Here at explore, are inundated with gear. Whether perusing store shelves in our free time, inspecting new offerings at trade shows like Outdoor Retailer or conducting hands-on, extensive reviews of the latest stuff, explore staffers have seen it all.
There's some truly great stuff out there. The best stuff grows in popularity and becomes standard kit on the trails and slopes.
But sometimes great gear flies under the radar, too.
Here are five items you may not have seen yet—but trust us, they deserve your full attention today:
Craghoppers Voyageur Hybrid Jacket
The Story: Canadians may not be familiar with Craghoppers. However, for 50 years, this U.K.-based company has been outfitting adventure travellers and outdoor recreationists across the pond. Now, products like their stylish and functional Voyageur Hybrid Jacket are getting more space on Canadian shelves.
Why We Love It: This Voyageur uses Gore Windstopper to keep even the stoutest breezes at bay. It’s treated for maximum water repellency and even with some light synthetic insulation on the front panels, it’s breathable enough for medium- to high-output activities in cool weather. An ideal travel companion, cycle or cross-country-ski piece—or just everyday wear—it has an RFID shielded pocket and even transforms into a neck pillow by packing into the included stuff sack.
Columbia Canuk Titanium Omni-Heat OutDry Extreme
The Story: A well-established name in outerwear, Columbia’s footwear line is perhaps not as well-worn as their jackets and pants. That’s about to change, with the introduction of their outstanding Canuk winter boot. Available in men’s and women’s, this boot combines thermally-reflective materials, 600 grams of insulation and treads made with Michelin winter-rated rubber to create a seriously functional boot.
Why We Love It: Yes, it’s waterproof. Yes, it’s crazy warm—rated to -54 degrees Celsius (but even with the recent cold snap, we couldn’t find anywhere that chilly). Yes, the winter-rubber and deep lugs are grippy on snow and slush. But the fact that they weigh only 1,050 grams for the pair (women’s size 8)—very lightweight for winter boots—and are as comfy and responsive as a pair of summertime hikers elevate these winter kicks to the next level.
Movo PR-1 Smartphone Grip Video Rig w/ Shoe & Tripod Mount
The Story: Recent advancements in smartphone video and image technology have been impressive. They still can’t match the best DSLR and mirrorless cameras, but for many of us, our iPhone or Android is our day-to-day shooter. Especially for video—which is what attracted us to this unit from Movo. It’s designed to make smartphone videography easier and more convenient, without adding too much bulk.
Why We Love It: The PR-1 is just as big as it needs to be (about 165 grams and 13 centimetres long) and not an inch bigger; we can stash it in a jacket pocket and forget it’s there. It holds phones up to 9.7 centimetres wide (up to an iPhone 8 Plus and similar). It has three ¼-inch threads to attach microphones and lights or even to screw the whole unit onto a tripod. A wrist-strap, level and a shoe-mount finish the package. It’s endlessly useful for on-the-go video capture.
Sunday Afternoons Stellar Beanie
The Story: This hatmaker deserves more popularity—they’re making waves with funky trucker hats, functional sun-blocker chapeaus and now this cool toque. (Even though they dub it a “beanie.”) Made with a merino, acrylic and polyester blend, it blocks wind, keeps your dome warm and it’s reversible for when you sweat it out and need a fresh side.
Why We Love It: Snug fitting, warm and breathable toques like this one are standard kit in any outdoors-person’s closet. We all have more than a few. And they all perform similarly. The Stellar stands out with its glow-in-the-dark constellations pattern. The Big Dipper, North Star and Orion’s Belt all lightly glow when the sun sets, adding some welcome whimsy to your omnipresent toque.
Darn Tough Vermont O-Canada Over the Calf Light
Darn Tough Vermont
The Story: Appreciation from our neighbours to the south—isn’t that what all Canadians secretly crave? Allow us to introduce the O-Canada from Darn Tough Vermont, a proud American sockmaker who clearly also loves the Great White North. Constructed of 60 per cent merino, 36 per cent nylon and four per cent Lycra Spandex, this sock is toasty, fits snugly and wicks well.
Why We Love It: In this Olympic year, patriotism rules. We love putting our feet up and staring down at maple leafs after a long day in the snow. Beyond good looks, Darn Tough prides itself in a comfy no-slip, no-bunch fit, thanks to seamless construction. But who are we kidding? You had us at “O-Canada.”