Spring arrived last month, and we—along with the rest of the Northern Hemisphere’s population—are feeling extra thankful this year for the beginning of the warm season. Outside editors started getting out more in March, camping, road-tripping, and skiing. Here’s what we used to make it happen.
Drifted Canyon Ripstop Pants ($108)
I’ve been gardening, hiking, and camping in these ripstop pants from Drifted for about a month. The new company’s founder, Puja Seth, polled hundreds of women in the outdoors on what they were looking for in their gear; fit, quality, and sustainability all stood out in the answers. Using that feedback, she launched the brand in January, and now it sells about ten different shirts, shorts, and pants. The Canyon Ripstop, which I’m testing, is lightweight but durable, thanks to the 100 percent polyester that I’ve never snagged on rocks or branches. With two deep front pockets—one with a bungee cord sewn in that I hook my keys to—and two zippered pockets in the back, there are plenty of places to stash lip balm, your phone, and even snacks. I have the cream color, which makes me a little nervous, but so far dirt and grass stains have washed away. Time will tell if this holds true with more aggressive substances, like wine or blood. —Abigail Wise, digital managing director
SureCall Fusion2Go Max Cell Signal Booster ($500)
I spent a week working while on the road in California last month, which entailed sending email from different campsites and parking lots and tuning in to video meetings from camp tables, with the Sierra in my background. While my phone’s Wi-Fi hot spot helped me connect with my colleagues, it was SureCall’s cell-signal booster that made my remote working experience truly productive. Because Wi-Fi hot spots require strong cell service to operate efficiently, the Fusion2Go ensured I had full bars of LTE connection throughout my entire trip. This car-mounted device uses two antennas to amplify your signal to reach remote towers, and it’s powered with a car adapter, but I simply plugged it into an external battery when my car was off. I was able to make crystal-clear phone calls and join video meetings without interruptions. Best of all, it works with all North American carriers. I highly recommend this setup for anyone who needs a reliable internet connection while on the go. —Jeremy Rellosa, reviews editor
Middle Kingdom Unique Cup ($14 and Up)
Durable isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you first look at this beautiful porcelain cup from Middle Kingdom. But it’s the feature that has most impressed me while using it. The cup has survived multiple tumbles on the counter and clashes in the sink without so much as a crack. It’s also multipurpose: I’ve used it to sip all manner of beverages, from coffee in the morning to a gin martini in the evening, and thanks to an interior glaze that resists stains and residues, the flavor of the former never interferes with the latter. While I own the largest of three sizes offered, I can’t wait to get my hands on the small- and medium-size cups, which conveniently (and very cutely) nest inside each other for easy storage. —Kelsey Lindsey, senior editor
Haglöfs Roc Down Hooded Jacket ($278)
I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where things warm up pretty quickly once March hits. That means all my down jackets were packed away by mid-month—except for this one. The Roc Down got to stay out because it’s the perfect piece for spring transitions. Filled with a thin layer of DWR-coated 800-fill down, it creates just the right amount of warmth for backcountry ski starts or early-morning trips into the office. Once the sun comes out, the jacket packs down to fit in my commuter and ski bags. It will stay out of storage all summer, because the down provides enough immediate warmth for car camping once the light fades from the horizon and it’s time to start a fire. —Jakob Schiller, contributing writer
Dynafit Radical Pro Ski Boot ($800)
For years I insisted on skiing in the stiffest backcountry boots I could find, because that made me feel cool. If the boots didn’t have a 130 flex, they didn’t make it onto my feet. Then I came back to earth—most of the backcountry skiing I do is pretty mellow, so 130 was overkill. That’s why I was excited to get my hands on a pair of the Radical Pros in March. These newly launched boots have a more forgiving and realistic 120 flex and are built to be all-around backcountry kicks. Features I’ve come to love during several trips last month include a giant 60 degrees of motion, a very generous and comfy-out-of-the-box 103-millimeter last, and the Hoji lock system, which allows me to change the boot mode from skinning to skiing with the flick of just one lever. —J.S.
POC Aim Sunglasses ($220)
Who in their right mind would buy giant, ridiculous-looking sunglasses that cost upward of $200? It’s a good question and one I asked myself frequently until I tried this pair. During some longer road rides recently, I was very glad to have the Aim over my eyes—its humongous, curved lenses cut the wind completely, keeping my eyes fresh even if I’m in the saddle for five or six hours. These sunglasses also have a giant field of view so I can easily see cars and riders around me. POC partnered with Zeiss on the lenses for a result that’s ultra clear and crisp, whether you’re eyeing debris on the road or the beautiful vista in front of you. Rubber grippers on the nose and temples kept the glasses on when I was sweating like a pig, and this style fits well under POC and other helmets alike. —J.S.
Olight Perun2 Flashlight ($90)
The custom Land Cruiser I built for my wife has one glaring flaw: there’s no light source covering the rear tailgate. I was in the middle of sketching out a custom-wired solution, complete with a one-off 3D printed mount, when I came across a photo of this little flashlight on Instagram. With a right-angle lens and a magnetic base, it looked like it’d be able to stick pretty much anywhere on her liftgate, providing light from the perfect angle for any job. And producing up to 2,500 lumens, it’d definitely be bright enough. In action, I couldn’t be happier with it. It’s easy to switch through the various power modes, and the 4,000-milliampere-hour battery pack gives it an extraordinarily long run time (175 minutes on high, and nearly two weeks on low), so we’ll only need to recharge it once a year or so. The rest of the time it can just hang out in the back of her truck, ready to provide any light we need, whenever and wherever we need it—no weekend-long wiring project necessary. —Wes Siler, contributing editor
Thera Cane Massager ($40) and Joshua Tree Skin Care CBD + Arnica + Menthol Warming Balm ($60)
Thera Cane’s magical plastic stick was one of the first things I bought when I moved out on my own after long hours of college studying flared up an old shoulder injury. Eight years later, it’s still one of my prized possessions. Nothing else is as effective at loosening the knots in my neck, shoulders, and lower back after a long day of backpacking or (more likely) staring at my computer. Its bars and knobs are perfectly placed to leverage the sturdy plastic against kinks in all parts of my back and legs—no masseuse necessary. Pair it with Joshua Tree Skin Care’s CBD salve for a hit of full-spectrum, hemp-based pain relief. It’s pricey, yes, but this stuff was as good as gold on achy post-sledding muscles. —Maren Larsen, associate editor
HeadPeace Original Headband ($14)
For cool-weather runs, HeadPeace’s lightweight rayon and spandex bands offer just enough protection to keep the wind off my ears without causing me to overheat. I have extra-slippery hair and a sloping head shape that rarely allows me to wear headbands, but this one stays in place no matter what. The clever trifold design allows you to adjust the band for more or less coverage and a secure fit, without any grippy rubber tugging your hair follicles. Plus, the brand is women owned, and its ethically made bands come in a rainbow of colors and patterns to match any style. —M.L.
Goal Zero Flip 24 Power Bank ($30)
When I go into the backcountry nowadays, my phone is my map. I rely on CalTopo or Gaia GPS to create routes before heading out and then use them on my device to orient myself and make sure I’m on course. For years I relied on a crappy portable battery that I got for free with a magazine subscription to recharge my phone on wilderness trips. At this point, it only gives me about a 25 percent charge, so my girlfriend very thoughtfully gifted me this upgrade as a stocking stuffer at Christmas. It’s packable—about the size of a candy bar—super sturdy, and holds the equivalent of two full charges for my iPhone 7. Last weekend I went to Wolf Creek, Colorado, for a level-one avalanche-safety course, part of which required creating a tour plan on CalTopo and using it to help navigate terrain in the field. It was my first chance to use the Flip 24 in the backcountry, and it literally stayed in my pocket powering my phone all weekend. I never dipped below an 80 percent charge. —Luke Whelan, senior editor
DPS Alchemist Wailer 112 RP Skis ($1,299)
Lately I’ve been psyched to pull out my Alchemist Wailer 112 RPs, lightweight, fat, playful skis that float like a dream in powder but handle sun crust, wind buff, refrozen debris, and slushy corn with ease, too. They’ve become my daily driver in the backcountry, because despite the width, they’re nimble and super responsive, carving stable, surfy turns regardless of the conditions (or how worked my legs are). I’ve taken them up Oregon’s Mount Hood in the middle of summer, down Alaskan spines in the dead of winter, and on more morning powder laps at our local ski hill than I can count. I’ve even skied them in-bounds on powder days when my 102-millimeter-underfoot daily drivers weren’t gonna cut it. I also love that they perfectly match my Pomoca Climb 2.0 skins. —Abigail Barronian, associate editor
Artilect Boulder Crew Base Layer and Leggings ($95 Each)
Artilect is a newcomer to the technical-apparel scene, launching in December out of Boulder, Colorado. So far the company sells just two merino base layers and two merino leggings but eventually plans to offer an integrated system that includes a hard shell, down hoodie, fleece, and other items. I’ve been testing the brand’s Boulder Crew base layer and leggings for ski touring and resort skiing. These are the brand’s lightest-weight pieces. The thin merino-blend fabric is akin to some summer-weight shirts but insulates impressively well—on a par with some heavier merino garments in my closet. It also dries quickly, even during sweaty uphill tours when I probably should have shed layers. The wide elastic waistband on the leggings is comfortable and snug without being constrictive, and the slim cut fits nicely under ski socks and doesn’t bunch in my boots. I’ve worn both pieces for several consecutive days of uphill skiing without washing, and without any resulting stink. Artilect will start selling to consumers this fall through retailers like Evo and REI. —Gloria Liu, features editor
Miraflora CBD Soft Gels ($33)
I wish I could heed the expert warnings admonishing me to turn off my computer screen early for a better night’s sleep, but life circumstances have me writing this at 10 P.M. Like many people right now, my partner and I are both juggling full-time work with inconsistent pandemic childcare, and the only reliable time I can catch up on work is when my daughter is asleep. So I’ve been taking Miraflora CBD soft gels for the past month about 30 minutes before I plan to clock out. It has done wonders to help me fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Plus, I never feel groggy in the morning or unable to check in on my three-year-old if she has a nightmare. —Joe Jackson, Gear Guy