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The 2022 Summer Gear Guide

341 field-tested favorites for summer adventure

Editor's Letter

New Beginnings

This is a gear guide unlike any other. It is a partnership between five magazines—Outside, Backpacker, Beta, VeloNews, and Climbing, all siblings under Outside Interactive Inc. These pages represent the collective efforts of ten gear editors, 40 category managers, and nearly 150 testers. It is the biggest, most comprehensive, and most exhaustive gear guide any of us have produced. That’s saying a lot, seeing as the editors who worked on it have more than five decades of combined experience.

How did this work? Team members from each magazine spent weeks planning as a group, then divided and conquered. Outside and VeloNews worked together on road and gravel biking. The Beta crew handled mountain biking, including vital data from their week-long bike test in British Columbia (see Mountain Bikes). The Climbing gang logged hundreds of pitches to find the best climbing shoes and equipment. Meanwhile, the Backpacker bunch focused on hiking apparel for men and women, footwear, and multi-day gear, and the Outside magazine team handled car camping, watersports, travel, and fitness. Each team then nominated and re-tested Editors’ Choice finalists. The highlight: a four-day trip through Panama’s Parque Internacional La Amistad with Backpacker and Outside. Reviews of award winners like the Deuter AirContact Ultra pack and Box Synergy7 solar panel are the result.

When all was said and done, our family of gear nerds—bigger, more seasoned, and more specialized than ever before—wound up testing more than 1,000 products and covering thousands of miles from high-alpine peaks to lowland forests to coastal waterways, in order to present you, our members and readers, with the best gear for summer adventures. I won’t lie: it was a lot of hard work. But it was also an incredible opportunity for growth. By sharing information on our testing tactics, we learned a lot from one another. We debated gear-reviewing philosophy and evolved our collective understanding of what makes a product writeup useful and engaging. And the learning has only just begun. This first unified Gear Guide is just that: a beginning. We have big plans for the chapters to come, and can’t wait to share them with you. —Ariella Gintzler, editor






Editor’s Choice

The 15 Products That Won Awards in the 2022 Summer Gear Guide

The process for identifying the best outdoor products each year is an arduous one. Over the course of three months, 150-plus testers receive thousands of products from brands big and small. The mission: test the products repeatedly, in all conditions, and then send feedback to our category managers, who select the highest-ranking items and review them for our bi-annual Gear Guides. The products that rise far above the rest earn a coveted Editor’s Choice award. Here they are.

Deuter Aircontact Ultra ($240) (Photo: Inga Hendrickson)

Few packs blend ultralight-friendly design with comfort and features as well as this one. It’s feathery enough to please the gram-obsessed, yet does not come with huge sacrifices in the features or carrying-capacity department.

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Hillsound PackStack ($17 and up) (Photo: Inga Hendrickson)

It’s been a while since the lowly packing cube got an overhaul. This is the first one we’ve seen in a while that’s truly different. The half-moon shape is designed to fit snugly into backpacks, maximizing your organization while minimizing dead space.

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