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Staff Picks 2021

Each year, our staff selects their favorite hiking, backpacking, and other backcountry gear that they’ve used this year - our infamous Staff Picks!

How Effective are Backflushing and Storage Practices for Backcountry Squeeze Filters Using Hollow-Fiber Membrane Technology?

We provide data that evaluates backflushing and storage in maintaining flow rates of the Platypus Quickdraw, Sawyer Squeeze, and Katadyn Befree hollow-fiber membrane squeeze filters.

Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer Review

The Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer is a fantastic - and fantastically expensive - way to prepare backpacking meals.

Tarptent ProTrail Li Review

The Tarptent ProTrail Li (17.7 ounces / 502 g, from $529) is a single-wall, double trekking-pole, single-vestibule, front-entry Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF) 1-person shelter.

By the Numbers: the Search for a High-MVTR Waterproof Breathable Shell Jacket

A high MVTR waterproof-breathable shell jacket may be the holy grail that can replace both a wind shirt and a rain jacket. Do they exist, and where do we find them?

Ultralight Rain Mitts for Backpacking: Reviews & Gear Guide

In this gear guide, we review 16 models of waterproof mitten shells ("rain mitts") weighing less than 4 ounces (113 g) within the primary context of 3-season backpacking.

Remote Inverted Canister Winter Stove V6

Longtime Backpacking Light contributor Roger Caffin debuts the V6 model of his inverted canister stove.

BioLite Headlamp 750 Review

The BioLite Headlamp 750 (MSRP $99.95, 5.3 ounces / 150 g) is a performance-oriented USB-rechargeable headlamp with several unique features but crippling reliability issues.

By the Numbers: Crushing It – How Bad is Thermal Degradation in Synthetic Insulation?

In part two of this investigation, we see what happens when you crush insulation beneath a stack of concrete pavers - again and again.

Vargo ExoTi BOG Backpack Review

The Vargo ExoTi BOG backpack (2 pounds 9 ounces / 1.16 kg, MSRP $299.95) is a roll-top, external, titanium framed backpack with a removable 40-liter 70 denier primary compartment.

Durston X-Mid 2P Review

The Durston X-Mid 2P is a 2-person, double-wall, dual side-entry, silpoly shelter with two vestibules that weighs 40 oz (1134 g).

Vargo Titanium Water Bottle Review

I bought the $85 Vargo titanium water bottle to see if it was worth it. The answer? It's complicated. Here's my review.

The Search for a Fleece Replacement – A Close Look at Active Insulation and the role of MVTR

What is MVTR's role in active insulation garments?

Simple Gear Tests and USB Recharging

In his new column, Simple Gear Tests, Backpacking Light author Rex Sanders provides suggestions for at-home gear tests you can do with minimal time and expense. First up - a plan for verifying the capacity of your USB-rechargeable devices.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 Trail Running Shoes Review

The Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 (9.5 oz / 270 g, MSRP $160) is a moderately-cushioned, zero drop, wide toebox trail running shoe with better-than-average durability and fantastic fit.

Air permeability vs. moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR): which one impacts moisture transport more in wind and rain jackets?

This study compares the performance of four jackets made with fabrics that span a wide range of air permeability rates and moisture vapor transmission rates (MVTR). The study shows that significantly greater moisture removal can be achieved as a function of jacket MVTR than jacket air permeability.

YAR.gear Mountain Drifter 38L Review

The YAR.gear Mountain Drifter 38L (~18 oz / 510 g, MSRP $200) is a light and modular fastpacking pack that can accommodate heavier loads for short distances if need be.

Standards Watch Hikes into the Sunset

Rex Sanders reflects on what he learned after eight months of digging into backpacking standards.

NEMO Dagger 3P Review

The Nemo Dagger 3P (4 pounds 5 ounces / 2 kg, MSRP $529.95) is a three-person, free-standing tent with roomy vestibules, light-diffusing overhead pockets, a stuff-sack system designed to help split the load amongst hiking partners, and pre-bent, color-coded poles (2019 update) for easy setup.

By The Numbers: How Bad is Thermal Degradation in Synthetic Insulation?

The latest findings on thermal degradation in synthetic insulation from Stephen Seeber may surprise you in this By The Numbers column.

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