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Get This Gear: Essentials From A to Z

We tested more than 500 products–stoves, clothes, cameras, filters, tech tools, knives, and meals–to find these proven performers.
Gear Guide Essentials 200x170Gear Guide Essentials 200x170
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L
M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | XYZ

K
Kids’ gear

Boots Three of our testers-in-training ran the leather, midcut Hi-Tec Altitude IV Jr. hard, from sloppy mud hikes in Vermont to a snowy overnight on Mt. Rainier. The fit is superb, and the well-padded ankle and tongue made small feet feel secure. There’s plenty of flex at the forefoot and ankle, yet it offers more support, protection, and waterproofing than tennies or discount pseudo-hikers. $60; hi-tec.com

Jacket Whether our kids were climbing Vermont’s windy Mt. Mansfield or waiting for the bus in freezing temps, they stayed warm in the Cloudveil Enclosure Parka. Made from a dense, proprietary synthetic fill that offers loads of warmth for little bulk, the Enclosure’s water-resistant nylon shell repels rain and dries quickly. A cinchable hood and roll-down fleece cuffs seal out drafts. Durability is hand-me-down tough. $150; 13 oz. (youth L); cloudveil.com

Pack Kids won’t complain when asked to carry a pack this cool. Osprey’s Sprint Series impressed our mini-testers for its dialed-in, "no pain" fit, and all the sweet features they’ve seen on mom and dad’s packs (like a hydration sleeve, bottle pockets, and a built-in raincover). They begged us to give it an Editors’ Choice Award. How could we say no? ospreypacks.com

Pants REI’s Sahara Convertibles were the only trousers one young tester needed during a four-day summer trek in Yosemite. Made from durable nylon with UPF 30 protection, they dried quickly after creek crossings, and the bottoms easily slipped over hiking shoes. $33; 3 oz.; rei.com

Knife
ALL-PURPOSE If you’re a knife person (you know who you are), you understand why a beautiful and functional blade is worth some extra green. Benchmade’s Kulgera is one of our favorites. The 3.6-inch steel blade is sharp enough to slice (not squash) sushi, durable enough to whittle oak, and simple to clean after dipping it up to the handle in peanut butter. The textured fiberglass handle never slips, and you can open the blade with a flick of your wrist or with your thumb, even if you’re a lefty. $200; 3 oz.; benchmade.com

MINI Carry CRKT’s Small Pazoda for simple jobs and emergencies. "It’s sharp, easy to hold, and locks securely," said a tester. "And unlike most tiny blades, it feels solid in your hand." $20; 1.6 oz.; crkt.com

Leatherman Juice

MULTITOOL "I pack Leatherman’s Juice S2 for just about every trip," says one editor. Why? It has the usual tools–scissors, a three-inch blade, pliers, screwdriver, etc.–plus a can opener, which many other lightweight models lack. $48; 4.5 oz.; leatherman.com

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