Superior 2022 outside gear for backcountry adventures

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As expected, interest in outdoor recreation surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the world gradually returned to normal over the course of 2021 and 2022, participation in outdoor activities remained strong. In a report released in September 2022, the Outdoor Foundation found that more than half of all Americans ages six and older participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2021, a nearly 7 percent growth since the pandemic began in early 2020. It’s no wonder, then, that manufacturers across the United States and around the world have launched innovative new products throughout 2022 to help everyone from pro athletes to novices go further, faster, deeper into the backcountry and into the crowds to escape that have accumulated in more easily accessible places. Any of these innovations could be the perfect gift for that adventure seeker on your shopping list, or a personal motivator to kickstart a more exciting 2023.

Alpaca Valkyrie whitewater packraft

Alpaca Valkyrie whitewater packraft

alpaca

The most trusted name in packrafts launched its most whitewater capable vessel ever this November. The all new Valkyrie seems to erase the difference between standard packraft and hard shell whitewater kayak. Measuring 48 x 25 cm (19 x 10 inches), it carries much lighter than a piece of plastic as it speeds to distant backcountry rapids. In the water it handles rough waves that would rip lighter packrafts to pieces and offers stability and edge control with a patent-pending planing hull. At 5.9 kg (13 lb) and $2,300, it’s heavier and more expensive than other Alpacka rafts, but it seems like an unparalleled tool for combining on-water ability with backpack portability. More info

Biolite headlamp 325

Biolite headlamp 325

Biolite headlamp 325

biolit

Biolite headlamps are easily the most comfortable we’ve ever worn. Not only are they lightweight, but the thin lamp is neatly integrated into the soft, moisture-wicking headband, allowing it to lie flat against the forehead for improved comfort and weight distribution without sagging or bouncing. Biolite updated the Headlamp line this year, and the new Headlamp 325 is perhaps their best all-around model yet. Its 325 lumens is almost as much as the older Headlamp 330, but the 325 does it with a rechargeable battery integrated into the lamp, increasing convenience and reducing weight compared to the 330’s separate back pack. Those who need more light may prefer the new $100 Headlamp 800 Pro, but the $40 (50g) 325 hits a sweet spot in terms of price, weight, convenience and performance, perfect for the Use at the campsite. More info

LifeStraw Peak series collapsible squeeze filter bottle

LifeStraw Peak Series Collapsible Squeeze Filter Bottle

LifeStraw Peak Series Collapsible Squeeze Filter Bottle

life straw

What looks like an unassuming, quick-pack collapsible water bottle is actually the LifeStraw Peak Series Collapsible Squeeze Filter Bottle. The 102 g (3.2 oz) bottle contains the potentially life-saving effect of an integrated LifeStraw filter that eliminates all bacteria, parasites, microplastics, sand and silt…or at least up to 99.999 percent worth (note: not viruses ). And unlike LifeStraw’s filter straw – which itself got a pretty dramatic update as part of the new Peak series released in March – this bottle takes clean drinking water with it. So you can get your fill at the creek and not die of thirst later. The basic 650ml version costs $33, while the larger 1 liter, 3.9 oz (110g) bottle costs $38. More info

Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo 1/2P tent

Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo 2P tent

Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo 2P tent

Nemo

Nemo has meticulously shelled its already featherweight Hornet Ultralight tent by the gram with a new Osmo wonder fabric made from recycled yarns that claims four times better water repellency and three times less stretch when wet. That means better all-round protection through wet, stormy nights. The semi-freestanding Hornet Elite Osmo weighs just 812g (1.8lb) as a single or 935g (2.1lb) as a 2P, making it ideal for backpacking, bike touring, or any activity that requires carrying the one Shelter over distance. If the prices of $500 for 1P and $600 for 2P seem way over the top, the original Hornet 1P and 2P tents cost about half those prices and are almost as light – you’re giving up simply on the chic “Osmo” fabric. More info

Grüezi Bag Biopod wool survival sleeping bag

Gruezi Biopod Wool Survival with integrated mosquito net

Gruezi Biopod Wool Survival with integrated mosquito net

Gruezi bag

The Bavarian brand Grüezi Bag has been selling sleeping bags in Europe for a number of years and entered the US market in 2022. A clear standout from its offering list, the Biopod Wool Survival Sleeping Bag serves as a more comfortable, less itchy means of cowboy camping. At 1.5kg it doesn’t fall into the ultralight category, but its integrated 3D framed mosquito net keeps flying animals from gnawing your skin at night. So you could easily swap a tent for a tarp or an outdoor cowboy camp without risking exposure to mosquitoes or other parasites. The sleeping bag’s sheep’s wool insulation wicks sweat, keeping the sleeper dry, temperature-regulated and comfortable. It costs $360. More info

Bike Friday All-Packa folding bike

Bike Friday's All Packa combines the long-distance benefits of a bikepacking rig with the packing convenience of a folding frame

Bike Friday’s All Packa combines the long-distance benefits of a bikepacking rig with the packing convenience of a folding frame

bike friday

The average folding bike evokes little more than commuting around town, but Portland’s Bike Friday’s all-packa opens the mind for epic global adventures. Disassemble the bikepacking-specific folder in 30 seconds and toss it in the truck for a pickup ride in the Rockies, carry it on a train to the Alps, or pack it in a checked suitcase (it’s just the right size ) for a flight to New Zealand. Throw it on your back, in a packraft, or on a ski tourer for an all-muscle multisport adventure. Wherever it goes, and however it gets there, it’ll set off on a full two-wheeler tour, with braze-on bags around the frame and pack-ready handlebars available. The 2.4″ wide tires and options for electric assist, terrain upgrades and 9 or 18 speed drivetrains ensure it’s ready for any journey. Prices start at $2,495. More info

Samaya Ultra 35 backpack

Samaya Ultra 35 backpack

Samaya Ultra 35 backpack

Samaja

We met French brand Samaya for their incomparably lightweight, weatherproof Dyneema tents, and this year they entered the carry game with the Ultra 35 backpack. The 2022 ISPO Award-winning 35L expandable backpack uses the same style of cost-saving construction as Ultra tents like the Radical 1 for a weight of just 1.1lb (495kg). The pack’s ultra-lightweight, ultra-tough bio-based Dyneema fabric is 20,000 waterproof and helps keep gear dry in the fickle high-altitude weather it’s built for. An aluminum frame helps distribute weight, and removable ice ax, ski, snowboard, and helmet attachments allow users to customize the $450 pack for the mission at hand. More info

On Zero ultra light running jacket

On Zero jacket

Also a winner of the 2022 ISPO Award, On’s Zero Jacket is among the lightest garments you can wrap around your torso, barely breaking 2 oz (57 g). Despite the fact that it doesn’t look much thicker or more protective than the clear plastic used to package loose products, the Zero offers full wind and water protection. This is thanks to the mini ripstop fabric made from recycled polyamide. Perforated vents under the arms keep the wearer cool whether running in the butt or racking up miles from the bike saddle. For $160, when the wearer no longer needs it, the Zero packs up and carries in a small bag. More info

TSL Highlander Instinct Snowshoe

TSL Highlander Instinct Snowshoe

TSL Highlander Instinct Snowshoe

TSL outdoors

Adventures don’t have to hibernate when the days grow short and cold, and that’s what the calendar is pointing to right now, at least over the equator. TSL launched the new Highlander Instinct in October, offering serious snowshoe hikers a more comfortable and stress-free way to explore snowy mountains. With a twist of the dial, the Boa-secured binding wraps the foot on all sides for a snug fit with no pressure points—no need to thread a tiny hook through a tiny strap hole. The $300 Highlander Instinct bites into all types of snow with stainless steel teeth underfoot and interchangeable grips along the edges. A rocker profile provides a smooth, cushioned stride. More info

Garmin inReach Messenger

Garmin inReach Messenger

Garmin inReach Messenger

Garmin

In addition to updating the inReach Mini earlier this year, Garmin added the brand new inReach Messenger in September. Another digital lifeline for parts of the world without cellular coverage, the new satellite device streamlines off-grid communications with global two-way SMS, location sharing and SOS capabilities. The accompanying app automatically syncs with a smartphone’s contact list and switches between cellular, Wi-Fi and satellite for the fastest, most reliable communication between an outdoor adventurer and their contacts or the professionals at the Garmin International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC). At just 3 x 2.5 inches (7.6 x 6 cm) and 4 ounces (113 g), the $300 messenger fits easily into any backpack…and may end up being the most important piece of gear inside. Annual or monthly subscription required for satellite use. More info

Thirsty for more gear? Here are 15 articles we’ve already covered in 2022, all perfectly prepared for breaking park boundaries and exploring remote backcountry areas.