Want to go deeper? Active Pass members get access to all of Backpacker’s stories, including our full gear reviews. Sign up today!. Last year’s hiking season was like no other we’ve ever experienced. Between the lockdowns, and the wildfires, and the general unease of seeing other humans even on the trail, getting outdoors was much more of a feat than usual. Nevertheless, our testers did what they always do: take the year’s newest gear into the backcountry to see how it performs. After four months of testing, the results came in, and a group of Backpacker editors headed out to finish the job. Finding a destination wasn’t easy—see the aforementioned lockdowns and fires, and add in an early-season snowstorm—but once we did, everything fell into place. The canyons of southwest Colorado—steep-walled, rocky, remote—are well-suited for proving what works and what doesn’t, and offer magnificent scenery and solitude to boot. When we emerged from the trip, we’d crowned nine products as the new vanguard of hiking equipment. We don’t know what this year will bring, but we know this gear will never let you down.