The Voice 50, Part One
The 50 coolest new products of the season, ranked
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Full disclosure: gear is a wicked subjective thing. Always has been, always will be. To curate this list, our team of hardcore—and highly opinionated—gearheads pored over hundreds of new product launches, reading the specs and sifting through the marketing promises. We zoomed in on photos and watched embargoed video clips. And we debated. We culled the massive list down once, then made another pass until we had our 50 most coveted products. Then we voted to determine the rankings (we are a democracy, after all). In order of how badly we want to try it, here is Part One of our list of the 50 most exciting product launches for Fall 2019.
1. The North Face FutureLight
THE PROMISE It seeks to solve the waterproof/breathable problem and dethrone Gore-Tex as the gold standard.
THE DEETS An industrial process known as nanospinning sprays polymers through up to 220,000 tiny nozzles to create a waterproof yet highly porous mesh-like membrane. Nanoholes allow air to pass through and moisture vapor to escape, keeping users dry and comfortable, not clammy and cold.
THE STOKE Next-level breathability, waterproofness, and sustainability in the shell category. Bring it on.
2. PrimaLoft Biodegradable Fabric
THE PROMISE It will degrade quicker than any other fabric if you bury it in your backyard.
THE DEETS A shell and now a fabric are infused with a food source that attracts microbes at a faster rate when in a landfill. What’s left after the bacteria breaks down the fibers is simply water, carbon dioxide, methane, and natural organic matter—like compost. But the biodegradable polyester doesn’t compromise durability.
THE STOKE A fuzzy fabric that vanishes instead of clogging up landfills and polluting oceans? Be still our hearts.
3. Ombraz Armless Sunglasses [$160]
THE PROMISE Cordage, baby: that’s the future of sunglasses.
THE DEETS The adjustable polyester cord running between the temples and around the back of your head keeps the glasses snug to your face and ditches the possibility of broken glasses arms and head-squeezing pressure. Plus, acting like built-in eyewear retainers, they’re harder to lose and either hang around your neck when you take them off or function like a headband.
THE STOKE These things look crazy (like a fox), but after an early test, we fell in love. “No pinching, no pressure, and steazy AF: Yes, please,” said one tester.
4. Black Diamond Vision Down Parka [$399]
THE PROMISE A puffy tough enough for tree skiing.
THE DEETS According to BD, this burly fabric initially stumped designers because it was so difficult to cut. A polymer weave crisscrossing the 20-denier face fabric adds a lot of durability without penalizing weight. This 800-fill hydrophobic down toaster comes in at an airy one pound, four ounces.
THE STOKE Say goodbye to duct-tape patch jobs on your warmest layer: This one looks rugged enough to dance on in crampons. It could be a revolution in lightweight durability.
5. Outdoor Research Tundra Aerogel Booties [$69-$89]
THE PROMISE With NASA-designed Aerogel underfoot in these synthetic camp booties, cold doesn’t stand a chance.
THE DEETS Solid Aerogel won’t compress like typical insulation, so it’ll keep your feet warm even while you’re standing on it. Plus, a grippy outsole steadies you on the icy trail to the outhouse. Also available in a low-cut slip-on version.
THE STOKE Aerogel has been popping up more and more in outdoor gear, but its lack of breathability has held it back. The bottom of a camp bootie seems like the ideal application.
6. Marmot West Rib Parka [$600]
THE PROMISE The West Rib features unique gridded down baffles to boost warmth in the extreme cold.
THE DEETS Marmot packed 800-fill down into cube-shaped baffles around the chest of this deep-winter puffy to trap warmth around your body. Synthetic insulation layered between the down and the Pertex Quantum shell material adds weather protection and durability.
THE STOKE We’re curious about the cubist baffles and layered use of synthetic fill. This thing sounds like a serious volcano.
7. Dahu E’corce 01 Boot [$TBD]
THE PROMISE It looks and operates like no other ski boot on the market.
THE DEETS The Grilamid shell has cutouts to eliminate pressure points and the liner is beefy enough to walk around in. The unique entry system has hinges at the front and back of the boot, creating a giant opening.
THE STOKE Comfort. Ease of use. Versatility. Boom.
8. Sweet Protection Interstellar Goggle [$220]
THE PROMISE The lens won’t fog. Period.
DEETS The Gore membrane increases moisture and air transfer, equalizing air pressure and preventing condensation. Retina Illumination Grading increases contrast and enhances vision in low-light conditions, and the carbon-reinforced frame creates a rigid structure for the lens.
THE STOKE Gore-Tex in a goggle? Just plain fascinating.
9. Six Moon Haven DCF Tent [$400]
THE PROMISE This is the ultimate featherweight shelter for fastpacking duos.
THE DEETS The Haven DCF is a shaped, supported tarp made of Dyneema Composite Fabric, which offers extreme durability at a paltry 12-ounce weight. With two doors, a peak height of 45 inches, and 51 square feet of interior space, it can also be paired with the Haven Net Tent to create a fully enclosed double-wall shelter at just one pound, four ounces.
THE STOKE Dyneema tents are the new standard in ultra-ultralight, and this one sets the bar high… er, low.
10. Patagonia Black Hole Collection [starting at $29]
THE PROMISE Every Black Hole pack, duffel, tote, and waist pack gives plastic bottles and factory scraps another life.
THE DEETS It’s still burly, thanks to 90-denier poly ripstop with a TPU laminate and a DWR finish, but it now uses 100 percent recycled fabric, lining, and webbing.
THE STOKE Tally this up as yet another reason to love our favorite duffel.
11. Black Diamond Equipment JetForce Pro [$1,399]
THE PROMISE It’s the most advanced avalanche air bag pack out there.
THE DEETS This new version of BD’s award-winning JetForce series is still rechargeable and travel friendly. But the Pro is modular, letting you zip on and off a 10-, 25-, 35-, or 25-liter splitboard booster pack, making it super-versatile.
THE STOKE The modular design sets rippers up to stay safe on any day.
12. Tecnica Forge Winter [$300]
THE PROMISE Get a customized fit in a ready-for-winter hiker.
THE DEETS Like its three-season counterpart, the Forge Winter features in-store custom shaping for a perfect fit. It also adds Vibram’s Arctic Grip outsole and a Gore-Tex insulated comfort lining for waterproof/breathable insulation.
THE STOKE We fell in love with the original Forge, so a warm, winterized version is a no-brainer.
13. Rab Verglas Jacket [$375]
THE PROMISE It combines the best features of a parka and a shell—without turning you into a hot mess.
THE DEETS The Verglas is packed with 750-fill hydrophobic down for warmth, and Gore-Tex Shakedry over the 20-denier Pertex Quantum makes it waterproof while keeping it lightweight and mega-breathable.
THE STOKE For cold days with precip, this puffy looks like a winner if Shakedry can hold up to abuse.
14. Fischer Urban Cross-Country Ski Boot [$189]
THE PROMISE This is the first Nordic ski boot designed to take you from home to trail to aprés.
THE DEETS With a sneaker-like sole and chukka-style upper, you’d never know this was a cross-country ski boot. Designed for skiers less focused on racing and performance and more on casual exercise, it’s compatible with Fischer Turnamics and any NNN compatible binding.
THE STOKE Nordic boots have never looked so good.
15. Julbo Reactiv Performance Lenses [Starting at $210]
THE PROMISE Ski from dawn to dusk on bright bluebirds or during storm sessions.
THE DEETS The lenses—available in both shades and goggles—magically transition from clear (87 percent visible light transmission) to dark (12 percent VLT) in record time: roughly 20 seconds.
THE STOKE These just might be the one-quiver shades and goggles we’ve been looking for.
16. Holden Outerwear Corkshell Summit Bib [$600]
THE PROMISE Cork is the insulation of the future.
THE DEETS These bibs (and their matching jacket) incorporate Schoeller’s recycled cork content to add heat retention without the bulk of traditional lofted insulation.
THE STOKE We’re always intrigued when brands find new ways to recycle materials, and companies have been chasing warmth without bulk for ages. Could this be the one that actually delivers?
17. G3 FindR Skis [$869-$919]
THE PROMISE Leave the ski straps at home. Magnets hold these skis together.
THE DEETS Updated for 2019, the powder-cruising FINDr series now features magnetic contact points, making bootpack transitions quick and easy, and eliminating the need for straps when shouldering your skis.
THE STOKE Pick ‘em up, stick ‘em together, walk away. Sounds pretty slick.
18. Blizzard Zero G 95 [$840]
THE PROMISE It’s typically either/or: lightweight or stiffness. These are your new no-compromise skis.
THE DEETS The Zero G 95 touring ski strikes the ideal balance between uphill comfort and downhill charging, thanks to a carbon fiber frame that’s integrated over the wood core to reduce weight for speed on the skin track while still delivering a high level of stiffness for downhill performance.
THE STOKE Light feet on the uphill and stiff shred-ability on the down? ‘Nuf said.
19. Smartwool Intraknit 200 Base Layers [starting at $120]
THE PROMISE It’s the ultimate in body mapping.
THE DEETS Intraknit technology is a first-in-industry 3D knitting technique that can marry different weights of fabric into a single garment, without the use of seams. (The company already uses the technology in its socks.)
THE STOKE This sounds very much like the FuseForm tech that (sister company) The North Face introduced in shells a few years back. The concept makes even more sense in baselayers, where multiple seams can make body-mapped baselayers chafe in all the wrong places.
20. GoLite ReFill Eco 100 Jacket [$250]
THE PROMISE Keep warm and divert green plastic bottles from the landfill.
THE DEETS At a Taiwanese recycling plant, volunteers collect and sort bottles, and GoLite snags the ones nobody else wants—the green ones—and turns them into dye-free clothing, like this PrimaLoft Silver Eco-filled puffy.
THE STOKE Recycled products are nothing new, but we dig how GoLite found a way to use the bottles that stump other apparel makers.
21. Mammut Meron IN [$449]
THE PROMISE It’s as warm as you can get, without the bulk.
THE DEETS Premium 900-fill down is shelled with a lightweight, water-repellent Toray ripstop nylon and lined with an equally light, semi-transparent lining that traps the down.
THE STOKE It’s hard to make a puffy this warm not look like a Michelin man. This one does it through the magic of smart patterning.
22. Salomon S/Pro Boot Collection [$800]
THE PROMISE Get a custom-like fit, without all the hassle and expense.
THE DEETS Salomon digitally scanned more than 4,000 feet to identify a shell that’s compatible with 70 percent of the European/North American market without needing any significant modification.
THE STOKE Any respectable skier knows that custom-molding your boots is mandatory. Our apologies to all the boot-fitters out there, but this could be good.
23. Atomic Savor [$1,545]
THE PROMISE It’s the ultimate starter kit.
THE DEETS In an effort to combat exhaustion, soreness, and complicated equipment, Savor includes painless-entry boots, easy-to-handle skis, and a comfortable helmet designed specifically for rookies.
THE STOKE Want to get your SO on the slopes with you? This package might be your ticket to paradise.