|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – April 2009
We tested more than 500 products–stoves, clothes, cameras, filters, tech tools, knives, and meals–to find these proven performers.
Firestarter Trust us, rubbing two sticks together ain't gonna cut it in an emergency. AMK's Sparklite Fire Starter is a tiny rolling flint that's easy to spark with one hand and comes with a four-pack of tinder. $11; 0.2 oz.; adventuremedicalkits.com
Ultralight Here's one for the hiker who's good with duct tape but wants a tiny bit more. Helenbac's Pocket Ultralight is pared down to just the essentials for wound care (bandages and ointment) and a couple of doses of ibuprofen. Supplies come in a sturdy zip-top bag. $8; 1.8 oz.; helenbacfirstaid.com
WEEKEND Get the perfect compromise between weight and supplies with AMK's Ultralight .9. It includes bandages, meds, blister treatment, and wound care essentials (including duct tape), all packed neatly in waterproof pouches inside a zippered silnylon sack. $35; 10 oz.; adventuremedicalkits.com
WEEKLONG For large groups or longer trips, nothing beats the REI Backpacker First Aid Kit for value and user-friendly organization. Fold-out panels display all the contents for easy access, and small vials let you personalize the kit (they come empty). Bonus items: a compact first-aid manual and aloe gel for burns. Missing item: a triangular bandage. $42; 1 lb. 7 oz.; rei.com
EXPEDITION Designed for remote trips and long-term wound care, Helenbac's Basecamp First Aid Kit has plenty of commonly used items (like bandages), plus tools to handle more serious injuries, like EMT shears and a Sam Splint. $96; 1 lb. 9 oz.
Fleece jacket A midweight fleece is to hikers what a wetsuit is to surfers: indispensable. Make yours Patagonia's R2 Jacket. The latest rendition of the classic Regulator fleece is still tops for warmth, breathability, and weight. The secret: variable length fibers that trap warm air and make this jacket lighter and more compressible than equally warm competitors. $150; 13 oz. (w's M); patagonia.com
Give any boot or trail runner a custom-fit feel with Sole's Softec Ultra heat-moldable inserts (requires warming the footbeds in an oven). The moldable EVA layer is topped with soft foam and wicking polyester. Try the Regular for most boots, or the Slim Sport for lower-volume shoes. $45; 5.2 oz.; yoursole.com