New Gear to Get Excited About

A curated list of gear to launch you into summer

Meg Simon
For the Aspen Times Weekly

As the world morphs into some new semblance of normal, it’s no surprise that our hearts, bodies, minds and social lives are itching to get outdoors. This past year has seen a surge in outdoor activity like never before, and the coming summer will be no different. The outdoors seems to be calling to us with a secret as old as time: life is better outside.

Along with the surge of people on trails, rivers and campsites, there is also an influx of gear as innumerable businesses new and old are trying to get a piece of the gear industry pie. While this can be exciting, it can be overwhelming and confusing. Where to begin? By no means a comprehensive list, here are some pieces I’ve found that stand out in the ever-growing sea of options.


Reliable essentials for when you hit the dirt

1.Gregory Arrio 24 Backpack


With ventilated suspension, multiple quick-access pockets and a built-in hydration attachment system, the Arrio will be your go-to for day hikes. At 24 liters it’s big enough to allow for all the necessities of a long trek, while being streamlined enough to keep you nimble.

2.Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon Poles


Ultra-lightweight and incredibly durable, these poles fold down to fit easily in your pack when not in use. The price is not for the faint of heart, but weighing in at only 7 ounces, your knees will thank you.

3. Honey Stinger Rapid Hydration Mix

$33 for 24

New this summer, this is the first hydration system that uses honey as the main energy source. A three-part system of prepare, perform and recover work to speed up nutrient absorption while tasting great in the process. Two flavor options available.

4. Filson Dry Falls Shorts


Constructed of cotton and a tiny bit of spandex, the Dry Falls shorts will soon be a favorite on Aspen area trails. With a drawstring waist and a 7 inch inseam, they’re functional and comfortable. Two back velcro-flap pockets keep valuables secure.

5. Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt


Extremely lightweight and moisture wicking, this top is perfect for those hot summer day-hikes. It dries quickly after a sweat to keep the chill down on your descent. Made from recycled polyester. Available in women’s and men’s sizes.


Things don’t always go as planned


1. OR Motive AscentShell Jacket


Streamlined, lightweight and breathable, the Motive keeps the weather at bay with a three-layer waterproof construction. With built-in stretch, the jacket moves with you to keep it from feeling like rigid armor.

2. Kelty Big Shady


Rain or shine, a shelter ends up being the hub of your campsite. The Big Shady is large enough to accommodate your whole crew with a generous footprint and an inviting entryway. Whether getting out of the hot sun or creating a pop-up spot for poker when the rain rolls in, this is a welcome roof over adventuring heads.

3. Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7 First Aid Kit


Hopefully you’ll never need it, but a first aid kit is essential for backcountry safety. This kit is compact and lightweight enough that you’ll barely notice you have it. 100 percent waterproof, it contains the essentials for emergencies while protecting them from the elements.


Get your kicks dialed in


1. Solomon Sense Ride 4 Trail runner


The best of all worlds, this trail runner is versatile beyond its category. Comfortable and responsive, the upper anti-debris mesh is great for breathability yet remains tough enough to take you the extra mile while keeping the dirt out. Available in women’s and men’s sizes.

2. Chaco Chillos Sport


Comfort calls and the new Chillos from Chaco are designed for you to unwind. Ultralight, corrective footbeds provide a soft landing after a long ride, hike or climb. Chaco’s classic Z-straps and buckle make them adjustable for the perfect fit. Available in women’s and men’s sizes and colors.

3. Hoka One One Kaha Low Gore-Tex Hiker


For burlier adventures, these Gore-Tex shoes are designed to keep your feet dry in any forecast. Exceptional traction makes for confident footing on variable terrain and Hoka’s signature cushion aims to make those harsh descents a little more bearable. The lower profile also cuts down on bulk that heavier hikers can have. Available in women’s and men’s styles.

4. Teva Ember Mocs


The Ember Moc has earned its way to the top of the favorites list of gear nerds everywhere. An ultimate camp shoe, this one will be hard to take off. Like a beefed-up slipper, the moccasin-style shoe has a cozy ripstop upper edged in leather for extra durability. A collapsible heel makes them easy to switch from pull-on to slide-on. Available in men’s, women’s and kid’s sizes.


Essentials to keep the flames going


1. Cotopaxi Teca Cálido Hooded Jacket


A jacket to warm your core and follow you into all seasons. It combines recycled polyester insulation with repurposed taffeta to create a reversible style in Cotopaxi’s signature color varieties. An excellent choice for cool summer nights, the jacket stows into its chest pocket for easy access. Available in women’s and men’s versions.

2. High Camp Flasks Firelight 750


No fireside hangout is complete without a little hooch, and the Firelight Flask is the perfect way to transport it there. The three-piece set includes two detachable tumblers and a 750-ml vacuum-insulated flask. Designed to pack easily wherever your adventures take you. Available in three beautiful finishes.

3. GCI MaxRelax Pod Rocker


Relaxation is key after a long day out and about, and this rocker is the perfect companion as you transition from trail to fire. A padded seat sits atop spring-action technology that allows for smooth rocking – an awkward downfall in some of the camp-chair rockers in the industry.

4. Voited CloudTouch Camping Blanket


Even adults need a blankie, and this outdoor one is luxurious enough for the indoors as well. It’s water and stain resistant, machine washable and backed with soft knit fabric meant to emulate sheep’s wool. Snaps on two sides allow it to convert to a sleep sack, and it can also be stuffed into a pouch to make a camp pillow. Made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles, the blanket comes in a variety of beautiful colors and graphics.


Summertime sleeping essentials



1. Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 2 Tent


A worthy abode with a view. With two large doors and a generous roll-back on the fly, the Mineral King never lets you forget the beauty of your surroundings. The traditional cross-pole structure makes for quick and easy set-up. At close to 6 pounds it might be a little heavy for backpacking trips, but at a reasonable price, this is a great 3-season investment.

2. Therm-a-rest Vesper 20F Quilt


When the temperature and the season allows, ditching the full mummy is a must. Leaving the foot box intact, this quilt allows for freedom of movement without loss of warmth. A connector system allows integration with a sleeping pad and its ultralight 900-fill, hydro-phobic down compresses down to save space. The price is a bit steep, but you’ll be happy to ditch your bulky mummy bag.

3. Therm-a-rest MondoKing Sleeping Pad


While this pad will live far from your backpacking quiver, when car-camping, why not sleep like a king? With 4.25 inches of foam, the pad is self inflating with a twin-lock valve system for quick set-up and pack-out. The surface has a comfy, next-to-skin feel that allows for just a top quilt to complete your system and a high-warmth rating promises to keep you toasty.

4. Third Eye Headlamp


For the eco- and fashion-conscious, these headlamps were designed by well-known contemporary artist Sean Anderson. When nature calls in the middle of the night, this will be your go-to. Available in a multitude of beautiful bands, it’s made of 100 percent recyclable, non-toxic material. The lamp has a no-questions-asked return policy with a lifetime warranty. Third Eye is committed to keeping headlamps out of the landfill. Bands are also sold individually if you want to change out your look without buying a new lamp.

Meg Simon is an Aspen-based freelance writer, graphic designer and founder of Simon Finch Creative. She can be reached at