At GearJunkie, we test, use, and come to rely on all manner of gear — for every season and all conditions. Take a peek at the products we love this month!
Favorite Gear We Tested in May
Tested by: Jennifer Hansen, Affiliate Marketing
Rumpl and Dakine have you covered for all your outdoor adventures with their latest blanket collab. The brands teamed up to create the NanoLoft Puffy Blanket with travel in mind; it was made to be durable, weather-resistant, lightweight, and ultrapackable.
Rumpl creates the NanoLoft insulation with its very own synthetic down alternative, made up of small clusters of fabric that mimic the characteristics of down by trapping warmth inside pockets of air. It’s made with 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
One GearJunkie staffer recently converted her RAV4 to be an ultimate adventure vehicle, complete with a full-sized bed in the back so she can comfortably crash wherever her travels take her. The Rumpl NanoLoft Puffy is her favorite addition.
After feeling how lightweight it was, she was shocked at just how warm it is also. She didn’t need any additional blankets to sleep comfortably through a chilly night camping.
Her favorite thing about the puffy is that it’s so versatile. She can pull it off her bed and wrap it around her body to keep her warm while walking around the campfire.
It even comes with a cape clip to fasten it over your shoulders for hands-free use. She also loves how compact it is when using its stuff sack — perfect for bringing along for a day on the lake!
Tested by: Chris Potter, Community Manager
What the spyglass was for pirates searching for an approaching ship, Maven’s CM.1 Monocular is for the outdoor enthusiast to spot … well, almost anything. With its condensed polymer frame, 8×32 configuration, low-light performance, and lightweight, waterproof design — this is an optic that is worthy of any outdoor adventure.
After testing it for the past month, one GearJunkie team member can’t get over how handy this thing is. From wildlife watching, to scoping new lines while splitboarding, to hunting for elk antler sheds, the CM.1 has been a welcome addition to his pocket and his pack.
It’s easy to carry, and the weight is just right, feeling heavy-duty enough to withstand a lot of wear and tear in the field.
If you value traveling fast and light in the backcountry and would like to bring along a compact optic that doesn’t skimp on clarity, the Maven CM.1 Monocular will be a steadfast companion.
Tested by: Katie Jedlicka Sieve, Project Manager
Finding a running top layer often makes one GearJunkie team member feel like Goldilocks. Some layers retain moisture and are too hot, while others aren’t windproof enough and leave you too cold. Well, the Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover is just right.
The pullover is a nylon shell, while the hood and sleeves are constructed with Patagonia’s Capilene Cool fabric. It is ultralightweight and stretchy for ease of movement.
The pullover fits under a running vest and the two-way sleek zipper aids with venting. The waist stays put and doesn’t ride up when you run. When you no longer need to wear the pullover, the hood converts to a stuff sack for easy packing and stowing.
The Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover is so light, she hardly noticed she had it on. She loves the streamlined fit, and it’s perfect for any outdoor pursuits where output is high — and the need for breathability and wind resistance is key to maintaining comfort over extended periods.
Tested by: Zach Burton, Projects & Partnerships
The Strato UL 2 is a lightweight and packable backcountry refuge for everything from weekend getaways to multiweek missions. Providing the most living space for the weight in its class, the Strato UL 2 combines innovative design features with premium, lightweight materials to cut weight without sacrificing quality.
Over the past couple of years, one GearJunkie team member has been bitten by the bikepacking bug. What started as a “quick overnight” with less than ideal gear has quickly turned into a long-term mission to build an effective ultralight camp setup.
A huge part of that mission is finding a shelter that has the right combination of space and comfort while still being light and packable. For him, the Strato UL 2 hits the mark.
At just over 2 pounds, 5 ounces, and packing down to 6 x 12″ (tent) and 2.5 x 16″ (poles), this tent provides ample space in an efficient package. With room for two, a fully waterproof rainfly, and dual dry-entry vestibules, the tent offers everything he needs and more. He can have the tent set up in about 2 minutes upon arriving at his destination, and teardown goes even quicker.
You can sleep two in this tent comfortably without feeling cramped. And when you’re rolling solo, you’ve got room for days. The Strato 2 UL will be joining him on many adventures to come!
Test by: Adam Ruggiero, Editor in Chief
You don’t realize how much you need a beach poncho until you try a beach poncho. Last month, the ultralight and packable gurus at Matador partnered with the board sport and stoke aficionados at Volcom to launch the Packable Towel Poncho.
Nanofiber construction, a cinchable hood, kangaroo pocket, and past-the-knees design make it an ideal companion for windy beach walks, or changing out of a drippy suit.
While I was a little uncertain about the Packable Towel Poncho at first, I only had to wear it once to realize it forever has a place in my go-bag. Like most things Matador, it packs down small, about the size of a small purse or fat wallet.
The nanofiber makes for the perfect thing to throw on when you’re wet, salty, and/or sandy — it’s practically a wearable towel (hence, the name).
But even if you’re not at the beach, it’s a super-cozy and not-too-hot layer to throw on when it’s windy. The kangaroo pocket keeps hands warm, and the hood can cinch down to withstand the wind.
Need to change after crawling out of the tent? Don’t bother running for a tree — just don the Packable Towel Poncho, swap your drawers, and go!
The Packable Towel Poncho costs $60 and comes in low-profile charcoal grey or hip and shnazzy neon tie-dye.
Tested by: Katie Jedlicka Sieve, Project Manager
At first glance, Trackmith’s Van Cortlandt Tee looks like something your mom wore during her track meets in the 1970s. But even though the brand nailed that classic track vibe, this isn’t your average tee.
The Van Cortlandt Tee is made from lightweight, soft mesh that provides breathability. The tee is easy fitting and falls right at your hips. With inch-long slits at the bottom on both sides, it doesn’t bunch and moves seamlessly with you during your runs.
As a Minnesota runner, our project manager is either bundled up in a long sleeve or soaking up every last ray of sun in her sports bra. Rarely does she wear a tee while running.
The Van Cortlandt Tee was a game-changer for her. She loves the breathability and relaxed fit. Also, the soft mesh makes the tee almost feel weightless. She finds herself wearing this during her runs and HIIT workouts — and even throwing it on with a pair of jeans.
Tested by: M.T. Elliott, Contributing Editor
The Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Pack is big, water-resistant, and comfortable. Typically, carrying more gear means more things to dig through. But this pack uses the brand’s three-zip closure to fully open up the back to access the contents and a number of pockets.
And while there are more pockets than you will likely use at once, for a commuter bag, this makes it easy to settle on a daily packing system.
One of our editors has used the Urban Assault 24 Pack off and on for almost 2 years, and it has made its way to his top commute bag from fall into spring. That’s when he needed to carry extra layers and accessories in addition to a 15-inch laptop.
The backpack has deep bottle pockets on the outside of each side. It also has a top panel for quick access storage and more fragile items like sunglasses.
The straps are generously padded and the cushioned back panel allows airflow, making it welcome on any dayhike. His favorite small-touch design element is the pull tabs that bookend the YKK zippers. Holding the tab keeps the bag still while zipping it closed and makes using the bag a smoother experience.
Tested by: Adam Ruggiero, Editor in Chief
Obviously, you’re not going to take this hiking. But then again, there’s a good chance you’re also not taking all of your friends and family, either. And that’s the beauty of PhotoSpring! With this digital frame, you can instantly send a selfie of yourself on the trail to your loved one’s frame on the mantle.
Last month, PhotoSpring unveiled its second-gen Wi-Fi-enabled digital frame, the PhotoSpring 10 ($139) and the PhotoSpring 10 Premium ($169). These 10-inch frames look like your standard photo frame if a bit bulkier. But that extra size houses the technological wizardry to make this an ideal gift for the rugged adventurer’s distant family and friends.
Our editor snagged a PhotoSpring 10 Premium, hoping it would be the perfect gift. But having never tried a digital frame, he wasn’t sure if it would be a hit or a bust. But it proved a major win.
The frame is simple to set up. Just download an app, pair the device, and you’re ready to start sending images and video direct from your phone to the frame — and you can do it from virtually anywhere.
Plus, the touchscreen-friendly frame has speakers and 16GB of internal memory, so you can send full videos with sound. Set it to scroll through an album, or stay on one of your (their) favorite images.
If you have loved ones who can’t be there with you on an adventure, the PhotoSpring is a wonderful way to take them with you virtually.