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 March
Tested by: Katie Jedlicka Sieve, Project Manager
What feels better than buying outdoor gear and making a difference in the world at the same time? Cotopaxi products help you do just that. The Utah brand is known for its Do Good creed; its products are designed with social and environmental impact in mind. And the Teca Cálido Hooded Jacket is no exception.
You’ll recognize the Cotopaxi brand by its well-known bright and bold color options. Sustainability is at the center of this jacket’s design, as it’s constructed with repurposed taffeta and recycled polyester insulation. The jacket’s reversibility and multiple pockets make it easy to go from the city to the trail. If you’re looking for a well-rounded all-year jacket, check this one out.
Living in Minnesota, I was a bit skeptical this jacket’s warmth would hold up in the bitter cold of January and February. But to my delight, it didn’t let me down. I’ve been wearing this coat since January, and while it’s lightweight, it provides just enough warmth when I need it. Of course, one of my favorite parts of the jacket is the reversibility — it’s like a BOGO! I know I’ll be wearing this jacket well into spring.
We were lucky enough to have Cotopaxi’s CEO, David Smith, on our podcast. Check out his episode to learn more about the brand!
Tested by: Zach Burton, Projects & Partnerships
If you’re the type who refuses to let adverse weather alter alpine pursuits, then you need gear that keeps up. One of those key pieces is a dependable pair of alpine pants. Rab built its Muztag GTX Pants with advanced alpinists in mind.
Hardwearing and breathable, these Muztag GTX Pants are built from the new 40-denier GORE-TEX PRO, delivering breathability and extreme-weather waterproofing for arduous mountain activities. Designed with articulated knees and an adjustable waist, these pants can accommodate large mountain boots without restricting movement. Reinforced crampon patches and two-way side zips enable easy venting with a climbing harness, or when you need to dump heat during an approach.
I spent several days out in Vail, Colo., putting these pants to the test in everything from mixed and ice climbing to nordic ski sessions. These pants exceeded my expectations in keeping me dry, comfortable, and protected throughout. The low-bulk fit makes it easy to see my feet while climbing, and the reinforced patches on the pants kept me from creating punctures with my crampons. The option to zip down the legs to quickly dump heat proved crucial.
Rab nailed the details dialed on these pants, and it sets them apart from other options I’ve tried.
Tested by: Jake Ferguson, Content Commerce Manager
Whether you’re sore from a workout or simply carrying stress from life, a massage gun is an easy way to find relief. The Hypervolt Plus has three settings powered by a 90W brushless motor and offers 30% more power than the original. It comes with five different-shaped heads that are easy to swap. It’s a versatile recovery tool that gives quick relief.
Check out our full review here.
I’ve been using the Hypervolt Plus for 8 months and love the extra power it offers. I prefer deep-tissue massage and didn’t get that with other massage guns I’ve tested. I needed more power, and the Hypervolt Plus delivered (yet that comes at a higher price). If you prefer a milder massage, consider the Hypervolt GO to save some cash.
I use the bullet head most often to relieve shoulder and back pain. Using it on my hips and IT bands after a run works wonders. It’s medium-size for a massage gun, and I can easily use it sitting at my desk or in a car after an adventure. I’ve found that it’s the quickest way to relieve my aches and pains so I can head into the next day feeling fresh.
Tested by: Mary Murphy, Reporter
Nathan debuted its first apparel line this month, but we’ve been testing these shorts on the DL for weeks. The Front Runner Shorts ($55) are the brand’s take at an ultra-lightweight performance training short. They’ve got a nylon-polyester outer and polyester stretch liner sewn together with flatlock seams. There’s also a reflective logo and hits on the right side of the short.
But the star of the show with these running shorts is the liner: a compression liner that provides coverage, comfort, and built-in storage. Two drop-in stretch side pockets adorn the short, in a similar location as a thigh pocket on a hiking pant.
If you’re wondering how Nathan managed to fit a large enough side pocket for an iPhone on a short with a 3-inch inseam, don’t worry, we were stumped too. But Nathan did it. Best of all, my phone stays in place. Now, these shorts are minimalist (read: short), which is partly why I’ve loved testing them. They’ve got that wispy, barely-there feel that makes you think, “Am I going faster?”
Probably not, but dang do I like the feeling.
Nathan calls them ultralight but also says the shorts weigh under a pound (size medium), which isn’t very helpful. So I weighed my pair (size small), and they ring in at nearly a quarter of that weight — just 4.2 ounces.
Overall, these shorts are a great pick if you want to cut down on weight, whether for a hot-weather run, FKT, or race. Note: The Front Runner shorts are available for men and women, though the men’s version has a longer inseam (5 inches compared to the women’s 3 inches).
Tested by: Jake Ferguson, Content Commerce Manager
Skip the lift lines and earn your turns. Burton’s splitboarding setup allows for easy transitioning from touring to riding. The Hometown Hero board uses a Split Channel mounting system and pucks to simplify the switch and offers great adjustability on the initial setup. It’s stiff like most all-mountain boards, and it has a longer nose and rocker to help you float in the pow.
The Hitchhiker bindings are rad. They easily slide on and off by lifting a plate at the toe. For comfort while skinning, the highbacks actually recline a little, giving them a negative forward lean. Plus, there are two stages of ramps/risers for steep inclines to ease the strain on your legs so you can ride longer.
I recently tested this setup on a guided backcountry trip in Utah’s range. I rode through steep open-powder fields where I could really dig into turns, as well as through dense trees that required agile carving. It’s certainly a different feeling than a snowboard, but it still ripped in the powder like Burton designed it to do. The board allowed me to see a new place and have an experience in the backcountry that I couldn’t get at a resort. I loved it.
Tested by: Jennifer Hansen, Affiliate Marketing
Sore muscles after a long day on the trail? CBDistillery’s Relax + Relief CBD Oil provides nearly instant ease from muscle tension and inflammation. It’s also a great pick for relaxing after a stressful day at work.
CBDistillery is based out of Colorado and sources all-organic USA-grown hemp to extract its CBD oil. The full-spectrum tincture allows you to experience all the benefits the cannabis plant has to offer, including naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
It can be difficult to find CBD that actually works, and I’ve tried a ton of different brands. I am stoked about CBDistillery because each time I take a dropper, I notice its calming effects right away. I go to a Krav Maga class three times a week, which always leaves me feeling very sore. This tincture provides quite a bit of relief. Not to mention, I often experience restless nights, but one dropper of Relief + Relax helps me through the night.
I am a seasoned CBD user, and at 1,000 mg per bottle, this is an extra-strength dose — and it’s definitely strong. I’d recommend a much lighter potency for new users. It also has a pretty strong, earthy taste to it, which I enjoy but could be unpleasant to others. Overall, I think it’s great. And at $70 a bottle, it’s priced very well for its quality.
Tested by: Adam Ruggiero, Editor-In-Chief
If your closet or coat rack doesn’t contain a “shacket,” then you’re missing out on one of the most versatile outerwear pieces you can own. With the protection of a jacket and the style and comfort of a shirt, the shacket can be the hero in your wardrobe for many seasons.
Obermeyer’s Avery Flannel (men’s and women’s) nails it. The Avery uses deceptively simple construction: cotton flannel plaid outer, quilted nylon liner, and 40g synthetic insulation. Two chest pockets fit daily stash-ables, and two tricot-lined handwarmer pockets keep your digits warm and dry.
I’ve tested a few flannels in my day, and I’m always eager to try more. It’s a simple piece, but like, say, a great trucker hat, you just know when it’s the right one.
I’m 6’3″ and a buffet away from 200 pounds — the Obermeyer Avery Flannel fits like a dream. More than just the right sleeve length with enough shoulder room, this flannel wears great over a shirt alone for cool fall or spring days. But it’s also a champ on especially nasty evenings over a full puffy. I’ve even found myself stuck in a rainy walk home after a long day at the office, and while not waterproof, the Avery Flannel shrugs off chilly drizzle or sleet.
Best of all, like any true flannel, it’s a snap-up!
Tested by: M.T. Elliott, Contributing Editor
The Saucony BOA Switchback 2 trail run shoes use the BOA fit system and “mono panel” construction that puts the lacing tension on the side of the foot to alleviate stress on top. The lightweight, minimal sole still has a 4mm drop and 3mm multidirectional lugs for off-road traction.
Sometimes you find you appreciate gear that performs outside its designed parameters. These won’t be my long, slow day shoes, but for shorter runs in the cold and across sidewalks with compacted snow, these became the pick of the litter.
Yes, these are made for trails in drier conditions, but I found these were a great fit for shorter training runs over crusty snow, rocky uphills, and patches of mud. The BOA dial proved an easier way to adjust the fit during a run, especially while wearing gloves. And the bootie-like upper rarely let in water despite the lower side closure.
Lastly, at 9 ounces (men’s size 10) with a 4mm drop, these made for a comfortable mix of weight and cushion. As trails dry out, I’ll continue to reach for these on faster trail runs.
Tested by: Kurt Barclay, Audience Development
Boreal Vehicles launched in 2021 with aluminum roof racks for Toyota Tacomas and Sprinter vans. With Minneapolis as a home base, the brand knows harsh conditions and how they affect vehicles and accessories.
Using many of the same design principles as other racks in the market, Boreal wasn’t seeking to design a whole new concept but rather to improve it. It set out to produce a rack that could hold up to harsh northern conditions.
Focusing on reducing wind noise, improving fit and finish, and using high-quality fasteners, Boreal improved an already proven design and has now released it to the masses.
I’ve been running the rack for just about a month and covered 1,200 miles with it atop my Tacoma. Wind noise is barely audible even at high speeds, and the rack adds a rugged look to the truck. Mounting accessories has proven fast and easy, and the option to add a little color is a nice touch.
Tested by: Mary Murphy, Reporter
The Aura is a cylindrical-style lens with a magnetic interchange system. The goggle frames are equipped with eight high-strength magnets that let the lenses snap into place. The Aura goggles have a VLT of 14%, 100% UV protection, and an anti-scratch coating. They come with a spare low-light yellow-tint lens, a case, and a microfiber pouch.
For high-quality goggles on a budget, it doesn’t get better than Blenders. I loved testing these goggles on brighter days. The cylindrical Aura style is a great fit for those with small- to medium-framed faces. The magnetic lens system also seemed to work well. I had no issues exchanging lenses, even one-handed.
The goggles perform really well in sunnier conditions, have great contrast, and I love the fit. And, given mask-wearing is the new standard at ski resorts, it’s worth noting they don’t fog up. (The goggle frame has three layers of hypoallergenic foam.)
And I’ll repeat: They’re under $100. Need another reason to buy? They look damn good if I do say so myself.