ultralight backpacking gear reviews

Gear Review: Scarpa Moraine Mid GTX Boots

Scarpa Moraine Mid GTX

Lightweight Boots
Scarpa Moraine Mid GTX
$129, 2 lb. 2 oz. (men’s Euro 42/US 9)
Sizes: men’s Euro 39-46.5, 47, 48, women’s 36-43
scarpa.com

I asked a lot of these boots—and they measured up well to every task I asked of them, from hiking with a light daypack in the Boise Foothills to backpacking with a 50-pound load (including more than 20 pounds of water) on a three-day, early-spring family trip in Capitol Reef National Park.

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Gear Review: Helinox Featherlite Trekking Poles

Helinox Featherlite Trekking Poles

Trekking Poles
Helinox Featherlite
$120, 10 oz. (120 cm)
Sizes: 120 and 135 cm (adjustable)
bigagnes.com

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.

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Gear Review: Stoic Somnus 30 Sleeping Bag

Stoic Somnus 30

Sleeping Bag
Stoic Somnus 30
$299 (regular), $319 (long), 1 lb. 8 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular (6’), long (6’6”)
backcountry.com

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.

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Gear Review: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 4 Tent

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 4

Tent
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 4
$600, 5 lbs. 10 oz. (tent, fly, poles)
bigagnes.com

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.

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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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