Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Salewa Firetail GTX Hiking/Scrambling Shoe

Salewa Firetail GTX

Hiking/Scrambling Shoe
Salewa Firetail GTX
$149, 1 lb. 15 oz. (men’s US size 9)
Sizes: men’s 7-12, 13, women’s 6-10, 11
salewa.us

I’ve long observed that expecting “approach” shoes, made for technical scrambling, to be comfortable for hiking more than a few miles is a bit like expecting your road bike to handle riding on rugged trails. But the Firetail nails the hard-to-find balance between performing as an excellent scrambling shoe while remaining surprisingly comfortable on long hikes.

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Gear Review: REI Flash 30 Daypack

REI Flash 30

Daypack
REI Flash 30
$80, 1 lb. 6 oz. (medium)
Sizes: Medium 30L/1,830 c.i., Large 31L/1,892 c.i.
rei.com

Unless you can afford a quiver of packs, you expect a daypack to be many things: lightweight and compact for when you don’t need to carry much, spacious and comfortable when you do need to haul a fair bit of stuff. Not many daypacks are that flexible—but the Flash 30 is. On a recent trip to Oregon, I used it on Columbia Gorge dayhikes by myself and with my family, and even a quick morning ski up to 10,000 feet on Mt. Hood.

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Gear Review: Marmot Plasma 30 Sleeping Bag

Marmot Plasma 30

Sleeping Bag
Marmot Plasma 30
$419, 1 lb. 6 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular (6’), long (6’6”)
marmot.com

I don’t have room in my life for a heavy, bulky sleeping bag. If I’m backpacking with my young kids, carrying most of our food and gear, or loaded down for a multi-day climbing trip, I need to cut ounces everywhere possible. If I’m backpacking without my family, I want to go as light as possible. The newest bag to raise the superlight bar—or lower it, if you will—is the Plasma 30. I used it recently for five nights on the Ptarmigan Traverse in Washington’s North Cascades, and earlier this summer camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks and rafting Oregon’s Grand Ronde River.

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Gear Review: Sierra Designs Fireside Down Bootie

Sierra Designs Fireside Down Bootie

Sierra Designs Fireside Down Bootie
$70, 15 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s S-XL
sierradesigns.com

When you’re carrying everything on your back to a backcountry yurt or camping in winter conditions, the matter of finding appropriate yurt/camp footwear can be thorny: You want something really warm, not heavy or bulky, and with an outsole that grips snow so that you don’t take an epic digger while walking to the privy. The Fireside Down Bootie fits the bill perfectly.

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Gear Review: Black Diamond Soloist Winter Glove

Black Diamond Soloist

Winter Glove
Black Diamond Soloist
$110, 9 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s XS-L
blackdiamondequipment.com

Routinely getting cold fingers is a real drag when you like to ski fresh backcountry powder. I’ve tried a lot of gloves over the years, looking for ones that will keep my fingers from turning white, not cost a fortune, and allow me reasonable dexterity. For most of last winter and my first days on snow this winter, skiing the backcountry and resorts from Idaho’s Boise Mountains to Oregon’s Wallowas, I’ve pulled on the Soloist for cold days and never suffered painful digits.

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