Have you ever missed a piece of outdoor gear? Wish it was still being made? Us too!
Outdoor gear—it’s the stuff we need to get the experiences we crave. And here at explore, we have been testing the best of it for 40 years. From shooting video reviews to acquisition of items for our gear box, our offices are besieged by outdoor gear.
I’ve been the editor of explore magazine since 2013, and in that time I’ve seen all the best outdoor gear and tested much of it. Readers of our print magazine and this website will know—we take our gear reviews seriously to provide you with the info you need to lay down your cash.
In the process, we staffers end up with some personal favourites that can hang in our gear closets for years. But therein lies the rub… we can’t just keep everything. Our partners would start to complain as we waded waist-deep in backpacks compiled from years in the outdoor industry.
Speaking only for myself—I often donate used gear to worthy causes if I can, or sometimes I simply pass it on to family and friends. It’s how we stay ahead of the onslaught, as gear-makers love to introduce new or updated units practically every season.
Because of this market-need to stay fresh, a lot of awesome gear goes the way of the dinosaur for no reason that I can ascertain other than: “it was time.”
And then I miss it! Especially if I happened to give away an item that’s now gone… forever.
So in the spirit of looking back over the years, I’ve compiled my personal list of quality gear that got discontinued—but remains some of my all-time faves in the category.
Will any of it come back? Who knows—and there are opportunities to find some of this as overstock through online retailers, or on the used market—but for now, this gear is relegated to the dustbin of outdoor history, and I mourn it all.
Vasque Eriksson GTX
The world's comfiest hikers?David Webb
I truly don’t know what type of Black Magic bootmaker Vasque put into these full-height, all-leather backpacking boots. Maybe it was the spirit of the namesake Viking himself? Whatever it is, these burly boots were not only the comfiest backpacking boots I’d owned, they were the comfiest hiking boots of any variety I’ve worn—ever.
The PR rep who introduced me to them at the annual Outdoor Retailer trade show actually handpicked these from a full lineup of Vasque shoes to wear all day long as she worked the trade show booth. (Imagine that!) I pulled them literally out of the box and climbed a 2,100-vertical-metre overnight hike with nary a blister. From the Canadian Arctic to Malaysian Borneo, these boots got used. On Vasque's site, they're now gone—with some potential replacements—but no Eriksson.
Canada Goose Timber Shell Jacket
Technical chops meet modern styleDavid Webb
In 2013 and 2014, Canada Goose branched out from polar expedition gear and urban chic to begin producing some of the best technical hard and soft shells I’d seen at the time.
When stretchy waterproof-breathables were new, these were the stretchiest. This premium Timber Shell was tough enough for me to take on an actual Arctic expedition, yet stylish enough to wear out to dinner. Pictured above? That’s me in 2014. Today, I can’t spot any further wear and tear on this jacket. That’s what I call an Investment Piece. But on their website, I don’t even see a 2021 equivalent…
Westcomb Boreal 1/4 Zip
Just a darn good pulloverDavid Webb
If you scrolled through my personal pics of hikes, camping trips and paddling adventures from about 2014 to 2018, you’d see this neon pullover in a lot of images. I loved it. It was constructed of an ultra-tight-weave Primaloft fleece, so it blocked the wind. It was DWR-coated, so it shed light rain. And it wicked well, yet was also relatively lightweight, so I used it as an insulating mid-layer all winter long.
From overnight hikes, to downhill skiing, to winter jogs, to far north adventures and more—I wore the heck out of this thing. Then for reasons I can’t now recall, I sent it to the Sally Ann. I hate to admit it, but I kind of regret that move. And now, it’s gone forever…
Adidas Outdoors Climaheat Terrex Ice
How could anything be "too warm?"David Webb
This puffy was one of the initial items I field-tested as editor of explore magazine. At the time, I wasn’t even really familiar with Adidas’s outdoors-specific lineup—a category that still hasn’t made great headway in Canada—but I instantly fell in love with this coat (emblazoned with “sample” across the inside back).
I wore it at -35 degrees Celsius in Nunavik with only a base layer underneath. Flexible and breathable, it was comfy enough to sport right up into the minus-single-digits before the down/synthetic blend became overkill. It would seem that Adidas Outdoors’s failure to penetrate the Great White North was the Climaheat Terrex Ice’s demise. I heard through the grapevine it was simply deemed: “too warm” and axed. Bummer. (Here I am rocking it at Arrowhead Provincial Park, in January.)
Sperry Top-Sider H20 Escape Bungee
Water shoes I actually enjoyed wearingErin O'Connor
These are my all-time favourite water shoes. Mostly because the majority of water shoes are ugly and not terribly comfortable (yeah, I said it). These Sperrys looked like a sporty running shoe, but had the company’s signature wet-grip outsole (actually inspired by a dog’s paw), plus an easy-on bungee lace system and loads of drainage.
They weighed just 160 grams apiece and while they were built for H2O, I would sometimes take them to the gentle waterside trails on hot summer days too—handy for impromptu swims. See if you can spot them in this video. But where are they now?
ABS Vario Base Unit
Was this the perfect avvy-pack?David Webb
Maybe there was a good reason ABS discontinued their ABS Vario Base Unit… but I’ve yet to hear it. This thing won a whole bunch of awards when it came out in 2014 and it continues to be my airbag of choice when I go backcountry skiing.
I love the way the Vario Base Unit zips onto a compatible pack (mine is the Osprey Kode 22 + 10 ABS, also discontinued…) to add airbag safety to your existing kit, or it can be used on its own. As a zip-on base unit, the key point is that you can leave it at home when your foray won’t take you into the avalanche zone, but you still need your backpack—or bring it along and easily convert your pack into an avvy bag. It’s the nicest airbag I’ve ever worn, and I’m glad I still have it after all these years. (See how low-pro it is in this video.)
Osprey Pixel Port
All-time favourite travel/commuter pack
This was such a great travel backpack—remember those freewheeling days?—again, maybe Osprey had their reasons to cull, but if it was still around I’d recommend the Pixel Port backpack to any traveller. Great as a carry-on, it was slim and stylish, meaning you could wear it on your European vacation without looking like a dork (I'm wearing it at Cinque Terre, Italy, above) and it had loads of internal storage compartments.
The best feature, though, was revealed by lifting the flap: a large pocket with a clear plastic touch-screen-sensitive window. Pop your phone or tablet within and the unit was usable while remaining safe and discreet! Neat, right? Plus, another stash pocket on the outside flap held keys and cash nicely. I guess it didn’t sell, though...