The Gear Our Editors Loved in April
Let there be spring
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The first full month of spring is always a relief. There is still a lot of temperamental weather, but no matter how harsh the winter has been—or continues to be—there are signs of the impending shift. The sun spends longer in the sky, buds emerge, and the birds begin to sing. Outside editors and contributors shed layers, and doubled down on our time out of doors. This is the gear that helped us do it.
SunGod Ultras Sunglasses ($180)
April threw every kind of weather at those of us living on the high plains, from blizzards to high-80s heat waves. The only thing guaranteed on my runs was wind. So I was glad to have these full coverage glasses to keep out the blowing snow and grit. But I didn’t fall in love with the coverage alone. The lens clarity is remarkable, particularly in a flexible nylon that’s tough enough that they’re guaranteed for life. The fit is comfortable and secure—with grippy temple tips and a choice of four easy-to-swap nose pieces. Given their light weight and frameless, wrap-around design that stays out of my peripheral vision, I often forget I’m wearing them. I also appreciate that the company is carbon neutral, a certified B corp, and gives one percent of its revenue to sustainably-focused non-profits. Bonus: they sponsor beloved ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter, too. —Jonathan Beverly, senior editor
Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen 50 SPF ($18)
I spent most of my life not wearing sunscreen, and I’m now at the age where I regret it. My aversion was primarily due to the greasy or filmy feeling most sunscreens left on my skin. This offering by Japanese beauty brand Bioré is the first one I’ve tried that doesn’t leave that residue, and I’m finally wearing sunscreen regularly. It absorbs quickly, smells nice, and doesn’t leave a white cast. It’s not advertised as water- or sweatproof, but I wear it for hot summer mountain bike rides and warm spring skiing days, and it keeps me protected. I love it so much I’ve given it to other sunscreen-resistant friends. —Gloria Liu, contributing writer
Hudski Doggler City Bike ($2,220)
Finding the just-right commuter bike has been hard for me. At first I rode a piece-of-shit road bike that was unreliable and sometimes left me stranded. After I became a gear reviewer at Outside, I started using high-end gravel bikes that were amazing, but also made me anxious because I never wanted to leave them locked up outdoors. So I was very happy to discover Hudski, a brand which has worked hard to design a smart city (you can also buy it in gravel or mountain configurations; the difference is mostly in the tire and wheel sizes). The frame is made from aluminum but to spice things up they’ve included a carbon fork, high-quality tires, mid-range components, ultra-comfy handlebars, and a dropper post. The result is a not-too-heavy, plenty reliable, fairly cushy, and fun commuter bike that I left locked outside several times this month. Even better: if I were to slap some knobby tires on this bike (there’s plenty of clearance) it would immediately be a capable gravel bike that could handle forest roads all day long. And thanks to a ton of mounting points on the frame, I could sling it with bags and also use it for a milder bike packing trip. —Jakob Schiller, contributing writer
Epiphany Outdoor Gear Pocket Bellows ($15)
Want to up your fire-building game? This featherweight, collapsible fire straw has been my best friend all winter long, making fire-building in my wood-burning stove 100 times easier and faster. Just extend the metal sections and blow. The straw laser-directs your breath into a mighty gust that gets even punky wood and tinder crackling in no time. I keep one near the stove and one in my car-camping kit. —Kristin Hostetter, head of sustainability
Ron’s Bikes Fabio’s Fanny ($170)
This exceedingly handsome bag lives on the front of my do-it-all rigid mountain-commuter-bikepacking bike and carries my essentials on every ride. The main body (12.5 by 8 x 4.5 inches) houses a repair kit with plenty of room for layers, snacks, and a camera. Two slim side pockets are large enough to hold wallets or cell phones. It secures tightly to the handlebars, thanks to two six-inch Voile straps and a drawcord cinch that wraps around the headtube. But my favorite features are its two transforming tricks. As you may have gathered from the name, it is also a fanny pack. There’s a wool sleeve at the back of the bag that houses a waist strap that you simply slide out when you need it. (That wool panel also pads your bike and your waist.) The second trick is that the top of the Fanny is expandable: when you have it in normal mode, the spare fabric folds into the body of the bag. When you need to carry a half dozen burritos on top of your normal gear, simply pull the fabric upwards, load it up, and fold the top flap over to one of three magnetic clasps to secure your cargo. And there’s no need to worry about it busting at the seams: it’s made by hand in Connecticut with burly, waterproof X50 X-Pac (500-denier Cordura) that is very light and durable. I’ve been using this thing for nine months, and besides a little dust, there aren’t any signs of wear. It’s going to last for years and just look better as it ages. —Will Taylor, gear director
Sunday Afternoons Ultra Trail Cap ($36)
This is my go-top hat for running, hiking, and traveling. It weighs just 1.7 ounces, features UPF-50 sun protection, and is made of a Bluesign-approved nylon-polyester blend that dries extremely quickly. I love the soft, crushable brim, which lets me stuff it in a pocket or a bag without worrying about it losing its shape. The top breathes well on hot days and is great for dipping in the water at a creek crossing for a quick cool down. I very often forget I have it on my head and that, in my mind, is what makes for a good cap. —W.T.