Each year we like to reflect on some of the great gear that we are able to test and review. 2013 was a great year full of great gear. The gear that qualified for Editor's Choice was gear that we would reach for time after time when heading out. It ranged from a backpacking stove to a jogging stroller. We hope that you find the gear below as useful as we did.
Patagonia Rover Shoes
The Patagonia Rover is a multi-sport shoe that is aimed at combining the best of a trail runner with an approach shoe. Its lightweight design will appeal to those that love to go fast and light. Whether running up dirt trails or scrambling to the top of a peak, the sticky rubber outsole provides crucial traction on an assortment of terrain. Check out the full review here.
Platypus Sprinter XT 25
A good day pack is essential to any successful hiking trip, and I find that a good day pack blends capacity with comfort. Each year I find myself gravitating towards certain packs and this year it has been the Platypus Sprinter XT 25. The Sprinter XT 25 is a great day pack that has plenty of room for all the extras and a big 3 liter reservoir. It carries nicely and has straps so you can secure items to the outside of the pack. Check out the full review here.
GSI Pinnacle Dualist
Complete cooks sets can be bulky, heavy and still lack functionality. When backpacking it is a good idea to think what items you really need and eliminate the rest. The GSI Pinnacle Dualist is a full featured cook set for two. The 1.8 non-stick Teflon pot is perfect for boiling water but also great to cook in and then cleans up easily. The set does not include a frying pan, so if that is something that you use regularly you will need to bring one as well. This lightweight cook set is plenty big for 2+ people and a great deal at $64.95 with all the features that come with it. Check out the full review here.
When looking for a backpacker stove, I look for at least two things: lightweight, plus performance. The MSR MicroRocket is a great example of great things coming in small packages. It comes with a piezo lighter so you can light it without matches. The stove boils water quickly and can be brought down to a simmer. The MSR MicroRocket is a lightweight stove that performed better than other stoves that I have used that cost more money and weigh more. In our testing windy conditions proved to be a bit more challenging for the stove. But at $59.95 the MSR MicroRocket is worth every penny. Check out the full review here.
Westcomb Crest Hoody
I have had the opportunity to test the Westcomb Crest Hoody for a few months and have been impressed. For me, here in Utah, this is a great three season jacket that will keep you on the move when the weather turns a little chilly. The stretch material is comfortable, wind-resistant, and breathable and repels water better than some cheap shells I have used. Also at only 5 oz. it is light enough and packable to take along on most hikes. If you are looking for a jacket that is full of pockets this is probably not the jacket for you. But anyone looking for a solid “just-in-case” jacket will find this jacket to be a great choice at a great price. Check out the full review of the Crest Hoody here.
Columbia Ultrachange Parka
Who ever said that a 3 in 1 jacket needs to be bulky and heavy has never worn the Ultrachange. Columbia has combined a lightweight shell with a lightweight liner jacket to create an "ultra" versatile jacket that will keep you warm and dry in some extreme conditions. Columbia has been making great 3 in 1 jackets for years now. I remember getting my first Bugaboo jacket from Columbia when I was about 12 and I loved it. I have had many jackets since then but I remember how cool I felt when I got the Bugaboo and had the ability to separate the jacket and liner have two different coats. That jacket kept me warm on some of my first snowboarding trips. Although Columbia still makes the Bugaboo, the Ultrachange has some major improvements for the serious adventurers. I believe this jacket is ideal for backpacking, hiking, skiing or any activity where moisture management might be an issue. The Ultrachange jacket really is an "ultra" versatile jacket that is lightweight and ready for a beating. If you are in the need for a jacket that you could use all year round this might be the only jacket you will need. Read the full review here.
Big Agnes Wyoming Trail 2 Camp
The first time I saw a picture of the Wyoming Trail 2 Camp I was very intrigued. The design thought that went into this tent was definitely by someone who loves to camp but always runs out of room. If you run out of room in this 2 person tent then you will need to re-evaluate what you take camping. I do not know of many tents on the market that offer as much vestibule space as you will find in the Wyoming Trail 2 Camp tent. This tent is ideal for use in base camp to give you plenty of room to store and keep your gear and toys dry and protected. At $350 this tent isn't the cheapest of the 2-person tents that we tested. Also the tent might be a little heavier than other 2 person tents but the amount of extra room in this tent is cannot be matched. If room is what you are looking for this, is definitely a tent that you will want to check out. Check out the full review here.
Fitmark Dashing Tote
Fitmark is a company that takes looking good to a new level. Started by someone who walked into a gym of full people who look good, surrounded by bags that just didn’t, CEO Mark A. Samuel decided to make a change. He created Fitmark bags, a bag that will go with you to the gym and everywhere else, with great function and even better fashion. I had the pleasure of reviewing the Fitmark Dashing Tote and I was nothing but satisfied. As a mother of three, and an athlete on the side, I need a bag that is highly functional, but looks like I’ve got some fashion sense. The Dashing Tote is just that bag. I have gone through several bags this size, low budget to high end and have not had as much success as I have with this bag. There are several great features, starting with the never ending compliments on the looks. Fitmark has designed this particular bag with great soft leather handles that make the bag look refined, while the bag itself is made from great endurance fabric that can really take a beating. Check out the full review here.
Kelty LumaSpot Rhythm Lantern
When camping having a good lantern makes cooking and getting around camp at night a lot easier. Over the years I have used many different lanterns and I have had mixed results. Finding a great lantern that is reliable and feature rich can be hard. But the Kelty LumaSpot Rhythm is a full featured lantern with some unexpected features. The LumaSpot Rhythm lantern is a versatile lantern that is a must have for those that love to camp but hate leaving their music behind. With multiple lighting options this a powerful lantern that will come in handy in many situations. But if your skin curls with the idea of music in the woods, this is probably not the lantern for you. Not that you have to use the speaker but you might as well spend a little less and get a lantern that is just a light. But the LumaSpot Rhythm has turned into our families go to lantern for car camping. Check out the full review here.
Therm-a-Rest Antares Sleeping Bag
First off you probably are thinking to yourself that I must have made a mistake and wrote sleeping bag instead of sleeping pad. But it is no mistake Therm-a-Rest has entered the sleeping bag market and has taken it by storm. Therm-a-Rest has been around now for a few years in the sleep category but decided this past year to venture to a more complete sleep system and not just pads. So enters the Antares. If you are looking for a bag that delivers what it says it will, you don't have to look much further than the Antares. The warmth to weight ratio is perfect for backpacking trips all summer long, yet with a 20 degree warmth rating this is a solid 3 season bag. Find the full review here.
There are many reasons that riding your bike to work is a great idea. Bike commuting is a great way to get some exercise first thing in the morning as well as a great way to do your part for the environment. But many people have to wear a suit or at the very least cannot wear their spandex and jerseys around at the office. The Henty Wingman is the perfect solution to get your suit or clothes from home to work without looking like you just pulled them out of a stuff sack. Check out the full review here.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
Therm-a-Rest has been making sleeping pads since 1972. And with the introduction of the NeoAir XLite you can tell they have years of experience under their belts. The NeoAir XLite is super lightweight and one of the most comfortable air mattresses that I have slept on. The regular size weighs a mere 12 ounces and the long version only weighs a pound. I was truly surprised by how light this pad was. I didn't cut into this pad to see what was on the inside but it sounds like it is made out of something straight from space. I am sure it is the reflective layers that help "recycle body heat" and that give this pad a higher R-Value (3.2) than other similar pads. This pad retails for $179.95 which can be a bit steep for a sleeping pad. But as I mentioned earlier in the review this is the most comfortable pad for the weight that I have slept on. Check out the full review here.
Bumbleride Indie Stroller
There are a few strollers I really like that fit into the all-terrain category, but the Bumbleride Indie definitely fits that category. This little stroller can go almost anywhere without much trouble. I’ve been on grass, dirt, concrete, rocks, even boardwalks and the ride is still smooth enough to keep your toddler sleeping. The front wheel also locks making it a great jogging stroller. It can also take a lot of use and even a lot of tossing around. Overall this stroller is a great buy and worth the extra money for the great durability. You can get several handy accessories for this stroller such as a car seat adapter, a rain cover, and several more. I would recommend this stroller for anyone who is looking for a stroller to last through a few children with a lot of great use. The full review can be found here.
Teva Chair 5
I have really enjoyed these boots for a quick winter boot to slip on when going out for the day in bad winter conditions. I also cannot think of a better boot to be able to take on vacation when the weather will be bad and needing protection against the cold is a must. I don't know if the Chair 5 would solve everyone’s need in a winter boot and if you know the weather is going to be really cold finding a heavier boot would be a good idea. But if you are looking for a more comfortable boot that is super lightweight this is the boot for you. Check out more details on Teva's site from the link below. Find the our full review here.