The pandemic goes on, but now winter is looming. Like everyone else, Outside editors are trying to stay sane. That means we’ve been testing road-trip gear, home-cooking devices, and, of course, things that keep us cozy while we work from home. Here are our favorites.
Helly Hansen LifaLoft Hooded Insulated Jacket ($220)
This is hard to admit, working for Outside, but: I don’t love winter. That said, I couldn’t wait to pull out my LifaLoft Hooded Insulated jacket. It’s the best cold-weather coat I’ve ever owned, for several reasons: it’s lightweight, water-resistant, and, remarkably, keeps me at the perfect temperature, regardless of whether it’s 30 degrees and snowing or 65 degrees and sunny. That sold the piece for me—I’m never not comfortable. I even wear it while reading in the evenings on the couch in lieu of a blanket. Finally, its laid-back but tapered style is ideal for appearances at nearly any occasion in Santa Fe. Once I get a Subaru and a border collie, I’ll have this town’s look down pat. —Tasha Zemke, copy editor
Hamilton Beach Dual Breakfast Sandwich Maker ($40)
I bought this breakfast-sammie machine for my partner’s birthday over the summer, and we have become especially fond of it as the weather gets colder. In five minutes (plus one minute of prep time), we have two sausage McMuffin taste-alikes and we’re off to our computers during the week or the outdoors on the weekends. And don’t be fooled by the simple sandwich formula, because there’s a ton of creative food experimentation you can do with it! Think: indoor loaded s’mores, anyone? —Jenny Earnest, audience development director
Oiselle Flyout Long Sleeve Shirt ($72)
With the morning temperatures finally dropping in New Mexico, I’ve broken out my warmer shirts, and the Flyout Long Sleeve has quickly become my go-to. It’s thin and light enough to wear under my vest, but insulating enough to provide extra protection from that A.M. nip. My favorite feature? A cutout on the wrist for my watch face to poke through, eliminating the dreaded glove gap and allowing for a quick glance at my heart rate without having to fuss with my sleeves. All long-sleeved shirts should have watch windows. —Julia Walley, marketing art director
Kuat Sherpa 2.0 Bike Rack ($498)
For the first year of my mountain-bike career, I lived sans bike rack. But loading a deconstructed bike into your trunk gets old fast, and doubly so when you’re also trying to sleep in said trunk for an extended period of time on the road. Enter the Kuat Sherpa 2.0, which is nicer and shinier than my car. The installation was easy (with a little help from a friend), and the rack itself is reliable, simple to use, easy to move out of the way when I’m not using it, and comes with a built-in bike stand for on-the-go maintenance. Most important, after five months of use and abuse—chunky dirt roads, roughly 8,000 miles of driving, more rides than I can count, and one tree-ramming incident—it doesn’t show a single sign of wear and tear. —Abbie Barronian, associate editor
Title Nine Barra Fair Isle Sweater ($149)
I’m a little bit obsessed with sweaters—specifically, the semi-technical yet impressively stylish variety that you can wear to Zoom meetings but also to rake the lawn or shovel the driveway. This month, Title Nine’s Barra joined Topo Designs’ Global (which I wrote about last month) at the top of my dresser drawer. Its merino-polyester fabric is incredibly warm without any bulk, and surprisingly wicking. In practical terms, this means I stay toasty but never get sweaty and somehow still feel classy even after spending my lunch break doing yard work. That’s hard to beat. —Ariella Gintzler, associate editor
Giesswein Vent Slippers ($90)
I’ve been looking for some quality slippers since March, and I’m happy to say I’ve finally found them. The virgin-wool upper on the Giesswein Vent provides plenty of warmth, while the rubber sole makes it sturdy enough for brief trips to the mailbox. As a baker who sometimes stands for hours at a time on hard tile (a good cake takes time!), I especially appreciate the slippers’ ample arch support and comfortable footbed. —Kelsey Lindsey, associate editor
Topo Designs 5 Pocket Pants in Washed Denim ($120)
In July, I took a brave step and ditched my sweats for real pants while working from home. Thankfully, the pants I reach for most often are these jeans, which are so stretchy and roomy, they feel like sweats. My favorite features are the high rise and the heavyweight denim fabric: they’re fashionable enough to wear to the farmers’ market—the only occasion I have to “dress up” these days—yet can also withstand marathon gardening sessions. —K.L.
Yeti SB130 TLR T2 Turq Bike ($7,600)
This bike isn’t new, or really even new to me—Yeti launched it in the fall of 2018, and I’ve been riding it since this spring. But we’ve never reviewed it at Outside, and that should be fixed, because it’s one of the easiest bikes to recommend to anyone interested in a do-it-all trail 29er. The LR in TLR stands for Lunch Ride, Yeti’s branding for its builds with slightly more travel and burlier parts. (The SB130 TLR sports a 160-millimeter fork and 137 millimeters of rear-wheel travel, compared to the 150- and 130-millimeter combo on the normal SB130). It’s technically still considered a midtravel trail bike, but this is my bike-park rig, my all-day high-alpine adventure bike, and my everyday ride, all wrapped up in one. Though Yeti’s Switch Infinity suspension design has always been exceptional, its refined kinematics bring what I detected as a new plushness to the SB130. Longer, modern geometry helps this bike feel incredibly composed while blasting loose, rough straightaways, but it retains the playfulness we all want for hunting side hits. Given that it’s been a couple years since this bike was released, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an update from Yeti soon, but it’s hard to imagine what else it could improve. —Gloria Liu, features editor
Vuori Strato Tech Tee ($44)
If you can believe it, collared shirts are “highly encouraged” at the Outside offices. I don’t think I’ve worn a shirt with a collar since early March, when we started working from home. Nothing but tees for me in the new world order. Some might say a T-shirt is a T-shirt is a T-shirt, and they’d mostly be right. But if you’re gonna wear a tee, why not make it a soft one? One that has a blend of fabrics you can’t name but allows you to go trail running or mountain biking after work without becoming a sweating, stinking mess. One that also would fit right in, as the gear-copy cliché goes, at the bar afterward. The Strato hits all those high notes. —Matt Skenazy, articles editor
Canyon Pro 65 Cooler ($350)
While fall has brought cooler weather, there were still some warm days in October. I kept the Pro 65 in my trunk on sunny weekends at the crag, and after long days in the heat, the contents emerged cold. While driving through 116-degree Yuma, Arizona, on a late-August road trip, when every other food item not in the cooler melted in the van, I was surprised to find my drinks floating in ice and chilly water. Beyond great ice retention, I like the two latches that lay flush with the cooler’s exterior, so they won’t accidentally come undone when you’re packing gear around it. —Jeremy Rellosa, reviews editor
Primus Kinjia Grill ($190)
I’ve been using the Kinjia on car-camping trips and am impressed by how much utility is packed into its relatively small size. At 18.7 inches long, it fits under my car seat or in the plastic gear tub in my trunk. Thanks to its compact build, I’ve never had to reorganize the camp kitchen to find space for it on the table. It heats up quickly (8,500 BTUs), so I’m able to sauté vegetables within minutes of getting a pan hot. I do wish the Kinjia had a secure latch to lock it shut. (It locks by moving the handle flush with the top of the grill, but that handle can move around.) Keeping it extra secure in a bin of camp-kitchen gear would provide an extra bit of mental assurance when driving down washboard roads. But the wooden lift handle gives the Kinjia a classy touch. —J.R.
GrillGun Basic Propane Torch ($150)
On the scale between wants and needs, the GrillGun Basic falls on the desirous end of the spectrum. Do you really need a propane torch to light your coals? No. Does it make the process much faster? Yes. I find one of the joys of barbecuing and smoking to be the management of fire, which takes time, but as a father of toddler, I don’t have as much of that as I’d like. So I pull out the GrillGun, attach it to a propane tank, and blast my coals for 60 to 90 seconds (both eye and hand protection are mandatory) while said toddler is nowhere close by. Ten to fifteen minutes later, things are red-hot and ready to grill. Cooking with fire couldn’t be more easy or convenient. —Will Taylor, gear director
Janji 7/8 Groundwork Tights ($88)
One of my perennial struggles as a very short runner is finding tights that fit properly. For years I mostly settled for pairs that bunched around the ankles. (Sometimes I tried to hide that with the right socks.) Eventually, I realized that seven-eighths tights are my friend—I’m five foot one, so this length usually fits me like full-length tights fit most everyone else. For this reason, the Janji 7/8 Groundwork tights are some of my new favorites for everyday training. But you don’t have to be short to appreciate them: they’re the perfect weight for fall runs, and they have five sleek pockets for stashing whatever you need to bring along with you. —Molly Mirhashem, digital deputy editor
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