ultralight backpacking

Gear Review: Salomon Synapse Mid Shoes

Salomon Synapse Mid

Lightweight Trail Shoes
Salomon Synapse Mid
$140, 1 lb. 11 oz. (men’s 9)
Sizes: Men’s 7.5-12, women’s 6.5-10
salomon.com

I wanted a pair of lightweight mid-cut boots for a grueling, very rugged, 19-mile dayhike the length of the Carter Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountains—tagging a half dozen summits and climbing and descending some 7,000 feet, a traverse with some absurdly steep sections that is arguably harder than a one-day, 20-mile “death march” of the full Presidential Range. So I looked for mid-cut instead of low-cut shoes to protect my ankles on those notoriously rocky trails. I needed a shoe with enough cushion and support underfoot for a hike that guaranteed a lot of pounding. I prefer non-waterproof footwear for hot dayhikes where breathability is paramount. And I wanted all of that in a boot that’s light and allows me to move fast. The Synapse Mid delivered on all counts.

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Interview: ‘Ultimate Hiker’ Andrew Skurka

Since his “first backpacking trip” thru-hiking the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail in 95 days (thru-hikers normally take five to six months) in 2002, Andrew Skurka, 31, has put his own indelible stamp on ultra hiking and long-distance backpacking. His many adventures include:

•    Thru-hiking the California section of the Pacific Crest Trail at an average pace of about 40 miles per day;
•    An 800-mile trek across the Colorado Plateau from Arches National Park to the Grand Canyon;

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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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