Top Picks: GearJunkie ‘Gear of the Year’ 2018

It’s the end of 2018, and, as is our annual tradition, it's 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.

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Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour
Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour

Dynafit addressed one of the more annoying issues of ski touring, the transition, with the Hoji Pro Tour boot. Skin uphill, flip a single lever, and down you go. The design allows the transition to be that simple. You can do it without fumbling for multiple levers or pulling up pant legs. Beyond that, this boot skis exceptionally well and weighs just 1,450 grams. Send it!

Product Page
Fox Live Valve: Electric Lockouts
Fox Live Valve: Electric Lockouts

The thought of electronically controlled suspension is admittedly a little terrifying. But Fox has made it a reality — and it works. Ultrafast-reacting sensors on the wheels and frame paired with Fox’s fastest valve to date, the Live Valve consistently adjusts the fork and rear suspension independently as the trail changes. Adjustments happen in real time at 100 times faster than the blink of an eye. The result is maximum efficiency and control no matter what lies ahead. Check out our full Fox Live Valve review.

Product Page
Scott Backcountry Patrol AP 30
Scott Backcountry Patrol AP 30

This avalanche airbag is a major innovation for traveling backcountry skiers. It has no battery. Instead, a super capacitor powers the Scott Backcountry Patrol AP 30. This is a big deal if you need to carry it through an airport, where big lithium-ion batteries or air canisters are a hassle or outright forbidden. The super capacitor takes the place of the battery, storing electricity and releasing it quickly without chemicals. The airbag inflates with an electric fan and can be deployed multiple times at home for practice. It recharges in less than 40 minutes via USB and has two backup AA batteries carried internally in case the capacitor loses charge.

Product Page
Everysight Raptor AR Smartglasses
Everysight Raptor AR Smartglasses

See all your stats, navigate, and receive notifications without taking your eyes off the road. Everysight Raptor AR Smartglasses represent a big step forward in heads-up-display technology — with an eye toward cyclists. Based on the same tech used by Israeli fighter pilots, the Raptor is a seamless, if a bit bulky, pair of sunglasses. They’re unlike past HUD glasses that required external hardware to project information back at the lenses. Our tester appreciated the product and believed it could set the benchmark for the future of wearable cycling tech.

Product Page
AT Overland Summit
AT Overland Summit

2018 was the year of the wedge-style lightweight pop-top truck camper. AT Overland Equipment has been making overland truck campers longer than anyone else on the market, and the Summit is its entry into the wedge-style pop-top segment. It weighs in at only 340 pounds and can fit nearly any truck on the U.S. market. Plus, the hybrid slide-in camper/rooftop tent design garnered well-deserved attention among overlanders.

Product Page
686 Hydrastash
686 Hydrastash

It’s a simple idea, but 686 had a wonderful “aha!” moment with the GLCR Reservoir Jacket with Hydrastash. It simply put a water bladder (the Hydrastash system) in the powder skirt and a hose that leads to the mouth. For downhill skiers, it gives a totally new way to carry and consume water. It worked great in our initial testing, and we wonder if we’ll see this concept expand to more products in the near future.

Product Page
Salomon Shift Binding
Salomon Shift Binding

The Salomon Shift is a ski binding unlike any other. A bit of a transformer, it works like a pin-tech binding on the uphills. But when you’re ready to transition to downhill, flip a couple levers and step back into a conventional-looking alpine binding. It works incredibly well, both uphill and down, and revolutionizes ski bindings for touring and resort skiing.

Product Page
Merrell Thermo Rogue Boots
Merrell Thermo Rogue Boots

Merrell builds the Thermo Rogue to hike fast in cold, harsh environments. And it made a winner in the Thermo Rogue. This boot packs serious technology like mesh/thermoplastic urethane uppers and Vibram Arctic Grip Dura rubber outsoles. Mike Chambers and Jason Antin used it to hike 103 miles across Greenland’s burly Arctic Circle Trail — in winter!

Product Page
DPS Phantom Permanent Waxless Glide
DPS Phantom Permanent Waxless Glide

“Wax” your skis once — ever. That’s the promise with DPS Phantom ski treatment. It’s a bold statement, but crazy enough it seems to work. We’ve been testing it on a pair of skis for more than a full season so far, and remarkably, it’s still working great. We’ll see how it holds up in season two, but after a full season of downhill skiing, the Phantom performed as promised.

Product Page
inReach Mini GPS
inReach Mini GPS

Garmin shrank its highly regarded satellite communicators with the inReach Mini. This device pairs with a phone for off-grid communication anywhere in the world. It has all the features of its walkie talkie-size predecessor in a 3.5-ounce package. Measuring 2 inches wide and under 4 inches tall, the Mini comes in less than half the size with all the same functionality. The simple form and functionality from a reliable brand earned our attention.

Product Page
Costa Baffin Recycled Fish Net Sunglasses
Costa Baffin Recycled Fish Net Sunglasses

What makes sunglasses so special that they’re a Gear of the Year product? How about making them from fishing nets? That’s what Costa did with the Baffin. The brand partnered with Bureo to remanufacture discarded fishing nets to make the frames of these sunglasses. And best yet, they are great sunglasses with excellent lenses, mineral glass frames, and foam nose and temple pads.

Product Page
Rylo Action Camera
Rylo Action Camera

The Rylo 360-degree action camera records fleeting moments without hassle. It shoots high-quality 5.8K footage and, best of all, captures all the action regardless of where the camera is pointed. In testing, we were continuously impressed with this little powerhouse. Read the full review and check out sample video here.

Product Page
GORE-TEX Stretch
GORE-TEX Stretch

GORE-TEX launched a stretchy waterproof-breathable fabric in 2018 unlike anything else on the market. Technically “GORE-TEX Fabric with Stretch Technology,” it looks like a honeycomb. GORE-TEX crimped the fabric in a honeycomb shape so it can flatten out and then return to its 3D shape. This creates stretch without relying on the mechanical stretch of the fabric itself. When applied by brands like Outdoor Research to shell jackets, it gives the wearer unmatched mobility. It’s sweet stuff found on high-end shell jackets hitting the market now.

Product Page
Columbia Omni-Heat 3D
Columbia Omni-Heat 3D

Nano fuzzies add warmth and a softer against-the-skin feel in Columbia’s revamped base layer. Plus, plenty of stretch and highly breathable paneling along the back and sides make this a great base layer for high-activity pursuits. And the updated, heat-reflecting, tri-star patterning inside the layer performed great in our tests spanning snowy pow days in Banff, winter hikes in the Andes, and autumn commutes through Denver.

Product Page
HOKA ONE ONE Torrent
HOKA ONE ONE Torrent

HOKA ONE ONE slims its soles with the Torrent, one of the brand’s lesser-cushioned trail shoes. And we love this shoe we used as a primary trainer for the Leadville 100 Trail Race. Thanks to its responsive cushioning and small 5mm heel-toe drop, the Torrent is fast and precise on technical trails. And it’s light at just 9 ounces for a men’s size 9.

Product Page
Tecnica Forge Boot
Tecnica Forge Boot

The Tecnica Forge hit the market in 2018 as the first thermo-moldable hiking boot. It uses technology usually reserved for downhill ski boots for a custom-fit boot that heat molds to each individual. We put this one through some tough testing, and it came out with flying colors. Only available from specialty retailers, it’s one of our favorite boots on the market and packs totally new technology into hiking footwear.

Product Page
Specialized Stumpjumper
Specialized Stumpjumper

Berms, jumps, ruts — all for the love of “hot laps.” Though Specialized’s marketing for the all-new 2018 Stumpjumper release poked fun at the iconic mountain bike’s heritage, the bike itself turned heads. An asymmetrical frame with new kinematics (i.e., new responses to riding environments) helped make the Stumpjumper lighter and stiffer. Plus, Specialized did away with “proprietary BS” and the press-fit bottom bracket. All in all, the brand made great updates to a classic ride.

Product Page
  • Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour

    Dynafit addressed one of the more annoying issues of ski touring, the transition, with the Hoji Pro Tour boot. Skin uphill, flip a single lever, and down you go. The design allows the transition to be that simple. You can do it without fumbling for multiple levers or pulling up pant legs. Beyond that, this boot skis exceptionally well and weighs just 1,450 grams. Send it!

    Product Page
  • Fox Live Valve: Electric Lockouts

    The thought of electronically controlled suspension is admittedly a little terrifying. But Fox has made it a reality — and it works. Ultrafast-reacting sensors on the wheels and frame paired with Fox’s fastest valve to date, the Live Valve consistently adjusts the fork and rear suspension independently as the trail changes. Adjustments happen in real time at 100 times faster than the blink of an eye. The result is maximum efficiency and control no matter what lies ahead. Check out our full Fox Live Valve review.

    Product Page
  • Scott Backcountry Patrol AP 30

    This avalanche airbag is a major innovation for traveling backcountry skiers. It has no battery. Instead, a super capacitor powers the Scott Backcountry Patrol AP 30. This is a big deal if you need to carry it through an airport, where big lithium-ion batteries or air canisters are a hassle or outright forbidden. The super capacitor takes the place of the battery, storing electricity and releasing it quickly without chemicals. The airbag inflates with an electric fan and can be deployed multiple times at home for practice. It recharges in less than 40 minutes via USB and has two backup AA batteries carried internally in case the capacitor loses charge.

    Product Page
  • Everysight Raptor AR Smartglasses

    See all your stats, navigate, and receive notifications without taking your eyes off the road. Everysight Raptor AR Smartglasses represent a big step forward in heads-up-display technology — with an eye toward cyclists. Based on the same tech used by Israeli fighter pilots, the Raptor is a seamless, if a bit bulky, pair of sunglasses. They’re unlike past HUD glasses that required external hardware to project information back at the lenses. Our tester appreciated the product and believed it could set the benchmark for the future of wearable cycling tech.

    Product Page
  • AT Overland Summit

    2018 was the year of the wedge-style lightweight pop-top truck camper. AT Overland Equipment has been making overland truck campers longer than anyone else on the market, and the Summit is its entry into the wedge-style pop-top segment. It weighs in at only 340 pounds and can fit nearly any truck on the U.S. market. Plus, the hybrid slide-in camper/rooftop tent design garnered well-deserved attention among overlanders.

    Product Page
  • 686 Hydrastash

    It’s a simple idea, but 686 had a wonderful “aha!” moment with the GLCR Reservoir Jacket with Hydrastash. It simply put a water bladder (the Hydrastash system) in the powder skirt and a hose that leads to the mouth. For downhill skiers, it gives a totally new way to carry and consume water. It worked great in our initial testing, and we wonder if we’ll see this concept expand to more products in the near future.

    Product Page
  • Salomon Shift Binding

    The Salomon Shift is a ski binding unlike any other. A bit of a transformer, it works like a pin-tech binding on the uphills. But when you’re ready to transition to downhill, flip a couple levers and step back into a conventional-looking alpine binding. It works incredibly well, both uphill and down, and revolutionizes ski bindings for touring and resort skiing.

    Product Page
  • Merrell Thermo Rogue Boots

    Merrell builds the Thermo Rogue to hike fast in cold, harsh environments. And it made a winner in the Thermo Rogue. This boot packs serious technology like mesh/thermoplastic urethane uppers and Vibram Arctic Grip Dura rubber outsoles. Mike Chambers and Jason Antin used it to hike 103 miles across Greenland’s burly Arctic Circle Trail — in winter!

    Product Page
  • DPS Phantom Permanent Waxless Glide

    “Wax” your skis once — ever. That’s the promise with DPS Phantom ski treatment. It’s a bold statement, but crazy enough it seems to work. We’ve been testing it on a pair of skis for more than a full season so far, and remarkably, it’s still working great. We’ll see how it holds up in season two, but after a full season of downhill skiing, the Phantom performed as promised.

    Product Page
  • inReach Mini GPS

    Garmin shrank its highly regarded satellite communicators with the inReach Mini. This device pairs with a phone for off-grid communication anywhere in the world. It has all the features of its walkie talkie-size predecessor in a 3.5-ounce package. Measuring 2 inches wide and under 4 inches tall, the Mini comes in less than half the size with all the same functionality. The simple form and functionality from a reliable brand earned our attention.

    Product Page
  • Costa Baffin Recycled Fish Net Sunglasses

    What makes sunglasses so special that they’re a Gear of the Year product? How about making them from fishing nets? That’s what Costa did with the Baffin. The brand partnered with Bureo to remanufacture discarded fishing nets to make the frames of these sunglasses. And best yet, they are great sunglasses with excellent lenses, mineral glass frames, and foam nose and temple pads.

    Product Page
  • Rylo Action Camera

    The Rylo 360-degree action camera records fleeting moments without hassle. It shoots high-quality 5.8K footage and, best of all, captures all the action regardless of where the camera is pointed. In testing, we were continuously impressed with this little powerhouse. Read the full review and check out sample video here.

    Product Page
  • GORE-TEX Stretch

    GORE-TEX launched a stretchy waterproof-breathable fabric in 2018 unlike anything else on the market. Technically “GORE-TEX Fabric with Stretch Technology,” it looks like a honeycomb. GORE-TEX crimped the fabric in a honeycomb shape so it can flatten out and then return to its 3D shape. This creates stretch without relying on the mechanical stretch of the fabric itself. When applied by brands like Outdoor Research to shell jackets, it gives the wearer unmatched mobility. It’s sweet stuff found on high-end shell jackets hitting the market now.

    Product Page
  • Columbia Omni-Heat 3D

    Nano fuzzies add warmth and a softer against-the-skin feel in Columbia’s revamped base layer. Plus, plenty of stretch and highly breathable paneling along the back and sides make this a great base layer for high-activity pursuits. And the updated, heat-reflecting, tri-star patterning inside the layer performed great in our tests spanning snowy pow days in Banff, winter hikes in the Andes, and autumn commutes through Denver.

    Product Page
  • HOKA ONE ONE Torrent

    HOKA ONE ONE slims its soles with the Torrent, one of the brand’s lesser-cushioned trail shoes. And we love this shoe we used as a primary trainer for the Leadville 100 Trail Race. Thanks to its responsive cushioning and small 5mm heel-toe drop, the Torrent is fast and precise on technical trails. And it’s light at just 9 ounces for a men’s size 9.

    Product Page
  • Tecnica Forge Boot


    The Tecnica Forge hit the market in 2018 as the first thermo-moldable hiking boot. It uses technology usually reserved for downhill ski boots for a custom-fit boot that heat molds to each individual. We put this one through some tough testing, and it came out with flying colors. Only available from specialty retailers, it’s one of our favorite boots on the market and packs totally new technology into hiking footwear.

    Product Page
  • Specialized Stumpjumper

    Berms, jumps, ruts — all for the love of “hot laps.” Though Specialized’s marketing for the all-new 2018 Stumpjumper release poked fun at the iconic mountain bike’s heritage, the bike itself turned heads. An asymmetrical frame with new kinematics (i.e., new responses to riding environments) helped make the Stumpjumper lighter and stiffer. Plus, Specialized did away with “proprietary BS” and the press-fit bottom bracket. All in all, the brand made great updates to a classic ride.

    Product Page

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