9 Products Outdoor Experts Don't Leave Home Without

More than 30 outdoor experts shared their picks

Camping equipment knolling style
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We’re dedicating our May features to the outdoors and adventure. In 2020, we saw more people get outside, eager for a breath of fresh air after challenging spring, taking up new activities and blazing new trails. Now, in 2021, read our features to learn more about 15 outdoor skills you should masterthe best state parks across the country, a new trend of hotels opening near formerly remote national parks, and one person’s quest to make outdoor experiences accessible for all.

If you're new to outdoor adventure, the sheer amount of "stuff" it takes to pull off a hiking, camping, fishing, or skiing trip can seem, well, overwhelming. And believe us—after one long backpacking trip with a full pack, you'll be looking to shed weight any which way you can. But what's actually useful and what can stay at home?

To find out, we got recommendations from more than 30 outdoor experts, ranging from search-and-rescue crews to fishing experts to experienced long-distance hikers. Here are the nine products that made the cut.

Our Top Picks

01 of 09

Osprey Mira 22 Hydration Pack

Osprey Mira pack

"A backpack that's comfortable for hiking with enough space to carry a few essentials like water, snacks, electrolytes, a first aid kit, extra layers, and a satellite communication device is key," said Kristen Bor, founder of the outdoor and adventure blog Bearfoot Theory. Bor, who's hiked the John Muir Trail and lives half the year out of a camper van, recommends this Osprey pack thanks to the inclusion of a lightweight hydration pack that makes it easy to stay hydrated on the trail.

02 of 09

YETI Rambler 20 Oz. Tumbler with MagSlider Lid

Yeti rambler tumbler

Rick Wallace, a fishing expert and founder of the website Tackle Village, doesn't leave home without his Yeti Rambler tumbler. "I spend a large amount of time on the water fishing," Wallace said, "and drinking water and coffee are two things I just can't do without!" Wallace, who's fished worldwide in Australia, Japan, Argentina, and New Zealand, recommends Yeti's gear thanks to the durability and warranty. "They are tough, well designed, and excel in keeping drinks either hot or cold during a long day exploring the outdoors."

03 of 09

GSI Bugaboo Cookset

ASI Bugaboo cookset

"This cookset is an excellent choice for anyone who cooks for groups in the outdoors," said Steve Silberberg, the owner of Fitpacking, a company that leads adventure vacations focused on weight loss. Silberberg is a big fan of the two Teflon-coated pots that the kit comes with, along with a frying pan and cutting board. "Plus it compacts nicely into a self-contained unit for easy transport inside a backpack."

04 of 09

Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles

Leki trekking poles

Whitney "Allgood" LaRuffa, the vice-present of sales and marketing at Six Moon Designs, a company that makes ultralight backpacks, tents, and shelters, doesn't leave home without his Leki Micro Vario Carbon Poles. LaRuffa, who's been through-hiking America's long trails for 25 years now, has been using the same pair for more than five years. "They are super light in weight, yet very sturdy even for a 200-pound dude like me," said LaRuffa. "They fold up super small for travel to and from the trailhead, and they have withstood the test of time and miles."

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with Topo Maps and GPS Navigation

Garmin InReach Explorer+

"Many backcountry destinations are outside the range of cell service," said Mikaela Ferguson, a Vancouver-based wilderness guide and certified wilderness first responder and whitewater rescue technician, who runs the blog Voyageur Tripper. "If our group gets lost or someone is injured, it is critical that we can determine our exact location and contact rescuers for assistance." She recommends the Garmin inReach Explorer+, a satellite phone with GPS capabilities, as a must-have on any backcountry trip.

06 of 09

First Aid Only - FAO-440 Outdoor First Aid Kit, Soft Case, 205-Piece Kit

First Aid only kit

In the outdoors, injuries, even small cuts, when not treated rapidly and properly, can quickly morph into bigger issues to the higher chance of infections and the need to maintain mobility and contact with the elements," Jennifer Schultz, an outdoor guide and instructor at Outforia, said. Schultz emphasized the importance of having first-aid remedies for various situations and making sure that your kit is portable. She's a fan of First Aid Only's 205-piece kit, an affordable option that comes in a soft case. "The soft casing ensures you can pack it compactly with other equipment without risk of it breaking and falling apart in your pack," Schultz said.

07 of 09

Black Crows Ventus Micro Puffer Down Jacket

Black Crows jacket

Sam Seward, a member of Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol and a certified evacuation lift tech who works as a certified arborist during the summer months, spends a lot of time outside. His go-to? An insulated mid-layer, preferably Black Crows' Ventus Micro Puffer Down Jacket. "Be it the coldest day in the winter, ski patrolling or mountaineering, early mornings in the summer getting ready for tree work or a backyard evening barbecue, being warm is key," Seward said. "If I could have one layer, this would be it for both skiing and arborist work."

08 of 09

REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent with Footprint

REI Half-dome tent


"When it comes to ‘bang for the buck,’ I really think the REI Half Dome series is hard to beat for car camping," said Ryan McMahon, the CEO of Elite Custom Adventures, a tour company that takes guests on private national park experiences. "They are durable yet lightweight, have the features you need without unnecessary frills and are designed for a quick set-up every single time." McMahon, who focuses on quality, lightweight gear, is a fan of the two-person version even when traveling solo. "Then I have the option of bringing my dogs along when we’re exploring the southwest.”

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Jetboil Flash Cooking System

Jetboil flash cooking system

Brianne Blaszak, the founder and president of Endlessly Outdoors Company, an outdoor adventure recreation outfitter store in Perry, New York, doesn't leave home without her Jetboil flash cooking system. "This specific product has made camping, backpacking, hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, and skiing even more enjoyable due to the fact that I can make fresh pressed coffee, rice, pasta, hot chocolate, and more within 100 seconds," Blaszak said. She recommends the cooking system to all of her customers, regardless of age or ability. "The one-push ignition button along with the lightweight [nature] of this product allows people, including individuals living with autism, anxiety, cerebral palsy (and other diagnoses), to carry it truly anywhere without worrying about matches, large cooking pans, or utensils."

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