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She escaped the Nazis, stuck it to the men, turned the outdoor industry on its head, and made us laugh. All while seeking perfection.

2015 Gear of the Year Winner

Choose the right type, fit, capacity, and features, and away you go.

The Eddie Bauer First Ascent Sorcerer goes from hauler to super-long hauler and can also be stripped down to a day-mission sack. Call it magic.

Serious about minimalism? Then this is the pack for you.

Easily tailored to your body, with clever details and a surprisingly light weight.

Eddie Bauer First Ascent Alchemist 40L This shape-shifter might just replace every pack you own. Lashed down, the Alchemist is compact enough for one-day summit bagging. Unzip the top wedge and unfurl the hideaway lid, and it morphs into an entirely different beast—a roomy 55-liter hauler with plenty of space…

Beat dehydration this summer with one of these great reservoirs: The Geigerrig Hydration Pack bladder, which comes standard in the brand's hiking and biking packs; the Platypus Big Zip SL, the most secure bladder we tested this season; or the Hydrapak Shape-Shift, which you can zip up in the middle to create a more dispersed load.

According to the Peltzman effect, helmets and seat belts cause people to ski, drive, and ride more recklessly, if only slightly. We don’t suggest you trash your lid, but consider these numbers.

We crack the evolution of the safety helmet

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the JanSport Versteeg pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Eagle Creek Adero 55 pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Deuter ACT Zero 50+15 pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the OutThere AS-1 pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Osprey Hornet 32 pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Mountain Hardware Fluid 48 pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Gregory Z40 pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Arc'teryx Aerios 14 pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Black Diamond Epic 45 pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Sierra Designs Revival 65 pack.

Hiking, biking, trail running—we did it all with the Diablo. There’s just enough space in this 352-cubic-inch pack to stash an emergency shell, a bike pump, and a snack, especially if you take advantage of its waist-belt pockets, two external stash pockets, and bungee strap. But what really makes…

FEATHERWEIGHT First impression: Too light to abuse—or rely upon on in really nasty weather. But doubters became believers in the field: It’s every bit as durable and waterproof as jackets twice the weight and didn’t slow testers down on a wet-weather run from the summit of Mount Adams. The trick?…

STAY ORGANIZED We were all impressed with how well the Futura Pro carries a full load, but it was our anal-retentive testers who were most partial to this feature-laden, everything-has-its-place pack. A bottom compartment keeps food separated from clothing and gear, while a bevy of quick-access compartments (two long pockets…

Good for Resort It may look like it schussed in from the eighties ski flick Hot Dog… The Movie, but with all the resort-friendly features—like pit zips and a powder skirt—the Gunpowder is a seriously technical puffy. The real secret to the jacket’s performance is that the…

BASIC BAG If you could turn an old metal lunchbox into a ski pack, it would look like this—a utilitarian, bargain-priced hauler. The 1,647-cubic-inch pack held all the tools we needed for a daylong ski-mountaineering trip, stayed out of the way when we spent a morning making laps at Vail,…

THE CRUISER Good for Backcountry The Burnside is neither the lightest nor the most technical jacket here, but that’s not this crossover shell’s point. The two-ply waterproof-breathable polyester shell repels precipitation well enough for a full day on the slopes or a long hike or walk…

The WeatherEdge was this year’s biggest surprise. Less than $120, pit zips, a fully functioning hood? There really isn’t a catch, though. It’s every bit as waterproof as jackets that cost twice as much and, while it’s not quite as breathable as the pricier jackets here, all you have…

Urban Hiker Half messenger bag, half backpack: That’s the easiest way to describe this 1,500-cubic-inch urban hauler. With a well-cushioned 15.4-inch laptop pocket and a DWR-coated, splash-resistant flap closure, it’s the perfect pack for biking to work or walking to the coffee shop. Thanks to the same breathable mesh padding…

LIFESAVER Should you get caught in a slide, the AvaLung-equipped Anarchist can improve your odds of survival. The device—which is built into this comfy 1,953-cubic-inch pack—redirects the poisonous carbon dioxide you exhale, delaying the formation of a suffocating “ice mask” around your face. It reportedly can keep avy victims alive…

GREEN-MINDED AND OLD-SCHOOL Mountainsmith managed to build the Phoenix out of an impressive 85 percent recycled materials, including 100 percent recycled PET fabric, recycled mesh back panel and zippers, and sustainable biopolymer buckles. That’s about the current eco-limit without compromising the pack’s performance. But there’s much more to the Phoenix…

This smart little pack brings a dash of technical know-how to a street-savvy bag. In town, you can remove the hip strap to dial back the crunchy-guy factor, while a bit of reflective piping increases your visibility when riding or walking in the dark. Wherever we were, the water-resistant…

These café loungers segue easily from snowshoe rambling to latte sipping. Credit a casual style paired with Helly’s proprietary waterproof-breathable fabric and built-in gaiters that fit a wide range of boots. hellyhansen.com…

TRADITIONAL TOP LOADER “Airy and easy to adjust” is how one tester summed up the Locus 40. It’s light, too: The minimalist design boasts an impressive weight-to-capacity ratio. Torso adjustment takes just a few seconds, then the pack slides into place. The AeroFly suspension rides nice and tight to the…

Good for Resort It’s the love child of a high-end mountaineering jacket and a toasty resort parka! Combining Gore’s most durable waterproof-breathable fabric, Pro Shell, with PrimaLoft’s top-of-the-line insulation, the Sentry wowed every tester in the field, besting everything from arctic gusts on the lifts at Colorado’s…

CAN TAKE A BEATING This past fall, we sent three Boulder-based climbers to Moab’s Castleton Tower with half a dozen soft shells to test. And after a week of shimmying up tight sandstone chimneys and off-widths, the stretchy Current emerged as the sturdiest and most waterproof of the bunch. The…

MR. VERSATILITY Good for Backcountry Looking for something you can backpack in all summer and then ski in come winter? The Troll Wall is your jacket. Simply detach its powder skirt and you’ve got a lightweight—just 19 ounces—and easy-to-pack rain shell you can wear year-round. The…

Both the Ekolab’s vegetable-based waterproof-breathable membrane and DWR finish are fluorocarbon-free and recyclable. Testers were a bit skeptical that the sustainable chemistry would perform as well as the regular stuff, but the shell easily fended off hours of rain during a wet hike in Colorado’s Indian Peaks. Although the…

Simple and Smart Although they’re best known for making school bags, JanSport also has a long track record making technical performance packs—like the 2,074-cubic-inch Salish. From long day hikes to more gear-intensive scrambles to local crags, it consistently received high marks as a comfy, versatile pack. An externally accessed hydration…

1. Thanks to the 690-cubic-inch Bandit’s low profile, we barely noticed it while riding lifts. And when we wanted to leave the gates or head out for a quick backcountry tour, this pack was the perfect size. 2. The Bandit’s sleek look belies its utilitarian nature. Inside, you’ve got…

TAKE IT OFF-TRAIL Like a souped-up Jeep, the Triconi begs to be taken off-trail and over jumbly passes. The reason: The hipbelt and shoulder straps are built into the pack frame with auto-adjusting pivot points. It’s a smart system. The pivots adapt to individual hip curvature and shoulder/torso size, allowing…

A mash-up between a college book bag and a classic daypack, the streamlined, 2,000-cubic-inch Shrike was surprisingly versatile. The suspension system—basically a padded back panel and shoulder straps—isn’t anything fancy, but if you don’t overload it (30 pounds, max), it’s plenty comfy for long hikes. Around town, the front…

Crappy out? These no-nonsense Gore-Tex Pro Shell pants were simply the best bad-weather trousers we tested. Added bonus: They come with a built-in Recco avalanche rescue system. thenorthface.com…

TOWN AND COUNTRY The perfect travel backpack needs to be versatile, compact, and sturdy. On all three counts, the panel-loading Instinct nails it. If you travel light, it’s just big enough for weekend trips. Out on the trail, the lightly padded back didn’t vent body heat as well as other…

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