You may be surprised to learn that the employees of Outside like to be, well, outside. When we’re not working, we’re outdoors, especially in July. Here’s the gear our staff used to bask in peak summer.
Nomadix Festival Blanket ($70)
I’ve taken this blanket to every park hang, outdoor concert, and car camping trip over the past three years. The Festival Blanket weighs just over two pounds and packs up small, and the water-resistant base keeps your butt dry on dewy grass. The top fabric is soft and nonslip—I’ve even used it as a yoga mat—and repels pet hair, sand, and dirt. If it does get dirty, it’s machine washable, and the post-consumer recycled polyester dries quickly. Four tie-down loops at the corners help lock it in place with stakes on breezy days and mean you could rig it as a tarp or sunshade in a pinch. —Maren Larsen, podcast producer
Carhartt Kids’ Canvas Bib Overall ($33)
My partner’s a veggie farmer, so we couldn’t resist putting our infant son in a pair of Carhartt bibs. There’s the cute factor, of course, but they’re also practical. Our five-month-old can mostly sit up on his own, but is still a bit tippy, so we quickly grab the back of his overalls to steady him if we see him starting to lean. I plan to invest in the next size up as soon as he starts crawling and walking for the same reason. Worth noting: we’ve navigated at least two major blowouts without a poop stain in sight. —Abigail Wise, digital managing director
Espresso Forge ($399)
Many of us are familiar with the whimsical joy of making espresso while on a camping trip. Your brew has a certain, um, character to it that’s the byproduct of having been made in the great outdoors by hand, and not by a $3,000 machine in a kitchen. So yeah, sometimes you get grinds in your teeth, and oftentimes, your beverage is either a watery mess, or gluey rocket fuel. Enter the Espresso Forge, a stainless steel device that is designed to produce pro-grade espresso, no electricity required. Sure, the apparatus looks like a bong, and it is heavy. But if you’re serious about espresso, and you love the great outdoors, this device may be for you. Other travel espresso machines cut down on size and weight by shrinking the diameter of the perforated cup, which is where pressurized hot water meets the ground coffee. The Espresso Forge, however, uses a 58-milimeter cup, which is the global standard for automatic machines. The company’s founders say that narrower and deeper cups simply cannot reproduce the flavor and crema that is produced by a wider and shallower one. On top of that, the Espresso Forge also lets you modulate pressure. Automatic machines often ramp up the pressure to 130 PSI at the beginning of the pour, and then dramatically reduce it—a process that unlocks more flavor from the beans. You can reproduce this using the Forge by simply adjusting how hard you press the metal piston. Caution: This device is absolutely for persnickety coffee nerds who sweat the details. I bought too coarse an espresso grind and it produced a disaster. If you’re the type-A coffee snob who is still searching for the best cup of camping espresso, this thing may be the answer. —Frederick Dreier, articles editor
Shredly Biker Tank ($48)
I almost always ride in tank tops in the heat of summer here in Colorado, and I love the way the oversized arm holes on this tank allow for extra air flow as well as a cute muscle-tank look. As a result, this top garners a lot of compliments. The polyester-tencel-lycra fabric is super light and soft, and it wicks moisture well on the sweatiest days. And I commend women-owned mountain bike apparel brand Shredly on its size range—the tank comes in sizes from XS to XXXL. —Gloria Liu, contributing editor
Troy Lee Women’s Luxe Short ($119)
With a yoga-style waistband and stretchy leg panels, pulling on these women’s mountain bike shorts feels like the equivalent of putting on a pair of comfy sweatpants. They’re long enough to wear light knee pads with, and the shell fabric is light enough for hot summer rides, while the elastic panels provide extra breathability. —G.L.
Ibex Tranquil Longsleeve ($142)
I run cold, and am notoriously bad at controlling my own body temperature. So in the summer, when it’s 70 degrees out and I’m tempted to reach for a fleece, I grab this cropped longsleeve instead. It’s made from a heavyweight merino blend that offers warmth equivalent to a thick baselayer top—but in a boxy silhouette that’s naturally airier. The result sits on the border between shirt, sweatshirt, and midlayer, with a stylishly cropped cut and natural wicking properties that make it perfect for everything from overly air-conditioned offices to work hikes to chilly campsites. —Ariella Gintzler, associate gear director
Big Nose Kate Whiskey ($39)
This was my go-to over the summer because it’s a well-balanced whiskey that comes in at a reasonable 40 bucks. Good enough in fact that I refused to mix it into a drink and instead insisted on enjoying it straight or maybe on the rocks. Blended in Outside Magazine’s home town of Santa Fe, New Mexico, it uses straight ryes and American single malts that are distilled in Virginia, Texas, and Indiana. The company is named after a self-made and fiercely independent woman who kicked around the Southwest in the late 1800s robbing horses, running salons, and hanging with folks like Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. —Jakob Schiller, contributing editor
Jungmaven Sporty Tank ($44)
This little tank from Jungmaven is well-made, flattering, and ridiculously comfy. Made with a blend of hemp, organic cotton, and just a bit of spandex, it’s been my top choice this summer for everything from lounging to mellow hikes to dinner parties. I’ve been keeping an eye on the website so that I can stock up on different colors as soon as they’re in stock, but they sell out fast! It’s hard to go wrong with anything from Jungmaven, which makes all of its apparel in California with ethically-sourced, natural fibers. —Abigail Barronian, senior editor
Orvis Recon Rod, 4WT 8’6” ($568)
I’ve always fished with a three-piece, nine-foot 5WT that I inherited from my Dad. It’s an incredible rod that is also incredibly annoying to transport. My four-piece Orvis Recon is endlessly portable, and has come with me on backcountry hikes, river trips, a mega roadtrip, and a few flights since I got it this summer. It casts beautifully, and has handily landed trout (including a few proper lunkers!) in four states this summer. I’ve been mostly fishing dry flies, but it’s a versatile rod, well-suited to a wide range of water, fish, and flies. —A.B.
Fourlaps Level Tech Tee ($68)
I’d like the Level Tee for its against-the-skin comfort, smooth drape and durable feel, even if it didn’t have built-in cooling tech. But it does, making it a shirt I reach for when heading out on hot runs and hikes, as well as for times when I want to look and feel good during and after the activity. The fabric blend includes seven percent wool, explaining the soft hand and odor-resistance, and seven percent spandex, which tops off the comfort with just a bit of stretch. The rest is recycled polyester (each shirt removes nine plastic water bottles from the environment), with embedded volcanic sand particles that reportedly use infrared energy to regulate heat and humidity. A 2017 University of Colorado study showed that cyclists were able to go 26 percent longer at lactate threshold wearing this tech compared to wearing the same shirt without the volcanic particles. I didn’t re-create the test, but can report that I stayed cool, dry, and comfortable in the tee on a three-hour mountain hike with temps in the 90s. And, while I have other shirts that wick sweat better, even when the Level Tee got soaked on sweltering runs, I never overheated as much as expected, or felt clammy and sticky. I tend to wear it two or three times before washing—it dries quickly and thoroughly—and still it seems to always be in the laundry basket. —Jonathan Beverly, senior editor
Maloja Trentinom Multi 1/2 Shirt ($79)
During hot July afternoons in Montana, the number one criteria I have for my trail riding clothes are that they keep me cool. I’ve mountain biked in Maloja’s Trentinom Multi 1/2 shirt almost every week this summer, and it’s never failed to do the trick. Its polyester and Primaloft Bio fabric is featherlight and super breathable against sweaty skin, and I love the loose cut that doesn’t cling to my body. And, major bonus: it’s biodegradable at the end of its life. —Kelly Klein, associate editor