2022 Backpacking Light Members Choice Awards

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable 2022 Backpacking Light Members Choice Awards

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    Backpacking Light


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Companion forum thread to: 2022 Backpacking Light Members Choice Awards

    First annual Members Choice Awards – what gear do our members use and love as we near the end of 2022?

    james rosen
    BPL Member


    Leukotape! The magic tape. Best blister prevention/protection tape. It’s waterproof. It has magic glue that sticks to any surface. Use it on skin, torn pants, torn tent, soles separating from shoes, ripped backpacks. Comes in two widths.

    John R.
    BPL Member


    I have at least one item from each of these categories. It’s interesting how these rise to the top in popularity. I wonder how much of that is from social media and marketing. Regardless, these items stay in our packs, so the proof is in the pudding.

    One minor note: the Sea to Summit spoon pictured is actually aluminum, not titanium.

    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    Good catch, John – the image has been fixed – the members choice in this category is “long handled titanium spoon”, so yep – aluminum is out!

    Todd T
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    the Sea to Summit spoon pictured is actually aluminum, not titanium.

    Why do you say that?

    Edit:  Oh, I see a correction slipped in before my post….  “Never mind.”

    Michael Billingslea
    BPL Member


    Food for the Sole has unfortunately closed.

    AK Granola
    BPL Member


    Of the backpacks mentioned, which best carries a bear canister? I have stuck with my heavier Granite Gear Blaze 60, because it carries the load so well with a bear canister inside. I’ve seen people recommending emptying all your food out and carrying a canister on top or bottom, bleh. But maybe one of these packs does it well with a pound less pack weight. My total weight is never over 30 pounds, even with the bear canister.

    AK Granola
    BPL Member


    I’m also considering a different stove solution, but it would be super expensive. I’ve thought about it for a while, and the price in particular stops me. For the last several years I’ve been using the MSR Windburner and I love it. All in one, I can sip my tea while dinner soaks in the pot, and it sips gas daintily while boiling quickly. However, if I were to combine: MSR PocketRocket Deluxe + Vargo bot + STS cup, I would cut 5 ounces weight. I’d also have a cold soaking options in the Bot. Or if someone has a campfire, I could just use the Bot directly and not use gas. Any other advantages to the alternative? If there are enough, I might ask for one of the pieces for xmas.

    I’m happy enough with the Windburner though. And the pot has greater capacity than the Bot.

    Mark L
    BPL Member


    > Of the backpacks mentioned, which best carries a bear canister?

    I’m curious also.

    I’m currently using the Bearikade Weekender (31.45 oz) inside the 50L Arc Haul Ultra (20.4 oz).

    I haven’t done trips with it yet. Although the can sits above the middle stay it presses into the mid/upper back a bit. My current issue is trying to pack around it well enough so that it doesn’t rock back & forth as I walk, especially given the Arc design. But to cinch it up tighter means the can pressing into my back more. I’ve played around with strapping it on top but that’s worse. I’d need a new strap system to try it on the bottom. I’m not opposed to repacking each time if it’s only got a few days of food in it, which would simply mean dumping rather than careful repacking.

    The can will go down to the bottom, but it presses the middle stay out a considerable amount. And – it’s on the bottom and not accessible for midday meals.

    Always something to work on.




    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado

    Interesting. The only top-rated item that I use are the socks, and virtually none of my favorite gear is on the list at all. Still, my choices are the result of many years of trial-and-error and they work great for me.

    Of course a survey is perhaps only as good as the methodology used. I certainly didn’t vote, and I don’t recall receiving a survey. Anecdotally, from reading many BPL threads, I know that an awful lot of people are very happy with Zpacks shelters and packs, so it’s quite odd to me that none of them made the list at all. Perhaps future surveys can be done in a way that promotes greater engagement and inclusion.

    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern Indiana

    “Anecdotally, from reading many BPL threads, I know that an awful lot of people are very happy with ZPacks shelters and packs, so it’s quite odd to me that none of them made the list at all”.

    The herd goes for whatever’s trendy at the moment. Joe at ZPacks has been in business for over 12 years now and does about 10 million dollars a year in sales. He’s had mountains of feedback from people who’ve collectively used his gear for literally millions of trail miles. The updated Duplex with its improved cat cuts is a fantastic shelter and that’s why you see HMG copying the fly portion almost to a T (even though the Unbound 2’s HEAVY zippers and floor make it inferior to the Duplex). The Plex Solo and Altaplex are wildly popular worldwide. Also ZPacks Arc series packs are the cutting edge of ultralight….the lightest framed, full featured backpacks of them all (very comfortable as well). The fact that none of Joe’s tents or packs are on the list has me scratching my head too.

    I’m not overly crazy about ZPacks sleeping bags though.


    Murali C
    BPL Member


    Monte – people with Zpacks gear are out backpacking and don’t have time to vote:-) I agree that Duplex is the most popular tent you will see on any trail!

    AK – I think Mariposa and HMG 3400 will carry the bear canister inside nicely. You may have to place some stuff between bear can and back so that you don’t feel the canister.

    Mark L – I have carried Bearikade Blazer in Arc Haul 60 (210d – which stretches a bit compared to Ultra) and 60L is 8 inches in depth. 6.5 inches (50L) or even 7 inches is tight for Bearikade. 7 inches may be okay for BV500. But 8 inches will definitely be better. I have heard Arc Blast users complaining about feeling the bear can – which is 7 inches in depth and is DCF. I have carried Bearikade Blazer in my MLD Prophet (210d nylon) very comfortably – the same can will not carry that well in the DCF or the Ultra version of MLD Prophet – Prophet is 7 inches in depth.

    Murali C
    BPL Member


    Though if you want a cheap backpack that can carry a bear canister very nicely – Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 is an awesome pack. Carries weight great and the pack expands to 60 liters and can hold the can nicely and since it is slightly arched – you will not feel the can. It can be had for lesser than 170 bucks right now with sales going on. And when you dont have a bear can, you can compress the pack to 40L or 50 L or whatever. I used this pack for my first JMT hike….

    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern Indiana

    I see the Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite made the list and rightfully so, but it’s going to be supplanted soon by the new NeoAir X-Lite NXT’s which are 1/2″ thicker and are supposed to be 6 times quieter than the current X-Lites. And just a tad warmer too with a 4.5 R value. Same weight.

    Campsaver (and others) have had the X-Lites marked down at least 25% or more for months now because they’re making way for the new NXT’s coming onto the market after the new year. If you apply code BCE10 at campsaver you can get an X-lite or any other Thermarest air mat for about 35% off MSRP.

    Paul G
    BPL Member


    I just finished a thru-hike of the AT, and I used many of the items on this list, some of which I can recommend and others which I cannot (at least not for an AT thru-hike).

    Durston Gear X-Mid Pro 2 – I used this tent for the final 6 weeks of my thru-hike, from Damascus to Springer, but I can’t recommend it for an AT thru-hike. The footprint is too large to make pitching on a platform easy, the sides must be guyed out if there is anything stronger than a light breeze, there is no internal storage, and the stuff sack is too short to be able to securely strap it to the outside bottom of most backpacks.

    MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe – I started out with this stove, which was great until the brass threading came off on a fuel canister after less than 2 months. I had to go without a stove for several days until I got to the next town. Cascade Designs said it would take 8-10 weeks to get it repaired or replaced (no offer for a loaner to enable me to finish my thru-hike). So I bought the Soto Windmaster and finished my thru-hike with it, because Cascade Designs never updated me on the repair status. Once I got home 5 months later, they claimed they had emailed me to ask for a shipping address (I searched my emails, including Spam and Trash, but no such email was ever sent.) Terrible customer service.

    Toaks 750 Light Titanium Pot – I started with this pot, which was fine, but since I only use my pot to boil water I soon switched to the “light” 650ml size, which saved a bit of weight for the same performance.

    CNOC Vecto – Mine sprung a leak less than 2 weeks into my hike. I patched it and all was fine, but I eventually switched to using 1 liter LifeWater bottles because I didn’t trust the CNOC when it came to long water carries. I met other hikers who also had to patch their CNOC at some point.

    Ursack Major – I used the Major XL, which has a 7-day capacity. But a black bear attacked it just 3 weeks from the end of my hike, puncturing much of the food inside, so I recommend using the aluminum liner accessory that REI sells.

    Enlightened Equipment Visp – I was initially impressed with the rain performance of this jacket, but by the 3rd rainstorm it was wetting out almost immediately. It also starting pilling under the shoulder straps. Other hikers experienced the same issues. It’s fine for walking the dog in the rain, but it’s simply not built to withstand a thru-hike.

    ZPacks Possumdown Gloves – I like these gloves, but they began to deteriorate towards the end of my hike. They also shed a lot of fuzz. Mice also like them, because one of them chewed the ring finger off one of my gloves (which Zpacks replaced for free). Probably not the best glove option for AT thru-hikers.

    Altra Lone Peak – I made the mistake of pre-buying 3 pairs of these for the AT, and my feet suffered for it. Just not enough cushioning and protection from the roots and rocks on the AT. The Olympus are a better option in this regard.

    Anyway, that’s my experience after over 6 months on the AT.

    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    <p>Interesting and I appreciate the field report from your AT thru-</p><p>Footprint is a pretty big issue at places on the AT so a non freestanding 2 person tent probably isn’t a good choice (though the Duplex seems popular).  The X-Mid 1P is probably the better choice, or even a Sierra Designs High Route – which isn’t that great in the wind but has a small footprint. </p><p>I’ve not used the Visp, but in my experience all super lightweight rain shells with “proprietary fabrics” suck for long term use in rainy environments.  I’m not a huge fan of Gore’s business practices, but their rain shells just work better (they still suck, but they just suck less) and a heavier duty 3-layer shell is probably the ticket for a long AT thru hike.   Now for the PCT, where you don’t wear a rain shell as much, a lighter shell is probably OK. </p><p>Possum Down gloves have been around a long time (The long defunct BPL store used to sell them 15 years ago) and they have a really good warmth to weight ratio but have never been durable.  To be honest, it sounds like they lasted longer than I thought they would.   </p><p>Hard sided water bottles for the win!  I’m a Gatorade bottle fan personally.</p><p>I’m curious about the UrSack attack.  How was it stored?  I’ve used an UrSack some on trips out west, but always consider it a food storage container to meet laws and regulations, but when you really don’t expect to see a bear.  If I’m in an area that I think I might have a bear come around my food, a hard sided canister is best.    All in all though, it sounds like it did what it was supposed to do and kept the bear from getting your food.  The IGBC doesn’t care if your food is ruined, just that the bear doesn’t get it. </p>

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Re: carrying a bear canister. People are sick of hearing this, but I use the frame and belt from a LuxuryLite pack, but not the cloth canisters this pack uses. Instead I simply strapped on a large volume frameless pack bag. The LL frame has an L shaped ‘bench’ on the bottom that holds a canister perfectly, sideways. The pack bag I use is large enough to hold a Bearikade weekender sideways inside. It’s absolutely comfortable and the whole gizmo weighs about 2 1/2 pounds. Weight is off my shoulders entirely and onto the luxuriously padded hip belt.

    Dan @ Durston Gear
    BPL Member


    Locale: Canadian Rockies

    “…[X-Mid Pro has] no internal storage, and the stuff sack is too short to be able to securely strap it to the outside bottom of most backpacks.”

    A lot of people do want pockets so our next batch will have them. The stuff sack is short (12″) so it can pack horizontally inside a pack, but it would quite easy to grab a different stuff sack if you prefer a longer shape.

    Mina Loomis
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Texas

    AK Granola, Mark L:  The Mariposa fits a Bearikade Weekender comfortably vertically.  Sleeping bag/kit in the bottom inside pack liner, BW vertically on top of that, with smaller items (cook kit, water filter, etc.) either aside it or atop.  Many folks seem to want the bear canister to go horizontally but I like it to be vertical so I can open and root around in it without extracting it from the pack during the day.  Hint:  With the Mariposa, position the Bearkade at a height that places its top edge securely *behind* the top of the framestay, to prevent back impingement.

    BPL Member


    Locale: The West is (still) the Best

    I use a lot of this years picks and, well, they work.

    Xlite: the regular size is some of the best sleep I’ve ever had paired with the S2S UL Delux (!) pillow (or something like that). That said the next version reportedly will be thicker and warmer at the same weight, which is good overall but will raise the body up in a mid-shaped  shelter.  So I’ll have to preserve my present  I’m thinking … For longer hikes I may go with a foam pad and Uberlite (shorty) puffer to preserve my current Xlite.

    Enlightened Equipment [Enigma] quilt – have had it for quite some time and no reason to change.  I have one of the older versions but recheck the temp rating every fall .. haven’t been disappointed. My age may be a determining factor in an upgrade as a draft collar looks better every year ..

    MSR Pocket Rocket stove: love the partitioned burner so I never have had to relight the burner.  Low wt.

    Patagonia Capilene Cool shirts.  Finally found my perfect hiking shirt (feel, wicking when it gets warm – true to name it cools when it gets warm),  great balance of weight vs durability.  So now it’s sun hoody or crew neck with sun hat? Will probably stick with these picks next yr or something very similar (like if the Patagonia  Tropical Comfort using Cap Cool comes back to the line)


    The above for me represent if it ain’t broke don’t fix it level of gear (ok maybe slight actual improvements, cheaper would be nice too..), but already at least the Xlite seems going towards an upgrade.  We’ll see though my campmates may appreciate a less crinkly Xlite (me?  I carry hostel sample earplugs)


    Some of the other items I use with little or no  commentary are:

    clothes: Altra LP’s w/Darn Toughs and Dirty Girls if not sandal weather.

    Gear: nyloflume pack liners – love for summer and 3-season packing,  polycro groundclothes (baby those), MSR Groundhogs (sandy out here), Sawyer Squeeze (don’t forget the maintenance), Smartwater bottles, and Bear Vaults.  May try some more from the list next year.

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