Outside Business Journal

Next Season’s Hottest Outdoor Gear

The best products hitting shelves in Spring/Summer '23, ranked by our team of staffers, gear testers, and retailers


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We received more than 240 product submissions for our semiannual roundup of next season’s hottest gear and, based on the mix, it’s clear the outdoors is only becoming more inclusive, sustainable, and experimental with each passing year.

With the recent outdoor boom showing no signs of slowing, brands are now developing products better suited to a wider user base without diverting attention from more specialized gear for experienced adventurers. Our team of staffers, gear testers, and retailers helped narrow down the picks to the top 50 most anticipated products of Spring/Summer 2023, ranked in order of stoke. (All available in men’s and women’s, or unisex, unless indicated.)

1. Pale Blue Earth Rechargeable Smart Batteries ($30, 4-Pack of AA)

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The Promise: Americans throw away 10 million disposable batteries every day. These help alter that dirty trend.

The Deets: You’ve heard of rechargeable batteries, but these smart batteries charge five times faster than other models (within two hours), and the lifecycle of each one can replace up to 1,000 disposable alkaline batteries. Each battery has its own micro USB port and can charge via wall outlet, computer, or power bank. Ultralighters will love the weight, too: nearly 40 percent lighter than disposable batteries.

2. Nemo Forte Endless Promise ($180-$240)

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The Promise: Conscious consumers will appreciate the sustainability promise of this bag series.

The Deets: The updated versions of these sleeping bags (20- and 35-degree) are zero-waste all the way from production to end-of-life. Made with all Bluesign-approved materials, the shell and liner are 100 percent recycled fabrics and the insulation is post-consumer recycled PrimaLoft synthetics. And because 95 percent of the bag is made from a single polyester polymer, it can be recycled at the end of its life. If it can’t be repaired or recommerced, customers receive a $20 credit toward new Nemo gear.

3. Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie ($220)

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The Promise: This ultralight synthetic layer has properties that beat its down counterpart.

The Deets: Reduced stitching translates to better flowing synthetic insulation under a 12-denier nylon shell, providing four-season warmth. The polyester strands woven throughout mimic the shape of thousands of connected down clusters, promoting high loft and more resistance to compression versus down. Remarkably, the weight stays below 11 ounces.

4. Granite Gear Crown3 60 ($220)

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The Promise: A unique structural frame on this pack offers customizable carrying capacity.

The Deets: This 60-liter pack has a standard load carry of 35 pounds, but it can be adjusted from 25 to 43 pounds. The compression-molded polyethylene frame sheet has an add-on U-shaped aluminum stay (sold separately) that integrates seamlessly into the suspension system. A fully removable dual sternum strap system provides a secondary hug over the chest. Eco bonus: there’s an undyed color option, and by skipping the color dying process for the fabrics, hardware, and webbing, the pack’s water waste drops by 55 percent.

5. Oboz Katabatic Mid B-Dry ($170)

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The Promise: This mid-height waterproof shoe performs like a trail runner, but is meant for fast hiking.

The Deets: Multi-directional lugs around the perimeter, midfoot, and rear give lateral grip and braking ability for purchase on the toughest terrain, even under the weight of a pack. The welded TPU heel cup and toe wrap the foot for stability and protection, all with a weight of under one pound per shoe.

6. Alpacka Raft Refuge ($1,275)

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The Promise: Stay comfortable and dry through rough waters for multiple weeks.

The Deets: The whitewater deck and cargo fly—along with the six grab loops on the bow and stern—allow for secure storage of gear while tackling Class III rapids. The 7-foot boat cinches down to 15 by seven inches and under six pounds for transport.

7. Grand Trunk Evolution 20 Down Hammock ($300)

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The Promise: Stop hassling with over-quilts and under-quilts.

The Deets: This complete system integrates a 650-fill, 20-degree down sleeping bag with a hammock, all at under two pounds. The 40-denier nylon fabric is DWR-treated and breathable to battle the weather.

8. Artilect Exposure Hoodie ($160)

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The Promise: We thought we’d seen everything, but this layer is (literally) bananas.

The Deets: Combining merino and nylon with 30 percent banana fiber—a renewable byproduct of banana farming—makes for noteworthy durability. The 18-micron merino wool delivers that soft and cozy feel, with an added benefit of full-density coverage with UPF 50+ UV protection and a fitted hood.

9. Bern Hudson Helmet ($140)

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The Promise: Be more visible on night rides from all angles.

The Deets: Three settings on the integrated and rechargeable rear LED light (6.6 lumens) offer better visibility, while the helmet’s MIPS technology beefs up the layer of protection by absorbing and redirecting impacts. Bonus: brain protection doesn’t need to be hot or heavy; the helmet weighs less than a pound and 13 vents keep the noggin cool.

10. Milo the Action Communication ($249)

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The Promise: Works like a walkie talkie, only better.

The Deets: Keep a spread-out group on the slopes, water, or trails in verbal communication with these hands-free, waterproof, lightweight radios. No need to push a button to talk; multiple voices can be transmitted simultaneously and clearly, even in windy conditions. Clip the device to a pocket, collar, or backpack—or pair with a bluetooth headset for even more convenience.

11. Namuk Eon Backpack 14L ($120)

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The Promise: With textile fibers 15 times stronger than steel, this kid’s pack is practically indestructible.

The Deets: Aside from being highly durable thanks to a polyethylene with ultra high molecular weight, the fabric is DWR-treated and completely waterproof. The inner lining pulls out for a sit pad in the backcountry, and for cleaning. The 14-liter rucksack has a rolltop closure with reflective drawcords to compress.

12. Norrona Senja Gore-Tex Active Jacket ($549)

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The Promise: This shell’s breathability and weatherproofing strike the perfect balance.

The Deets: Besides the normal zippered pit openings, a mesh layer on the upper back makes this jacket highly breathable. At the same time, the main face fabric is 20-denier nylon with laminated Gore-Tex Pro waterproofing and durability. At ten ounces, it’s lightweight enough for trail running, but protective enough for mountain climbing.

13. Lacaida “The Lincoln” Rope ($189-$339)

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The Promise: Rappelling was never safer before this metered rope.

The Deets: With markings at the midpoint and at each meter, this rope gives climbers more information about how high they are while rappelling and putting up first ascents. The markings appear in block font and are legible up to 20 feet away. Available in five lengths.

14. Oru Kayak Lake ($700)

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The Promise: This is the lightest and most affordable kayak in the Oru series.

The Deets: Still using the origami boat design, this kayak can be assembled in under two minutes, as it has only two loose parts—half as many as other Oru models. It also weighs about 18 pounds, making it the lightest non-inflatable kayak on the market. There’s no skimping on comfort, as the floorboard has an integrated memory foam seat.

15. Gastro Gnome Meals Almond Pesto & Mushroom Ragu Farfalle ($15)

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The Promise: It’s not often a freeze-dried vegetarian meal hits so many high notes.

The Deets: Loaded with chickpea pasta, a pesto made with almonds, asparagus, and mushrooms, this meal satisfies hiker hunger without leaving a gut bomb behind. With one serving of 770 calories, 35 grams of protein, and 37 grams of fat, it’s a more-than-respectable addition to any trail dinner menu.

16. Helinox Chair Zero Large ($150)

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The Promise: A redesign of this popular backpacking chair makes it fit for plus-size adventurers.

The Deets: With inclusivity in mind, the Chair Zero received an update to bear up to 320 pounds, thanks to a combination of the DAC alloy frame (with 7000 series aluminum), a 100-denier polyester seat weaved with synthetic aramid fibers, and nylon resin connector hubs. And it only weighs 1.5 pounds.

17. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT ($190)

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The Promise: No more crunchy chip bags with this pad.

The Deets: With a new temperature technology integrated into the triangular core matrix, the pad is six times quieter than previous versions and has an R-value of 4.5. Adding a half inch of thickness yields three inches of cushion. The twist lock valve also makes inflation three times faster for easier setup.

18. Osprey Exos/Eja Pro 55 ($290)

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The Promise: This might be the lightest pack for its volume capacity.

The Deets: Osprey shaved off nearly a pound from its lightest thru hiking pack to offer a model with a 2-pound weight, made even lighter by removing the lid. The pack still offers lots of comfort with a ventilated adjustable suspension system.

19. PurTrek Trek Pole Water Filtration ($190)

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The Promise: This trekking pole doubles its practicality with a built-in water filter.

The Deets: An integrated hollow fiber water filter allows hikers to submerge the bottom of the pole in water and drink from the foam handle through a tube. The aluminum poles are both adjustable via a flip lock and collapse to 25 inches for transport with a total weight of around two pounds.

20. Primus Alika Stove ($275)

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The Promise: The removable lid feature is now available on a dual-burner stove.

The Deets: Larger pots and pans share the 10,200 BTU burners with no problem thanks to a detachable lid that doubles as a spot for setting hot cookware. A spring-locking mechanism solves the issue of a finicky ignitor, as it keeps the regulator in place.

21. Buff Original EcoStretch Limited Edition Pride Collection ($20)

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The Promise: Most people already have a Buff, but this one celebrates inclusivity.

The Deets: Make a statement with Pride Collection Buffs, which promote inclusivity through several original designs by graphic artist Tim Singleton. Sales of these special Buffs—made with moisture wicking, quick drying, breathable stretch fabric and boasting UPF 50 sun protection—support The Venture Out Project, which promotes outdoor adventure among LGBTQ+ youth.

22. Mountain Hardwear Bridger 6 Tent ($950)

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The Promise: With more families hitting campgrounds and public lands, spacious tents are a must.

The Deets: With nearly 90 square feet inside, the livability of this six-person tent is formidable. The additional 95 square feet in the front vestibule act as an outdoor porch for hanging, plus the swinging saloon-style doors make exit and entry easy. In the back of the tent, there’s an additional gear closet vestibule, but there are also portable gear lockers with six pockets to hang helmets, shoes, and more on the sides of the vestibules.

23. Ortovox Peak 52S / 55L ($280)

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The Promise: The technical features of this sub-four-pound pack equip it for year-round mountain sports.

The Deets: The wool in this pack’s back panel can absorb 30 times more moisture and dry more quickly than the usual foam alternative. The pack’s full-contact fit sits close to the body for optimal weight distribution and carrying comfort. The seasonal versatility is evident in the multiple attachments for skis, rope, helmets, crampons, and more.

24. Big Agnes Circle Back Pad ($250)

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The Promise: This sleeping pad is like a giant hug.

The Deets: Between the large outer chambers and a TPU bladder, this pad is built to cradle anybody’s shape without the crinkle sound when rolling over. The 4.0 R-value is the result of a layer of Mylar heat-reflective film and a quilted polyester pad cover that is removable and washable.

25. Salomon Sense Ride 5 ($130)

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The Promise: Trail running is among the most popular year-round sports, and this shoe stands up to heavy use with a noticably lighter build to bounce comfortably across all surfaces.

The Deets: This nine-ounce runner is engineered with mesh on the upper, keeping it breathable, and a spongy foam for a soft underfoot with forgiving rebound. The rubberized outsole grips all terrain from rough trails to ultra courses.

26. Aurea Technologies Inc. Shine Turbine ($400)

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The Promise: Move over, portable solar power kits; on-the-go wind power is here.

The Deets: The renewable energy category now includes a portable wind charger for handheld devices. The charger packs down to the size of a one-liter bottle and weighs three pounds, but more importantly, it offers the most power for its weight of any portable charging device. Setup takes just minutes, and it stands three feet tall and can tolerate winds up to 28 m.p.h. through the night and on rainy days.

27. Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Cooling Vest ($80)

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The Promise: Your dog’s comfort should be as important as yours.

The Deets: Not only does this vest reflect solar radiation off your dog, there’s wicking and evaporative cooling technology along the back, chest, and belly. The mesh lining next to the dog’s body keeps Fido comfy. Attach a leash via two connection points, or use the handle for a quick carry.

28. SheFly Apparel Go Adventure Leggings ($118, W’s Only)

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The Promise: No need to wrestle down leggings for a pee break.

The Deets: SheFly applied its patented zipper technology to leggings for no-fuss bathroom flexibility. The leggings are stretchy with a nylon-spandex build, plus a DWR coating. Four deep pockets on the hips and backside, as well as a zippered front pocket, set these apart from typical leggings.

29. Gnarly Nutrition Performance Greens ($44)

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The Promise: This supplement sets a new standard in transparency.

The Deets: Green powder supplements are all the rage, but most people just trust the brand’s proprietary blends and claims. The label on this powder lists out every single micronutrient. From Vitamin A to zinc, every nutrient offers a healthy portion of (or exceeds) the recommended daily intake.

30. Ombraz Teton ($150)

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The Promise: Still boasting the brand’s revolutionary armless design, these Ombraz are lighter—yet stronger—than previous versions.

The Deets: Weighing less than an ounce, these scratch-resistant sunnies are made from aerospace-grade nylon—versus the more traditional acetate. As with all Ombraz, the armless design is equipped with a marine-grade cord for unshakeable security without pinching hair or causing temple pain.

31. Craft CTM Ultra Trail ($175)

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The Promise: High rebound and velocity in a lightweight trail runner.

The Deets: The low stack height of 35 mm puts this shoe in the trail running category, while the drop to 25 mm in the forefoot promotes better acceleration, declaration, and stability on unstable terrain. The foam midsole is intentionally built light, but allows for consistent propulsion and enhanced rebound. The pair barely tips the scale over a pound.

32. Mustang Survival Essentialist Belt Pack ($125)

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The Promise: Peace of mind comes in a small package on paddleboard adventures.

The Deets: The inflatable belt pack not only offers nearly 19 pounds of buoyancy when manually activated with a cord, but provides ample storage for essentials with two zippered pockets plus a mesh pocket with a key loop. The wide belt with 3D mesh liner promises breathability and comfort around the waist.

33. Honey Stinger Pumpkin Nut + Seed Bar ($31, Box of 12)

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The Promise: No need to break your teeth on a protein bar.

The Deets: The sweet honey, nut butter, and caramel core pairs deliciously with the outer crunch of roasted almonds and pumpkin seeds. Nutritionally, the 14 grams of protein, three antioxidants, and 25 percent daily recommended value of vitamins A, C, and E deserve a nod. The bar also comes in peanut sunflower nut flavor.

34. Acebeam H50 2.0 ($100)

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The Promise: This powerful headlamp packs as much brightness as you could possibly need.

The Deets: Thanks to the 125-foot wide-angle spotlight with up to 2,000 lumens, this running and cycling headlamp will light the way in any conditions. It also adjusts down to three lumens for reading, if needed. The weight is very light at roughly two ounces, and the two straps provide a comfortable fit with little forehead stress.

35. Alpen Fuel Cranberry White Chocolate Granola ($7.50)

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The Promise: Kickstart your big adventures with this indulgent breakfast.

The Deets: Despite being nut-free and vegetarian, this granola delivers 720 calories and 20 grams of protein, thanks to the delicious ingredient blend of pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, chia seed, cranberries, and white chocolate. Served hot or cold, the gluten-free and low-sodium meal fuels the day with steady energy and no sugar crashes.

36. Two Wheel Gear Alpha Pannier Backpack ($220)

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The Promise: This weatherproof backpack converts to a pannier bag in seconds.

The Deets: The reflective 600-denier ripstop polyester can stand up to the worst weather when secured on a bike rack. The 25-liter capacity includes a number of helpful features, like the ability to add a Joey charging device, a 15-inch padded laptop space, and lots of smaller internal pockets for whatever your storage needs may be.

37. Tribit MoveBuds H1 ($90)

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The Promise: Pop a wheelie and ride the rail without your earbuds budging.

The Deets: You won’t even notice these featherlight earbuds when they’re in, but they’ll keep performing no matter where you take them. The stable ear-hang design, antibacterial ear tips, and ability to be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes make them perfect for any outdoor activity. Up to 15 hours of playtime on a single charge, with the charging case extending that to 50+.

38. Appalachian Gear Company Tee Shirt ($90)

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The Promise: Pass any multi-day smell test thanks to this workhorse fiber blend.

The Deets: The 80 percent alpaca wool supercharges the durability and warmth of this performance tee, while the 20 percent Tencel fibers keep it airy, light, and antibacterial (fewer bacteria grows on Tencel versus synthetic fibers). Both fibers are sustainably sourced, with the Tencel coming from eucalyptus trees.

39. E-Z Up Wedge Beach & Sport Tent ($99)

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The Promise: Stop wrestling with finicky umbrellas that provide too little shade.

The Deets: With one pull in the center, this three-sided shelter pops open to 34 square feet of coverage with a maximum head height of four feet. It can be secured with stakes or by filling the side pockets with sand and rocks. Two windows even roll up for more ventilation. At four pounds, the size and weight matches that of a beach chair.

40. Mountainsmith Cona 45 Backpack ($260)

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The Promise: If you like your packs with lots of bells and whistles, this will hit high notes for you.

The Deets: The roll-top entry and the U-shaped zippered panel grants full access to the main compartment from top to bottom, plus the brightly colored liner is waterproof. There’s also a separate zippered compartment for a hydration bladder, tool loops, front stretch sleeves for camp shoes, and a few smaller zippered pockets to safeguard small items like sunglasses and electronics. With all the extras, the 45-liter pack can carry up to 60 pounds.

41. Boa Nutrition Boa Endure ($20)

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The Promise: Get your electrolyte boost in an aerosol spray as opposed to biting open packaging when completely depleted.

The Deets: A first of its kind, this ingestible aerosol of sodium relieves tight muscles ten times faster than any other method. Each two-second spray delivers 150 mg of sodium. The whole container equates to 24 bottles of your favorite energy-replenishing beverage meant to relieve tight muscles.

42. Klim Override Alloy Jacket ($170, M’s Only)

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The Promise: Selective zoning on this midlayer makes it equally insulating and breathable.

The Deets: Midlayers can be sweaty, but the low-bulk grid fleece on the back and under the arms efficiently wicks moisture even while you’re wearing a backpack. At the same time, the siliconized insulation on the chest and arms ensures wind won’t chill the body, while the 20-denier stretch nylon keeps it weatherproof.

43. MiiR Pour-Over Kettle ($60)

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The Promise: Never scald yourself with boiling water at camp again.

The Deets: The long-angled spout makes for steadier pouring, but it’s the internal flow reducer that slows down and controls the stream. The side handle is angled to keep hands away from heat while pouring. The 33-ounce stainless steel kettle also has a large analog thermometer for targeting a precise brew temperature.

44. Level Six Ace Sprayskirt ($185)

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The Promise: Stop doing battle with spray skirts.

The Deets: A thinner rubber band that is stitched, not glued, and a ribbed cross section translates to superior stretch that makes fitting this sprayskirt on any style of cockpit easy. The thicker neoprene and reinforced kevlar panels equal better abrasion resistance and longevity.

45. The Trail Magik Kid Carrier ($95)

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The Promise: When your toddler needs a lift, this portable carrier is ready to give a ride.

The Deets: Weighing less than ten ounces and folding up to the size of a small water bottle, this carrier stays tucked away and out of sight until needed. The Cordura fabric and heavy nylon webbing construction is safe for children up to 43 pounds.

46. Solo Stove Pi Pizza Oven ($470, Wood Only; $645, Wood & Gas)

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The Promise: Add pizza to your next campout menu.

The Deets: The stainless-steel stove weighs about 30 pounds and easily lets you make perfect homemade pizzas while camping. The unique construction has no chimney or door; instead, you watch your creation cook through the panoramic opening. Fueling options include wood only or add-on propane.

47. Dakine Ulua 60L Fish Pack ($330)

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The Promise: The name says it all: this pack is for anglers.

The Deets: The main compartment of this 60-liter pack is a cooler with a capacity to carry 35 pounds of fish, plus ice. The exterior build features four spots specifically designed to carry fishing rods, and also includes multiple tackle storage pockets and attachments for other tools. The whole package is waterproof with 305-denier polyester ripstop.

48. Deuter Cabezon SB 16 ($120)

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The Promise: Bikepacking popularity demanded a revamp to the bike bag.

The Deets: This 16-liter waterproof seat bag rolls closed and cinches down to create a streamlined, low-mass pack with dual attachments. The collection also has options for a four-liter, six-liter, and a 14-liter handlebar bag.

49. UCO Quicklite Stormproof Match Kit ($15)

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The Promise: Keep your emergency matches safe from sogginess.

The Deets: The 2.1-ounce compact polypropylene case carries up to 25 stormproof matches and is weather-tight with a silicone seal and water-resistant striker area (replaceable when worn down). A clutch feature is the hinged spring-loaded lid, which opens one-handed.

50. Body Glove Performer II Inflatable Paddle Board Package ($1,000)

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The Promise: You can now form an island with other SUPers on the lake.

The Deets: Besides the connector system, other upgrades to this inflatable paddle board include a removable fin and an action camera attachment. The traction pad gives you a better grip for standing up, while the front cargo bungee keeps shoes, water bottle, and PFD in place.

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