The seasons change, but some things don’t: Outside editors love durable, versatile, comfortable gear. As summer gives way to fall, these are the items that our staff has been reaching for time and again, whether for working out, relaxing, or heading into the backcountry.
Jaybird Vista Earbuds ($180)
I’ve always considered Bluetooth headphones to be more trouble than they’re worth: easy to lose, always running out of battery, falling out of my ears. Not the Vista earbuds. They’re so comfortable and secure that I recently spent ten minutes wondering why everything was so quiet before realizing I’d left them on with no music playing. When you are listening to something, the sound quality is excellent, and I’ve never run out of juice—using the case to charge, they’re good for up to 16 hours. Most important for outdoor athletes, they’re Jaybird’s most durable option, as shockproof, waterproof (IPX7), and sweat- and dustproof as headphones can get. I’ve only put a month of hard use on them, but through downpours and lots of sweaty trail miles, they haven’t skipped a beat. —Abigail Barronian, associate editor
Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack ($80)
I’m the proud owner of four good dogs, but I’ve found that backpacking with them isn’t always easy. If you think hauling a pack stuffed with your own sleeping, eating, and survival gear up a mountain is tough, try doing it with extra water, kibble, and toys (yes, fetch supplies are essential). I’ve been making the strongest dog, Squeaker, help carry some of the food in the Approach. It has massive side pockets that fit balls, food, water, and more, and the dialed harness system means the pack doesn’t slide around as he runs (I never fill it over 12 pounds, per Ruffwear’s recommendation). So far, Squeaker’s sole complaint is that we only own one, so the rest of the dogs get off easy while he does all the heavy lifting. —Abigail Wise, digital managing director
The North Face Walls Are Meant for Climbing Hoody ($70)
My pandemic workwear look is anything soft and comfy, and this classic pullover hoodie from the North Face is my new favorite go-to. For its casual style, it packs a powerful message: we need more inclusivity in climbing. Especially as the election approaches and social justice remains top of mind, I find myself reaching for this sweatshirt again and again. And who doesn’t love a front-pouch pocket? —A.W.
Her Royal Hempress Supreme Relief Muscle Rub ($75)
A summer of aggressive Zoom yoga and less than ideal home-desk ergonomics have given me all sorts of weird aches and pains. Her Royal Hempress’s muscle rub has been my every day fix: the fast-absorbing blend of full-spectrum CBD (500 milligrams per bottle), arnica, and menthol works equally well to soothe tired hamstrings and cranky carpals. There are tons of CBD products on the market, but I love that this brand sources from organic, non-GMO farms and uses its platform to advocate for pollinators and their habitats. —Aleta Burchyski, associate managing editor
Title Nine Rosie Utility Jumpsuit ($149)
I am always on the lookout for good one-piece outfits. The fewer things I have to match (and wash), the better. For the past few months, this has meant an endless parade of sundresses, but as the days get shorter and those distanced park hangs cooler, Title Nine’s supremely stretchy coveralls are what I’ve been reaching for most often. We already extolled the many virtues of the company’s sleeveless summery jumpsuit. This full-coverage option is similarly stretchy, light, and breathable but designed with lightweight sleeves that are easy to roll up, seven (seven!) generous pockets, and a tough canvaslike build. And like its namesake, the Rosie can do just about anything. —Maren Larsen, Buyer’s Guide deputy editor
Organic Basics SilverTech Active Yoga Pack ($121)
Even for us non-cycling folk, bike shorts are back, and we’re not taking them off anytime soon. For my at-home exercise routine (I especially recommend Heather Robertson’s killer HIIT workouts on YouTube), I’ve been finding any excuse to wear my sports-bra and bike-short set from Organic Basics. Both pieces are unbelievably comfortable, thanks to their seamless designs, and manage to protect against odor even when I wear them for my lunch workouts all five days of the workweek, a perk of their Polygiene treatment. In addition to yoga, HIIT, and strength training, I turn to this set for neighborhood walks, climbing, and even just lounging. At $121, the set doesn’t come cheap, but you can feel good about supporting a pro-environment company—in addition to making its products as eco-friendly as possible, Organic Basics runs a “low-impact website,” publishes an impact index for each of its products, and provides carbon-neutral shipping. —Jenny Earnest, audience development director
Roka Oslo Glasses in Clear ($195)
I’ve worn these prescription glasses while running, backpacking, firing off burpees, and performing numerous downward dogs. They’ve stayed on through it all, thanks to a snug fit, light nylon frames, plus sticky nose and temple pads. I’ve never—never!—had glasses that didn’t fall off during yoga. Another bonus: their trendy style means I can easily transition from a work-from-home Zoom call to an online Pilates class. —Kelsey Lindsey, associate editor
Osprey Duro 1.5 ($90)
In 2016, I was shamed by a buddy for wearing a running vest during a race with aid stations. The man who shamed me placed fifth. I placed 317th. After that I went on many runs without one, even when I should have strapped one on. During a stretch of big trail efforts this summer, I finally relented and felt no embarrassment—only comfort, satiation, and hydration. With its mesh build, this vest breathed like a champ. Its 1.5-liter bladder never sloshed. And the two extremely adjustable chest straps (which can attach to six different points up and down the front) hugged my barrel chest like an old friend. —Joe Jackson, Gear Guy
Glade Prospect Sunglasses ($75)
The sunglasses I wind up reaching for most always cost less than $100. Sure, some adventures call for high-tech, aerodynamic shades. But the ones I use day in, day out are the basic, durable, and stylish sort that I can run, hike, bike, skin, climb, float, and go to the grocery store in without feeling ridiculous. Most important, I need to be able to drop them and shove them into stuffed backpacks without worrying about damage. So it’s no surprise that I immediately incorporated Glade’s affordable Prospect into my regular rotation. These sunnies have the simple good looks I crave but are made with burly Grilamid thermoplastic frames and anti-scratch lenses, so I know they’re always up for the ride. —Ariella Gintzler, associate gear editor
Topo Designs Women’s Global Sweater ($139)
When it comes to outdoor apparel, I’m all about wool—base layers, socks, midlayers, even running tees. The Global sweater was made for people like me. It’s constructed of a wool-polyester-nylon blend that includes 65 percent postconsumer recycled wool fibers. In practical terms, this means it has the classy looks of a simple crewneck sweater but also the durability, breathability, and odor resistance to keep up with an active lifestyle. I can bike-commute in it, wear it for days in a row, and don’t have to worry about getting it dirty, because it’s machine washable. Did I mention it’s cozy enough to trick you into thinking you’re wearing a sweatshirt? —A.G.
Black Diamond Forged Denim Pants ($125)
A few days a week this summer, when 5:30 P.M. rolled around, I’d clock out and head to the crag to climb some routes with my partner just before sunset. These pants made that transition seamless. From the outside, the Forged look like a regular pair of jeans. But they’re made with Cordura, which gives them extra durability—they’ve survived countless scrapes and shimmies against rough rock. The cotton-nylon-polyester blend is also unbelievably stretchy, so they don’t bunch or limit my movement on the wall. That mobility makes them comfortable to wear in non-climbing settings, too, like around town or to the office. I’ve evangelized about do-it-all pants before, but if I had to pick a pair that’s tailor-made for climbers, this would be it. —Jeremy Rellosa, reviews editor
Tracksmith Franklin Fleece ($99)
No matter how much we want to hang on to summer, the weather is changing. This fleece has been my go-to cozy layer after crisp fall runs. It’s warm and soft without being bulky—exactly what I want to put on when I come in the door. It’s designed to be breathable and flexible enough to run in, though, thanks to stretchy panels on the sides and under the arms. I usually err on the side of fewer layers while running in the cold, but I’m looking forward to testing it out once it gets frigid. —Molly Mirhashem, digital deputy editor
Snow Peak GigaPower Stove ($50)
In September, with everyone trying to get in their last camping trips before the pandemic winter hits, car-camping sites were packed. Not wanting to deal with crowds, nor plan anything too long and ambitious, my girlfriend and I worked on our backcountry glamping: backpacking into a wilderness area that was far enough removed from screaming kids and loud RVs but close enough that we could bring some creature comforts with us. Those included fixings to level up our meals, like some mac and cheese with green chile and bacon. We left behind my girlfriend’s lighter, sleeker Jetboil and instead brought my trusty Snow Peak GigaPower stove and a pot. The GigaPower stove is on the heavier side, at 3.17 ounces, but it’s solid and well built—its foldable arms feel as sturdy as a gas range, even with a full pot of food on top—and you can easily adjust the heat to simmer. I’ve had it for over five years and haven’t had one issue. —Luke Whelan, senior research editor
Spurcycle Compact Bell ($39)
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