Finding the best kit for hiking and hillwalking isn’t easy, which is why every year Trail magazine puts together a 100-page Gear Guide showcasing the best products for spring and summer.
As part of that guide we also pick out a standout in each main category to create our eight Gear of the Year awards. The standard in 2022 is as high as we can ever remember, with some incredible innovation, cutting-edge technology and an ever-increasing move towards creating ethically sourced and sustainable outdoor kit.
Therefore, if you’re looking for the best waterproof jacket, mountain boots, insulated jacket, backpack, headtorch, hiking shoes, sleeping bag or backpacking tent money can buy this year, scroll through our selection below and pick out your favourites.
How we choose our Gear of the Year
In order to pick up a coveted Trail magazine Gear of the Year award, a product has to fulfil one of three requirements:
1. It's been an award winner in one of our regular gear tests. Trail tests are rigorous, out on the hill reviews that really put outdoor equipment through its paces. If a product has been awarded Best in Test or even Best Value status, you can be sure it's some of the best kit available.
2. It's been used and adored by one of our gear testers. The in-mag reviews are just a fraction of the gear the Trail writers test throughout the year. Occasionally a particular product will prove so impressive that it's deserving of significant recognition and will find itself lauded among the Gear of the Year elite.
3. It's a new and exciting release for the coming months. At Trail we get the lowdown on new gear long before it hits the shops, and often get advance samples to test ahead of general release. If one of these upcoming products really gets our thrill buds tingling, you may find it alongside its own Gear of the Year badge.
Best waterproof jacket: Montane Pac Plus XT
TRAIL MAGAZINE VERDICT: A mountain-ready shell with a great fit. Still lightweight and packable yet robust and well equipped, this is a worthwhile upgrade for those in search of a technical 3-season waterproof.
Boasting the latest Gore-Tex Paclite Plus fabric, which now has a dry-touch backer for improved comfort, this is a great technical 3-season shell for hillwalking, scrambling and full-on mountaineering use. It’s got a cracking helmet-friendly hood, pit zips for easy venting, well-placed pockets and a trim-fitting yet full-coverage cut that offers excellent mobility. 100% recycled too!
Best insulated jacket: Rab Infinity Microlight
TRAIL MAGAZINE VERDICT: The newest version of a longstanding Trail favourite, this is a warm, cosy and well-cut puffer that won’t collapse into a soggy mess even if you need to stick it on in clag or light drizzle.
If there is such a thing as a modern classic in outdoor kit, Rab’s Microlight jackets have a good claim to the title. We reckon the new Infinity Microlight is probably the best one yet, featuring a Gore-Tex Infinium face fabric and 700 fill power recycled hydrophobic down insulation. It’s a consummate all-rounder for the hills and mountains, being warm, packable, and more weatherproof than most down puffers.
Best hiking rucksack: Rab Aeon 35
TRAIL MAGAZINE VERDICT: Whether it says Lowe Alpine or Rab on the lid, this large daypack delivers impressive versatility and practicality, along with a tough build and a comfortable carry.
The Aeon 35 is our top all-round large daypack. Roomy and capable, it’s versatile enough to cope with all sorts of outdoor adventures, from long hillwalking days to more technical scrambling routes. It’s even big enough to pack for a cheeky overnighter in a hut or bothy, and the latest 2022 update has a stiffer moulded back able to support a much heavier load. Formerly branded as Lowe Alpine, it’s now part of sister company Rab’s range for 2022 – so it’ll match your jacket too.
Best mountain boots: La Sportiva Trango Tech
TRAIL MAGAZINE VERDICT: A fully featured, durable leather boot that’s ideal for big mountain days. As far as an all-round hiking boot goes, you’ll struggle to find anything better.
This is one of the best mountain boots we’ve tested in many years. The Trango Tech is protective and supportive, yet surprisingly comfortable. It features a single-piece nubuck leather upper with minimal stitching, high-ankled cut, soft tongue, and rubber protection at the heel and toe. Waterproofing is via a Gore-Tex lining and a rubber Vibram outsole provides slip-free traction with a front climbing zone for edging.
Best hiking shoe: Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX
TRAIL MAGAZINE VERDICT: Extremely light and breathable trail hiking shoes with stylish looks, superb comfort and good traction underfoot.
We loved the sock-like fit of these trail shoes, which makes for good comfort while also reducing the chance of grit and debris finding its way in. You have the choice of the new waterproof Gore-Tex lined version (pictured), or the original (£160), which is cooler and more breathable for summer than the GTX version and most of its rivals. The lightweight uppers help you pick up the pace, while a grippy Vibram sole delivers solid performance underfoot.
Best hiking headtorch: Petzl Swift RL
TRAIL MAGAZINE VERDICT: A superb, premium-standard, all-rounder headtorch that ticks all the boxes for hiking. Not the cheapest, but money well spent.
The Petzl Swift RL is one headtorch for all your hiking needs. It’s light (102g), compact, comfy, splash-proof, rechargeable, and powerful (550 lumens for 2 hours). But the real star is the reactive lighting technology, a sensor which analyses the ambient light and automatically adjusts brightness to your needs. This preserves battery life and provides an excellent experience out on the hill.
Best backpacking tent: Sea to Summit Alto TR1 Plus
TRAIL MAGAZINE VERDICT: A backpacking tent notable for its roomy interior and amazing headroom, making it our pick of the bunch for 2022.
With wild camping and backpacking going mainstream, cutting through the noise to pick out the best tents is getting trickier. But the Alto TR1 Plus (1228g) is amazingly roomy – with what must be best-in-class headroom, liveability and all-round spaciousness. This is achieved via a rather ingenious skeletal, all-in-one pole structure featuring the ‘Tension Ridge’ – a cross pole that widens the peak and creates near-perpendicular walls, angling upwards like a wingspan to maximise head and shoulder room.
Best 3-season sleeping bag: Therm-a-rest Hyperion 20F/-6C
TRAIL MAGAZINE VERDICT: An excellent mummy-style sleeping bag for wild camping and backpacking, delivered at a superb weight.
If you’re serious about wild camping and backpacking, you can’t beat this sleeping bag. High quality, 900 fill power goose down delivers an EN/ISO comfort rating of 0 ̊C, despite weighing just 580g – so the overall warmth-to-weight ratio is top-notch. This is aided by the zoned design, with 70% of insulation placed on the top and sides (where you need it most) and 30% on the underside, while the box baffled construction further boosts loft and minimises cold spots.