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This hybrid, running vest-style daypack has been my companion on scrambles, jogs, and casual rambles this summer. The lightweight, stripped-down bag has just enough features: large, stretchy, angled water bottle holders, webbing chest and sternum straps, and a bungee cord on the outside where I stashed my fleece after sunrise on a hike of the Little Matterhorn in Rocky Mountain National Park. Two stretchy zippered pockets on the shoulder straps kept my snacks, phone, or sunglasses accessible without having to remove the pack. I had some trouble closing the sealing mechanism on the included 1.5-liter water bladder, but once locked it didn’t leak. The Crossover has more capacity than my running vest, but still hugged my torso and didn’t bounce on downhill jogs. —Zoe Gates, Senior Skills Editor
This summer, I’ve been spending mornings exploring the locally-built network of hiking and mountain biking trails near my new home in Central Vermont. I’ve also been spending that time on high alert for black bears, which are abundant in this region. Without fail, I see at least one bruin (if not the whole family) poking through the woods or investigating the toolshed on a weekly basis. And while black bears are generally avoidant around humans in the wild, they can be more easily aggravated by dogs, like my high-energy, low-recall shepherd. My recently-acquired 8.1 oz can of Counter Assault Bear Deterrent comes with me for every neighborhood outing nowadays. The roughly 8-inch-tall canister easily slips into a reachable side pocket in my daypack and can be triggered with just one hand, making for a speedy response time in the worst-case scenario. And while I’ll hopefully never need to deploy it, the spray can is capable of creating a force field of 3 million scoville heat units (a jalapeno is around 3-8 thousand SHU’s) for a solid 7 seconds—intense enough to turn back an adult grizzly, much less an indignant black bear looking to show my pooch some backcountry manners. —Benjamin Tepler, Gear Editor
Are fanny packs cool again? I’ll let the fashionistas debate that one. What I know for sure is that this retro-styled, 5-liter pouch has made my outdoor adventures so much easier. On paddling day trips to Colorado’s Pinewood Reservoir, I kept it around my waist so I could keep my water and snacks within easy reach while I rowed. (The main compartment can easily fit a 1-liter Nalgene, a few bars, and sunscreen.) When we beached the boat to go hike, I slung it around my shoulders to carry essentials. The 610-denier Cordura outer and leather reinforcements have held up to being dunked in water, abraded by sand, and poked by a variety of pointy desert plants of various kinds; still, it looks as good as when I cut off the tag. —Adam Roy, Executive Editor
Menu-wise, my friends and I were going to have a pretty bland weekend in Cleveland National Forest. A spontaneous campsite reservation combined with busy work schedules didn’t give us any time to stock up at the grocery store—we were just going to bring what ingredients we had at home and figure it out. Thanks to this camp stove, we ate like queens anyway. Throughout the weekend, we sauteed onions over one burner while homemade veggie chili bubbled over another, cooked chicken and heated tortillas for loaded quesadillas, and made coffee and hot chocolate so tasty that you’d be willing to pay $6 per mugful. The Ignite burned as evenly and brightly as our stovetops at home, and the wind protector kept our flame going when a light summer storm blew in. While breaking camp Sunday afternoon, we appreciated the Ignite’s efficient size—it’s big enough to feed our party of 5 but can still Tetris-slide into a small slot of our packed-to-the-gills car. —Emma Veidt, Assistant Skills Editor