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Staff Picks 2018: Our Favorite Backpacking Gear of the Year


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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Staff Picks 2018: Our Favorite Backpacking Gear of the Year

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  • #3570480
    Ryan Jordan
    Admin

    @ryan

    Locale: Central Rockies

    Companion forum thread to: Staff Picks 2018: Our Favorite Backpacking Gear of the Year

    Backpacking Light’s editorial team, guides, contributors provide their favorite gear choices in BPL’s Staff Picks gear guide for 2018.

    #3570488
    pgreenx
    BPL Member

    @pgreenx

    I am beyond surprised you selected Enlightened Equipment quilts over Katabatic Gear.  Were these individual selections or did each piece of gear have to pass group consensus?

    #3570494
    Mike M
    BPL Member

    @mtwarden

    Locale: Montana

    Ryan- do you know the weight of the PhD hoody?  wasn’t listed on the linked REI site either

     

    I have a Ibex Indie, but Ibex is now gone and mine won’t last forever

     

    Thanks

    #3570495
    Link .
    BPL Member

    @annapurna

    Mike if you look at Ryan’s  PUBLISHER’S GEAR GUIDE (2018-2019) from Dec. 2nd he says it weighs 9oz in size medium

    #3570496
    Mike M
    BPL Member

    @mtwarden

    Locale: Montana

    danke!  that’s pretty darn close to the weight of my Indie :)

    #3570497
    Link .
    BPL Member

    @annapurna

    Paul, staff picks are individual picks and the staff member who picked the item appears and the end of the description of why they chose it, the Enlightened Equipment quilt was one of Dan Durston’s picks.

    #3570502
    Dan Durston
    BPL Member

    @dandydan

    Locale: Canadian Rockies

    “I am beyond surprised you selected Enlightened Equipment quilts over Katabatic Gear.  Were these individual selections or did each piece of gear have to pass group consensus?”
    Yeah that is my pick. Katabatic makes beautiful stuff, but they don’t offer their quilts in as light of materials nor as high fill down as EE. Katabatic tops out at 10D and 900 FP, while EE offers 7D and 950FP.

    Thus the lightest 40F Flex quilt you can get from Katabatic is 16.9oz, while my EE Revelation 7D/950 quilt is 12.0oz (comparing the Katabatic Flex vs EE Revelation as these are similar styles). That’s a a big difference.

    Certainly you can debate some of the details like width, features, amount of fill etc. For example the 40F Katabatic does have about 0.7oz more fill once you standardize for differences in fill power, but ultimately you can go a fair bit lighter with an EE quilt due to the higher end materials they offer.

    #3570515
    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member

    @rex

    Locale: California

    Thanks for this roundup!

    FWIW, I’ll add my endorsements to several picks:

    MyTrail Co UL 35 Backpack

    Just bought one to replace my (too small) GG day pack. I also loved an old GoLite day pack until it wore out, and hoped this new pack might rekindle some of that feeling. So far, I’m 90% in love with the UL 35, which might improve a few points after trimming unneeded doodads. Might work for a UL weekend backpack, too.

    Montane FeatherLite Trail Jacket

    My ~15-year-old Montane windshirt has been in my backpack or daypack for thousands of miles, and still lives in my daypack. The Patagonia Houdini is my new favorite backpacking windshirt – very similar design and weight, but a little more rain resistant. Unfortunately, Patagonia seems to change the Houdini formula every couple of years, so it’s hard to recommend based on past experience.

    Patagonia Men’s Capilene Lightweight Crew

    I’ve worn the equivalent Capilene 1 Silkweight Crew for several years as a base layer. Tough, light, very quick drying, and the long sleeves reduce sun exposure without needing sunscreen – but watch out for neckburn! Plus, it doesn’t itch like wool does for me. So far, the stank factor is close to zero.

    1.25L PET Rocket Bottle

    As Roger mentions, being American means I use the slightly lighter per volume but just as tough 1.5 liter Smart Water bottle. Sometimes I carry two or three if pack volume isn’t an issue; otherwise I add the Platypus 2.0 liter bottle if needed. Virtually every PCT or CDT hiker I’ve followed online carries Smart Water bottles.

    Katadyn BeFree Collapsible Water Filter Bottle (0.6 L)

    I’m already well known as a fan of this filter, even with the small bottle. Fast, light, and virtually idiot-proof, I use it as a filter system, not a water storage system.

    Ursack Major

    I’ve carried the lighter Ursack Minor in bear-free locations for many years – because mini-bears (aka raccoons), skunks, ground squirrels, and other critters still want your food. It weighs just a little more than a lightweight food hanging system – and you don’t have to hang it!

    Garmin inReach Mini

    I’m still using a roughly 4-year-old inReach SE, and when the time comes, I’ll probably replace it with the Mini and reluctantly drag a smartphone into the wilderness. RJ said it best: “For most of you, this device exists so you can maintain a good relationship with your loved ones, and keep them at ease. Don’t underestimate the positive value of that.”

    QALO Strata Arrow Silicone Ring

    I checked out the QALO, but wound up buying the similar Groove ring instead. On a raft trip, I came within millimeters of losing my wedding ring in the river. Since then I’ve almost never worn it on overnight trips, and that feels odd for many reasons. Now I can wear a silicone ring, and all feels right again.

    — Rex

    #3570522
    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member

    @mocs123

    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    <span class=”profile-data”>@mtwarden</span> –

    You may want to check out the Rab Merino + Hoody in either 120wt or 160wt.

    #3570526
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    Katadyn BeFree Collapsible Water Filter Bottle (0.6 L)

    Not a fan (of the filter). Was at first, but I had two go bad in the Winds during a trip. Clogged so bad I could hardly get any water through it. Swished the heck out of them in treated water, didn’t help much. So we started using my hiking partner’s BeFree, and within a day his was clogged so bad we could hardly get water through it. I simply don’t trust this filter.

    #3570528
    Mike M
    BPL Member

    @mtwarden

    Locale: Montana

    thanks Brad- I’ll check those out- didn’t even know RAB was making anything similar

     

    Mike

    #3570530
    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member

    @mocs123

    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    Mike, I used the Merino Plus 160 hoody on a 14 day trip in Alaska last year and never took it off.  Other than the initial cost, I can’t say enough good things about it.  I would buy a 120 hoody for trips in the Rockies if they made one in a lighter color.

     

    #3570553
    Mike M
    BPL Member

    @mtwarden

    Locale: Montana

    the 160 appears to be roughly the same weight as the Indie- nice base layer for late fall/winter; the 120 looks really appealing for warmer weather :)

    #3570556
    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member

    @mocs123

    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    My medium 160 hoody is 8.6 ounces.

    #3570559
    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member

    @mocs123

    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    In regards to the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight – I believe it is the same fabric as the Outdoor Research Echo line.  I have used the Echo line some backpacking (WRHR this past year for one), and other than the smell (it’s not wool) I have been happy with the performance.  I also wear Echo shirts almost exclusively running and they are amazing for high exertion activities.

    #3570581
    Mike M
    BPL Member

    @mtwarden

    Locale: Montana

    ^ I have both Capilene Lightweight and OR Echo shirts/bottoms and concur they are the same- or very, very close to the same- a very small micro grid pattern on a very lightweight fabric, both are very good :)

    #3581502
    Bryan Bihlmaier
    BPL Member

    @bryanb

    Locale: Wasatch Mountains

    Doug,

    Thats a funny story about your BeFree filter because mine also clogged in the Wind River Range too, on a 5-day trip. Like you, I swished and shook and tried everything but couldn’t clear it out. I switched to the Sawyer Squeeze (not the Mini or Micro) and have been very pleased with the flow rate. My hands are happy to not cramp up now!

    #3581503
    Bryan Bihlmaier
    BPL Member

    @bryanb

    Locale: Wasatch Mountains

    Excellent list of gear recommendations.

    Roger,

    I too love using PET soda or water bottles. I don’t know about NZ, but in the US we have wide-mouth 1-liter soda bottles from Pepsi products. They are my favorite. They weigh a bit more than the lightest options (45g, 1.6oz) but are much easier to filter water into, and to take the cap off and on with gloves. The plastic is a bit thicker and more durable too. And in the winter it’s easier to get the cap off if the threads start to freeze (although I carry them upside down to avoid this).

    #3581563
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Hi Bryan

    I don’t know those bottles. Can you post a photo?
    I haven’t had any problems with the caps, even with gloves on. Our PET bottles are pretty rugged: they have taken drop tests of several metres when full without any failures, and they last for years.

    Cheers

    #3581757
    Bryan Bihlmaier
    BPL Member

    @bryanb

    Locale: Wasatch Mountains

    Here’s a photo of a very light option on the left (I’ve found Arrowhead 1L bottles weighing 19g, but the lids are very short and easy to cross-thread), the standard SmartWater bottle for comparison, and a wide-mouth 1L soda bottle on the left. It’s also easier to pour melted snow into the wider mouthed bottles. Also, I think our “standard” soda caps are a bit smaller than the ones in the picture you posted for the article.

    #3581795
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Hi Bryan

    Yep, we have all three of those cap sizes here in Oz as well.
    The Arrowhead ones do look a bit shallow, but the ones I have seem to hold. Whether the Arrowhead bottle itself is strong enough – that may be another matter. If it was non-fizzy water, maybe not, as those bottles are thinner.
    The SmartWater bottles have the same size caps as our 1.25 L rocket-base fizzy drink bottles, and that’s what I normally use. As rugged as all hell.
    The large Pepsi bottle cap size can be found on some of our small 500 mL fruit juice bottles. Since Pepsi is fizzy, they should hold OK.

    They are ALL lighter than commercial water bottles and essentially zero cost, which suits me.

    Cheers

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