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Why they rule“Biomex” sounds like genetically engineered food from El Paso, but it’s really just Lowa’s name for an external ankle support. The hinged, rigid-plastic cuff locked my ankles in place on loose, off-camber talus—even as I teetered under a 35-pound backpack. Indeed, they aced the hairiest stability test I…

Remember that high school buddy who souped up an old Datsun 510, then went looking for suckers to race? The Taku is his kind of jacket. At first glance this 2005 Gear of the Year pick is just another storm shell, but a closer look reveals a whole lotta functional…

1. If there’s parity in reincarnation, this two-in-one trunk will be reborn as a tank. It easily passes dress code at luxe hotels, but its 420- and 1,680-denier fabrics, brawny wheels and housings, and beefy bumper guards and kick plate are meant for rough stuff. A ten-day tour of…

Good for Backcountry Such is the silky, soft feel of this lightweight, insulated number—the warmest pair here—that it belies the waterproofness and breathability of the proprietary Helly Tech XP fabric. You almost feel like you’re in your jammies. Zip vents at the inner thighs provide extra exhaust.

Cross a Suburban with a BMW and you’d get the automotive version of Lowa’s Jannu Lo: a smooth and fast ride anywhere. By combining a tough upper with a solid platform and then lining the inside with baby-butt-soft leather, the Jannu delivers an exquisitely plush, but armored, feel. The…

1. The LX2 is one of the rare pocket digicams that offers the manual exposure control and instant shutter response required by serious photographers. Add a proven image-stabilization system, a high-res movie mode, an ultraclear LCD screen, plus sharp Leica optics, and the LX2 is a clear standout in…

Good for Backcountry 1. No matter what the weather, the Icefield was ready. The shell—a slightly stretchy, very sturdy ripstop polyester with a waterproof-breathable membrane—shucked off epic dumps at Jackson Hole and wet slop on Washington’s Mount Baker. But inside was the perfect amount of…

Explosive underwear, full-body scans, luggage fees? Welcome to the friendly skies. To subdue some of travel’s travails, shop smart for luggage; no one wants a finicky travel companion. With airlines’ checked-luggage charges, carry-ons have renewed appeal. The newest batch strives for lightness—generally good but not if shaved ounces compromise…

1. An awkward name may be the J S3’s only weakness. It has a perfect blend of agility and support: An airy top half made from a durable, ultralight mesh nylon keeps weight down—and debris out—while an innovative wraparound tongue provides an exceptionally secure fit. 2. Flexibility is key…

For decades, world-class athletes have conditioned their feet—and upped the speed at which they shift from one foot to the next—by leaving their shoes at home. Nike gets barefoot-running religion with the Free, which distills the training shoe to its very essence. For an ultra-minimalist platform, this year’s Gear of…

1. The Hercules garnered more envious comments than any other jacket we tested—there’s just something about a sharp-looking soft shell with a fuzz-lined hood that people can’t resist. But less obvious touches—like flap-free drawcords and cuffs that repelled snow and rain without feeling constrictive or bulky—are what ultimately…

1. Keeping rain out is never the problem; a $2 poncho can do that. But if you want a jacket that also holds up the other end of the bargain, letting moisture out, it’s going to cost you—usually around $200. Which is why we were so impressed with the…

Why It RulesDana eliminates the standard pack bag, while accommodating every weeklong-trip necessity. Imagine the skeleton of a pack: a back panel incorporating a superlight framesheet and two fiberglass rods, plus a front panel with two long pockets and a big mesh pouch. In between, there’s space to sandwich a…

Sick of the bulk and crinkle of traditional shells? The doctor prescribes the new bargain-priced Patagonia Ready Mix, an airy dream of silky, stretchy protection that packs down to the size of a pomelo. This sensual soft shell is all you need for everything but the soppingest, most high-impact endeavors,…

1. No gimmicks here. The North Face’s new X-Radial suspension is the real deal. The secret is a lightweight aluminum, X-shaped frame that’s reinforced on the top and bottom to deal with heavy loads (up to 55 pounds) and actually pivots at the center of the X, which means…

Good for Resort Resort jackets used to come in two varieties: There were the big, bulky numbers designed to keep you warm on the chairlift, and there were the lightweight shells you could take into the backcountry. But innovations in insulation, ventilation, and waterproof-breathable fabrics have…

Why they ruleThanks to light-sensitive photochromic tinting, the brownish glass lenses make an unheard-of plunge from dark (87 percent of visible light blocked) to the stygian depths of full-on snowfield blinkers (95 percent). » The Advances have all the features of traditional glacier glasses—flexible side shades, bendable wire-core temples, and…

The question: Do you buy a mountain bike with big travel or less weight, stable angles or lively handling? Ellsworth’s Epiphany eliminates the compromise, riding an inspired line between cross-country and downhill. You get a bike with five-plus inches of front and rear travel in a package that weighs…

1. Twenty-one years after introducing the world’s first all-carbon production frame, Kestrel continues to put a premium on stiffness and aerodynamics. But unlike true aero bikes, the RT700 loves to climb and descend; plus it’s comfy enough for long-haul speed. And, damn, doesn’t it look good on the rack?…

Why It RulesThe Canon’s 6.3-megapixel digital SLR for $200 less than the competition—blows away every other digital in its class. The pictures are that good. » Want action? The Rebel will reel off four 6.3-megapixel shots in less than two seconds, and because the autofocus tracks the rate at which…

After a decade of ever-more-mobile devices, 2010 has seen several advances we’ve been hoping for. Some companies have countered the problem of disposable gadgets, designing higher-quality products that are so fast and functional (like our Gear of the Year winner, right) that you’ll have no reason to trade them…

  1. It’s a friendly monster. Our advanced-intermediate testers felt like heroes, our former U.S. pro said it “laid a nice rail,” and everyone in between praised its ability to stick on hardpack, plow through crud, and provide the overall smoothest ride of any of the skis we tested. 2.

You could pay more than twice as much for a bike and not have this much fun. With a one-piece carbon frame, competition-worthy components, and intuitive handling, this Gear of the Year winner is an entry-level racer that moves “entry level” into the same neighborhood as “elite.” 1. For…

1. It’s long enough to float in powder and generate white-knuckle speed on groomers, but still light enough for easy spins and big airs through the park and off backcountry booters. “This behemoth makes turning thoughtless, spinning simple, and powder a pleasure,” said one tester. 2. Palmer debuts its…

1. At 50 square feet, this three-person model is as big as many four-person tents but weighs the same as some built for two. Even more impressive, it achieves this balance without sacrificing livability. Thanks to an efficient architecture, ultralight poles, and thinner fabrics, the Losi still boasts two…

Why It RulesThe Airjet’s two-minutes-flat pitching saved me when I was hustling to beat some sleet: Thread two cross poles and a brow pole through the sleeves, then stake out six points. Done. » The Airjet stood taut as a kettledrum—even under two inches of wet snow. » Thanks to…

Ready to go pro? Then you already know that tricks are for kids—and success hinges on huge air. Enter Dagger’s Crazy 88, our Gear of the Year selection. This boat is a masterly equation of length, width, weight, and volume distribution, all of which pull together when the time comes…

Ever since that heroic, fatal dash from Marathon to Athens, runners have been looking for an edge. Here’s a guaranteed advantage, whether you’re going 26 miles or two. ASICS’s Gear of the Year–winning Gel-Kinsei adjusts to various foot types and running styles, while improving performance across the board. The…

Let’s go ahead and call 2010 the year of the 29er. Though bikes built around 29-inch wheels, instead of the 26-inch standard, have been around for more than a decade, they’ve been largely a fringe category. No longer. Walk into any bike shop and you’ll see that 29ers—valued for…

By Stephen Regenold The manufacture and sale of artificial rock-climbing holds is a small industry and one of those esoteric tiny areas of dedicated people and passionate companies that makes the outdoors world so neat. An even tinier niche focuses on artificial holds and…

Fill up your gear closet for cheap

By Stephen Regenold The twice-annual Outdoor Retailer trade show is an exhibition of thebest outdoors equipment in the world. New this year, GearJunkie.comlaunched an inaugural “Best in Show” award for the Summer Market tradeshow, held in early August. After four days in…

Jansport D2 External Frame Pack Yes, this is a brand new backpack, and it's for sale (or will be, in spring 2011). In 1972, Jansport put out a grande-size aluminum-frame backpack (revolutionizing the look of retro gear for decades to come). It was a high-volume, high-load pack capable of…

As I mentioned in a Facebook post that went up during Outdoor Retailer this week, skorts are everywhere. Practically every gear company that makes women's apparel–be it Mountain Hardwear, North Face, Patagonia, or Arc'teryx–is making…

Today is the last day of this summer's Outdoor Retailer show. Stand-up paddle-boarding continues to be the hot new sport, while the major theme in footwear is still less is more: Partly driven by the barefoot running trend, all the major running shoe companies are bringing increasingly designing more pared-down…

Outside's Sam Moulton reviews Black Diamond's Z-Pole. It's a carbon-fiber trekking pole that weighs in at 260 grams and costs $150. –Erin Beresini…

Outside's resident runner, Justin Nyberg, checks out the French antidote to barefoot running: Hoka. This super-cushy recovery shoe retails for $169. –Erin Beresini…

Here are a few more of the most interesting gear we found today on the floor at Outdoor Retailer: Hard Goes Soft—The New Storm Shell I don't know who this guy is, but I like his jacket. This is Mammut's new Kento storm shell, and it has one thing…

Eighteen months in the making, Patagonia's P26 light hiking shoe is finally here. Alicia Carr breaks down the shoe that Patagonia developed with input from Appalachian Trail hikers. It retails for about $185. –Erin Beresini…

Shannon Walton from Schoeller Textiles introduces black fabric that's specially treated so you can wear black on hot summer days. –Erin Beresini…

NAU Clothing's Caitlin Murphy introduces the NAU Gust Jacket, one of the nicest technical lifestyle pieces we've seen. It's made out of 100% recycled polyester, and is durable and water repellent. Portland-based clothing company, NAU, develops products by three main principles: beauty, performance, and…

Outside's Alicia Carr introduces the North Face Hedgehog. Lightweight, more durable and more comfortable than previous models, the Hedgehog is one of our favorite light hiking shoes–and it's the same price as previous models! The GORE-TEX version costs $110, and the…

Not only is Salt Lake City swathed in warm temperatures, the outdoor industry has also arrived en masse for Outdoor Retailer 2010 Summer Market. Tomorrow, Outside editors (myself included) will start to scour the showroom floor for spring 2011's hottest new products by visiting booths like the…

By Stephen Regenold  It's trade-show time again. This week, you'll find me (and thousandsof other “gear junkies”) in Salt Lake City at the Outdoor RetailerSummer Market, a twice-annual exhibition of the latest gear andequipment made for playtime outside. Here's a peek at some of…

There’s a lot of great gear coming for Spring 2011, and most of it is on display now in Salt Lake City at the Outdoor Retailer convention—the biannual mecca for gear junkies of all stripes. Here are a few items to keep on your radar: Alien Cocoon…or Running Shoe? Something’s…

By Stephen Regenold The twice-annual Outdoor Retailer trade show, which will take place this summer in Salt Lake City from August 3 to 6, is a peek at the future of gear. The items displayed on the trade-show floor are…

By Stephen Regenold Each winter, the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City brings together 40,000 attendees to ogle the latest in outdoor apparel and gear. Here are a few products that stood apart from the rest.

Day 2 of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market has just ended. It's been a long day of looking at new product. My brain is a bit fried, but here's what I can tell you. The color purple. You're going to see a…

The Gear Junkie already gave you a peek at some of the new products debuting on the showroom floor during day one of the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. I've noticed two trends from gear makers—hybrid jackets (i.e. a hard shell lined with a compressible…

By Stephen Regenold The twice-annual Outdoor Retailer trade show gives a peek at what's to come in the world of outside gear. The winter version begins today. Here's a quick look at a few hot items: Polarmax…

Hate burning through batteries on your cell phone? Petzl has a sweet looking new headlamp in the works that has a rechargeable battery. I haven't tried it, since it's a prototype, but what separates it from other rechargeable headlamps on the market is you can swap out the lithium polymer…

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