Best outdoor product of 2017

Where there's smoke there's fire. But does fire have to come with smoke?

Best Outdoor Products BioLite Firepit

Best Products of 2017 Outdoor AwardEvery year, Digital Trends editors hand pick the most exciting products we’ve had the privilege of handling this year. Make sure to check out award winners in categories from cars to computers, plus the overall best product of 2017! Read on for the outdoor products that floored us this year. 

Winner

BioLite FirePit

There are few things as relaxing as sitting around a campfire – be it while camping, enjoying an evening on the beach, or simply taking a load off in your backyard. However, this bliss does come with one buzzkill: eye-searing, lung-choking, clothes-permeating smoke. The BioLite FirePit, a gadget from the same company that brought us electricity-generating backpacking stoves, aims to make playing musical chairs to avoid smoke a thing of the past.

An internal fan pumps oxygen to your fire through 51 separate jets, allowing the wood to burn more efficiently, creating a warmer fire with less fuel, and crucially, minimizing smoke. Unlike BioLite’s smaller CampStoves, the FirePit doesn’t feature a thermoelectric generator – which would charge the on-board battery via heat. Instead you charge the hub via USB. A range of settings let you choose how much you want to stoke your blaze: Max stirs up an inferno for chilly nights, while Low keeps the fire humming along with a relaxing ambience.

We enjoyed a perfectly cooked cheeseburger along with a smoke-less bonfire in a mere matter of minutes.

When you get hungry, the FirePit will also act as a portable grill, capable of cooking up a batch of hot dogs or burgers using either charcoal or wood. When the food’s done cooking, simply sliding the grill into the pit allows your bed of coals to transform from cooking fuel back to fire starter. During our own demo, we enjoyed a perfectly cooked cheeseburger along with a smoke-less bonfire in a mere matter of minutes.

No stranger to Kickstarter, BioLite chose to yet again launch its latest piece of tech on the popular crowdfunding site. Similar to its past campaigns, backers flocked to this innovative fire device in droves, helping the company raise more than a whopping $2.5 million during its month on the site. With its fundraising goal easily met, BioLite’s FirePit is now in production with the company aiming to ship the first wave of product to backers in May of 2018. At $200, BioLite’s FirePit was our favorite piece of innovative outdoor tech we saw this year.

Read more about the BioLite FirePit

See it

Runners up

When Patagonia announced it successfully produced the lightest, warmest, and most packable jacket its ever built, outdoor enthusiasts the world over couldn’t help but take note. Dubbed the MicroPuff Hoody, this innovative new product from the iconic gear company set a new standard for synthetic insulation, offering a warmth-to-weight ratio similar to goose down without sacrificing performance in the event it gets wet. The finished product is an efficient and durable jacket built for frigid temperatures, and held up well on our trek through British Columbia’s Bugaboos.

Read our Patagonia Micro Puff hands-on review

See it

Patagonia MicroPuff Jacket

After building its brand slinging indestructible phone cases, OtterBox decided to make a somewhat surprising pivot this past year, introducing an equally indestructible – and bear-proof – line of rugged coolers. Named the Venture series, these carefully constructed ice chests boast of keeping ice up to 14 days in theory, and back up that claim in practice. Constructed of a tough-as-nails polypropylene interior and exterior shell, OtterBox also used a two-part polyurethane insulation to achieve this masterful separation of hot and cold. We even picked it as a winner of one of our 2017 Digital Trends Outdoor Awards – it’s that impressive.

Read more on the OtterBox Venture Cooler

See it

OtterBox Venture Cooler
Product Review

Nintendo’s Labo VR Kit may look silly, but it really works

During our hands-on with the Nintendo Labo VR Kit, fears of a gimmicky product from Nintendo were quickly dispelled. While not a direct competitor to Oculus or HTCs own headsets, Labo VR brings a clever, new way to experience VR that makes…
Smart Home

Keep your stuff safe and porch pirates away with the best home security cams

When it comes to the best home security cameras, the choice often comes down to the one that simply knows how to stay out of your way. Here are some of our favorites, both indoor and outdoor.
Deals

A $20 lifetime REI Membership gets you exclusive deals, money back, and more

REI is a great one-stop shop for everything related to the great outdoors, but REI member rewards can give you even more. For just $20 for a lifetime membership, you can get access to exclusive sales, members-only deals, REI Adventure…
Deals

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for March 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Home Theater

Get loud with the best outdoor speakers to rock your party in any weather

From rugged, solar-powered backwoods listening companions to floating pool party jam boxes, the best outdoor speakers partner with your lifestyle to let you listen to your favorite tunes wherever you go.
Mobile

App schools fishing fans on the best time and place to hook that dream catch

Fishbrain, a fishing social network and forecasting app, has introduced BiteTime, a new feature that takes the guesswork out of when and where you are most likely to catch a certain species of fish.
Outdoors

Hyperlite’s new 2-person tent weighs slightly more than two bags of marshmallows

Hyperlite Mountain Gear took the wraps off its new ultralight Dirigo 2 tent. Weighing only 28 ounces, the Dirigo 2 is the company's first self-contained, three-season, two-person shelter.
Deals

REI cuts prices on Osprey, Patagonia, and The North Face backpacks

Whether you're hiking, camping, or traveling, you're always going to need a decent bag to carry your things in. And with REI's Outlet sale going on right now, it's is a perfect time to pick one up for cheap.
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Outdoors

Yamaha’s Wabash ebike takes on gravel, single track, and more

The Wabash gravel ebike from Yamaha gives riders a versatile and powerful option for riding trails, pavement, mud, sand, dirt, and more, with plenty of range and power for all-day adventures.
Health & Fitness

Under Armour HOVR is more than a running shoe, it’s a fitness tracker

Under Armour HOVR running shoes bring more to the table than just a comfortable fit. With UA's Record Sensor technology, you can track distance, duration, and even the path you take as you run.
Outdoors

Trek’s new bike helmet is 48 times safer than the one you’re wearing

Trek and Bontrager have taken the wraps off of a new cycling helmet that uses WaveCel technology to dramatically reduce head injuries by dispersing the impact in a way that is 48 times safer than current helmets.
Deals

Under Armour cuts prices on waterproof backpacks with this outlet sale

Under Armour built its name on athletic clothing, but this maker also offers great bags and backpacks for everyday use. If you're looking for a waterproof backpack to keep your stuff out of the rain, Under Armour’s ongoing sale might have…
Deals

REI drops deals on Garmin Fenix 5 and Vivoactive 3 smartwatches

Garmin's activity trackers offer a lot of advantages for health-conscious individuals and outdoor adventurers, and with spring finally here, now’s a fine time to jump on the smartwatch bandwagon. REI’s Garmin sale is the perfect chance…