We’ve spent some time with all of the year’s best outdoor gear and rounded up the ones we like the most
Once a year, every year (since the dawn of time), we all get involved with helping to put the Outdoor 100 together over on Outdoors Magic. We test products for it, write some reviews for it, help with the project’s photo and video production and generally just really indulge the gear nerd side of our personalities. It’s a mammoth project to be involved in but one we always enjoy.
If you’re not familiar with the Outdoor 100, allow us to break it down for you. In short, it’s a round-up of the 100 best outdoor products on the market. It features new waterproof jackets to get rained on in, new backpacks for your multi-day treks, new hiking boots to tackle the highest mountains in the UK in, new trail running shoes to chase FKTs in, new tents for your wild camping trips and so much more.
Here’s some of our favourite items in this year’s edition.
HOKA ONE ONE Stinson Mid GTX
HOKA ONE ONE have brought out a walking boot equivalent of their popular running / walking shoe, the Stinson. Incredibly well cushioned, this boot has the highest volume midsole of any product in the HOKA range. Built for long-distance comfort on well-worn trails, we reckon this would be a genuinely great boot to go trekking in. Recommended.
CimAlp 864 Drop Control Trail Running Shoe
A world first concept from CimAlp this. The 864 Drop Control is a trail running shoe that comes with not one, not two, but three soles included. The soles all have different heel heights (aka drops).
“Why is this good,” you might ask. Well, put simply, it means that trail runners can gradually optimise their technique rather than rush a change and do themselves an injury as a result. It’s a clever little offering, and we like it a lot.
Lowe Alpine Airzone Pro 35:45 Backpack
Sometimes even the modern classics need a bit of modernising. That’s what’s happened here, anyway, with Lowe Alpine taking their popular Airzone Pro and giving it a bit of rejig. An out and out hiker’s pack, the Airzone Pro takes its name from its key feature – the back system.
Maximum comfort and ventilation is the order of the day here, with all of the contact points across the back and hips having a suspended knitted nylon with body-mapped weave density. This provides the Airzone Pro user with differing levels of ventilation, cushioning and support, depending on where each thing is needed. You’ll be particularly thankful for this classy design on them long hill marches.
Paramo Fuera Classic Smock
The Paramo Fuera Classic Smock is a lightweight windproof that manages to bring together versatility, performance, and simplicity together under one banner. We like how packable this product is, and we like how it’s sort of got that strong all-rounder vibe permeating off it.
Windproof, thanks to windchill-cutting Nikwax Windproof, and water-resistant, thanks to the Nikwax waterproofing treatment it’s gone through during the manufacturing process – this is a really useful number. Positive shoutout also to Paramo’s ethical approach to production (see the Miquelina Foundation), as well as this smock’s big / good chest pocket. They’re both excellent things, if you ask us.
Adidas Terrex Free Hiker Parley
It’s no secret that, here at Mpora HQ, we love the three-stripes of Adidas. We’re drawn to those stripes like moths to a flame – seemingly unable to stop ourselves being pulled towards them.
The Adidas Terrex Free Hiker Parley is an eco-friendly, comfortable, performance-focused, super stylish hiking shoe. The Parley uses up-cycled ocean plastic as one of its principal ingredients, meaning it not only looks good; it’s good to mother nature as well.
Haglöfs L.I.M Jacket
Weighing in at just 230g, the Haglofs L.I.M (Less Is More) jacket is well suited to the long, multi-day, treks where the weather’s going to be constantly changing. Stuff it in your pack when the sun’s out, whip it out when the clouds start rolling in. Simples.
Gore-Tex’s relatively new Paclite Plus waterproof technology is a two-layer system with a membrane glued to a light outer fabric. It’s been implemented well here, with the lack of backer fabric helping to bring down the overall weight of the jacket.
An excellent lightweight waterproof, this.
Montane Rock Up 20 Rucksack
If you’re a rock climber looking to get your hands on a super tough, super portable, backpack we think the Montane Rock Up 20 could be the one for you. Its nylon fabric is an impressive 300D in strength, and there’s a sense from the moment you pick it up that this thing is designed to be chucked about and scraped against hard outdoor surfaces.
The pack is part of Montane’s three-year-old collaboration with the British Mountaineering Council. 5% of the proceeds from this pack will be donated to the BMC’s Access and Conservation Trust’s ‘Moors For The Future’ project, an initiative helping to combat climate change. Rock on.
Fjallraven Kaipak Jacket
Hardwearing, versatile, eco-friendly and stylish – the Fjallraven Kaipak Jacket is made from G-1000 Eco fabric and another potential classic from a brand well-versed in serving up classics.
Town dwellers who live for popping out to the hills on weekends, and who want a jacket that won’t look out of place in either environment, this cracking jacket’s got your name written all over its minimalist Swedish aesthetic.
There’s lots we could say about this jacket but one of our favourite things about it is the lighter stretch fabric used in the underarm sections. Not only does this aid breathability, it also improves freedom of movement for your arms – allowing you to reach up easily on those casual Sunday afternoon scrambles
Hanwag Banks GTX Walking Boot
Hanwag’s Banks boot was originally released 16 years ago (back when the horror show that is 2020 was nothing but a small dot on the horizon). This year, the popular boot has been updated with new materials and a slightly more modern design and fit. Not one for your via ferratas up in the Dolomites, this is very much a British-style walking boot – reliable and comfortable on a big hike or national trail mission.
Properly solid. Properly respectable. We rate this.
Klattermusen Ull Blot Backpack
Little bit of trivia for you. Klattermusen means “climbing mouse” in Swedish. The award-winning brand’s products are aimed at people who love getting vertical in the mountains, and the eye-catching Ull Blot backpack is no exception. Built primarily with backcountry ski touring missions in mind, the Ull Blot is a durable, versatile, and environmentally-friendly backpack. It also looks odd, but in that good way we like.
Filson Dry Backpack
Filson are just one of those brands we’ll always defend to the hilt. There’s a lot of misconception out there that because they sell some nice, fashionable, shirts and jackets they’re somehow not a legitimate outdoor brand. People who think like this, well, they annoy us quite honestly.
Take the excellent Filson Dry Backpack – a roll-top waterproof backpack that will keep your kit dry no matter how wet the conditions are. Practical, functional, durable and proof, if proof really was still needed at this point, that Filson can do the serious gear just as well the stylish gear.
Patagonia Storm Racer Jacket
A trail runner’s waterproof that manages to be both lightweight and genuinely waterproof? Patagonia really have outdone themselves this time, serving up a product that manages to strip the weight off (it weighs 173g) without sacrificing durability and weatherproofing prowess. We also, for what it’s worth, think more jackets should have a double zip design. It looks cool.
Merrell Chameleon 8 Walking Boot
The Merrell Chameleon 8 looks like the kind of walking boot you’d have doodled in the margins of your history exercise book back in Year Nine. And, despite how that sounds, we actually mean this as the ultimate compliment. The Chameleon 8 looks like it’s supposed to look and, for some reason, we find that deeply comforting – maybe it’s all the uncertainty in the world this year, who knows?
Anyway, the previous edition of the Chamelon, the 7, was released back in 2017. It was, to be totally frank with you, a great walking boot (it went in that year’s Outdoor 100). For the eighth generation of the boot, Merrell have served up an improved outsole with even better traction.
These things feel superb underfoot.
The North Face Activist FutureLight
Game-changing FutureLight technology has entered the world of footwear and, well, it’s all very exciting. Because of this tech, the North Face Activist FutureLight manages to be impressively waterproof and breathable at the same time time. The all-rounder styling on this boot, and the way it’s able to work well for you in different environments, means it could very quickly become your go-to item of footwear.
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V5
We’ll level with you. We really like how this shoe looks. It’s just dead nice, isn’t it? The yellow and the blue contrasting with that black is just deeply pleasing on a purely visual level. Don’t try and argue with us. It won’t get you anywhere.
We’re not so shallow that we’d include a product in this list just because it looks cool, however. Fortunately for everyone involved, the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V5 is also an incredibly comfortable, protective, and functional trail running shoe.
Nikwax Tent and Gear Solar Wash and Proof Solutions
OK. It might not be the “sexiest” product in the Outdoor 100 but, as far as we’re concerned, taking properly good care of your kit is the ultimate outdoorsman move – a clear indicator that someone is the real deal, rather than just a big bank account bawler who can’t stop buying gear they don’t actually need.
Two weeks of constant UV exposure can lead to as much as a 50% reduction in a tent fabric’s durability and waterproofness. These good value, effective, and incredibly easy-to-use Nikwax products are aimed at countering such reductions.
Go on. Give your tent some TLC. It’s earned it.
Ticket To The Moon Lightest Hammock
How could we not include the hammock? Especially one as lightweight and easy to use as Ticket To The Moon’s Lightest Hammock. Made from a super thin, parachute-like nylon fabric, this is the perfect bit of kit for overnight microadventures and multi-day treks through wooded areas.
Keen Terradora II Mid WP Walking Boot
Cast your mind back to 2016. Some big things happened that year. Bowie died. Prince died. Alan Rickman died. Leave won the Brexit vote, and Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton to the Presidency. In amongst all that, Keen released the very first Keen Terradora boot and we liked it so much that we included it in that year’s Outdoor 100.
The new and improved, for 2020, version of the Terradora takes what made the original popular and progresses it further. Are we saying it’s ‘The Godfather II’ of lightweight walking boots? In a word… yes.
Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed 20
Cards on the table. One of the many reasons we included the Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed 20 here is the fact that the photos of our Lead Creative modelling it in the studio brought us so much joy. Honestly, we can’t rate the pictures highly enough. Truly iconic stuff.
Focusing on the product directly, we love this sleeping bag because it’s just so unbelievably comfortable. Instead of zips, there’s a tongue-like flap on the torso that you can wrap around your like a blanket. Hard to do it justice here, but in the delirium of summer we have toyed with binning our actual bed off completely. Yeah, no. We’ll just use the Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed 20 from now on. Thanks.
What a sleeping bag.
snow Peak Titanium Single Wall 450 Mug
There’s just something about this Snow Peak mug. We can’t stop thinking about it (to the extent where we might actually have a problem). That shade of blue, those fold-away handles, the durable titanium, the brand logo, the words “outdoor lifestyle creator since 1958” – it all adds up to leave you with one extremely cool-looking camping mug.