Another year and another selection of outstanding and innovative outdoor gear to choose from. And yes, we’ve been much more choosy than ever. Most of the things we tried out in 2021 are created by brands who are taking big steps towards more sustainable practices. Whether water reduction, limiting chemical use or sourcing more sustainable fabrics are their focus, these brands should be celebrated for pushing innovation and driving the outdoor industry in the right direction.
Cool of the Wild gear of the year 2021
Of course sustainability alone isn’t enough to win a place on our list of favourite gear. Performance, style and versatility are also super important. Not to mention featuring innovative products like the MyCanoe Duo or the BioLite Firepit+.
So without further ado, may I present to you the below selection of outdoor gear and clothing that we’ve loved using and abusing in 2021:
Abisko Friluft Backpack
As with all Fjallraven gear and clothing, the Friluft Backpack oozes quality and style. It also ticks a good few boxes on the sustainability front. The 45 litre female specific backpack is made from recycled polyester and organic cotton and is the ideal carrying companion on short overnight hikes or long winter day hikes. It’s comfortable, highly durable and has has an excellent ventilation system for temperature regulation.
Duo Folding Canoe
With a lifespan of 20,000 folds, this origami canoe is hands down the coolest of all the cool gear We’ve tried out in 2021. It has oodles of space for camping gear and multi-day expeditions but is robust enough to endure the rough and tumble of choppy water and windy days. But the best part is that it fits inside small cars, can be stored in an under stairs cupboard and can be easily carried by one person!
AlpenGlow 500 Lantern
This bright, tough and versatile lantern is a must for campers and glampers. It features some very cool (and warm!) light settings, including multicolour, fireworks, and my favourite: candle flicker. If you want a bright light to cook or play games by then it’s got you covered. But it also adds real ambience to an array of outdoor and indoor situations, whatever the mood. Plus, it’s waterproof and rechargeable with the ability to charge devices from it via the micro USB input.
Nucleon GV Hiking Shoes
The Nucleon GV’s take all the best parts of climbing approach shoes and combine them with all the best parts of hiking shoes. The result is a stable, supportive and robust shoe that is flexible, lightweight, very grippy and super comfortable; ideal for fast and light hiking adventures of varying magnitudes. They are also fully waterproof and stylish enough for everyday wear as well as stomping on the trail.
Boulder 2 Tent
Despite its budget-friendly price tag, the Boulder 2 Tent by Robens manages to compete fiercely with high end backpacking tents with high end price tags. Though no match in terms of low weight and packability, it does offer a highly liveable and weatherproof space for two people to cosy up in in all but the worst three season conditions. An excellent option for beginner backpackers and occasional adventurers.
Another superbly innovative offering from BioLite is this high-tech fire pit and BBQ that brings the traditional campfire right into the modern age, and beyond. Boasting a built-in power pack that not only powers your devices but also runs a fan that feeds into the fire. Turn the fan up for an intense burn or down for some gentle flames to tell campfire stories by. Oh, and you can control said fan and fire via your phone! The future is now, people!
Recycled Ripstop Outdoor Blanket
More outdoor socialising over the last year or so has meant more huddling under cosy blankets to keep warm. As such, this Outdoor Blanket has had a LOT of use! Be it at the campsite, sitting around a backyard fire or watching the sunset at the beach, it’s been an invaluable warming hug that’s always the envy of the less well prepared of our friends. I also love that it can be worn as poncho, poppered together to make a sleeping bag or stuffed into its own pocket to make a luxurious camping pillow. Multi-functional gear at its best.
Storm Sustainable Sports Leggings
Wear them around the house, at the gym or on the trail hiking and running, these Storm Leggings are a must-have for the planet-conscious consumer. They’re made from locally sourced recycled plastic, and the Apex Gray Bag for Life scheme encourages customers to send back the packaging bag. They’re also super comfortable and soft with a side pocket for carrying easy access essentials.
Tracker II FG Hiking Boots
This years’ gear of the year collection is stacked full of products that leave a more gentle impact on the planet. And these gorgeous, comfortable and grippy Tracker boots by Vivobarefoot are no exception. Their construction includes a recycled plastic membrane and liner with naturally scarred wildhide outers. Additionally, this cosy, ground-hugging, waterproof walking boot also promotes natural gait and barefoot-style movement for those wanting to move more freely in the wild.
BFF’s Waterproof Pants
Houdini has been doing great things on the sustainability front for many years. Which is why they’re able to produce such high quality, eco-friendly clothing that performs as it should against the elements. The BFF’s Waterproof Pants really are deserving of a place on our list of faves for 2021 and are especially well suited to those who live in changeable conditions as well as those who seek out a battering from the elements. With waterproof and windproof recycled fabric, full length side zips, pockets and adjustable hems, they look as good as they perform, scoring top marks for versatility.
Constructed with a super durable, non-petroleum based bioplastic frame, these super stylish shades are a favourite on our eco-friendly sunglasses list. Vallon, a family-owned Swedish brand, also cleans up 1kg of plastic waste for each pair sold. But we also love how subtly practical the Howlin’ Sunglasses are for time on or near the water. As well as polarised lenses for extra protection against the glare from water, they feature an elasticated and removable strap that prevents them from getting lost in the deep blue should you accidentally take a dip!
Another outcome of more outdoor socialising has been eating and drinking more than usual in epic locations. Picnics! And although we love a bit of cooking at the cliffs or BBQs at the beach, sometimes time or weather don’t allow it. So we’ve loved packing up our meals and hiking them out to eat them at sunset with a killer view. They excel at keeping things cold for ages. But they also do a very good job at insulating hot meals.
Arc Eco Waterproof Jacket
A Gear of the Year round up wouldn’t be complete without an offering from one of our favourite outdoor brands – Rab. But this year it’s all about waterproof protection instead of insulation, with some excellent eco-credentials to boot! Made from 100% post-consumer recycled polyester and treated with a PFC-free DWR coating, the Arc Eco is fully recyclable at the end of its life. It has a very well-fitting and adjustable hood, zippered pit vents and extra length at the back. Plus, it fits perfectly over the Rab Microlight Summit Jacket.
For more reviews of great equipment and clothing for the outdoors, check out our gear guides.