Our team of reviewers have been as busy as ever testing out the latest and greatest of what the outdoor retail industry has to offer in 2023. With an impressive focus on more sustainable products in the 2022 Gear of the Year choices, this year focuses on quality, performance and innovation.
We’ve also tried out some excellent outdoor gear and clothing that’s made responsibly. But that’s in a whole other article! Our top choices can be found in our More Sustainable Outdoor Products 2023 round up. You’ll notice there are some crossovers, which is how it should be!
Cool of the Wild gear of the year 2023
This year’s tried and tested favourites include products from established and well-known brands like Rab, Therm-A-Rest and Nemo Equipment, who continue to deliver expertly designed and manufactured products that really stand the test of time. But we’ve also been super impressed with some lesser-known brands that are competing fiercely with the bigger brands in terms of innovation and functionality.
NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad
Therm-A-Rest have taken all the best bits of the original version of the NeoAir XLite NXT to create this new and improved sleeping pad that really is hard to beat. It’s super packable, highly comfortable and impressively robust. And with greater insulation, lower noise when turning over and the ability to inflate it with a pump sack via a highly improved valve, it’s THE ideal sleeping pad for backpacking and luxury camping alike!
Nijmegen 6L Belt Pack
This spacious waist pack is an excellent alternative to a traditional hydration backpack. With the ability to carry a litre of liquid plus 6 litres of storage capacity for snacks and supplies, it’s an ideal option for hikers and bikers who don’t want a pack on their back. I use it mostly for short day hikes when I don’t need to carry too many extras.
Sypes Low Leather Waterproof Hiking Shoes
These are hands down the best hiking shoes I’ve worn in years. They’re super comfortable and feel like you’re wearing trainers / sneakers, but with more stability, support and protection against the element. Plus, because I really love their style (and comfort, stability and protection!) I wear them more than any of my other footwear.
When it comes to cycling, Peter, our reviewer, takes things very seriously. Which is why he gets on so well with the all business, no fuss, design and functionality of the Engage Jacket. It’s a synthetic insulated jacket that’s created by the special-forces team behind Thrudark, and is a firm favourite for bikepacking trips in winter conditions. It’s built to do the job and to do it well, offering superb warmth, durability and resistance against the wind, cold and light rain.
Fuel Transfer Device
It may be small and incredibly simple, but this fuel transfer device is an invaluable little gadget for all campers who use camping gas canisters regularly. The FlipFuel enables you to fully empty canisters without wasting any gas and allows you to always head for the hills with a full canister. No more will your camping store be filled with half empty gas bottles waiting for their time to come!
Luxe Bed Double 25° Sleep System
Quality of sleep (and thus, enjoyment of camping) went through the roof for our reviewer, Janey, after welcoming this unique sleep system into her life. It’s certainly not a lightweight or packable set up, but for car campers and glampers, Zenbivy really has enabled good sleep to be a reality.
Cinder Kinetic Waterproof Jacket
2023 saw the release of Rab’s first foray into the world of cycling apparel. And what a superb job they’ve done of it. The Kinetic range is designed for cycling adventures in changeable conditions and performs equally well in dry, cool weather as it does when the heavens open. I love how lightweight this jacket is and the cycle-specific features make it the perfect partner for days on the road or the trail.
I also love the Cinder Kinetic Shorts which offer similar comfort and weather protection as the jacket.
The paddle boarding brand, Red Original, has really come up trumps with this exceptional waterproof backpack. It’s been one of our most used items of outdoor kit in 2023 due to its versatility, performance and practicality. It’s also really comfortable to carry – even when fully loaded – which is unusual for waterproof backpacks. If you’re after a multi-use backpack that is very well suited to rainy day activities, paddle boarding, canoeing, cycling, beach days, or just every day use in the rain, then this is the backpack for you.
Mesa XL Tabletop Fire Pit
Don’t want to commit to life with a full sized fire pit life? Check out this very cool table top offering instead. It takes all the ultra-cool features of the bigger and more powerful Solo Stove fire pits but in miniature! It comes in some gorgeous colours to match your glamping or backyard decor, and its fold out legs make it safe to put on most surfaces.
New to the VOITED line of cosy camp accessories and outdoor apparel is this innovative sleeping bag jacket! Warm and weather-resistant jacket by day, wearable sleeping bag by night, the Slumber Jacket is ideal for wearing around the campfire or for sleeping in when camping. I’ve also loved using it for post-sea dip morale and even to stay warm at home to keep the heating bills down!
Moonlander Dual-Height Table
The Moonlander isn’t just any old camping table. It’s one versatile piece of camping gear that we’ve used in a variety of scenarios this year including for picnics, beach campfires, car camping and just hanging out in the garden. The ability to change its height right down to just above floor level really is a game-changer. Plus, it’s incredibly lightweight and packable for al fresco dining or drinks prep wherever, whenever.
Revive Active Recovery Shoes
For beach lovers, campers and water babies, these supportive and mega comfortable shoes are incredibly practical and protective. They’re also designed to help tired feet and bodies recover after big days on the trail or playing sport. They’re the ideal shoe to take backpacking to wear around camp in the evenings. And they are perfect to slip on for river crossings too. But to top it off, they’re also made from sugarcane which is a sustainable alternative to plastic.
For more reviews of great equipment and clothing for the outdoors, check out our gear guides.