The Coolest New Tech From Our 2022 Winter Gear Guide
The future is now, thanks to these next-level gear innovations
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Gear is perpetually getting lighter, stronger, and more packable as standards evolve. But real innovations—the type that bring an entirely new idea to a tired outdoor gear market—are few and far between. This winter, a few of our gear guide and editors’ choice picks vaulted into that territory thanks to new advances in technology, engineering, and material use. Check out the five pieces of gear pushing the industry standards forward.
Chemical-free waterproof-breathability: Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity 3L
This svelte-yet-durable jacket uses a proprietary, three-layer Lifa Infinity Pro fabric that proved supremely breathable and waterproof. But the real enhancement? The production process is free of harsh chemicals: The membrane’s pores are made with heat and stretch instead of solvents—the first shell we’ve heard of to do so—and it uses special hydrophobic polypropylene face fabric fibers with low water absorption instead of a chemical DWR (the company says it never has to be re-treated, and we didn’t see any lapse in water-repelling power in our months of testing). Read the full review
Seamless sleeping bag construction: Montbell Seamless Down Hugger WR 900 #1
Move over, baffles. The Seamless Down Hugger’s design enhances warmth while reducing weight: A web of polyester and nylon threads hold the 900-fill down in place, preventing clumping. A spiraled elastic stitching embedded in the bag conforms to the sleeper’s body—the shoulder girth can extend from 53 to 75 inches, and the knee girth from 44 to 61 inches—which eliminates dead space and allows the down (and air) to loft to its fullest potential. Read the full review
A talking avi beacon: Ortovox Diract Voice
The less mental processing you have to do in an avalanche scenario, the better. This beacon allows you to focus your attention on the terrain instead of looking down at numbers and arrows on the device thanks to audible commands that direct your beacon search with a calm, clear, human-sounding voice. The Diract also gives corrections when you’re going the wrong direction, tracking on a longer flux line, or holding the beacon too far above the snow in a fine search. Read the full review
Eco-conscious energy: Foothill Fuels Bio-White Gas
Most backpackers use white gas (petroleum) in liquid-fuel stoves or a mixture of propane and isobutane for canister models. No matter how green the rest of your gear is, those fuels are major pollutants with significant carbon footprints. The answer to this conundrum? Plant power. Foothill Fuels Bio-White Gas is made from recycled, refined vegetable oil. It burns exactly like conventional petroleum white gas, but generates half the greenhouse gas emissions. Read the full review
Bio-insulation: Outdoor Research Shadow Insulated Hoodie
Down and polyester fiber are the mode for most insulated jackets. But the Shadow’s proprietary insulation is made from a combination of recycled polyester and a fiber called Sonora that kept us warm while we hiked in below-freezing temps on Colorado’s Grand Mesa with a light baselayer underneath. Roughly a third of the material used in Sonora comes from renewable, bio-based materials like corn, and, according to Outdoor Research, has high stretch, recovery, and durability compared to other types of synthetic insulation. Read the full review