Monthly Archives: September 2011
By Michael Lanza
We’re just seconds beyond the sign at the start of the Gunsight Pass Trail that reads “Entering Grizzly Country” when Nate, who’s a month shy of his tenth birthday, begins aggressively making the case for why he should be armed.
“Why can’t I carry a pepper spray?” he asks me—again and again.
It’s an idyllic, late-summer afternoon in the Northern Rockies—the sun shining warmly, a gently cooling breeze rippling the air, not a white speck of moisture in the sky. We are heading out on a three-day family backpacking trip to Gunsight Pass in Montana’s Glacier National Park. Continue reading →
$120, 10 oz. (120 cm)
Sizes: 120 and 135 cm (adjustable)
There’s a new ultralight standard in adjustable trekking poles. At 10 oz. for a pair, these sticks weigh in at less than half of many competing models. On a 17-mile dayhike of New Hampshire’s Franconia Ridge in July, I had Appalachian Trail thru-hikers comparing these against their own poles and growing wide-eyed with envy. Continue reading →
Stoic Somnus 30
$299 (regular), $319 (long), 1 lb. 8 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular (6’), long (6’6”)
I tend to get a nervous tick when a manufacturer touts an ultralight sleeping bag: I think they shaved weight either by using less insulation (read: you’ll shiver), or the bag is cut like a straitjacket. So I was truly impressed by the new version of the Somnus 30, which just went on sale (with the down upgraded from 800- to 850-fill, making the bag slightly lighter). It may be the perfect summer-weight down bag. Continue reading →
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 4
$600, 5 lbs. 10 oz. (tent, fly, poles)
My wife and I are delighted that our kids are big enough to backpack and are eager hikers. But they’re both still grade-schoolers—they can’t carry much yet. She and I still haul virtually all of our family’s gear and food. How far our kids can hike is no longer the limiting factor in our family backpacking trips; it’s how much she and I can carry. Now this incredibly light, low-bulk, four-person tent has changed the calculus of backpacking for us. Continue reading →
Deuter ACT Zero 50+15/ACT Zero 45+15 SL
$185, 50 L/3,050 c.i., 3 lbs. 4 oz.
One size, adjustable to fit torsos 15 to 21 inches
With advances in gear making everything lighter and less bulky, the 3,000-cubic-inch (50-liter) backpack occupies a broad niche, serving trips from weekenders to five days or more for ounce-counters, and hitting the sweet spot for thru-hikers. I think the best packs in this category are light without compromising load support and comfort, in part because they’re not over-engineered with gewgaws you don’t need. That’s exactly why I like the new ACT Zero 50+15. Continue reading →