This jacket was one of our favorite pieces of streetwear in our 2020 Winter Buyer’s Guide. We love the Lightning’s toasty PrimaLoft Gold insulation and front snap closures. The synthetic fill isn’t as warm as traditional down, but it still traps heat when wet.
The Gear You Bought the Most of This Summer
When the Switchback first came on the market last year, we crowned it the best budget sleeping pad. It uses two types of foam with different densities and specially-designed raised spikes to give optimal comfort and warmth.
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.”
Outside columnist Jakob Schiller wrote an ode to these shorts and praised them for their versatility. “Buy two pairs, and I promise that they’ll be all you need from June through October for the next five years,” he writes.
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.
The Storm is the perfect example of how far headlamps have come. It’s moderately priced but pumps out 375 lumens from a proximity beam—ideal for working in close quarters or as a spotlight when you’re on the trail. We really like the battery meter, which shows how much juice you have left in your AAAs. Oh, and it’s fully waterproof.
The Nalgene Wide Mouth is a beloved classic. While it won’t keep your water insulated like other stainless steel bottles, it’s still lightweight, leakproof, easy to clean, and completely BPA-free. Plus, as our Gear Guy says, it's just plain nostalgic.
Like many other pants made for the outdoors, the Konfidant is constructed from a light and breathable blend of cotton, nylon, and spandex. But the real story with these pants is the vents. They’re everywhere—in the rear pockets, in the front pockets, in the thigh pockets, on the back of the knees, and in the crotch. The idea is to keep air moving so you stay cool when you’re on the trail.
There’s nothing too fancy about the Stowaway—it’s a comfortable, low-profile camp chair that hits the budget price point and rocks a few smart details. The foam-padded armrests and the mesh backing won’t absorb sweat or rain if you leave the chair out in a storm. Also, it’s low enough that you can bring it to a music festival or concert and not piss off the people sitting behind you.
Showers are great—when you can take them. But it’s not always possible, so make sure you have a pack of these wipes in your kit. They’re extra thick but soft enough to use in the most sensitive places, and aloe vera and vitamin E moisturize as you scrub the grime away.
Our Gear Guy put these merino wool socks through the wringer last year. The result? They won his test of the best hiking socks. Joe Jackson wrote, "This sock did everything extremely well, but mostly it was just damn comfy."
We featured the Rounder in our selection of the best puffy vests. It melds classic western style with modern materials, like a water-resistant, rip-stop outer shell and Primaloft One insulation. “We like the touch of corduroy on the shoulders and the front snap pockets,” our tester wrote.
This performance flannel looks classic, but has a modern twist with its cotton-polyester blend. The shirt’s relaxed fit and brushed cotton feels cozy, while the 30 percent polyester helps wick moisture and offer stretch. We especially like the pearl snaps that add a classy touch.
Last spring, our Gear Guy tested five different fleeces and the Tekno Ridge came out on top. “It excelled during every activity and looks so good that my wife stole it from me,” he wrote. This hoodie is close-fitting for easy movement, sturdy enough to fend off 15-mile-per-hour headwinds, and has side-seam zips to dump heat.
After six months of testing the Capilene Cool Trail shirt, our Gear Guy loved it so much he wrote an ode to it. “I love this tee because it quietly does everything I expect from a technical layer extremely well while still looking good,” he wrote. The shirt boasts a soft, moisture-wicking fabric, odor control, and a flattering fit.
We included the Dart in our 2020 Winter Buyer’s Guide as one of the best pieces of men’s running gear. “This single-bottle holster sits comfortably around the waist, thanks to mesh and an adjustable belt,” we wrote. The included water bottle is 1.3 liters and the main zippered pocket can hold your phone and keys.
The Micro Puff was our favorite jacket of 2018 because there’s a lot to love about this warm, super-light piece. “The PlumaFill is tacked between sheets of ten-denier nylon fabric in long strands, so it won’t shift and create cold spots,” our tester wrote.
The Little Black Dress of fleeces, the Denali is as essential as it is simple. The fleece is inspired by the 1988 design, but it's been updated in a few ways in the sustainability department: the Denali is now made with recycled material, and you can track the fleece's journey from factory to gear shop.
This jacket provides serious warmth in a lightweight package. The DWR finish sheds water and the elastic cuffs lock in heat. And, when you’re ready to stow away the jacket for the season, it packs into the hand pocket.