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Backpacker Magazine – April 2009
We tested more than 500 products–stoves, clothes, cameras, filters, tech tools, knives, and meals–to find these proven performers.
Slightly spicy, slightly sweet Good Earth Original tea makes the perfect backcountry warm-up. "One sip and you can feel your attitude getting better, even on the cruddiest, coldest night," says one staff fan. When conditions get really bad, add brandy. $5 for 25 bags; goodearth.com
ALL-PURPOSE A tough titanium/aluminum alloy enables Komperdell to save weight by building the Contour Titanal with a smaller-diameter pole that matches the strength of larger, heavier models. "It's light and comfortable to hold, with a natural swing weight that made me feel balanced," said a tester. $100; 1 lb. 4 oz.; komperdell.com
KILLER DEAL Here's why we like Black Diamond's Trail Ergo Corks. The natural cork handles don't get slimy; the flick-locks are easier and faster to operate with gloves than twist-locks; and foam grip extenders let you choke up on the fly for steep ascents. $100; 1 lb. 2 oz.; bdel.com
ULTRALIGHT Our Rocky Mountain editor has broken his fair share of poles, so when he calls Leki's Carbon Lites the best sticks he's used, it pays to listen. "They weigh nothing. They collapse supershort. The handles are made with mega-comfortable foam, and the straps adjust securely." From Utah's high Uintas to Denali National Park, his sample poles suffered no cracks. $200 (add $20 for shocks); 13 oz.; leki.com
Sticking to LNT ethics is easy with MontBell's Handy Scoop. It's essentially a big, stainless-steel spoon with a sharp edge; it gouges catholes out of hardscrabble and weighs just over an ounce. $8; montbell.com