Has 2019 disappeared frighteningly quickly for anyone else? Yes, the year is almost over which means it’s time for the Cool of the Wild Gear of the Year round up! At the end of each year we put together a list of outdoor gear and clothing that we think offers exceptional quality, functionality, durability and versatility to adventurers and outdoor folk. From the ground breaking eco-friendly technology of the Vivobarefoot Primus Bio Lite II shoes to the innovative and head-turning design of an origami kayak, it’s clear to see that we also consider style and aesthetics when choosing the very best outdoor gear. Gotta keep it cool, after all!
Cool of the Wild gear of the year 2019
So here it is. May I present to you this impressive list of our favourite (and very cool) tried and tested items of outdoor gear and clothing from 2019. Enjoy!
Solo Stove Lite
Not only is this wood burning stove as lightweight and packable as many other backpacking stoves, but it also burns wood, twigs, pine cones and leaves with unfathomable efficiency. From a sustainability point of view I love that you don’t need to carry and use gas. But I also love how the process of using it, and the ambiance it creates, slows camp life right down.
Ineo Pro Pants
Though designed for hiking, these sleek and simple leggings also keep my legs happy on winter trail runs, chilly mountain biking missions and cool weather climbing. They’re water and wind resistant, dead comfy and work equally as well with wooly casuals as they do with technical layers. My go-to pants, year round.
VaporKrar 2.0 12l Men’s Race Vest
Giacomo, our ultramarathon running reviewer, fell in love with this vest from training day one. He loves the vast array of pockets and storage options and the ability to carry loads of water and fuel. But best of all he loves how well it fits – so comfortable it feels like you’re not wearing it at all. As it should be.
Mantle III Crash Pad
It’s tough to review a crash pad. I’ve yet to injure myself and it’s provided ample cushioning for my low to mid-height falls – so I declare it a success! But it’s all the added extras make this pad stand out: a comfortable and adaptable backpack carrying system, a carpeted shoe-wiper, sturdy carry handles, and mega robust fabric. Plus, it has the ability to be configured as a long, narrow crash pad for traverses, as well as an almost square mat for vertical problems.
Microlight Summit Jacket
I could probably count on one hand the number of days this year that I’ve NOT worn this jacket. Even right through the summer it comes camping, backpacking and to the beach in the evenings with me. It’s exceptionally lightweight and packable for the warmth that it provides but also looks so good that I wear it out to the pub as well as climbing during the shoulder seasons. In all honesty, I’m not really sure how I survived before its arrival! Yep, hands down my fave piece of kit in 2019.
I lived in these sandals right through the summer. They’re an essential at the campground, make rock-hopping at the beach more fun than ever, feel easy and breezy on short summer hikes, and fit right into everyday summer life without looking too outdoorsy. They are also ideal for days out on the water, be it boating, canoeing or paddle boarding.
Beach LT Folding Kayak
If you want to draw attention to yourself at the beach, bust out an origami kayak! You’ll hear ooo’s and aah’s with every fold, then dumbfounded silence as you paddle away into the distance with the speed and ease of performance sea kayak. The Beach LT paddles like a dream in calm conditions. But I’ve mostly loved being able to get out on the water on my own; carrying, transporting and set up is just so easy – it even fits in my tiny car!
Instinct VS Climbing Shoes
If you want to improve your footwork on steep boulder problems and sport climbs then the Instinct VS shoes are where it’s at. Up your heel-hooking game and increase your pulling power on crucial toe-hooks. These moderately aggressive shoes have a super snug fit and are ideal for improvers. They also provide exceptional grip on tiny crimps that you can really trust.
Glacier Base Camper Cookset
Oddly, camp cooksets get me almost as excited as backpacks! So when I got my hands on the incredibly well thought through design of this sturdy set, I could barely contain myself! It’s the perfect car camping set with subtle details (like the drainage holes, silicone thumb pads and internal measurements) that enable camp cooks to get their creative juices flowing, wherever they set up their stove. It’s also campfire compatible, further adding to its versatility.
OutDry Ex Eco Rain Jacket
Aesthetically, this jacket requires an acquired taste. Looks aside, however, this waterproof jacket is up there with one of the most eco-friendly options around. Not only is the fabric made from recycled plastic, all of the fixings and components are also made from recycled materials. A big step forward on the sustainability front. It also provides excellent protection from the wind and rain, with a well-fitting hood.
Zenbivy Light Bed
It’s innovative, it’s warm, it allows you to sleep in positions that a regular sleeping bag doesn’t, and there’s nothing else quite like it around. This sleeping system is also highly versatile. Use the quilt as a picnic blanket or wrap yourself up in it around the campfire. Cinch the whole system down to create a sleeping bag. Loosen things up for a more roomy sleep. Or simply use it as a loose quilt to snuggle under on warm summer nights.
Trail Pro 30 SL Daypack
Though by no means a lightweight daypack, the Trail Pro manages to provide exceptional comfort and stability, even when fully loaded. It holds a deceptively large amount of gear, providing plenty of storage for a quick overnighter during the summer. It’s also a superb option for long mountain days during the winter when extra layers, food and fuel should be carried. It’s up there with my favourite top gear picks from 2019.
Watertight Cool bag
This year I’ve spent more time out on the water (canoeing and paddle boarding) than I have in a long time. So having a watertight cool bag, that is also designed to be secured onto boat and SUP decks, has been invaluable. It has also featured very heavily on car camping trips and beach BBQs, thanks to the easy carrying options and excellent insulation. A key player in our desire to cook and eat delicious meals in wild places!
Primus II Bio Shoes
These everyday shoes are possibly the most eco-friendly shoes on the planet. They combine a natural by-product of the field corn food industry, Sorona plant based fibres, natural rubber, and BLOOM – an algae-based alternative to synthetic and petrochemical EVA. This futuristic-sounding combo creates barefoot style shoes that are as good for your body as they are for the planet. Pretty remarkable, and ever-so-comfortable to wear on summer trails or about town.
As well as the usual high quality gear offerings that have hit the market this year, I’ve also been super impressed with the number of outdoor brands pumping out high quality gear that is made with sustainability and eco-friendliness at their core. I’m hoping that this list will only feature such products this time next year.