Our Favorite Gear from 2023: Tested and Approved

Our Backpackers.com team absolutely loves testing new outdoor gear, sharing the latest product updates and new releases, and diving deep into the technical specifications of the greatest adventure-bound apparel and equipment on the market.

And now, we want to showcase our favorite gear from 2023.

Our Favorite Gear from Last Year

These are the products we used and enjoyed most during our explorations in 2023 — the gear that had us itching to get outside. Read on to see the outdoor swag that created countless smiles and traveled with us for many miles.

KUIU ULTRA Merino Wool 120 LT LS Hoodie

Arthur’s Favorite — Editor’s Choice

UIU ULTRA Merino Wool Long Sleeve Hoodie Arthur's Favorite Gear — Editor's Choice

From the sun-baked desert of the Baja California backcountry to the snowy slopes of the Grand Tetons, the KUIU ULTRA Merino Wool Hoodie has been my go-to base layer.

The fit is superb, and the Merino Wool / Nylon blend ensures this garment is functional, comfortable, and durable. What’s more, the hood adds extra sun protection and insulation that many other base layers lack.

This has been my most used piece of outdoor gear in 2023, and it might be for 2024 as well. Doesn’t matter if the adventure would otherwise make me sweat, shiver, or sunburn — this KUIU Merino Hoodie will help protect me from it all. I take it everywhere, on every trip.

See the KUIU ULTRA Merino Wool Hoodie

Sierra Designs Meteor 2-Person Tent

Steve’s Favorite

Sierra Designs Meteor 2-Person Tent Steve's Favorite Gear

The Meteor 2 has been a game-changer for my UK backpacking trips this year, from the wet and windy Welsh mountains to sun-soaked white cliffs along the English south coast.

Its lightweight design makes mountain treks a breeze, and the setup is quick and effortless. It’s surprisingly roomy for solo camping and comfortably accommodates two with gear, thanks to its dual entrances – a real bonus when sharing.

Packed with premium features at a mid-range price, the Meteor 2 strikes the perfect balance of comfort, convenience, and affordability.

See the Sierra Designs Meteor Tent

REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent

Fi’s Favorite

REI Co-op Half Dome SL2+ Tent Fi's Favorite gear

Find me a better use of 3 pounds, and I will be mighty impressed. It’s an incredible, spacious, multifunctional, lightweight tent that is super easy and fast to put up. If you’re on your game, it’s less than a minute.

It has all the pockets and clips you could ever imagine. And, here in the North of Scotland, it passes the waterproof test — not an easy test to pass in these parts!

I have used this tent in the most inclement weather: 60 mph gale storms, zero-degree nights, and the scorching Spanish desert. I have remained dry and bug-free, and the tent remains intact.

See the REI Co-op Half Dome Tent

Atlas Montane Snowshoes

Courtney’s Favorite

Atlas Montane Snowshoes Courtney's Favorite gear

This past year, snowshoeing has quickly become a new favorite winter activity, and I have found the Atlas Montane Snowshoes to be a great option for a beginner like myself. They feel lightweight and are easy to take on and off. It did not take very long for the steps to start feeling ‘natural.’

Speaking of lightweight, the TSL Carbon Poles are also a must with their foldable design and variety of tips to provide you stability and comfort out on a wide range of adventures. I have to give these an honorable mention.

See the Atlas Montane Snowshoes

lululemon Warp Light Jacket

Jon’s Favorite

lululemon Warp Light Jacket Jon's Favorite gear

The Warp Light Jacket has become a staple in my gear closet, and I find myself reaching for it more than anything else. The fit and finish of the jacket are top-notch, and it adapts to just about any use, from trail running to running errands.

I can’t get enough of this jacket. I love the jacket’s rear zip pocket for keeping a water bottle, phone, wallet, or keys or for stashing some gloves. The jacket itself doesn’t add much warmth, so it’s not really an insulating layer, but it does a great job of keeping the heat in and the wind out.

My primary use for this jacket has been hiking and trail running. I love that for a short run, it’s all I need to bring with me, and my essentials, such as keys and phone, just fit right into that back pocket.

See the lululemon Warp Light Jacket

Wuru Women’s Nuyarn Merino Lightweight Hoodie

Deirdre’s Favorite

In my lifelong quest for the ideal sun shirt, Wuru’s Lightweight Hoodie has been my favorite for the past three years.

It’s very durable for the weight of the fabric, which is 125gsm. This top has a really flattering fit, and it’s comfortable against your skin on super hot days. It dries out quickly, and the colors remain bright and beautiful even after years of wear.

If sunscreen isn’t always your thing, Wuru’s Nuyarn Merino Lightweight Hoodie is a great option to protect your skin from the sun.

See the Wuru Nuyarn Hoodie

The North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse Down Jacket

Amanda’s Favorite

I love everything about this Retro North Face Down Jacket! It is so warm and toasty. I would wear this for winter walks, snowshoeing, and even skiing.

It has all of the features you would want in a jacket like this – lightweight but warm with down filling, high collar, hood, adjustable arm straps, and cinch cords. I especially love it because it is so warm and so light at the same time — and it’s pink.

See The North Face Retro Nuptse Down Jacket

Thanks for checking out our favorite gear. Browse our Gear Tests and Reviews for more of our team’s thoughts on the latest outdoor gear.

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Arthur McMahon

Arthur loves to walk. It's as simple as that. He believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. Follow his adventures and stories on Instagram.

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