How do we decide what to add to our Gear of the Year list? It’s the gear that we find ourselves wearing long past the gear review. It’s the gear that stands out over competing products we tested. It’s the gear that held up through all of our gear testing adventures.
Below you’ll find the top performing products we tested in 2016.
Red Paddle CO 10’6″ Ride
From the ocean in Florida, to an overnight trip on the Colorado, this board is the perfect around paddle . Red Paddle CO company has it figured out—from the board, to the carry bag, to the pump, everything feels well thought out and a step above other boards. New for 2016, the 10’6″ Ride uses a MSL fusion technology, which saves an impressive 2kg (4.4 lbs) in weight, and makes it stiffer at lower pressures.
Osprey Manta AG 36
Osprey’s AntiGravity system is a huge leap forward for backpacks. The Anti-Gravity system has several benefits: It saves weight, does a better job of distributing the load, and provides better airflow. The 3D mesh is tensioned, and seamlessly transitions from the back panel, to the hip belt. With all of the features put together, you have a really solid pack, but the Anti-Gravity system sets this pack above all others tested.
Stio Second Light Jacket
It doesn’t matter how you choose to enjoy the outdoors, you’ll be reaching for the Second Light Alpha jacket all year. The jacket has a great amount of stretch, and although it may not seem like would, this jacket has incredible wind protection. It’s got the comfort and versatility to wear all day, from the trailhead to the bar.
Wolverine Original 1000 Mile
At some point along the way, we started making boots that are meant to be indestructible, instead of repairable. The Wolverine 1000 Mile is a boot that rolls with the punches—a boot that is built to be re-oiled, re-soled, re-polished and repaired. And ya know what? Just like your favorite fly rod, or and old dog, it just gets better with time.
Cotopaxi Tarak Del Día
Cotopaxi puts humanitarian efforts at the frontline of their business model, so it’s no surprise that we love the Cotopaxi Tarak Del Día. This brands seems to be uninfluenced by the “norm” of the outdoor industry—they mades changes to gear not just to be different, but because they makes sense. Sure, everybody would love to be a MacGyver in the backcountry, but the reality is that we just need a simple, efficient, durable, go-to pack that we can bring along for everything from a light and fast alpine day, to a quick scramble, to a long day in the backcountry on the skis.
Yeti Hopper Flip 12
There’s always another company that’s claiming to be as good as Yeti for half the price, but we don’t buy it. Yeti simply does coolers better than anybody else. The Hopper Flip 12 is practical and you’ll find yourself bringing it on every trip.
OOFOS Recovery Sandal
Play hard and then recover well. Whether you battle plantar fasciitis or just have tired feet from an epic weekend adventure, these will be your new best friend. We used them as a recovery sandal after long runs and hikes, and just lounging around the house all summer—our feet have never been happier.
Patagonia Merino Air Crew
This unique fabric is a mix of Merino wool (51%) and 100% recycled calipene polyster fibers (49%) spun together into a lofty spun yarn—basically you’re getting the best qualities of wool and synthetic in just one baselayer. The material sits close to your skin, but is extremely stretchy, so it moves with you when you exercise (great for climbing). The Merino Air looks like a sweater, so you can wear it straight from trail to town. But, besides looks, the only quality it actually shares with a sweater is warmth.
Brooks Running Cascadia 11
Every mountain trail we ran and every 14er hiked this year, the Cascadia 11 came along. It held up and kept our feet happy all summer long. These shoes fit a narrow foot, so they’re not for everyone’s foot type—make sure you try them on first!