It’s the end of 2017, and (as is our annual tradition) a time to look back at the best gear we tested this year. Of the hundreds of products GearJunkie staff and contributors reviewed, these items stood out as some of the best.
Eddie Bauer EverTherm ‘Down Fabric’
Eddie Bauer introduced Thindown in 2017, and it’s set to shake up the world of insulation. By forming waterfowl down into a fabric, Eddie Bauer does away with the baffles required to keep it from shifting. The result is a puffy (the EverTherm jacket, pictured) that doesn’t look like a puffy. We’ve tested Thindown in the cold, and it simply works.
REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent
The Quarter Dome is among the most popular tents sold in the United States. This year, REI made it better. While the 1-, 2-, and 3-person tent did gain a slight bit of weight in the redesign, the resulting shelter is excellent (and fairly priced). More headroom, increased vestibule area, a symmetrical design, color-coded poles, and a buckle-on rainfly made setup simpler than its predecessor.
TNF Ventrix Jacket
This jacket breathes mechanically. The North Face built its Ventrix with slits that help move air through the insulating layer of the jacket. Designed for aerobic use in winter, the mechanical action helps keep sweat and heat moving away from the body. It’s an exceptional design we’ve fallen in love with this fall.
Boa TX4 ‘Textile Cord’ Closure
Boa introduced the TX4, a closure for running shoes, in 2017. It’s awesome, and as light as shoe laces. The dial-to-fit system uses Dyneema fabric cable, a departure from its traditional closures, which use thin steel cables. The new cables are light, strong, and soft. The result is a great fit on running shoes like the Asics Gel Fujirado (pictured).
EVA Foam Snowshoes
The Crescent Moon Eva is a totally new take on the snowshoe. Instead of a frame and fabric (or old-school leather construction), the Eva uses its namesake EVA foam throughout. The shoes are soft, somewhat pliable, and light. They work great on moderate terrain, and hills are no problem thanks to a spike-covered base.
ROKA Phantom Ti Sunglasses
Sports sunglasses that look like aviators: That concept launched the ROKA Phantom Ti. These large, stylish sunglasses weigh just .67 ounces (19 grams) and stick to the face thanks to titanium frames with tacky touch-points. The lenses are crisp and vibrant. Wear them running, cycling, or just wandering town in fashionable dress. These shades do it all.
Patagonia Sleeping Bag
Patagonia released its first sleeping bag in 2017, and it’s a hardcore masterpiece. Sleek, light, billowy, and warm for its weight, Patagonia uses extremely light 15D fabric and 850-fill down. A center-front zipper even allows you to tie-in to an anchor for secure sleeping on the side of a mountain.
Salomon XA Enduro Shoe
Hardcore mountain runners will love the Salomon XA Enduro. The shoes with a built-in gaiter tackle mountain and trail terrain with aplomb. They’re lightweight but stiff enough to provide support on uneven footing. The low-profile lugs, combined with the “wet-compound” rubber, provide excellent traction on wet or dry ascents and descents.
3T Strada Road Bike
A bike that is lighter, faster, more comfortable, and easier to maintain— the 3T Strada. We caught a peek (and a few words with designer Gerard Vroomen) earlier this year and believe it represents an evolution in bicycle design. A 1x-only drivetrain, unique aerodynamic gains, and a special rear cassette designed in-house are just some of the features we loved. At more than $4,500, it’s a premium build to be sure—but it’s the most influential design of the year.
KEEN Terradora Hiking Boot
KEEN’s first boot designed for women from the ground up knocks it out of the park. Light and comfortable from the box, the Terradora is great for a day hike or around town. Female-centric design narrows the shoe, hugs the heel, and raises the arch.
Scarpa Maestrale RS Ski Boot
The Scarpa Maestrale RS dramatically improves upon a classic boot in 2017. The new Maestrale shaves five ounces off the previous model while increasing stiffness. It also increases the range of motion from 37º in the old model to 60º in the new boot. It should be a top choice for ski touring and mountaineering.
La Sportiva Mythos Eco
The La Sportiva Mythos Eco stands out with 95-percent recycled components, including the rubber. But it also performs as well as its iconic Mythos sibling. Climbers who make environmentally-informed purchases should consider this shoe if in the market for a moccasin.
MSR Trailshot Microfilter
Fast, light, easy to use, and affordable, the MSR Trailshot Microfilter is a wonderful evolution for backcountry hydration needs. Pump it with one hand and hold your bottle with the other, this filter treats up to 2,000 liters and has a flow rate of 1 liter every 60 seconds. It removes bacteria, protozoa, and particulates common in the backcountry. Bonus: It weighs just five ounces.
La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX
Aggressive, capable, durable: Those are words that sum up this waterproof, go-anywhere boot. The La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX hit all marks as our top new hiking boot for 2017. Coupled with Gore-Tex Surround technology to keep feet dry, the leather hiker with burly Vibram sole is perfect for anyone needing a medium-duty boot.
Benchmade Proper Knife
Elegant in its simplicity, the Benchmade Proper elevates the “gentleman’s knife” to a next level. Available in clip-point or sheepsfoot, the Proper has a wonderful look and great handles complemented by a thin profile both in the blade and in hand. It runs quality S30V steel and has a nail nick. Though, the standout is the design — it is a new knife designed to look and feel like a classic. Benchmade nailed it.