Photo: RUMPL

The 10 Most Game-Changing Outdoor Accessories of the Year

Technology + Gear Outdoor Insider Guides
by Tim Wenger Aug 1, 2018

A slew of new game-changing outdoor accessories and gear is ready to turn your upcoming backcountry trips into great experiences — and we couldn’t be more excited. Innovation is coming to the world of outdoor gear, thanks to a fresh crop of young startups and a few forward-thinking classic brands. Improved moisture-wicking technology is becoming commonplace in everything from shirts to pants to hats, meaning you won’t get stuck outdoors with sweat-covered clothes and nothing dry to change into. And electronic innovations are illuminating dark evenings by the campfire. You’ll also have somewhere to pack and store all that hard-working gear. As an added perk, each of these brands is also thinking environmentally, so you can actually feel good about buying their stuff. Check out these new game-changing products before your next venture into the great outdoors.

Eagle Creek Wayfinder backpack

There are so many backpack models out there that you could use a different one each time you hit the backcountry and still never try them all. As such, it’s a rare day when a brand actually revolutionizes the seemingly straightforward concept of the backpack, but Eagle Creek has done just that with its new Wayfinder series. The packs are stain- and spill-resistant, thanks to a layer of recycled RPBV coating — straight off the top of automobile windshields that currently sit in landfills. This means you’re not only keeping material from hitting the landfill, but you’re also actually taking stuff out when you buy one of these packs.

They come in 40-, 30-, and 20-liter sizes along with a mini daypack for basic use. Each has a separate pouch for wet gear and clothes, and there are dedicated spaces for electronics, gear, and general storage. Each pack is versatile and good-looking, so you can take it with you when you fly, saving you from having to buy a separate pack for every type of trip you take.

Sunski Treelines sunglasses

Treelines sunski sunglasses

Photo: Sunski

Treelines combines a pair of goggles with a pair of fancy-schmancy sunglasses. These babies block the sun on the side with detachable clips, and unlike goggles, they actually look super cool, so you’ll want to wear them everywhere you go, from city to mountains. And because they’re essentially goggles lite, they’re perfect for spring skiing — especially once it’s warm enough that you’ve ditched the ski jacket in favor of a hoodie or t-shirt.

Mountain Khakis Teton Crest Pant

Trekking up a peak only to realize halfway up that your legs and groin are as sweaty as your back and pits is not the most comfortable situation. The team at Mountain Khakis is based in outdoorsy Jackson, Wyoming, so they’ve seen this problem themselves — and have solved it with the Teton Crest pant. It’s built to dry quickly and easily let air pass through across the legs and lower body.

Seven pockets let you store everything from a durable knife to a handkerchief to first-aid supplies, and the belt loops are extra durable. They’ve got models for both men and women; the women’s is pictured here. Also, the pant offers SPF 50 sun protection. Plus, Mountain Khaki is working towards B-Corp certification by 2020 — that’s recognition for being environmentally and socially responsible — so you know your money is going to a good company.

Outdoor Element Firebiner

How many times have you been setting up camp only to realize you forgot to bring a lighter or matches? Outdoor Element eliminates that problem in the form of a carabiner that carries up to 100 lbs and also lights fires. The Firebiner also has hangslots for your keys, so you won’t leave them lying in the dirt along the way.

JR Ligget’s travel shampoo

JRLiggets shampoo soap

Photo: J.R.Liggett’s

Outdoor and travel gear are blending more and more, and a perfect example of that is in the demand for sustainable travel-sized toiletries. JR Ligget’s travel shampoo bar doubles as a body soap. Not only will you have a handy cleanser for your river bath, but you also won’t have to open those wastefully disposable minis that come stocked in hotel rooms, either. Everything about the product is zero-waste and biodegradable, and as an added perk, TSA isn’t going to ask you to take it out of your carry-on.

According to JR himself, the shampoo and the residue it leaves behind are so clean that “fish could eat the bubbles.” The fact that the brand started in Denman, Nebraska, a town so small that it’s not even listed in census reports — and not some Silicon Valley office-plex — only adds to its awesomeness.

Lander Cairn XL

A post shared by Lander (@lander) on May 4, 2018 at 2:15pm PDT

Despite their excellence at various tasks like grilling, serving as the centerpiece for epic jam sessions, and keeping us warm in the chill of the evening, campfires aren’t always the most reliable sources of light if you need to step more than a few feet back. Enter outdoors brand Lander and its 350-lumen LED lantern known as the Cairn XL.

This light connects to the free Cairn XL app, which allows you to control the power, dim the light, change its color, set light alarms, and even employ an advanced technology known as proximity lighting, which adjusts brightness based on how close you are to the lantern. It also has multiple battery settings and a light strobe. And here’s the kicker: the Cairn XL charges your phone up to four times per battery cycle, which includes up to 250 hours of light time, and it also has Bluetooth connectivity. Not too shabby for a camp light.

RUMPL Original Puffy Poncho

RUMPL poncho

Photo: RUMPL

If there’s one piece of outerwear that has historically been guaranteed to make you look like a buffoon, it’s the poncho. As it turns out, what needed to happen all along was for some inspired brand to rethink the design from the inside out — maybe by giving the poncho an inside to begin with. RUMPL’s Original Puffy Poncho fits like a blanket but looks like a jacket, all while providing rain protection without ruining the undeniable coolness of your appearance.

Thermacell Radius

Thermacel Radius mosquito repellent

Photo: Thermacell

Thermacell’s latest take on mosquito repelling isn’t quite as exciting as cliff rappelling, but it’s equally impressive. With a lithium battery, the Radius provides 110 square feet of mosquito protection without any chemical sprays. All you have to do is plug a cartridge into the device and your entire camp will be mosquito-free for the duration of your stay. Refills last for 40 hours, so as long as you remember to charge it, you’re good to go. While other products from Thermacell have an elevation limit, due to lights or other factors, the Radius performs at any altitude — meaning it’s just as useful for a high-altitude basecamp session as it is for a backyard barbecue.

BUFF Headwear pack caps

BUFF hat

Photo: Buff

Moisture-wicking headwear is BUFF Headwear’s specialty, and its pack caps are the epitome of its development. The big sell here is the fact that these caps crush up for storage in your pack — but hold their shape and perform well when you pull them out for wear. The caps are moisture-wicking, made from four-way-stretch polyester fabric, and come in several cool colors and a handful of funky prints. They keep your head sweat-free when you’re working hard, without constantly needing to be cleaned and dried.

Mammut Courmayeur SO Pant with Georganic Design

Mammut pants

Photo: Mammut

We’ve always wanted a solid pair of pants designed to move with the body. Mammut, the classic Swiss outdoors brand, listened. Enter the Courmayeur SO Pant, built with the groundbreaking Georganic Design, which features redesigned seams in the pants, eliminating bunching when you step or bend. Basically, the pant becomes part of your leg, eliminating resistance and making long-distance trekking and other repetitive-motion sports that much easier. They look super cool, too — the type of gear that instantly becomes a conversation starter every time you’re around someone who spends ample time outside.

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