When Men’s Health editors tested dozens of pieces of outdoor gear over the course of a month for the 2019 Outdoor Awards, one overarching principle quickly became apparent: The important innovations aren’t in new types of gear (Turns out a sleeping bag with arms and legs isn’t a slumber revelation—it’s just a puffy jumpsuit for not having sex in) but in new ways of making fundamental gear more lightweight and easier to transport and set up (Are tents almost too easy to set up now?). There’s so much at stake when you’re outside that everything has to perform, and, more importantly, everything has to have a clear purpose.
Bottom line: The best outdoor gear is essential outdoor gear. Stuff like tents and binoculars and a flannel shirt and an axe and a portable food prep space (we’re surprised it made the list, too!). And, of course, the best frisbee.
This list of 40-plus products makes the outdoors safer, more fun, and more comfortable, which all adds up to more accessible. So grab your super-bright tactical flashlight*, and let’s see what’s out there.
*Don’t have one? We got you covered.
The whole idea of “roughing it” has been redefined in the last decade or so. Easy-to-set-up tents, super-comfortable sleeping bags, and ultra-portable cooking equipment means that the modern campsite will feel more like a home than a base of operations. (As it should, considering that once the sun goes down, you’re in for the night.) We tangled with a lot of tent poles and burned a lot of pancakes to bring you this list of camping gear that makes the experience more about enjoying nature than fighting it.
Being outside for any length of time always involves two kinds of tension. There’s the inherent tension you can’t control: the chance that a nice day could turn bad, the chance that a moose could turn angry, the chance that a yellow-cheeked warbler is actually a golden-throated warbler. (Damn you, golden-throated warbler!) But there’s a tension you actually _create_: the relationship between the amount of stuff you’re carrying on your person versus the independence you’re seeking. We think that each piece of gear in this list nails the sweet spot between weight and durability, cost and efficiency. No wasted ounces.
We tend to think about things we to bring with us when we head outside. The things we to bring get less consideration. Sure, you don’t need to bring along a pillow. Or a bottle of whiskey. Or a great speaker. Or a pricey-but-durable Yeti cooler. Or a frisbee.* (You don’t really to be outside at all for that matter.) But even one of these things will make your experience more fun and comfortable, and, ultimately, more memorable.
*Always bring a frisbee.
('You Might Also Like',)