Staff Picks 2021

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Staff Picks 2021

Viewing 15 posts - 26 through 40 (of 40 total)
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    Stephen Everson
    BPL Member


    I have own the Stratospire by TarpTent since 2012 and is an excellent tent.  The X-Mid 2 is very similar in design to this tent.

    AK Granola
    BPL Member


    The bidet thing – lots of options out there. I started using a portable one, tiny, that attaches to a water bottle. It worked fine. Then I started using a nasal lavage bottle which I liked much better, better water pressure and just the mental thing of having a separate bathroom system from the drinking system. There isn’t really a good reason to do that; it’s very easy to keep things sanitary even using your drinking bottle. It’s all in the head. Now I just have a little squirt bottle, see photo, works great. I use a polished rock (one you pick up from a stream, so that it doesn’t have jagged edges or flaking bits!) to wipe, then wash with the bidet. At the end you’re shower clean. There’s nothing to pack out. I will wash hands with some soap into the hole before filling it in. Paper is so much more complicated, less clean for bottom and for hands, and you have to pack it out for most places.

    I generally fill the water bottle in the evening, so that it’s ready for morning use and so I’m not carrying extra water all day long just for toileting. It’s not much water anyway, so in the event I would need it during the day, no big deal; I carry it if i think I will need it. So the whole kit in the quart ziplock would be trowel, hand sanz, bidet bottle, rock.  I don’t carry it all in winter because there’s snow; just the hand sanitizer goes along in winter.

    I started camping and traveling at a young age, so different toileting systems have never really bothered me. For Americans in particular it can be hard to try something new. I recommend giving it a go, so to speak. You can always switch back.


    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Changes Often

    Another honorable mention which I find to be indispensable during shoulder season is the Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket. Made with a 7D shell and contains 1.8 oz of 900 fill. It’s great in the evenings when sitting around camp after the sun goes down and temps fall. I can also sleep in the Ex Light if the bag I’ve packed isn’t quite warm enough. Actually the jacket version is no longer available, but the Ex Light Down Anorak still is ( $299). And similar jackets are now being offered by MB such as the Superior Down which has a 10D shell and 1.9 oz of 800 fill ($179), and the pricey Plasma 1000 with 7D shell and 1.6 oz of 1000 fill down ($329).


    BPL Member


    Love me some Montbell down parkas.  Actually, I’m a big fan of most Montbell clothing. I have an old Tachyon anorak and recently compared the current Tachyon parka to the EE Copperfield.  For me, the MB comes out on top.  Hoping I don’t have to replace the anorak anytime soon, but if I did today I know I’d stick the MB.

    I’m still wearing a couple of 10 year old MB pants to work.  Long discontinued and surprisingly appropriately styled for work.  Starting to wonder if they will ever wear out.

    Kevin Babione
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pennsylvania

    I’ll “third” Monte’s recommendation of the Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket.  I typically sleep in a hammock and if temperatures drop below my comfort level for the quilts I brought I’ll actually put the jacket on backwards (with the unzipped zipper on my back).  I’ve always figured that any down I slept on would be compressed and mostly worthless anyway and this acts like another quilt on top.

    BPL Member


    I’m a ground sleeper but also do exactly as Kevin describes.  Bonus: effectively adds a draft collar to a quilt that doesn’t have one.

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    The Engelmann Spruce cones – hmmm…

    TIP: NEVER use poison ivy to wipe with. Did it as a 7 year old and the doc said it was, “…the worst case of poison ivy I’ve ever seen.”

    jus’ sayin’

    No Limu, just Doug
    BPL Member


    Locale: The Cascades

    one piece of ‘equipment’ that goes on every single trip is my RoadID on my wrist (in fact I wear it all the time except when I’m sleeping at home). It has my name, the city I live in, my brother’s name and phone number, my blood type, and NKA. If something were to happen to me suddenly, either my hiking mates or someone coming upon me would know who I was and who to contact.

    John S.
    BPL Member


    The RoadID mention always reminds me of Bill Thorneloe’s article.

    Dan @ Durston Gear
    BPL Member


    Locale: Canadian Rockies

    “The X-Mid 2 is very similar in design to the [StratoSpire]”

    From certain angles there are visual similarities but I wouldn’t say they are a ‘very similar design’ because the X-Mid is quite different in many fundamental ways, as I will explain. As you can see below, the geometry/floorplan/shapes look very different:

    X-Mid 2 vs Strat 2

    Just looking at this picture, it’s a struggle to see how you’d evolve the StratoSpire into the X-Mid.

    The StratoSpire takes the classic A-frame design (like the Duplex, SMD Lunar Duo etc) and modifies it by offsetting the poles plus adding struts at the two corners now further from the poles so they don’t become too low. That has some nice advantages (e.g., larger doorways, better headroom) and some downsides (more complicated pitch, struts add weight). Overall, it’s an improvement and I agree it’s an excellent tent, but still has some downsides like a fairly complicated pitch, somewhat heavy weight, and mandatory struts (more difficult to pack).

    The X-Mid is more unique in the sense that it bears less resemblance to any predecessor. The X-Mid starts with a rectangle base (for ease of pitching and weight savings via fewer seams) and then uniquely puts the sleeping area on a diagonal while aligning the poles (ridgeline) on the opposite diagonal. That creates the first tent ever with a diagonal floor (not square to any sides of the fly) and the first tent with a double diagonal (or “X”) layout of the floor and ridgeline. Further, it is the only tent ever to have radial symmetry while not being bilaterally symmetrical, so the shape is highly novel and I wouldn’t say ‘very similar’ to something else just because a few elements like a rectangle base and diagonal poles have pre-existed.

    While unique, that’s not the goal but rather the byproduct of the real goal, which is to create a functionally better shelter.  The X-Mid shape solves the common problems with other rectangle based, 2 trekking pole shelters (e.g. Black Diamond Beta Light, Sierra Designs High Route) like have always born at least several of the following downsides: mandatory guylines, flat side walls, poles in the doorways, poles on top of the floor, and/or lack of vestibules. The X-Mid also solves or improves the common problems with single pole rectangular shelters (e.g. lack of headroom, poles in the doorways, wasted space around the edges, large footprint), and the common problems with A-frame shelters like Stratospire (more complicated pitch, more seams add weight). So X-Mid shape enables a shelter that is simple to use, lighter, and free of the aforementioned downsides.

    As it compares the StratoSpire 2, the X-Mid 2 is substantially lighter (36 vs 43oz) as a result of the more weight efficient shape, has a much simpler setup (4 stakes, no odd angles, no measuring pole lengths), no struts to pack, similarly spacious, has larger and more functional vents,  uses no-sag fabric, has higher quality construction (e.g. fully double stitched) and is factory seam taped.

    Hanz B
    BPL Member


    The pine cone seems like the ideal stocking stuffer for the year 2021.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Puget Sound

    At about 3 inches long by an inch wide, they are big enough to give your fingers some separation from the business end, and small enough to get in where they need to go. Give them a try.

    Hey Drew, try a fistful of grass or sage next time. Far more enjoyable ;) once you’re done, rub a separate fistful of sage or dirt between your hands to clean up -if no water available of course

    BPL Member


    Locale: Puget Sound

    I’ll “third” Monte’s recommendation of the Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket.

    Fourth it! one of the best pieces of kit I’ve used this past year. Montbell understands minor details

    edit: The Anorak. my bad -jumped the gun

    Billy (2 Bees) Bowers
    BPL Member


    In 2014, I hiked the PCT. At Lake Morena. I meet Samurai Joe of ZPACKS and scored a killer deal on a ARCFLEX pack and a DEPLEX tent, both orange. Lite and solid and lowered my base weight, LOVE THEM and I still use them to this day with some DIY repairs. My favorite trail food is Packit Gourmet.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    “The pine cone seems like the ideal stocking stuffer for the year 2021.”


    To use at home instead of tp? Guests may find it a bit spartan.

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