Tag Archives: ultralight backpacking gear reviews

Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Quasar Hybrid Pullover

July 29, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Mountain Hardwear Quasar Hybrid Pullover

Mountain Hardwear Quasar Hybrid Pullover

Ultralight Rain Shell
Mountain Hardwear Quasar Hybrid Pullover
$375, 9 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL
mountainhardwear.com

There was a time when we thought of a waterproof-breathable jacket as a security blanket: It had to protect us against anything, so we wanted it to look like it could. Now that we know more about their strengths and weaknesses, we smartly look at three-season rain shells more in terms of the question: How minimal a jacket can we get away with? On several trips using the Quasar Hybrid Pullover, from the Grand Canyon in November to Arches and Canyonlands national parks in March and Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains in June, and on a weeklong, hut-to-hut trek in Italy’s Dolomites, I was surprised by how much protection this nine-ounce shell delivers. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Osprey Exos 58 Backpack

July 21, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Osprey Exos 58

Osprey Exos 58

Backpack
Osprey Exos 58
$220, 55L/3,356 c.i., 2 lbs. 8 oz. (small, fits torsos 16-19 ins.)
Sizes: unisex S-L (M 58L/3,539 c.i., fits torsos 18-21 ins., L 61L/3,722 c.i., fits torsos 21-23 ins.)
ospreypacks.com

When Osprey introduced the Exos pack series in 2008, it immediately became a leader—and helped redefine how we think about backpacking. It showed us that a backpack weighing under three pounds can serve the needs of everyone from weekenders to longer-distance backpackers and thru-hikers, and it gave ultralighters an option to the minimalist rucksacks that fill that category (which are “minimalist” both in weight and comfort). Success is a tough act to follow, and revising a popular product is risky. As a longtime fan of the original Exos packs, I took the new Exos 58 out on a seven-day, hut-to-hut trek on the Alta Via 2 through Italy’s Dolomites and concluded that Osprey has taken something that was very good and made it lighter and better. Continue reading →

Gear Review: La Sportiva Wildcat 3.0 Shoes

July 2, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
La Sportiva Wildcat 3.0

La Sportiva Wildcat 3.0

Hiking/Trail Running Shoes
La Sportiva Wildcat 3.0
$115, 1 lb. 8 oz. (men’s Euro 42/US 9)
Sizes: Euro men’s 38-47.5, women’s 36-43
sportiva.com

There are trail-running shoes I can run in, and then there are shoes I can run and hike far in because they simply have greater support and cushion for handling the cumulative abuse that feet suffer on longer outings. On many trail runs of up to 12 miles in the Boise Foothills—plus one 20-mile, 3,600-foot run—the Wildcat 3.0 never caused me the hot toes, sore soles, or foot achiness that I get from some lightweight shoes on runs of more than eight or 10 miles. Even after that 20-miler in the Wildcats, my feet felt good. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800 Sleeping Bag

June 17, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800

Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800

Two-Season Sleeping Bag
Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800 (30° F)
$330, 1 lbs. 12 oz. (reg); $350 (long)
Sizes: men’s regular and long, women’s regular ($370)
sierradesigns.com

It’s a chilly morning in the backcountry and the last thing you want to do is exit your warm sleeping bag to step outside. With the Mobile Mummy 800, you don’t have to—you can wear your sleeping bag outside to fire up breakfast or take care of other business. Although the concept of a wearable sleeping bag that converts to a long down jacket isn’t new, Sierra Designs has achieved a nice kind of perfection with the Mobile Mummy. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Westcomb Focus LT Hoody

October 7, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   10 Comments
Westcomb Focus LT Hoody

Westcomb Focus LT Hoody

Ultralight Rain Jacket
Westcomb Focus LT Hoody
$280, 9 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL
westcomb.com

Here’s the thing about a rain jacket: Other than a first-aid kit, it’s often the least-used item in my pack, whether backpacking, climbing, or dayhiking. But when I need it, of course, I sure wouldn’t want to be without one. Like a lot of people, I have contradictory desires for a rain shell—I want it to be functional and protective when the weather turns foul, but also super lightweight and compressible. On backpacking trips in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park, California’s Sequoia National Park, and Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness, as well as a 28-mile dayhike in Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains, and a hut trek in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Focus LT was consistently my go-to shell. Why? It delivered protection when I needed it, and virtually disappeared inside my pack when unneeded. Continue reading →

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