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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.

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.

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…

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 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.

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.

Aigle Shems – Midweight Jackets: Reviews   With a soft fleece interior and warm, durable merino wool/nylon exterior, this jacket combines our favorite fabrics in one versatile top. 1.9 lbs; aigleusa.com         Patagonia Pau – Footwear: Reviews (Terry Heffernan) The coolest mocs we’ve ever laid eyes…

BIG PROTECTION The anorak is back (also see the Triumph, below)—and we like it. When a group of testers got stuck in a downpour on a mountain-bike tour in Utah’s Abajo Mountains, the only guy who stayed bone-dry was the one in the Alpha SL anorak. Credit the material, Gore’s…

Soft ShellsWe barely noticed this five-ounce piece in our packs. But when conditions changed, we appreciated every feature, from its chest pocket to its stashable hood. The cut is just generous enough to fit over a fleece, while the DWR-coated ripstop nylon is water-resistant enough to fend off a…

Warm, yet wild. Touches of corduroy give these waterproof, PrimaLoft-insulated pants a dash of outlaw flash. But what feels downright illegal is when you shed your base-layer bottoms, go commando, and still feel warm and fuzzy inside. powderhorn-world.com…

BACKCOUNTRY STANDBY Good for Backcountry Technically, the Vanquish is a “soft” shell, but it certainly didn’t behave like one in the field. Gore-Tex’s Soft Shell material is fairly breathable and virtually waterproof—we didn’t test it in driving rain, but it easily shed several hours of…

The light-yet-stable Vapor Flash bridges the gap between an overnighter and a multi-day hauler. At 3,200 cubic inches, this traditional top-loader is just big enough for several days’ worth of gear (one tester even hauled a six-pack in it). But at a waifish three and a half pounds, it…

SUMMER-WEIGHT CHAMP Meet our new warm-weather favorite. The track-suit-inspired Avido was a godsend in the middle of summer when we didn’t want to stuff a full-on rain shell in our packs but then got blasted by cold winds up in the hills. The reason, as one tester pointed out, is…

THE WHOLE PACKAGE Good for Resort System jackets might seem passé to some, but the reasonably priced three- in-one Rodeo Magic, which can be worn as a shell, a midlayer, or both, is a pretty sweet (and, of course, versatile) garment. While not as waterproof…

All-Season Workhorse The Lookout 45 was designed with winter in mind—there are ski-, snowboard-, and snowshoe-specific straps. But our testers liked it so much, they kept grabbing this 2,870-cubic-inch bag for weekend adventures all summer. That’s because everything—from maps to hydration tubes to camera cases—has its place on this tricked-out…

HIGH-PERFORMANCE HIPSTER Newcomer Scapegoat absolutely nailed “performance casual” with the Rosti, which instantly felt like an old favorite. It’s ideal for resort cruising and sidewalk surfing. On the slopes, the waterproof-breathable fabric, PrimaLoft One insulation, and meticulous seam-taping stood up to driving squalls at Beaver Creek. It doesn’t have tons…

SUPER-PACKABLE On those days when the forecast is for full sun, take the Triumph. Extremely packable and weighing in at an obscene five ounces (a bit more than a bag of potato chips), the Triumph is as spartan as they come—there’s one tiny front pocket and a basic but slightly…

Soft ShellsThe soft Cocona-and-polyester lining makes the Kenosha the warmest wind shell here. It proved its mettle on everything from a whale-watching trip in Maine to a 30-mile mountain-bike epic on the Colorado Trail. We even used it as a midlayer on a spring skiing tour in Rocky Mountain…

1.The Patrol 35 nails the most important feature in a winter pack: how well it carries skis or a snowboard. TNF’s Fly-Trap carrying system compresses skis (A-frame or diagonally) or board (vertically) amazingly close to your center of gravity. The result is excellent stability—which made me feel balanced and…

DUDE CRED Good for Backcountry FlyLow has a sense of humor. The care-instructions tag in this piece advises you first to “Drink Cold Beer.” But the Denver-based company also has a solid reputation for making durable, no-nonsense gear. And by using a highly water-resistant, stretchy “kung…

The 3,970-cubic-inch, top-loading Sentinel may not look as sleek and stable as the other packs here. But it’s sturdier than it looks. The traditional suspension system consists of two aluminum stays, while the main compartment includes rear sleeping-bag access and a generous stuffsack. What impressed us were the extras…

PRACTICALLY WATERPROOF If you took your favorite base layer, hard shell, and soft shell and threw them all in a blender, it would be a terrible mess. But Westcomb’s mash-up makes terrific sense. A thin layer of merino wool on the inside wicks away moisture (like a base layer),…

GATE HOPPER The 1,098-cubic-inch Silo 18 is an ideal choice when you’re jumping between the lifts and the sidecountry. Three stash pockets (one internal, two external) help you keep track of quick-grab items. The polyethylene back panel is just tough and stiff enough to make a solid base for ski…

Can Take a Beating The Ascent 40 was designed with climbing in mind; for example, it comes with a rope tarp. And while it does a fine job getting rope to the crag, we also loved it as an adventure-travel pack. That’s because the 2,450-cubic-inch Ascent is basically, as one…

THE CLASSIC If Toyota made a jacket, it would be a lot like the Escape: solid performance, great value. Made of Gore-Tex Performance Shell (the new name for the classic two-layer waterproof-breathable fabric), the Escape shucked off the elements in the nastiest Northwest storms. It’s not as light as comparably…

STYLE AND PERFORMANCE Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but our testers were unanimous: Thanks to its sleek design and refreshing lack of logos, the Shelter is the best-looking shell in the bunch. And, like nearly everything the eco-conscious, Portland, Oregon–based Nau makes, much of the Shelter…

The most breathable soft shell here, the Verglas was our favorite jacket for high-energy excursions. Whether testers were climbing or simply riding their bikes home from work, they were impressed with the Verglas’s vast comfort range. Credit the thumb loops, hood, and a woven nylon fabric that’s treated with…

DAY TRIPPER If your passion is touring, get the nimble Drift. “It’s the perfect size and profile for the typical day trip,” said a tester who put miles on the pack in the Colorado backcountry. Skis or snowboards strap on easily and stay rock-solid, with three different carry options. On…

TOWN AND COUNTRY Good for Backcountry Don’t worry, it’s also available in black and UPS brown. We were surprised that what looks like a soft-shell sweatshirt on acid could perform so well in nasty conditions. But this hoodie felt as at home riding the lifts on…

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