purify it with EPA-approved sodium dichloroisocyanurate. Complicated name, but essentially it kills viruses, bacteria, and cysts in a quart of water in 30 minutes. The price ($10 for 30 individually wrapped tablets) and tiny size make Aquatabs the ideal backup on long trips.
This lightweight blanket makes any car camping trip better, plain and simple. “A durable waterproof bottom puts up with wet grass or rocky dirt, and the flannel top is comfy to sit on and easy to clean,” wrote our tester Jakob Schiller.
The 900-denier ripstop polyester body is water-resistant and boasts a padded bottom panel for added structure. Daisy chains make lashing a breeze, the shoulder straps are comfy and removable, and there are side-grab handles for extra convenience. We dig the U-shaped lid, which makes for quick packing, and the two mesh pockets on the lid for storing small items.
This is one of our go-to bags for summer surf trips, shoulder-season backpacking trips, and overnight forays into the mountains. It’s light and compact enough for taking out on the trail, yet still comfy enough for casual car-camping adventures—and it comes at a price that won’t destroy your budget.
Gear columnist Jakob Schiller loves the Weekenders. “They look great, have high-quality lenses, and are so affordable that I won't worry about them getting a little bit dinged up,” he says. “It's rare to find one pair of shades I want to wear for 80 percent of the things I do outside—and even rarer to find one at this price.”
In our 2017 Summer Buyer’s Guide, we picked the Disco 15 as the best sleeping bag for “side sleepers who like to sprawl.” The bag widens at the shoulders and knees, so you have plenty of room while on your side. We also like the two zippered chest vents that keep you from overheating on warmer nights.
Black Diamond’s Spot 325 has all of the traits that made the original Spot so popular (red night vision, multiple power settings, IPX8 waterproof rating) but in a smaller package that weighs just three ounces. It’s not rechargeable (it requires 3 AAA batteries, which come included), but its 325 lumens at the highest setting are plenty bright for early morning trail runs and evening sends.
The Wildcross made our 2021 Winter Buyer's Guide list of the best running shoes. It “absolutely slays loose, off-trail terrain, firmly grabbing sandy trails, rocks, and mud,” wrote testers Lisa Jhung and Cory Smith. “However, its chops on messy surfaces come at the expense of its ability to handle hardpack well.”
We named this jacket the best uphill layer in our 2020 Winter Buyer’s Guide. “It’s as comfy as a cotton sweatshirt and treated with an interesting heat-regulating technology called ActiveTemp, made from a non-Newtonian polymer that becomes a liquid when cold, helping to block transmission of warm vapor,” our testers wrote.
Nearly every guy in the Outside office has a pair of Stretch Zions. That’s because they’re supremely comfortable (way superior to jeans) and the DWR-treated nylon-Spandex fabric makes them a solid choice for hiking and climbing.