It’s that time of year again, when I get to look back at all the cool stuff I’ve been lucky enough to try out and then decide upon what I love the most. It’s Cool of the Wild’s Gear of the Year 2020! With far-flung adventures taken almost completely off the cards, I’ve loved exploring my home county of Cornwall, with the help of lots of fun outdoor gear, of course. So the below list, which includes a mega touring SUP, a waterproof waist pack and fire pits for beach bonfires, may have a bit of a Cornish bias. But I figured that if it can deal with the ever-changing conditions here, then it’s good to go pretty much anywhere (kind of!).
Cool of the Wild gear of the year 2020
It’s been tough deciding which of the cool outdoor gear I’ve tried out this year to leave out and which to include. Just take a read of this amazing set of products and you’ll understand what a high bar I had to contend with. Enjoy!
Ranger Fire Pit
Last year, the Solo Stove Lite made it into the Gear of the Year round up. This year, we’ve super-sized our Solo Stove admiration and are absolutely loving the Lite’s older sibling, the Ranger Fire Pit. It’s incredibly efficient with a secondary burn system which creates an almost smoke-free fire. Special, huh? Not only ideal for car camping and beach bonfires, but also a no-brainer for backyard campfires right through the winter.
Hubba Hubba NX 2
Just when I thought I couldn’t love a tent as much as the Big Agnes Copper Spur, the exceptionally well designed MSR Hubba Hubba came along! It’s super lightweight and incomprehensibly packable yet manages to provide a more livable space than the Copper Spur. It’s my go-to tent for backpacking, SUP camping and bike touring.
SL Active WMN Hiking Boots
During the summer I prefer to hike in lightweight shoes. However, as soon as the cold (and mud) sets in, a tough pair of old boots is certainly what my feet need. I love how protected my feet feel in these fully waterproof, leather Scarpa hiking boots. Plus, they’re mega comfortable and as tough and robust as hiking boots that you want to last for a decade should be.
Fire Safe and Grill
A fire pit that you can carry with you in your backpack? And one that is campfire cooking compatible? Yep, this genius and incredibly lightweight contraction has revolutionised overnight hiking trips this year. The Fire Safe protects the ground and contains your campfire, whilst the roll-up grill sits neatly over it ready to cook up a storm, no matter where you might want to cook!
Nessh Down Jacket
This is one stylish and highly practical jacket that Rob, our reviewer, lives in! Whether he’s strolling on the beach or around town, sitting on the campsite or hiking the coastal path, he’s in it pretty much all the time. But as well as its high quality construction and functionality, we also very much love that for every jacket sold Dark Peak gives a jacket away to the homeless. Now that’s really gear that gives.
NeoAir Topo Luxe
Finally! A packable sleeping pad that’s almost as luxurious as your bed at home. At a very generous 4 inches thick and with extra width and length, the NeoAir Topo Luxe has made wild nights camping out in a tiny tent feel like car camping. It’s the ideal option for short overnighters when you really want to get a good sleep in.
Sprint 14 Paddle Board
At a whopping 14 feet long, this beast of a paddle board has made SUP camping even more fun this summer. With the capacity to carry more gear and with the paddle power to glide and go faster, it’s an excellent SUP for touring and longer distances. I’ve been loving the more maneuverable Bluefin Cruise this year too, but I couldn’t justify putting both boards in the article!
Abisko Trail Tights
When style meets function in the outdoors you end up with clothing that probably has a Fjjallraven label on it. The Abisko Trail Tights are one such item that ticks all the boxes a gal desires from her outdoor clothing. They’re lightweight for summer hiking and camping but tough enough, in all the right places, for scrambling around in more challenging conditions and situations. They’re also fast becoming my go-to tights for winter running.
We’ve had to become more and more inventive with our outdoor socialising this year. But we can’t take all the responsibility for the socially distanced fun. The Sunset Chair has contributed greatly! Because it’s so packable and lightweight it means we (and our aging parents) can enjoy time by the river, on the cliffs or at the beach without sacrificing comfort. We just pop it in our daypack, along with a blanket and plenty of picnic goodies, and we’re good to party!
Ultralight Compact Purifier
Though this instant water purifier bottle is best suited to those far-flung adventures that have been lacking this year, it’s still been a highly useful item on big day hikes in Snowdonia when I’ve wanted to keep my weight down. And on overnighters on the Cornish coast, where much of the fresh water has trace contaminates of one kind of another, it’s invaluable. Simply fill the bottle up, push the filter down and either drink up there and then, or save it for later.
Hard Shell All Season Jacket
This hard shell waterproof jacket has made it onto the COTW Gear of the Year list for its high-performing protection against almost anything you can throw at it. But that’s not all. We also LOVE that the fabric is made of 100% recycled materials and that the brand are so committed to sustainability. It’s the perfect winter layer for keeping out the weather on Cornish coastal hikes, but also breaths brilliantly on more active adventures. Keep an eye on Cortazu; they’re an up and coming brand to be taken seriously.
Iko Core Headlamp
I’ve been testing a bunch of headlamps this year, so this has a been a tough one to decide upon. But the Petzl Iko Core certainly outshines the others for nighttime running. It’s unfathomably lightweight, incredibly stable and superbly comfortable. So much so, that I barely notice it all and question whether my forehead has grown it’s own light! It also provides a very bright close to mid-distance beam that is even and clear, lighting the way on even the most technical trails. I love it so much that it’s even made me go running at night way more than usual!
Seal Pak Hip Pack
Sure, dry bags aren’t necessarily something to get super excited about. But when you live at the beach and are in and out of the water like I am, they become part of everyday life, much like a handbag! This particular dry bag really floats my boat in terms of versatility. It’s as useful when paddle boarding as it is when biking and hiking in wet weather. It provides easy access to essentials without the unnecessary bulk and volume of a larger bag or backpack. Another no-brainer for Cornish life.
Carson Dutch Oven
A big part of my outdoor life in 2020 has been spent cooking over a campfire. This was an especially lovely focus during times of lockdown as I can still have a connection with the outdoors, just in the back garden! So it’s been a joy to get to grips with Dutch oven cooking, which is certainly more of a science than originally thought. This 4.3 litre Robens oven is the ideal size for stews, crumbles and lasagnas for four people. Campfire cake making is next on the agenda!
Amber 55 Backpack
Bursting with features, the Gregory Amber 55 Backpack is a superbly well designed backpack for multi-day treks and overnighters. With functionality at its core, the Amber boasts multiple options to access the main compartment, not to mention a huge array of pockets and gear attachment points. But it’s not just its usability that Janey, our reviewer, is enjoying. She’s also very much digging how comfortable the pack is, feeling secure and compact, even when it’s packed to capacity, and some!