The Gear We Used the Most Last Year
The pieces we kept coming back to
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Every year we test a ton of gear, from bikes and skis to backcountry apparel and tech gadgets. Some pieces are award worthy, and others miss the mark. But there are certain ones we keep coming back to day after day. Here are the products Outside’s gear editors used the most in 2019.
Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Chair ($54)
I’ve already written about how much I love my super-packable and ultra-versatile Hex 2.0, but it’s worth mentioning again. I took the taco-esque minimalist chair on nearly every adventure last year and never regretted throwing it in my pack. Unlike other camp chairs, Crazy Creek models can roll up to the size of a compressed sleeping pad and don’t require heavy construction poles to assemble. (Instead the brand relies on nylon webbing and plastic buckles for support.) The other weekend, I went bouldering with friends, and this seat was never empty. The insulated foam kept butts warm, comfortable, and out of the dirt. As weary climbers kicked back in it and scratched their dogs, “I should get one of those” was a common refrain. Yes, you should. —Maren Larsen, assistant editor
Hydro Flask 22-Ounce Tumbler ($30) with Press-In Straw Lid ($35)
I’m good about remembering to drink enough when I’m in the mountains, but that stops the minute I get back to the trailhead. I’m either too tired, too amped, or too focused on getting to the grocery store (i.e., getting to post-run snacks) to remember to drink the one-liter bottle of electrolyte water I’ve stashed in my car. Hydro Flask’s 22-ounce tumbler and Press-In Straw lid have turned this around. The vessel holds enough liquid to get me comfortably out of the dehydration zone without multiple water-fountain refills. More importantly, the lid makes drinking mindlessly easy: there’s no lid to unscrew, no button-pressing required to get the straw to pop up. It’s like your basic iced-coffee to-go cup but without the waste. No, it’s not leakproof, since the straw doesn’t collapse down, so I wouldn’t take this combo backpacking or on an airplane. But since I got mine, I’ve never gone a day without using it at my desk, and I’ve even considered getting a second one for my car. —Ariella Gintzler, associate editor
Patagonia Ascensionist Pack ($149)
I bought this pack five years ago, hoping it could be the only one I’d ever use again. I was, of course, wrong—I’ve purchased and worn other bags since, but none have held up to everyday abuse as well as my trusty Ascensionist. Midway up a multi-pitch climb in Colorado last year, a storm pinned me and my climbing partners to the wall. After a frenzy of hail, snow, and rain, I opened my pack and my gear was still dry. A few months later, it showed its first-ever signs of wear (holes), as I squeezed through tight desert chimneys in Utah, scraping its face fabric like a cheese grater. In addition to its durability, I love its simple, one-chute design and drawstring closure, just what I need for hauling gear and moving fast and light through the mountains. —Jeremy Rellosa, reviews editor
Diamondback Haanjo 7C Carbon Bike ($3,000)
This bike saved my life last year. That may seem a touch hyperbolic, but in August, my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world. It was everything I expected and much more, but I still have the deep-rooted need to get outdoors and exercise every day. In every regard, the Haanjo 7C delivered (shown here with Spinergy 650b wheels). I’d never been on a gravel bike before this, and I rode it to work daily, took it on lunch rides on the potholed roads of Santa Fe, and wheeled it out my front door and pedaled off on long (for a dad) gravel grinds on weekends. It was my means of adventure, no matter how small, and it opened my eyes to what’s possible with the right steed. —Will Taylor, gear director
Kodiak Fernie Insulated Waterproof Boots ($175)
Picture this: It’s the dead of winter. You need to take the dog out. You put on your thickest wool socks and lace up your winter boots. But after trudging through the snow, the cold seeps in and your feet become freezing and wet. I used to know that feeling, but not anymore. That’s because I wore the Kodiak Fernie nearly every winter day last year. It keeps my feet perfectly warm and dry, with soft microfiber lining and a seam-sealed waterproof upper. I also love that it’s understated, so I’m just as likely to wear it on a short hike as I am out to dinner. I plan to stomp through the rest of 2020 with these boots and never take them off. —Claire Hyman, editorial assistant