We’re living in extraordinary times. As I write this letter, COVID-19 has brought entire countries to a halt. With the effects of the virus rippling through the outdoor industry and communities around the world, we’re all figuring out how to live and recreate responsibly. We maintain social distance on trails and support one another however we can—buying gift cards from local businesses, dropping off groceries for family. And faced with more uncertainty than many of us have experienced in our lifetimes, we also search for ways to escape. We read books. We snuggle our dogs. In my case, escape means emptying drawers of running clothes, hydration vests, and climbing shoes onto the floor. Some pieces I set aside for charity, some for friends who need them more than I do. The rest I organize. I imagine what shorts I’ll wear for the 20-mile run I have mapped out on local trails. I consider what temperatures will be like in the Peruvian Andes this fall—is this midlayer right?—for a hypothetical trip I know may not be possible. I’m not just cleaning house out of practicality; I’m also doing it to stoke my fire for adventure, though adventure might feel a little distant at the moment.
In that spirit, I hope you’ll think of this issue of the Buyer’s Guide as your virtual gear closet, a place to get lost in the would-be and could-be of epic pursuits to come. As always, there’s plenty of innovative tech on display, like the titanium-laced lining in Rab’s Mythic Ultra sleeping bag. Then there are the items we love simply because they work better than anything else, like Patagonia’s Strider Pro running pants. These and other pieces inspired us with daydreams of the rides, climbs, runs, hikes, and camping trips they’ll be perfect for once the world opens up and we’re getting outside together again. Because at the end of the day, gear—even just looking at it and thinking about it—is a portal to adventure. —Ariella Gintzler