Every year we come across gear that we can’t get enough of, but we also test products that have such a wide appeal with gear nerds and average consumers alike that they become increasingly hard to find. Here’s what we think are the most coveted items currently on the market, and why.
Peak Design Tech Pouch Organizer ($60)
We test a lot of top-notch gear at Outside, from high-tech barbecues to the newest bikes. While reviewing those marquee items is always a pleasure, the gear I get most excited about is the kind that makes my everyday life easier. So I was especially amped when I got my hands on the Tech Pouch organizer from Peak Design; we called it an “organizational masterstroke” in our 2020 write-up of the best travel gear. This tough little bag cracks open like a book when unzipped, making it easy to see whatever you have stashed in the myriad pockets, slots, and openings. It has enough structure that it stands up on its own, whether it’s open or closed, is wrapped in DWR-treated nylon, and features a waterproof zipper—it would take a true deluge for items inside to get wet. I keep the everyday-carry things that don’t fit in my pockets there, including a phone charger, memory cards, my headlamp, pens, thumb drives, dongles, etc., although it would make a killer Dopp kit, too. (I also look forward to the day when I can use it on a plane, since it’s been so indispensable on road trips). I’ve used a lot of different small bags, and none is as intuitive or well-thought-out as the Tech Pouch. Peak Design has a rabid fan following and crushes all of its new-product launches on Kickstarter because it always leads with well-conceived products. The brand nailed this one: it fills my heart with glee every time I look in there and find what I need right away. —Will Taylor, gear director
Exped MegaMat Duo 10 Sleeping Pad ($349)
I scour the web every day for deals on the best gear we’ve tested and reviewed. We’ve showered the Exped MegaMat Duo with praise, calling it the most comfortable mattress we’ve used for car camping hands down. Every time I’ve spotted it on sale, or simply in stock, it has sold out within a few days on most gear-retail sites. “Unlike air beds, this mattress’s air chamber is surrounded by memory foam—an arrangement that makes it more comfortable to sleep on than the Tempurpedic mattress I use on my bed at home,” wrote Outside columnist Wes Siler. “You will not find better support anywhere, indoors or out.” It’s pricey and hard to find discounted, but it’s the closest we’ve come to feeling like we were in our bed at home instead of parked in the woods. That’s why I think the MegaMat Duo 10 is the most sought-after car-camping pad of 2020. —Jeremy Rellosa, reviews editor
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL Hooded Down Jacket ($375)
Mountain Hardwear’s Ghost Whisperer line has long been a favorite for those seeking lightweight insulation options. But this year, it got even lighter with the inclusion of limited-run 1,000-fill down. The premium insulation allows this iteration of the jacket to live up to its name—it feels barely there but for the impressive warmth it provides. Thousand-fill down is popping up in a lot of places this winter, but it’s an incredibly rare resource that may not last. We predict that the combination of the tried-and-true Ghost Whisperer design and its new top-of-the line fill will make this piece float off shelves this season. —Maren Larsen, Buyer’s Guide deputy editor
Stanley Classic Perfect-Brew Pour Over Set ($35)
I’ve had my eye on this pour-over setup since Stanley announced it at Outdoor Retailer back in January. So much has changed since then, but my love for this brewer (and matching mug) has only grown stronger—like my need for caffeine. In a time when a quick run to the grocery store for coffee filters isn’t always an option, this set’s filter-free design is particularly clutch. The durable and iconic green enamel coating makes it a classy and practical gift, and at less than 50 bucks, it’s a great choice for those keeping a closer eye on their budgets this year. —M.L.
Flint and Tinder Flannel-Lined Waxed Trucker Jacket ($240)
Our writers and staffers try a lot of technical gear, but we also like to test lifestyle apparel. After all, we do spend more time running errands and doing chores than we’d like to admit. But the clothing we use for everyday tasks during the colder months is best when it’s durable, warm, and looks damn good. Enter the Flint and Tinder Flannel-Lined Waxed Trucker jacket. It’s a piece I’ve seen consistently come up in conversation with other gear nerds—so much so that contributor Jakob Schiller devoted two separate odes to it. In his latest review, he wrote: “Thanks to a seven-ounce waxed sailcloth cotton outer, the Trucker is nearly indestructible. I’ve used it to saw down trees, clean my yard, haul trash, and perform all kinds of other random jobs, none of which put the jacket in any real danger of nicks or tears.” The Huckberry site can barely keep it in stock, and for good reason: “You’ll have this jacket for years to come and will wear it so often that the price tag will start to sound like a bargain.” —J.R.
Fischer Twin Skin Cruiser EF Skis ($259)
In the U.S., nordic skiing has never been as popular as its more gravity-based alpine cousin. Some think it’s downright uncool. (I beg to differ!) But this winter, left without season passes or the ability to safely travel for far-flung ski trips due to COVID, people are beginning to look at the sport in a different light. It’s far more accessible and way cheaper than downhill skiing. You can do it pretty much anywhere there’s a trail, park, dirt road, or golf course with enough snow to cover the ground—no lift lines or flying required. And the fact that it’s one of the best full-body workouts you can get is a huge bonus. Dressing in spandex and gliding through the woods on skinny skis sounds pretty fun, after all. Out of the blue, nordic gear is flying off shelves faster than shops can restock it. For many first-time nordic skiers, waxless classic “skin” skis, like the Twin Skin line from Fischer, are the best point of entry. The basic technique is easy to learn, and the skis hit the sweet spot of maximum performance for minimal maintenance. The Twin Skin features strips of mohair underfoot, like the skins you use with alpine touring skis, for surprisingly good kick and glide. The basalt-core Twin Skin Cruiser EF is perfect for anyone looking to ski groomed classic track in a variety of conditions. Those looking to level up to new PRs and technique mastery should look to the Twin Skin Superlite EF ($326), which has a lighter, stiffer construction that’s tuned for a smoother kick. —Ariella Gintzler, associate gear editor
Kelty Low Loveseat ($109)
If I had to pick one piece of car-camping gear that’s universally loved by almost everyone on staff, I would have to point to the Kelty Low loveseat. It’s appeared in our pages and on our website many times, particularly in stories about gear that makes camping better and more comfortable. Contributor Jakob Schiller summed it up best, back in September: “The loveseat is neither small nor light, but the extra proximity to your loved one is worth it.” The nature-loving masses must agree that it’s pretty awesome, because it’s frequently out of stock. This chair is just big enough for two people, with dual beverage holders on either arm, and it’s made from tough nylon fabric that’s sure to withstand years of abuse. I’m not generally one for bringing luxury items into the woods, but somehow this camping couch is on my permanent list of things never to leave behind. —A.G.