Gear brands are constantly striving to make our lives as explorers easier and more comfortable with new styles, fits and ideas. Sometimes, they hit the mark.

From my toes to my backpack, here are four gear items I’ve tested and tried on outdoor adventures (and will be wearing all summer):

 

Chaco Sandals

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For the past few years, my go-to water and camp sandals have been a pair of old, raggedy slip-ons with Velcro. Don’t get me wrong, they were ideal when brand-new; but after summers in saltwater and more than a few treks through the mud, it was time for them to retire.

What I love most about my new camp/water sandals is the absence of Velcro. These Chaco sandals have adjustable straps looped through buckles that you can pull and push through the cushioned rubber until they fit your feet perfectly. No more soggy Velcro or uncomfortable straps—but I’ll still take the classic criss-crossed tan lines.

 

Fjallraven Trail Tights

photoI’ll admit it: I typically hike in Lululemons. And honestly? They’re not bad.

But they’re not technical trekking tights, either.

I jumped at the chance to test out these sturdy tights. With thick, stretchy material, I’d lean towards calling them pants—but without the baggy, unattractive look and feel of zip-off cargos (I’ll admit, I wear those on outdoor adventures, too). Now I have something fitted, reinforced and well-ventilated to wear in the mountains.

 

Kuhl Hoody

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I was expecting the ‘Asymmetrik’ style of this sweater to be a little more apparent, but it’s not a dramatic look. Unlike the technical trekking tights and pillowy sandals, it doesn’t feel technical either—but it is. Built like a cozy hoody to zip up on a rainy day, this hoody is made of lightweight fleece, making it warmer and softer than cotton.

Will I be snuggling into this around the campfire? Yes, yes I will.

 

Osprey Backpack

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I realize that this backpack is a specific mountain biking backpack. And if you’re in the Live the Adventure Club, you likely know I’m not a mountain biker. (Despite how cool I might look in the above picture.)

While I have taken this backpack on two wheels, I also carry it when hiking. The three-litre built-in bladder is leak-proof (I even struggled to open it initially) and unhooks from the tube, so you never have to fully unravel it (until you wash it, of course). The mouthpiece connects to the chest strap with a magnet—a feature I never knew I needed, but now can’t imagine going without.

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At 12 litres, it’s not a huge pack, but there are an impressive number of pockets. It fit everything I needed for a 10-hour hike (and probably a couple things I didn’t need, too). A sturdy mesh panel at the back allows for ultimate ventilation and comfort, while a removable raincover is ready should the weather turn. And if I’m brave enough to try mountain biking again, there’s a LidLock attachment to hang my helmet when I’m done.

  

Disclaimer: the gear in this article was sent to me at no cost. All opinions are my own.

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