Gear of the Year: Outdoors {Giveaway}

If you missed the memo on what we’re doing with the gear guides and giveaways,

hop over to this post and check it out. 

I spend a lot of time in and around the outdoor gear world. I play in the outdoors. I write about the outdoors. My friends enjoy the outdoors. See the theme?

The below items are some of my favorites from 2015. I can assure you: all of these items have been tried, tested, and found NOT wanting…so here we go!

Yakima SkyBox LoPro

Y’all, this cargo box! It arrived at our door last winter and we’ve worshipped it ever since. In a word, it’s unbelievable!


Cargo boxes aren’t a new concept, but I never owned one prior to the SkyBox LoPro. It easily attached to the built-in roof rack on my Subaru Outback, but here is the kicker: it is so low and aerodynamic that I can pull into our garage without smashing into the ceiling. I don’t know if y’all have ever done that {I have}, but trust me: it’s humiliating.

In addition to the low profile, I also love the dual-sided opening. You can access your goods from either the driver or the passenger side of the vehicle; the LoPro pops open in both directions. This makes it so easy to find your stuff without having to paw through everything in the back. It says that it only holds three sets of skis, but we packed it full for last year’s bachelor/ette weekend—it easily held four sets of skis, a snowboard, and miscellaneous soft goods for the mountain. It has come on every road trip since we received it, and honestly, I wouldn’t drive anywhere without it. Totally worth the financial investment.

Yakima SkyBox LoPro; $649

SealLine Dry Bags

If you hike, backpack, packraft or kayak, you’ll love these dry bags.

I’ll admit: there was a pre-Will time when I rarely used stuff sacks and dry bags to organize the interior of my backpack. But, all it takes is for your pack to soak through via a nice, lengthy swim and you’ll be singing a different tune!


The SealLine dry bags come on all of our trips. Not only are they completely waterproof, but they also help contain scents so animals don’t catch an errant whiff of your scented lotion or dinner snacks. When we go on packrafting trips, I use them for our food, my insulated clothing, my sleeping bag, and any other items that would be sad to fall into the drink. It’s amazing what they do for peace of mind!

SealLine Dry Bags; Prices vary depending on size and style

Paleo Meals To Go

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ve eaten dehydrated food while on the trail– it’s empirical fact. And, you’ve more than likely felt disgustingly bloated afterward from all the sodium and weird products that go into the majority of backpacking food.


I first found Paleo Meals to Go in August, right before we left on our honeymoon road trip. The company provided us with dozens of bags of food for our trip, and I was subsequently sold. {These days, their product doesn’t line up with my current veggie-style of eating, but Will still loves ’em!} Why? Their ingredient list! Instead of the multisyllabic words we’re accustomed to seeing on dehydrated goods, the list is very simple. You’ll see ingredients like “chicken” and “salt” and “rice.” Imagine that?!


The meals are all gluten-milk-soy-grain free, and I can promise you that they have some tasty meals in their upcoming lineup {We got to try some new, not-yet-released flavors.} And while the prices are a bit higher than other companies, I think they clean ingredients more than make up for the hitch in cost.

Paleo Meals To Go; $12.99

Helly Hansen Odin Vertical Pant

Of the group, I’ve owned these pants for the least amount of time, but I’m already crushing’ hard.


The Odin Vertical are shell pants that are perfect for high-intensity winter activities like snowshoeing or backcountry skiing. Since there is no insulation, you won’t overheat while trekking uphill for six hours at time. The full-stretch construction means you can execute a full variety of splits and gymnastics while skiing {right…} without worrying about he pants restricting your acrobatics. But my favorite feature has to be the 3/4 zipper that runs from the ankle to mid-thigh. It makes it so easy to dump heat when I’m sweltering in the Colorado sunshine, but super easy to zip back down once I start freezing again.

And did I mention they’re actually flattering?! That’s almost impossible to find in a winter pant!

Helly Hansen Odin Vertical Pant; $240

Platypus PlatyPreserve

It’s no secret that I take alcohol into the backcountry with me, and if I have my way, it will always be wine or whiskey….but more often than not, I choose wine. How can you not?! Wine in a tent is just perfection!platypreserveObviously, I won’t carry in the glass bottle, so I had to find an alternative means of transportation that would keep the wine good after opening. Enter: the PlatyPreserve. The collapsible containers fit easily in my backpack but don’t affect the taste with any kind of weird plastic in my mouth. You just squish the extra air out of the bladder before sealing it, and voila! Yummy wine for the backcountry. I mean, is there anything better after a long day of hiking?!

Platypus PlatyPreserve; $9.95 for one, or $29.95 for a 4-pack

Fireside Provisions

If prepping your food for the next outdoor excursion sounds like your nightmare, it’s probably time to check out this new company: Fireside Provisions.

dutch oven jambalaya_Ben Williams

Built to take the guesswork out of meal prep in the backcountry, users just log onto FP’s website and browse their food options. They offer breakfast foods, trail snacks, dinners and desserts, and are all reasonably priced {i.e. $10 for sundried tomato pesto pasta for two people}. They also offer “overnighter” packages at $30/two people: one breakfast, two trail snacks, and one dinner. You simply log onto their website, choose your food options of the included categories, and tell them the date you want the food to arrive.

summer sausage hash_Ben Williams

I tested out the overnighter package and we opted for the low fat berry granola, gorp energy chunks, honey peanut butter with apples, and the pesto pasta reference above. It was all delicious and incredibly fresh. I will say that I find it more geared towards car camping as the food tends to be large and bulky, but it really took the annoying organizational component out of camping.

Fireside Provisions; $30 for a 2-person overnighter package

Disclaimer: I received all of the above items for free, but did not promise any inclusion in this year’s gear guide. As a note, snowshoes, traction devices, and tents are purposely excluded from this guide as those are the categories I cover for Backpacker magazine. Gotta watch that conflict of interest!


Want to win some of the above items? One lucky winner will receive the following:

(1) Overnighter package {for two people} from Fireside Provisions
(1) Gift card for $100 to Sierra Trading Post. {<—–That link gets you 20% off the site!} 
(1) 4-Pack of Platypus PlatyPreserves
(1) 30L Black Canyon Dry Bag by SealLine
(2) 10L Baja Dry Bags by SealLine
(1) Helly Hansen Paramount Softshell



a Rafflecopter giveaway


  • Reply RFC at

    I drive a tiny little Scion XB, or a “toaster box”, and we are constantly saying we need a box for the roof of the box! Thanks for sharing your experience with the Yakima!

  • Reply Sandra Laflamme at

    Sweet gear and giveaways!

  • Reply Christy@ My Dirt Road Anthem at

    Wow lots of awesome stuff!!

  • Reply Patrice at

    Oooh!!! Really want to try the Fireside Provisions!!!!

  • Reply Patrice at

    Awesome giveaways btw!!!

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