"Gamechanger" is a fairly overused term, but this gear passes muster for the term. (photo: Inga Hendrickson)

The Most Innovative Gear of 2017

Most gear evolves step by step. With this stuff, it’s by leaps and bounds.


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If you're interested in the latest and greatest technology, look no further than these 10 products.

POC Coron Helmet ($450)

(Courtesy POC)

Mountain bike crashes happen. So POC designed this enduro-style full-face lid with an expanded polypropylene liner that cushions and then regains its shape after impact. The outer shell is made with M-Forge, a composite fiber used in motorcycle racing helmets that won’t crack with just one hit to the dome. The upshot: you can keep wearing the Coron after taking a header. 

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Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Watch ($350)

(Courtesy Samsung)

The S3 Frontier has everything. You can send and receive e-mail and texts and, thanks to a built-in SIM card, make and take calls without bringing your cell phone with you. There’s also onboard GPS. But the most significant breakthrough? It packs all that into a smart timepiece you actually want to wear.

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Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Jacket ($200)

(Courtesy Columbia)

In 2016, Columbia introduced its game-changing OutDry, a shell material that bucked decades of industry practice by placing the waterproof-breathable membrane on the outside instead of sandwiching it between layers of fabric, making rain gear less likely to wet out. The new Ex Eco pushes the envelope again by following that formula with 100 percent recycled poly­ester (21 plastic bottles’ worth, to be exact). It’s produced without PFC or dyes, too, which conserves 13 gallons of water per jacket. 

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Oakley Radar Pace Sunglasses ($450)

(Courtesy Oakley)

Oakley partnered with Intel to create sunglasses with onboard sensors that monitor pace and a voice-activated system that provides pointers (or feedback) while on a ride or run. And because they’re Oakleys, the optics are pristine. 

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Altra Torin IQ Shoes ($220)

(Courtesy Altra)

Information is key when you’re training, and the Torin IQ is practically your personal Wikipedia. Pressure sensors throughout the shoe collect data about strike zone, cadence, and gait, and the phone app provides real-time coaching to help you run lighter, faster, and injury-free. 

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Firewire Dominator Helium Surfboard ($780) 

(Courtesy Firewire Surfboards)

Firewire’s boards are known for being fast and responsive. The new Helium design cuts weight by 15 percent and adds more pop while increasing durability. The secret? A light foam core and rails that blend flexible balsa wood with strong Paulownia, all of which gets wrapped in Firewire’s new high-density composite skin. That surface is designed to give under pressure, allowing you to create foot wells in the deck. 

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Patagonia R3 Yulex Wetsuit ($470)

(Courtesy Patagonia)

Patagonia gave the wetsuit market a shot of sustainability with Yulex, a neoprene-free wetsuit material made from Guatemalan Hevea tree rubber and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council—meaning no clear-cutting. Eschewing petroleum-based neoprene reduces the wetsuit’s carbon impact by 80 percent. Oh, and it zips in the front. 

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The North Face Itinerant Pack ($150)

(Courtesy The North Face)

Backcountry tech invades the office space with the Itinerant, a 30-liter, laptop-friendly commuter pack with a water-resistant shell and roll-top closure. The exterior rocks reflective hits that are highly visible at night without being obnoxious in daylight and the comfy back panel breathes well. 

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Superpedestrian Trousers E-bike ($2,000)

(Courtesy of Superpedestrian)

Superpedestrian revolutionized electric bikes in 2013 with a rear wheel that significantly amplifies pedal stroke and fits most road bikes. The Trousers includes one of those and surrounds it with style, including a classic frame that looks straight out of old Europe.

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Renoun Endurance Skis ($1,145)

(Courtesy Renoun)

Renoun’s new planks adapt to conditions with proprietary Hyper Damping Technology—a polymer that stiffens or softens depending on speed and snowpack. The Endurance is pliant and flexible in deep powder but firm and stable on steep groomers.

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From Outside Magazine, September 2017 Lead photo: Inga Hendrickson

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