It can be hard to know which gear is the best value or the highest quality when, every year, the market teems with hundreds of new jackets, backpacks, running shoes, and sporting accessories. And that’s why awards like the ISPO, the OTS, and the Scandinavian outdoor gear award exist. They help the cream rise to the top, providing rigorous quality assurance and issuing their stamps of approval on the year’s finest products.
Each of these institutions distinguish their winners by the same few core concepts: quality construction, innovative design, and sustainable production. These criteria also help keep the gear market competitive and progressive, as brands push harder and further towards helping the environment and creating resources for people of all skill levels and abilities.
It isn’t just award institutions helping you seek out and discover the best gear out there – we do that too. For your convenience, we’ve collected a list of highlights from this year’s crop of winners. Some of the products are yet to be released while others are on the market right now (while stocks last), so we’ve included some helpful information and links wherever possible. Just for you.
Outdoor Industries Association | Slide & OTS Awards
BACH Dr. Duffel 30
Winning in the Outdoor Accessories category is BACH’s 30l Dr Duffel which gets its name from being modelled after the practical Doctor’s case. The self-standing mechanism allows the user to take full advantage of the width and length of this storage space. The wide opening means the entire contents of the bag is accessible at any time – no digging around for ration packets at the bottom of a backpack. This is a duffel which rewards good organisation, and which has the potential to be extremely efficient for someone who wants to keep a lot of equipment handy.
More Info: bachpacks.com
Ortovox LiTRIC AVABAG
Some gear serves as a luxury, like a premium portable coffee maker or a fancy electric snow bike. On the other hand, certain gear is absolutely essential to safety, security and perhaps even survival. Firmly in the latter category is the upcoming LiTRIC airbag system from Ortovox. Their lightweight avalanche backpack, the AVABAG, was the ISPO product of the year in 2016/17, an impressively compact and accessible airbag system. However, fully mechanical AVABAG Unit was a chore to practice using, it couldn’t be activated more than once on a trip without bringing a carbon canister to refill and the canisters were tricky to fly with. Seeking to remedy this, Ortovox teamed up with Arc’teryx to present their first ever fully electric airbag unit. Set for release soon, this unit uses a new locking system to fully prevent accidental opening of the airbag, along with a new 2-layer material for the airbag itself which removes the need for precise folding – it can simply be pushed back into the airbag pocket.
*ISPO are taking a new approach to their ‘annual’ award. They’ve split the judging into four rounds which will proceed throughout the year so that seasonal gear can be spotlighted at its ideal moment. These are our picks from the first wave of winners.