Editors’ Choice Awards 2014

After months and miles of attempting out, we stumbled on 12 products that space recent benchmarks for efficiency, innovation, and imprint.

Kelty TN 2

Kelty TN 2 (Courtesy Picture)

Cowboy camping is relaxing—the bazillion stars overhead, that sense of complete integration with nature—till the rain begins to drop. And who among us hasn’t had a late-evening, bleary-eyed recede to pitch the tent and catch away the weather? No thanks. The TN 2’s rollback wing offers you that al fresco camping skills with out the terror about getting moist.
In Jordan, with the wispy, 40-denier silnylon wing rolled support to the ridgepole and clipped in pickle, the dark mesh hide offered a planetarium ceiling. On a clear evening long gone stormy in Utah’s San Rafael Swell, we reached out, unrolled the wing, and battened it down—with out leaving our bags. Wind gusting to fifteen mph barely shook the tent, and drip lines kept out rain.

In other respects, the TN 2 shines as effectively: It’s a truly easy-pitching, astronomical, two-individual, two-vestibule (10-square-toes each) shelter. Color-coded pole ends velocity setup, and with a 30.5-square-foot ground and forty two-whisk peak peak, two campers and a canines fit with ease. Ventilation became ample to pause condensation all the design through humid outings. $250; 4 lbs. 6 oz.; kelty.com

L.L. Bean Day Trekker 25

Editors’ Possibility: L.L. Bean Day Trekker 25

Classic issue: Packs that are stunning for shuttle are steadily unpleasant for the backcountry. And mountain hiking daypacks steadily prioritize technical parts over the organizational comfort we desire on the boulevard. Acknowledge: the Day Trekker.

Our equipment editor hauled it bigger than eleven,000 miles all the design through a weeklong stretch that carried her from Boston to the Jordanian desolate tract to the outdated metropolis of Petra to the Pointless Sea. Verdict? “This pack kept me organized the final system through, and on the path it became stable and relaxed with a 15-pound load of water, snacks, digicam, and souvenirs,” she reports. Key enhance: A wire BOA compression system (specialise in snowboard boots or hiking helmets) replaces aged compression straps. “It if truth be told works appropriate as effectively as strap programs to hug smaller masses in tight against my backbone, minus the final flapping webbing that would perchance well overwhelm cramped packs,” she says. The massive hipbelt and company-but-versatile molded PE framesheet with three padded, mesh-covered pods that cushion the lumbar, yoke, and decrease support manufacture for a supremely cozy dash.

On planes, trains, buses, truck beds, and, yes, one camel, the 25-liter zip-top pack proved itself a great shuttle obtain as effectively. The hydration sleeve holds a cramped (eleven-whisk) pc pc or pill, and an array of exterior pockets retains elevate-on items at hand and organized. Gripe: Testers wished for hipbelt pockets. Nonetheless you may perchance perchance well well’t maintain every thing and a low imprint designate. $a hundred; 1 lb. 14 oz.; 25 liters;
2 sizes; llbean.com

Sierra Designs Backcountry Mattress

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Mattress on space in Wadi Rum, Jordan (Andrew Bydlon)

After a week in the self-discipline, we’re steadily dreaming about our beds at dwelling. Now now not anymore. The Backcountry Mattress is the fundamental zipperless sound asleep obtain we’ve considered that couples the thermal effectivity of a mummy with the comfort of a mattress-and-quilt arrangement. How’s it diversified? Imagine cutting the pause out of a sound asleep obtain (at waist level), then sewing it support on, appropriate attaching it at the heart.

A Forty three-whisk-long trapezoidal quilt (stuffed with both excessive-lofting 800-hold down or finances-real 600-hold) is stitched to the underside of a 20-by-30-whisk opening. Result? Unbelievable comfort differ. “I love the suggestions,” says one editor. “I would perchance well well pull it up tight adore my blanket at dwelling on frigid nights, or flip it the final system birth for ventilation in soft temps.” And an unparalleled foot vent on the underside (again, zipperless) enhances versatility even more. “I would perchance well well appropriate kick my toes out to chill off with out having to sit down up and fiddle with the outlet,” says one staffer. Testers scared the system wouldn’t be warm ample, however the quilt tucks into raised, zigzag sides, sealing in warmth: It kept our frigid-sound asleep editor-in-chief cosy at the temp rating.

Bonus: No zippers design easy exits. “I’m capable of catch out of this obtain as mercurial as I’m capable of stand up and doing at dwelling,” reports one tester. Nonetheless that you just might are attempting to sleep in. 600-hold: $250; 2 lbs. eight oz.; 30°F and $300; 3 lbs.; 15°F. 800-hold: $350; 2 lbs.; 30°F and $4 hundred; 2 lbs. 7 oz.; 15°F; sierradesigns.com

Montbell Down Hugger 900 #2

The MontBell Down Hugger 900 #2 on space in Jordan (Picture by Ben Fullerton)

We gave MontBell’s Spiral Down Hugger an Editors’ Possibility Award support in 2009 for a original make that added stretch to the obtain shell for unparalleled comfort. The recent Down Hugger 900 #2 takes every thing we liked about the outdated obtain and adds a recent level of stretch that elevates it a reduce above the relaxation we’ve examined, including the fashioned award winner.

Show off A: MontBell increased the stretch* from 1 to a pair of inches to a whopping 18 to 22 inches. “It’s nothing short of fantastic,” says one 6-foot tester. “I’m capable of with ease sit down in rotund lotus pickle, but after I’m in repose, the obtain snugs up round me to catch rid of pockets of tiresome air.” Plus, by stretching simplest the put that you just might prefer it (let’s content you ought to splay your decrease legs rather), the insulation stays halt to your body in other areas, which increases overall obtain warmth. “I slept straight on a sheet of snow after my sound asleep pad failed, and even with temps in the upper formative years, I stayed warm ample to catch a tight evening’s sleep,” says one tester after a weekend in Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo differ.

The icing on the cake? Thanks to 900-hold down and eight-denier nylon fabric, all of this comfort weighs much less than a pound and a 1/2 and packs appropriate down to the size of a honeydew melon. Lunge, we’re mindful about it’s pricey, however the Hugger has every thing that you just might like in a obtain: warmth, comfort, packability, and top-optimistic workmanship. $519; 1 lb. eight oz.; 25°F; montbell.us

Exofficio Sol Cool Final Hoody

Irregular but appropriate: Xylitol—the same minty ingredient stumbled on in many chewing gums—is embedded in this hoody’s Ninety one p.c polyester/9 p.c spandex fabric, giving it fantastic cooling energy on solar-scorched days. 

“I right away felt cooler after I slipped this on,” says one tester who switched out of a sweaty, short-sleeve synthetic tee midway through a solar-scorched hike in the Jordanian desolate tract. The magical cooling sensation comes from Xylitol—the same minty ingredient stumbled on in many chewing gums—embedded in the Ninety one p.c polyester/9 p.c spandex fabric.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol derived from birch timber. When it gets moist, it causes a warmth-sapping chemical response, and ExOfficio makes use of a bonding agent to manufacture the originate last through 40 wash cycles. “I’m a tall-time sweater and notorious for getting lobster-baked in the solar,” says one other staffer. “So this became a full game-changer for me. It wicks sweat superfast, and it’s cooler wearing this shirt than nothing at all.” The UPF 50+ fabric is light and stretchy with a relaxed—now not clingy—fit that won’t develop eyebrows in metropolis, though after a pair of days, your body odor would perchance well well. “I wore this shirt for 4 days straight in Jordan,” says our equipment editor. “I desire it smelled as minty because it felt.” Tip: When you hit a shady relaxation pause after sweating, you calm down if truth be told lickety-split in this shirt, so maintain a midlayer at hand. $Seventy five; 7.4 oz. (w’s M); m’s S-2XL, w’s XS-XL; exofficio.com 

Marmot Essence

Regarded as one of many most breathable and lightest shells we now maintain considered at this imprint point. $200; 6 oz.; m’s S-XL, w’s XS-XL; Grab it.

Ultralight, extremely breathable, reasonable: Tell two. That’s the dilapidated rule for deciding on a hardshell. The Essence nails all three, breaking the guideline and elevating the bar for the category. We wore the 6-ounce shell from Pacific Northwest rainforests to fifteen,000 toes on Peru’s Salkantay Trudge, getting absolutely hazed by wind and water, and we came out dry. “I hiked exhausting for hours through Washington’s Core Enchantment Zone in a trusty rain in the 50s,” says one tester, “and I couldn’t overwhelm it.”

The important thing: Marmot’s recent NanoPro Membrain fabric, a 2.5-layer, air-permeable membrane* that comprises cramped, densely packed pores. To protect it light, the shell tends in direction of the minimalist (one chest pocket, no adjustable cuffs) and replaces pit zips with internal mesh panels beneath the hands to vent warmth. (The shell fabric extends over both aspect of the mesh, but a prick in the heart permits with out cost airflow while conserving weather safety.) The streamlined hood adjusts with a Velcro tab in support to abet dial in fit, and the cramped brim shielded testers’ eyes from every thing but sideways rain.

Despite its skimpy weight, the marginally stretchy, 12-denier nylon face fabric proved sturdy: “I consistently scraped it against granite while scrambling in the Cascades, and it composed looks to be fantastic,” says a tester. Fit is practical but comprises a midlayer and slim puffy, and the shell’s colossal shoulder reduce permits with out cost reaching with out yanking the hem out of a hipbelt. $200; 6 oz.; m’s S-XL, w’s XS-XL; marmot.com

GoPro Hero3+ Sad Model

The GoPro Hero3+ in motion (Andrew Bydlon)

Every rube with a digicam fancies himself the following Warren Miller. Too substandard enthusiasm alone doesn’t manufacture for watchable video. Well, a bit zeal goes a long system with this recent digicam. “Shooting with the GoPro is basically easy,” says our group photographer, “if you happen to don’t strategy dwelling with killer footage, it’s because you didn’t construct anything cool.”

The Hero3+ is cramped and never easy ample to protect on any time out, but with the parts and image optimistic that severe—even skilled—moviemakers need. This most modern version is 20 p.c smaller than earlier items, but has a nearer battery existence (up to two hours of urge time, a 30 p.c amplify over outdated variations), which has long been GoPro’s Achilles heel. Modern bells and whistles consist of a large-angle video mode that captures higher, more immersive images and an auto-alter light mode that improves low-light efficiency.

With resolution suggestions from 848×480 to 4K, you’ll elevate dwelling razor-spirited motion, and it shoots up to 240 frames per 2d (looking on resolution), so that you just may perchance perchance well well wind that motion down for dreamy slo-mo. Nonetheless the sweetest phase of all is GoPro’s unequalled space of mounting suggestions. Cool for backpackers: the VuVantage, an articulated, carbon-fiber arm (perceive web page 112) we strapped to our packs for sweet over-the-shoulder images in Jordan. Ask the footage your self, online or on your iPad (beneath). $399; 5.3 oz. (with housing and bracket); gopro.com

Mammoth Agnes Double Z

Mammoth Agnes Double Z (Courtesy Picture)

When you camp with a accomplice, opinion on buying for two of those mattresses; in every other case, catch prepared for dirty looks to be from a jealous tentmate.

The uninsulated Double Z hovers you 4 dazzling inches above the bottom. “That is as soft because it gets,” raves our equipment editor, who pulled scandalous to catch the pad for a couple of nights in the Jordanian backcountry. Yet now not like some beefy air mattresses, the Double Z is remarkably stable, due to 4 strips of daisy-chained webbing that urge the length of the pad’s internal and join the pause and bottom together. “I by no design obtained that wobbly, pool-race feeling,” says one other tester.

A obvious inflation system makes setup a snap: Unscrew the pause 1/2, and a one-system valve retains air from escaping as you blow it up (about a minute of puffing for a median-size feminine tester). Unscrew the final issue to deflate in seconds. And all this comfort is accessible in an incredibly light (sixteen ounces), packable (eight.5 by 4.5 inches) bundle so reasonable you if truth be told would perchance well well win two. $eighty; sixteen oz.; 20x72x4”; bigagnes.com

Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5

Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 (Andrew Bydlon)

It’s adore sound asleep on a covered veranda: a form of dwelling with a large watch. The Optic’s innovation? Designers attach its colossal mesh doors on adjacent sides (instead of opposing), bearing in thoughts a panoramic, 180-stage vista when the vestibules are birth. “It feels comparable to you’re composed sitting exterior,” talked about one tester after a foggy time out on California’s Misplaced Flee. He kicked support in the astronomical internal and ought to perceive up and down the sea breeze from internal. The watch will most likely be much less grandiose when bugs or rain necessitate buttoning up a lot more, nonetheless it composed feels airy in contrast with veteran designs. Plus, the door configuration makes it more straightforward to pitch the tent with each entrances stable from a storm. And weatherproofing? “We obtained absolutely pounded by one amongst the most violent thunderstorms I’ve ever skilled,” says one Colorado tester, “but no topic hail and wind, we stayed dry and the tent held its shape.” It’s heavy, but in return you catch castle-adore dwelling (37 square toes, ample for three in a pinch) and sturdy offers adore 70- and Seventy five-denier nylon in the bottom and wing. The fantastic criticism? The internal camper has to attain over his or her accomplice to begin the door, but that’s a cramped imprint for the watch. And the price is appropriate. $240; 5 lbs. thirteen oz.; mountainhardwear.com

Halfpops

HalfPops (Ben Fullerton)

When BACKPACKER staffers birth swiping snacks from one one more, we all know we’re onto something. Halfpops—seasoned nuggets of in part popped corn kernels—earned beautiful reward from our crew. “Totally addictive!” “Take care of corn nuts, but more flavorful and more straightforward on the teeth.” “The salty,delicious flavors were precisely what I craved on hot days.” Halfpops are gluten-free, a tight source of fiber (3 grams per serving), and the substances list is brief, sweet, and pure. The fantastic dangle-up? We couldn’t take which flavor we love more: Frail White Cheddar or Pure Butter & Pure Ocean Sea Salt. Bonus: Halfpops are rugged ample for the path, now not like many other salty snacks adore chips and pretzels. $1.50; 2 oz.; halfpops.com

Editors’ Possibility Gold Awards

Western Climbing Alpinlite

Western Climbing Summerlite

Peep, the sound asleep obtain against which we measure all others. That is the gold customary for warmth-to-weight, optimistic offers and construction, and consistent pinnacle efficiency. A well-liked among staffers since it came out 10 years in the past, the Alpenlite has insulated us on trips all the design during the sector. The slant-wall baffle make (down is contained in overlapping chambers that pause frigid spots) is straightforward but tremendous, and the combo of excessive-optimistic 850-hold goose down and 12-denier nylon ripstop shell retains the load beneath 2 kilos. “I slept tentless in the Tetons with the temp in the formative years, and I became relaxed as will most likely be,” reports one tester.

The three-d draft collar—that design the neck baffles join to the internal of the obtain with two separate seams of parallel stitching that prop the baffle up—creates a seal that retains you warm on frigid nights, and the rotund-length zipper lets you ventilate on balmier evenings. Base line: It’s an funding, adore all excessive-pause down baggage, however the most attention-grabbing issue you’ll regret is now not buying for it sooner. $485; 1 lb. 15 oz.; 20°F; westernmountaineering.com

Leatherman Juice S2

“This instrument has been with me on each single time out in the last five years,” says our equipment editor, who’s a repair-it geek. 

Multitools are huge for backpackers… in concept. In truth, many are elephantine and heavy, and you raze up packing a form of ineffective parts. Enter the Juice S2, which is the lightest and smallest entirely featured multitool we’ve ever stumbled on. “This instrument has been with me on each single time out in the last five years,” says our equipment editor, who’s a repair-it geek (and writer of The Total Info to Exterior Gear Upkeep & Restore*). “I’ve repaired stoves, skis, trekking poles, tents, jackets, pads, packs, baggage, cook pots, and more with the S2.”

Because it’s simplest 3.25 inches long when folded and appropriate over 4 ounces, you may perchance perchance well well with out issues elevate it on your pants pocket. “That’s a great issue,” says our equipment editor, “because I use it so steadily I don’t desire it buried in my pack. And I’m now not into dorky belt holsters.” As for sturdiness? Leatherman guarantees it for 25 years. $60; 4.4 oz.; leatherman.com

Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest