Dec 31, 2016 at 12:03 pm #3442571Backpacking LightAdmin
@backpackinglightLocale: Rocky Mountains
Companion forum thread to: Staff Picks 2016: Our Favorite Backpacking Gear of the Year
View our staff picks for the best backpacking gear of the year – recommendations from our editors and guides for hiking and backpacking gear.Dec 31, 2016 at 12:43 pm #3442579
Euroschirm silver umbrella
Always interesting to actually see the staff who are making BPL what it is today. Lots of new faces this year.Dec 31, 2016 at 5:55 pm #3442633Dan DurstonBPL Member
@dandydanLocale: Canadian Rockies
Thanks for the info on those REI mitts Ryan. They look great.
Dec 31, 2016 at 8:59 pm #3442648David ThomasBPL Member
- Fenix Light HL10 – Not a perfect light, but its the only headlamp that uses 1 x AAA, which is the lightest and simplest solution for most 3 season hikes. It’s also voltage regulated and easy to use. Only $25 and 45g including batteries. A nice little brother to my Zebralight H51.
- Swiss Army NailClip 580 – Only 0.5oz heavier than the popular Swiss Army Mini Classic knife, this one adds a larger blade that’s better for slicing cheese and nail clippers, which are a life saver on any thru-hike. Only thing missing is the pen, which would be handy and Victorinox has added to some versions of their mini knives.
- Suluk46 TiCa Ice Tool – Hopefully we won’t see this won’t derail the rest of the comments like this pick did in 2014, but this thing is awesome. It fills a great niche and I’ve been very happy to carry it on several trips over the past year.
- BONUS: Delorme InReachSE – Over the past year this has been so handy. From getting weather forecasts on skiing trips, so easing my wife’s worry on solo trips. For ambitious trips, the ability to get the weather from the field is great and helps justify the weight.
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Dan: Nice to know about NailClip 580 – something just a bit bigger than the Classic would be an nice option. But search as I could, I didn’t find any for other than $24-25 each. No TSA-seized lot for $5 each as is the case for the Victorinox Classic.Jan 1, 2017 at 7:13 am #3442658Ralph BurgessBPL Member
Dan, if people ripped into your ultralight ice axe last year, let’s do your flashlight pick this year!
First just to fix a typo there, the HL10 is made by Fenix.
Also, the current single-AA Zebralight is the H52 (replaced the H51).
Zebralight tend to use state-of-the-art LEDs, and LEDs tech is progressing rapidly. My experience of the H52 is that it gets vastly superior battery life to anything else I’ve tried. The H52 has robust metal construction, waterproofing gasket, and without battery weighs 1.1oz (2.0oz with strap). Imo the sweet spot are the mid brightness settings. Manufacturer run times are 54 Lm = 7h, 27 Lm = 12h. Those are good numbers in my experience (with Li Ultimate AA). 54 Lm is enough for most night hiking, and there is the option of quick bursts at much higher brightness, up to 300Lm.
I’m struggling to see how the HL10 makes any sense by comparison. Manufacturer run times appear to be 70 Lumen = 1h or 30 Lumen = 3h. If you’re just using it around camp, for which 30 Lm is suitable, you’re losing any small weight saving with a need to carry more batteries. And it’s not suitable for any kind of hiking at night, and lacks the high brightness settings of the Zebralight that are a great emergency feature.
I think the term “stupid light” depends very much on what alternatives are available. But in my opinion, both the Suluk Ice Axe (when the Camp Corsa is available) and the Fenix HL10 (when the Zebralight H52 is available) both fall into the category “stupid light” to me. Both ice axes and flashlights are critical safety kit, and for a small weight penalty there are products with much more robust construction and far superior performance.Jan 1, 2017 at 7:21 am #3442660Bob MoulderBPL Member
@bobmny10562Locale: Westchester County, NY
Monbell Versalite jacket. Bought it, love it, use the hell out of it. Crushes the OR Helium II on every count.
Zpacks solo plus poncho/groundsheet (which I would personally not employ as a groundsheet) and used it 3 or 4 times and it worked quite well. Probably would pick it over the Versalite if expecting tons of rain in warmish weather.
BD Spot. I like everything about it, from the light options, switch (esp the ‘tap for full power’ 200 lumens!) and run time. Got my fingers crossed that I don’t have any long-term reliability issues of the sort I’ve read about.Jan 1, 2017 at 8:09 am #3442665KatttBPL Member
My 3 picks are not new items, but what I have been using the most on and off trail:
1. The Izula Eese knife in the hard sheath, hanging from my back loop belt with a small carabiner. It is very easy to deploy, just reach behind with my right hand and pull it out of the case. Always with me.
2. The always reliable Therm-a-Rest Z Lite pad. I have several sections of one as well as the full length version. Also like it because I find so many unused ones at the flea market for 1-5 $ and feel no guilt cutting one up to use in my backpack, or at home to absorb the vibration of my serger etc.
3. Lundhag’s Traverse Pants. Nothing about these pants is light…but I am pretty hard on gear and clothes and these pants are all I want to wear, even out to dinner.Jan 1, 2017 at 9:15 am #3442671AnonymousInactive
“I’m struggling to see how the HL10 makes any sense by comparison. Manufacturer run times appear to be 70 Lumen = 1h or 30 Lumen = 3h. If you’re just using it around camp, for which 30 Lm is suitable, you’re losing any small weight saving with a need to carry more batteries. And it’s not suitable for any kind of hiking at night, and lacks the high brightness settings of the Zebralight that are a great emergency feature.”
This is a headlamp that I have been using for several years now that exceeds the H52 in run time and lumens for the mid range setting, and is exceedingly simple to use. I would recommend it as a worthy competitor to the Zebralight.Jan 1, 2017 at 9:40 am #3442673
Ooh, and on sale too TomJan 1, 2017 at 1:58 pm #3442702AnonymousInactive
“Ooh, and on sale too Tom”
I almost bought one for a backup, but mine has shown no signs of wear. So, I suppressed the instinctive urge to snag a bargain and kept my powder dry.Jan 1, 2017 at 2:32 pm #3442708W I S N E R !BPL Member
Jan 1, 2017 at 2:52 pm #3442710Dan DurstonBPL Member
- Altra Lone Peak 3.0. While I’ve only run about 50 miles in the past two weeks in them, I’m familiar enough with the previous generations to know that they nailed it here. A vast improvement over previous models; better traction, better fit, better build/durability, better colors. They seem to have solved all the problems I had with them and just jumped to the top of my favorite shoe list. Altra is one of the few companies that seems to be listening carefully to its customers instead of just making shoes for its pros. The zero drop makes them far more stable for their thickness than a comparable traditional shoe like the NB Leadville.
- Patagonia Tropic Comfort Hoody II. Next to a simple cotton t-shirt, it’s my favorite all around backpacking top for “real” trips. Excellent sun protection, breathability, and hood fit. Works great as part of the rest of my layering system for hot or cold weather.
- HMG Southwest 3400. I’ve been using a GoLite Jam2 for many years and finally wore it out. I was really worried about what would replace it. I like simple rucksack style designs that carry close to the body without all sorts of gizmos on them. The HMG has been perfect so far. Simple, robust, and everything I wish my Jam had for a minor weight increase.
@dandydanLocale: Canadian Rockies
“First just to fix a typo there, the HL10 is made by Fenix.”
“Zebralight tend to use state-of-the-art LEDs, and LEDs tech is progressing rapidly. My experience of the H52 is that it gets vastly superior battery life to anything else I’ve tried. The H52 has robust metal construction, waterproofing gasket, and without battery weighs 1.1oz (2.0oz with strap)”
Indeed Zebralight’s are nicer headlamps. I also own both a H51 and H52w. However the Fenix HL10 is also decently well made and also has metal construction and a waterproofing gasket. The main thing I don’t like about the HL10 is the plastic strap attachment bracket. The Zebralight rubber attachment is nicer, but unfortunately slips when running.
“Manufacturer run times appear to be 70 Lumen = 1h or 30 Lumen = 3h. If you’re just using it around camp, for which 30 Lm is suitable, you’re losing any small weight saving with a need to carry more batteries……I’m struggling to see how the HL10 makes any sense by comparison.”
The HL10 fills a different niche. It’s good for when you don’t need very much light (e.g. most summer trips). Indeed if you need >2 hours of 30 lumen light then H52 makes more sense. But for many trips, the HL10 fits where the H52 is overkill. The days are long enough between April and August that an AAA light like the HL10 is more than adequate if I’m not night hiking. 30 lumens is plenty for regular camp chores, and 3 hours of run time easily suffices for a weekend trip when I mostly using it at 4 lumens to read.
Why carry a headlamp that weighs nearly double just to have brightness and run times that I don’t need? With the strap and one NiMH battery, my H52w weighs 85g (3.0oz) while my HL10 weighs 48g (1.7oz). Even in the extremely unlikely event of a night time emergency, you can just use the HL10 wisely. 2 months ago I was out for a dayhike with the HL10 and ran into an injured hiker near dusk, yet managed to use the HL10 prudently enough to make it last 6 hours until I had carried the injured hiker out.
I think the term “stupid light” depends very much on what alternatives are available. But in my opinion, both the Suluk Ice Axe (when the Camp Corsa is available) and the Fenix HL10 (when the Zebralight H52 is available) both fall into the category “stupid light” to me. Both ice axes and flashlights are critical safety kit, and for a small weight penalty there are products with much more robust construction and far superior performance.”
The Zebralight H600 offers far superior performance to the H52 for only a small weight penalty, so is the H52 is stupid light? Probably not, because “stupid light” and “critical safety gear” are circumstance dependant, not absolute. A gear fails these tests when its functionality is insufficient for the trip + reasonable safety margin. The HL10 is stupid light for a night hike, just as the H52 is stupid light for a week long December mountaineering trip in Alaska . There are circumstances where both lights are good choices, and other circumstances where they are bad choices. Some trips require an H52 and a Camp Corsa, others don’t.Jan 1, 2017 at 7:10 pm #3442758Paul MagnantiBPL Member
@paulmagsLocale: Colorado Plateau
- My library card.
I can research the history, the issues and the culture of the areas where I hike, camp, ski or backpack.
- My old Wrangler poly-cotton shirt
Plaid so it does not look like I’m on safari and is acceptable town wear. Sun and bug protection, dries quickly. It really is my favorite hiking shirt ever.
- My P-51 can opener
I can scrape ice out of ski bindings, tighten up a pole, pop open a beer bottle in a pinch, open up a package, clean crud from fingernails and open up a can of delicious Hatch Green Chile I pack in for trips.Jan 2, 2017 at 10:45 am #3442854Patrick StarichBPL Member
@pjstarichLocale: N. Rocky Mountains
My top three gear picks:
Jetfoil Flash lite Canister Stove. I abandoned my alcohol system (Whitebox stove, Vargo Ti pot, aluminum foil wind screen) after comparing the hardware and fuel weights with the Jetboil Flash lite and determining that what the Flash lite added in extra weight it more than made up for in fuel efficiency. The Jetboil Flash lite was able to boil the same volume of water in less than half the time using less than a quarter of the fuel. Amazing! The speed, efficiency, convenience and compact design really make this stove a light weight winner.
Outdoor Research Swift Cap. The Swift Cap is my favorite three-season head gear these days. It’s light and well ventilated for warm summer days. The dark grey fabric on the underside of the bill minimizes glare. In cold weather, I wear a very thin CoolMax skull cap under it to add warmth and comfort all the way down to freezing.
Gossamer Gear Twinn Tarp. Waking to the soothing pale green glow of an early sunrise illuminating this tarp is one of my favorite experiences in the backcountry. At just 8.5 ounces, it’s light weight and provides a very spacious 47 square feet of coverage. It’s computer designed catenary shape is simply elegant. It provides a clean, tight, fast-pitching, wind-resistant shelter with a single trekking pole and a large rock. It may be old tech, but still my first choice for a light fast pitch above the tree line.Jan 2, 2017 at 9:56 pm #3442962John BrewerBPL Member
@jbrewerLocale: California Coast
My top 3:
Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt (I use my 30 degree for most conditions and love it! My favorite piece of gear.)
Hammock Gear Cuben Fiber Standard Tarp w Doors (New toy that I love, when I choose to hang. Super protection and crazy light!)
Six Moon Designs Skyscape X (Love this tent. Simple, light, perfect size for me and Ollie Dog.)Jan 3, 2017 at 6:08 am #3442986Serge GiachettiBPL Member
@giachettLocale: boulder, co
zpacks duplex–I love this shelter and use it in all four seasons. I’ve been a tarp camper for most of my life, but I’m really enjoying the extra protection and versatility that the duplex offers at such a low weight
salomon s lab x alpine–
I’ve been looking for a shoe like this for some time. Although expensive, they offer a pretty unique set of attributes that makes them a great tool especially for shoulder season in the alpine. The built-in softshell/waterproof gaiter is excellent, but whats most impressive is the sole. The grip is incredible and transitions from snow to rock better than anything I’ve tried.
borah gear down pants–I’ve had these for a while now, but find them invaluable for cold trips. I never regret bringing them. Mine weigh 6.5 oz (half down) and have 4/5’s zips for putting on over ski boots. They bring so much extra warmth in camp and to my sleep system. A couple years ago my friend and I were camped on a frozen high alpine lake. We were casually snacking outside on our mattresses wearing down from head to toe as a blizzard approached. It felt so luxurious, we started calling it the beach.
and a piece of gear that I just got in the mail I’m really excited about, but have yet to use are the enlightened equipment stronghold mitts. I like using a synthetic over layer to help dry out my base layers and now I’ve got a solution for my hands. These are quite warm and only weigh 1.5 oz for size large pair. My hope is that they will increase the safety and decrease the weight of my winter glove system.Jan 3, 2017 at 6:57 am #3442987Leanne HennessyBPL Member
@annieLocale: Southwestern Ontario, Canada
Paul Magnanti – I like your thinking!!!!!Jan 3, 2017 at 7:02 am #3442989Leanne HennessyBPL Member
@annieLocale: Southwestern Ontario, Canada
Pat Starich – nice write ups!!!Jan 3, 2017 at 6:27 pm #3443098Dean F.BPL Member
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
None of my current “favorites” are really new, per se.
JetBoil Sol– It seems that my more interesting hikes for the past couple of years have been in regions/times that are not friendly to alcohol or wood stoves (i.e. draconian burn bans). Within that limitation, I do like the JetBoil. Lighting fast boil times, and the Sol is the right size. All I do to cook is boil water, and the JetBoils rock at that. Doesn’t need level ground- you can actually hang it from a tree (or rock, or tent apex) while it is running, if you like. I have also come to think that Ti is rarely worth the cost, and if I didn’t already own a ton of it I’d be buying all aluminum paraphernalia. I bought the Sol before the MiniMo came out, and it I were buying today I’d be tempted by the ‘Mo. No doubt, various minimalist canister stoves would be lighter. Sue me.
SuperCat Stove– I’m also at the point where some DIY projects- and just looking like a dirtbag with beaten up and repurposed equipment- appeals to me. (Similarly my base layers, waffle-fleece, and many other bits of kit are all USGI.) When not using the JetBoil I have been using this, even in lieu of my Caldera Cone (which I readily admit is significantly more efficient). I use a windscreen made from aluminum gutter flashing. I have a roll that will probably last the rest of my life.
Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid– I have expounded upon the virtues of the mid as an all-purpose shelter many times. I’ll not repeat myself here. This is old equipment for me, but continues to be a favorite. Looking above, I see that many people agree, at least about pyramids in general. It’s important to point out that I use the 2P DuoMid as a 1P shelter. I do not recommend 1P mids for anyone but a true UL fanatic, but those guys all already have their cuben fiber handkerchiefs as shelters…
I recently bought a McHale pack and it is *awesome* (bearing in mind that it is not ultralight by any stretch) but I haven’t yet really used it enough to list it among favorites.
Likewise, I have been playing around with the Toaks wood stove- which is very robust if comparatively heavy- but haven’t used it enough to form a firm opinion. Also, the design, while inspired, is probably not a true gassifier stove on the order of a BushBuddy and similar stoves. It seems to burn very sooty, at the least. Their pots with both handles and bails are high on my recommended list, though. (The bail allows various creative ways of suspending over a campfire, and can be easily removed to be left behind if desired.)
I too have switched from a SPOT unit to the DeLorme InReach, but I’m not emotionally invested in it enough to call it a favorite. And I doubt that I ever will be for anything electronic, frankly. My wife really likes the potential for two-way communication, though she rarely uses it. So, worth a few ounces to keep the (non-hiking) wife happy. When mama’s happy, everyone is happy.Jan 3, 2017 at 6:42 pm #3443102
Great post Dean.Jan 4, 2017 at 1:00 am #3443152Tad EnglundBPL Member
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
My favorites are nothing really new but are what first come to mind when I asked myself what do I usually grab for every trip.
HMG Ice Pack 2400 – I have been doing a lot of climbing of late and this pack seems to go on all but the long hauls. When I’m not climbing, I use it on all overnighters and weekend trips. I like the way it fits. I’ve made some DIY pockets for a water bottle and other stuff for when I’m not doing anything technical that I can add whenever I need. This pack is very lightweight, durable and versatile.
First Ascent Guide Pro Pants – I wear these pants every day and I mean every day for the last four years! I have a number of them because I wear them to work during the week and then I wear them climbing or hiking on the weekends. They wear as good as any pant I’ve owned. They main reason I purchased them in the first place is they have two thigh pockets (one on each thigh), when most, if not all the other similar styled pants only have one thigh pocket. Why is having two so important to me? I need to carry a phone and I can’t carry it in a front or back pocket. I need the other pocket for my wallet. In my past life, I wore a suit every day and my wallet was in the jacket pocket, so I never carried anything in my pants back pocket. The thought of having a lump under my buttocks (in a pants pocket) would do me in. Also FA has the thigh pockets in the right spot. Just below the leg loops on my harness, but not too low (or deep) that my phone bangs into the side of my knee joints while hiking or climbing. I have tried Paty, OR, Deadbird, Merril and others and they all have the above phone bang problem (and one pocket.) They also have just enough stretch to make them very comfortable to wear while climbing or hiking.
Olympus TG4 – I need a camera that is both waterproof while I’m fishing on the lost coast in Alaska and tough to take the abuse while riding in my pocket climbing a step rock face. I have scraped a hole in a shirt chest pocket with this camera more than twice last summer clinging to the side of a cliff working for the next hold and this camera has always come out far better than the shirt. For the weight and size this camera delivers what I need a it to do. There are cameras out there with better picture quality or are smaller and lighter, but I have shredded those cameras while this one has made it through. And the pictures make me happy- I guess that is all that matters to me.
I also never go anywhere without my Swiss army classic- I use it daily and while outdoors. It is probably my most consistently used piece of gear.Mar 17, 2017 at 5:04 pm #3457477Sam CBPL Member
- My Marmot PreCip rain jacket. Supposedly it is breathable, but I don’t know about that. It has side vents, though, which is one reason why I dig it. Another is because it pairs well with…
- REI Co-op down jacket. More of a down sweater if you ask me as it is fairly thin. This made my list because when I combine it with the PreCip I can go down into the 30s without a base layer. I have taken it down into the 20s and even teens; chilled, sure, but not sweaty, which is really why I love this combo. I find that with heavier down jackets I run the risk of sweating.
- I’m simply a lightweight hiker, not a ULer. Thought I’d get that out of the way for this one: my GSI Haulite kettle. Yup, a real kettle.
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