Checking out product at the first Outside Gear Summit
Checking out product at the first Outside Gear Summit
(Photo: Evan Green)

Sneak Peek: The Inaugural Outside Gear Summit

Late fall turned out some inclement weather for our first-ever Gear Summit—but that just meant good conditions for testing products from 28 brands

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New Mexico is a misunderstood gem. If you haven’t visited before, you probably imagine some sort of vast, sun-baked desert. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sure, we’re biased: Santa Fe has been home for Outside Magazine since 1995, but the access to incredible mountainous and high-desert terrain around New Mexico’s capital city is hard to understate. So we were thrilled at the opportunity to show off the area to 28 of the top brands in the hiking and camping spaces for a two-day gear summit in late October.

Gear editors study outdoor gear
Senior gear editor Jonathan Beverly and contributing writers Svati Kirsten Narula and Jakob Schiller check out gear at the Big Agnes booth. (Photo: Evan Green )

The plan was simple: have brands bring their wares to camp so that we could all spend two days together outdoors, touching and testing the latest and greatest gear while standing under the wide-open skies. KitFox, a boutique glamping destination just 20 minutes from downtown Santa Fe, was a choice venue, with spacious canvas tents, endless views, an open-air bar, and farm-to-table dinners cooked on site.

people laughing outside
Connecting with people outdoors was what this event was all about. (Photo: Evan Green)

On the first evening, we all gathered for welcome drinks and dinner. It was lovely but chilly, with stark mountain light as the sun disappeared. Everyone crowded around campfires and took advantage of the hot cocktails being served.

New Mexico's Alicia Keyes addresses a crowd
Cabinet secretary of New Mexico Economic Development Alicia Keyes addresses the crowd at the inaugural Gear Summit. (Photo: Evan Green)

But for our big gear-testing day, the forecast threatened snow. Editors and brand representatives bundled up against the wind and met for gear presentations over the course of the morning, as intermittent snow flurries blew through camp. Luckily, everyone on hand were outdoor industry vets and came prepared for the worst—and brought their best.

hiking in New Mexico
Testers and brand representatives hiking under the wide open New Mexico sky. (Photo: Evan Green)

By the early afternoon, the clouds started to part and the sun started peeking out. Editors and writers were outfitted by attending brands with shoes, layers, and outerwear and then fifty-odd gear industry heavies took to the trails around camp, chatting and taking in the views across the broad valley: the Sandia Mountains to the south, the Jemez to the west, and the Sangre de Cristos to the east.

two people standing inside a big tent
Gear testing is fun, period. (Photo: Evan Green)

After working up a thirst it was time to quench it. The crowd gathered around the bar and fires roared once again, as another fiery New Mexico sunset painted the skies behind us. The energy accumulated throughout the event was palpable that evening. It’s no shock that spending time together outdoors was the best way to learn about gear and to connect with the people that make this industry so special, but that knowledge didn’t make it any less fun. We already can’t wait to make it happen again.