Trail magazine’s Gear of the Year 2021

The best outdoor kit that came our way over the past 12 months

Trail magazine's Gear of the Year 2021

by Ben Weeks |

For Trail magazine's 2021 Gear Guide we asked our readers and social media followers to vote for their favourite item of kit in 8 key categories: waterproof jackets, insulated jackets, walking boots, walking shoes, rucksacks, headtorches, tents, and sleeping bags. Here are the results of that poll.

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Best waterproof jacket:

Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu

Best waterproof jacket: Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu
Best waterproof jacket 2021: Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu (£400)

The men’s Lhotse and women’s Manaslu use 40D Gore-Tex Pro reinforced by 80D fabric in high-wear areas. The helmet-compatible hood is among the best to be found on any jacket, moving seamlessly with the head and providing superb protection. The main zip and external pockets make use of YKK AquaGuard zips, and pit zips under the arms provide excellent ventilation when demanding terrain has you working up a sweat.

Tough, comfortable and near perfectly designed, this jacket is the ideal companion for the roughest conditions in the hills, and should last a lifetime.

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Best insulated jacket:

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

Best insulated jacket: Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
Best insulated jacket 2021: Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (£180)

The Nano Puff has had something of a cult following since its launch over 10 years ago. In 2016 Patagonia increased the recycled content. In 2018 it reduced material waste. In 2020 it reduced carbon emissions with P.U.R.E. (Produced Using Reduced Emissions) technology. In fact, Patagonia has been refining the Nano Puff for over a decade; not in the way it looks or performs (the jacket needs no tinkering here), but with supply-chain and product design improvements to reduce the environmental impact of one of its most adored products.

The comfort and performance combined with the continuing environmental improvements mark Patagonia and the Nano Puff out as something special.

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Best walking boots:

Scarpa R-Evo GTX

Best walking boots: Scarpa R-Evo GTX
Best walking boots 2021: Scarpa R-Evo GTX (£200)

For 3-season use in gnarly weather, on technical rocky terrain and across multi-day hikes, the Scarpa R-Evo GTX is a dependable choice. It has a reassuringly solid and sturdy feel, with a strong toe cap, rigid heel counter, moderately stiff midsole and rugged Vibram Biometric Trek outsole featuring deep, mud-shedding lugs and an undercut heel for great grip.

Reassuringly sturdy yet delightfully comfortable, the R-Evo strikes a great balance.

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Best walking shoes:

Scarpa Mescalito GTX

Best walking shoes: Scarpa Mescalito GTX
Best walking shoes 2021: Scarpa Mescalito GTX (£180)

Technical enough for tricky scrambles and comfortable enough to wear all day. The lugged tread and heel brake on the Mescalito’s Vibram Megagrip outsole offer excellent grip on wet or loose ground, with a smooth climbing zone at the toe giving scramblers traction on cracks and notches. A 360° wraparound rand and Gore-Tex lining provide protection from the elements, however rough.

Technical, comfortable, waterproof – this is one of the best approach shoes out there and perfect for scramblers.

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Best rucksack:

Osprey Mutant 38

Best rucksack: Osprey Mutant 38
Best rucksack 2021: Osprey Mutant 38 (£135)

Surprisingly roomy for its nominal 38-litre capacity, with useful features like a floating lid, integrated top stowage for a climbing helmet and a ‘flapjacket’ top cover for fast and light mountain missions, the Mutant is a really functional technical pack. Importantly, it’s also a stable carry, even when fully loaded, thanks to its sturdy framesheet and twin internal angled aluminium stays.

Still our go-to pack for technical mountain days all year round, even for graded winter climbs and scrambles. The Mutant is a proven performer that we’d carry almost anywhere.

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Best headtorch:

Petzl Iko Core

Best headtorch: Petzl Iko Core
Best headtorch 2021: Petzl Iko Core (£77)

An innovative re-imagination of the headtorch, this eye-catching product features the sunglasses-like AIRFIT headband with rear battery pack and seven-LED front lamp. At 79g it’s light and airy, with three power modes and two beam types. All stats are premium (500 lumens and 100-hour burn time) and the battery is impressively versatile – recharge via USB or switch out for three AAAs.

A unique and innovative headtorch with impressive stats and an eye-catching design.

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Best tent:

MSR Hubba NX Solo

Best tent: MSR Hubba NX Solo
Best tent 2021: MSR Hubba NX Solo (£385)

A cleverly-designed skeletal pole creates near-vertical walls and maximum headroom in this palatial tent for one (weighing just 1.29kg). A good-sized side porch and a non-tapered floor add to the sense of spaciousness. The inner, which is pitched first, is freestanding with a bathtub-style floor and mesh upper for good ventilation, while the Durashield-coated flysheet provides 3-season rated protection.

A superb 3-season tent with great features and excellent liveability.

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Best sleeping bag:

Rab Neutrino Pro 400

Best sleeping bag: Rab Neutrino Pro 400
Best sleeping bag 2021: Rab Neutrino Pro 400 (£355)

This 800-fill power goose down bag delivers excellent warmth for weight and packs down small, making it ideal for backpacking and mountaineering. It has a comfort rating down to -1°C and is also more weatherproof than most down bags, thanks to hydrophobic fill and a water-resistant shell. The shaped footbox, generous length and extra room for the upper torso make it very comfortable. Plus, the zip puller glows in the dark!

A warm and comfortable yet compact and lightweight down bag with improved wet-weather performance that’ll keep you toasty in sub-zero conditions.

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For the latest reviews - including extra photos and kit that won't appear online - pick up a copy of the current issue of Trail magazine!

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