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.

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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.

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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.

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OtterBox Venture Cooler