Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Kahtoola Microspikes Traction Device

Kahtoola Microspikes

Mini-Crampons
Kahtoola Microspikes
$59, 13 oz. (medium)
XS-XL (fit boots from youth size 1 to men’s 16, or insulated boots up to men’s 13.5)
kahtoola.com

Conditions on the Grand Canyon’s Grandview Trail were—as a ranger warned us when we picked up our permit—“treacherous” for our late-March backpacking trip. Hard ice and frozen snow covered the trail’s uppermost couple of miles, where you frequently traverse sloping ledges a foot or two wide, with huge drop-offs. “Microspikes are mandatory,” the ranger told us, and he was right. Without them, we’d have risked becoming tomorrow’s news—or, more likely, have aborted our four-day trip.

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Gear Review: Black Diamond Infinity 50 Backpack

Black Diamond Infinity 50

Backpack
Black Diamond Infinity 50
$210, 50L/3,050 c.i., 3 lbs. 14 oz. (men’s medium)
blackdiamondequipment.com

A lot of packs feel good when you first put them on; only a few are still your friend at the end of a long day. I carried this streamlined top-loader with upwards of 30 pounds on 16- to 18-mile days on the rugged Rees-Dart Track in New Zealand’s Southern Alps—and it stayed comfortable right up until I took it off every day. The key feature is BD’s ergoACTIV hipbelt that attaches to the pack via a simple ball joint: The hipbelt pivots with your hips, but the pack itself doesn’t, eliminating the side-to-side shifting with each step that can fatigue your back and rub your hips raw over the course of a full day.

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