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Gear of the Year 2015

Gear of the Year 2015: the winners

17th January 2015

Our panel of judges have put the best gear on the market through its paces – but which products come out tops? Here's the definitive list that every adventure-ready traveller needs

Best Daypack:  Lowe Alpine AirZone Quest 27

It's breathable, comfortable, and looks pretty slick too: congratulations to the Lowe Alpine AirZone Quest 27, with its durable design and myriad assets: including a hipbelt pocket, key clip, lidded pocket, phone harness and rain cover. Perfect for day trips as well as full-on expeditions, it's compatible with hydration systems and has a super-comfortable AirZone breathable back.

Judges' comments: “A great rucksack, packed with all the features a traveller should need, no matter whether hiking in the hills or strolling in the city.”

Special mention: In close second place in the Best Daypack category was the Lifeventure Dakar 35 rucksack, followed by the Osprey Talon 33 bag in third place.

Best Footwear: Ridgemont Mesa Shoe & KEEN Durand

This award was so tough to call, the judges chose two winners. The Ridgemont Mesa Shoe design is the perfect example of hard-wearing design that's strong in both the practical and style stakes. Its oiled suede upper can withstand most things you can throw at it – and the 100% rubber lugged vulcanized outsole will last for years.

Available in low and mid styles, KEEN's Durand design is a great-value toughie, too. Waterproof yet breathable, a great shock-absorber, and with a light leather and mesh upper, this hiking boot will serve you well on all terrain.

Judges' comments: On Ridgemont: “Proving that there's sometimes more than meets the eye, these shoes wouldn't look out of place in towns, but hide the special features made for walking on trails too – genius.” On KEEN: “Comfy straight from the box, from trails to city streets and jumping on and off trains and planes, a good all-round footwear to travel with.”

Special mention: Hanwag boots deserve a runner's up accolade too – for their no-nonsense, ever-comfortable and incredibly hard-wearing designs.
 

Insulated Jacket: Berghaus HyperTherm 

A reversible insulated jacket, that has two functions depending on how you wear it? Now that's an idea we like! When conditions are cold, a wind-resistant outer on the Berghaus HyperTherm stops gusts from penetrating the jacket and keeps your body heat in. Reverse it, and the air permeable fabric is now on the outside, reducing the amount of body heat trapped and offering great breathability – perfect for when you're on the go.

Judges' comments: “A lightweight and nifty 2-in-1 jacket that provides travellers with adaptable insulation for different conditions.”

Special mention: In joint second place, the Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody and Yeti - North Jacket – whose designs also impressed the judges.

Best Luggage: Osprey Ozone 70 Convertible

It scooped the 'Best in Test' gong in our adventure luggage review, and now the Osprey Ozone 70 Convertible has done it again. It's light, easy to use, strong, and adaptable: you can use it as a backpack, and there's a removable 15L daypack too. No-nonsense, sturdy, and very good value.

Judges' comments: “Boasting three different carry options, a removable daypack and a light unpacked weight, this is a versatile piece of luggage at a good price.”

Special mentions: Arc'teryx's Carrier Duffel 100L came in at a close second place: a great all-rounder duffel bag that's lightweight and durable. In third place, the Aquapac Upano Duffel 40L is a great buy too: a waterproof essential that'll serve you right whether you're sailing, scuba diving, or simply in need of a dry, durable go-bag.

Best Travel Top: Craghoppers NosiLife Darla Long Sleeved Shirt

If you're travelling somewhere tropical, the Craghoppers NosiLife Darla Long Sleeved Shirt is a must-pack – it's by far the best of its kind. It has a zipped security pocket, insect-repellant wicking fabric, and packs up incredibly small – perfect if you're on the move in hot and humid climes.

Judges' comments: “A fantastic level of sun protection, lifelong insect repellency and extra features make this shirt a clear winner.”

Special mention: In second place, Royal Robbins Expedition Shirt is a great blend of hard-working materials and stylish design. And in third place, the Rohan Sanctuary Shirt is available in men's and women's design, and will do you proud when temperatures rise. Get 10% off Rohan when you use voucher code WL47 online.

Best Travel Trousers: Rohan Jeans Plus

The innovative Rohan Jeans Plus – available in men's and women's designs – is a quick-drying, hard-wearing concept – and a viable alternative to traditional travel trousers. The fabric looks like denim, but is quick to dry, lightweight and durable – perfect if you're dressing for adventure on city breaks or light trails. Get 10% off Rohan when you use voucher code WL47 online. r

Judges' comments: “Boasting well-hidden security pockets, a fairly quick drying material and the look of a normal jeans, these allow the traveller to journey in comfort with all the extras you'd want from a trouser.”

Special mention: Craghoppers NosiLife Cargo Trousers scooped second place, for their timeless and endlessly useful zipper design, and top-quality fabric. And in joint second place, Royal Robbins Backcountry Pants and Páramo Men's Maui II Trousers will serve you well too.

Best Waterproof Jacket: Sherpa Lakpa Rita & Páramo Andina Jacket

Two designs hit the top spot for this category. Sherpa's Lakpa Rita is an excellent hardshell jacket – it's designed to withstand the rigours of mountain exploring, and is a serious piece of kit. Made from a combo of eVent® ® waterproof fabrics, the jacket's Direct Venting™ technology keeps precipitation out while letting perspiration vapour escape – and the helmet-compatible hood will protect your face from harsh weather.

Also in first place, Páramo Andina Jacket is a reliable, sturdy, weather-proof staple. It's breathable, with generous room, and boasts reinforced shoulders to protect the fabric from heavy packs. Reflective straps, wired peak hood and numerous pockets make it a fail-safe choice.

Judges' comments: On Sherpa: “Made from great waterproof and breathable fabric, with a good fit, light weight, excellent hood and feel-good backstory, this is a jacket you would be proud to take on all your travels.” On Páramo: “Real fabric technology makes a weatherproof jacket that's soft, very packable, boasts a whole range of useful features and a well-designed fit.”

Special mention: Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket was awarded second place for its all-rounder, lightweight and tough GORE-TEX® design.

Meet the judges...

Alan Hinkes OBE
Alan is the first Briton to climb the world's highest mountains. These are the 14 8000m peaks, all of which are in the 'death zone', where human survival rate is measured in hours. They are the most dangerous mountains on the planet. Alan is part of an exclusive club of only 12 people alive who have achieved this feat, which is the same number of people who have stood on the moon. Many have perished attempting this challenge.

Alan works as an outdoor equipment technical consultant, writes for magazines and lectures on his exploits. He is an accomplished cameraman (filming 11 documentaries), photographer, author, motivational speaker, environmentalist and mountain guide. His book 8000 Metres Climbing the World's Highest Mountains won TGO Awards Outdoor Book of the Year.

Paul Goodyer
Paul is the founder and CEO of Nomad Travel, the leading store for travel equipment, rucksacks, clothing and of course home of the Nomad Travel Clinics. He has been pioneering the art of travel preparation since 1990, over which time his original market stall in Reading has grown to 10 stores across the UK.

He has worked as Logistics Assistant for the TV production company who made BBC's Beyond Boundaries where he helped 10 physically-disabled teenagers cross the Andes, one of the highest mountain ranges in the world.

Phoebe Smith
Wanderlust magazine editor Phoebe Smith is as passionate about travel as she is about the outdoors. She likes nothing better than discovering a place on foot, gazing over giant precipices for fun and wild camping – preferably in the mountains. She is author of several books about Britain's wild places including Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper.

When not gazing over giant precipices for fun, wild camping in the mountains, putting together the magazine or seeking out new destinations for adventurous travellers, she can be found having long conversations with anyone who will listen about the pros and cons of Gore-Tex.


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