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My 2021 Gear Round-Up

My favorite pieces of gear I discovered in 2021.

By: Kristen Fuller + Save to a List

As we wind down this current year and approach the New Year, I always love looking back on my favorite adventures of the year and my favorite outdoor gear that helped me get there. 2021 was another fun year for the books. This year, I discovered some great new pieces of outdoor equipment developed by reputable and sustainable brands, and I am excited to share them with you.


Usually, my "adventure" shoes consist of hiking boots, trail runners, and ski boots, but 2021 allowed my inner fashionista to come out!

I found some super comfy, stylish, and practical everyday shoes:

  • Vans:
    Slip-On TRK Vans
    • I was in the market for a rubber slip-on shoe that I could wear everywhere. Although nearly everyone mistakes these rubber slip-on Vans for Crocs, I absolutely love these shoes and wear them at camp, at the beach, around town, and to walk the dogs in warm weather.
  • Teva warm, ankle boots: Teva x Anna Sui capsule collection slip-on ankle boot
    • I was looking for a warm slip-on shoe, and I came across these stunning slip-on warm boots. They are super cute, easy to slip on, very comfy, and extremely warm. They are my go-to winter boots to wear around town. Unfortunately, since they were part of a capsule collection, they are no longer available for purchase through Teva. However, you may be able to snag a pair through a third-party vendor.
  • Water socks: Quick-Dry Aqua Socks for beach swim, surf, and yoga
    • I initially purchased my water socks because I started swimming in alpine lakes and wanted my feet to stay warm. I found these water socks to be super lightweight, warm, and comfortable, and they quickly became my go-to paddleboarding shoe.

Collapsible/reusable 5-gallon water jug: Coleman Water Carrier

I was tired of purchasing single-use plastic water jugs, and I admit that I am pretty late to the game in terms of this purchase (this item has been around for years), but I finally purchased one of these, and it has drastically improved my car camping life.

Lightweight foldable car camping table: Trekology Portable Camping Side Table

I have yet to own a camping table as I try to keep my car camping gear as minimal as possible. However, this summer, I was in the market for a lightweight and foldable table with easy assembly to hold my two-burner car camping stove. This table was a great find!

Puffy pants: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Pants

THE BEST PURCHASE I MADE IN 2021. I have always drooled over down puffy pants, but the price tag was a bit too rich for me. I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a pair of down puffy pants this year, and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH that I do not know why I waited so long. They stuff into a tiny sack, and I take them on all my cold-weather adventures. They are worth EVERY hard-earned penny. I sleep in them in the backcountry when the temps drop into the 20's, and they are great to wear around camp on cold nights. I considered purchasing a winter sleeping bag since I enjoy winter backcountry adventures, but these pants add so much extra warmth that I am now extremely warm in my 3 season sleeping bag. Only a few brands make down puffy pants, so the options were pretty slim. Goose Feet and Western Mountaineering are other two brands besides Mountain Hardware who makes puffy pants. I went with Mountain Hardware because they were having a sale. All three brands are extremely reputable.

USB portable blender: BlendJet Portable Blender

When BlendJet reached out to me about trying their portable blender, I was skeptical. I am not a huge kitchen gadget fan, and I do not drink smoothies or shakes, but the blender is portable and is charged via a USB cable; I was quickly intrigued. When it arrived, my friend and I quickly figured there was no way this tiny little device could grind ice and fruit to make margaritas, but to our surprise, this device is the little engine that could. Although I do not use this device for smoothies or shakes, this now comes with me on all my camping trips to make blended margaritas at camp; because who doesn't like a blended margarita while camping?

Warm winter sun hat with ponytail hole: Trailheads Quilted Winter Trucker Hat

I have been struggling to find the best sun protection and ear warmers during my long winter running and cross country ski sessions. I usually use a baseball cap and a warm ear band, but both of these pieces together look funny, and although they get the job done, I was over the moon to try the Trailheads Quilted Winter Hat. This hat blocks the sun and keeps my ears nice and warm while I am enjoying my cold weather running and cross country ski adventures. This hat also comes with a ponytail hole in the back to pull your pony through; clearly, this is a female-designed product. However, it is super cute, and I often find myself wearing it around town in the winter. I am excited to try other great designs from this brand.

RTIC Ice Chest: RTIC 52 Quart Ultralight Cooler

I did my fair share of car camping this summer (I am not a car camper by nature, I prefer backpacking) and became so tired of buying multiple bags of ice to keep my food cold in my flimsy ice chest. I have been using the same Rubbermaid ice chest for 15 years, and it plain sucks, but I kept using it because I was not about to spend $500 on a YETI Ice chest. I wanted a top-of-the-line cooler with enough insulation to keep my food cold for five days without refilling it with ice. I came across RTIC and was intrigued by the price, brand, and product. I love the color, and my food stays cold for five days without adding ice. The only downside is that this cooler is heavy, and I "struggle" to carry it by myself. These coolers are meant for a 2-man carry; however, this also goes for YETI coolers and other competitors. I sacrificed weight for function, but it was very worth it!.

Lightweight running armband: Bone Run Tie Armband Phone Holder

I have spent the past two decades trying all different phone holders for runners. I have tried multiple armbands, wristbands, etc., and they all suck. I discovered this armband on Amazon, and I was browsing, and it seemed like it may be a good find. I quickly ordered it, assuming it may end up in my pile of crappy armbands, but to my surprise, this armband phone holder is the best one yet. There is no "cover," so you can easily use your phone (and camera) without pulling it off your arm or dealing with trying to press through an awkward plastic cover. It is very sturdy, comfortable, and affordable.

Puppy dog sleeping bag for Taquito: Outrav Dog Sleeping Bag

Having two dogs in tow in the backcountry is challenging. Moo sleeps in my sleeping bag, but puppy Taquito is a terror and tries to destroy everything in sight, so no way is the big guy going to have free range of my tent. He sleeps in a collapsible lightweight dog crate (that he often chews through), but when the nighttime temps began to drop into the 20's and 30's later in the season, I started looking into "dog sleeping bags". Dog sleeping bags are actually a hot commodity. Nearly every brand makes them, and although I am a very loyal RuffWear customer, the RuffWear sleeping bag was 2 pounds. I am not about to carry a 2lb sleeping bag for my 9-pound dog into the backcountry. It wasn't easy to find a dog sleeping bag that was light enough to justify carrying it into the backcountry. The Outrav sleeping bag weighs 11 ounces, packs down well is super cozy and warm, and is very affordable. Taquito loves it, and he sleeps with it every night in his crate (at home and in the backcountry).

Octopus multi-port charging cords: Multi-charging cable

My friend gave me this nifty device and I no longer have to carry around multiple chords to charge my phone, camera, or Garmin Inreach. I could not find the link to my specific charging octopus but this is a similar model and includes USB, micro USB and USB-c. I still have to carry my Gamin watch charging chord since that is proprietary to Garmin. 

If you want to read more of my adventure and gear round-ups, feel free to browse the following:

My Favorite Adventure of Summer/Fall 2021

My Adventure Recap of 2020

My Favorite Adventures and Trail Bloopers of 2018

My Favorite Outdoor Gear Roundup of 2018

Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of 2021!


We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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