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Backpacker Magazine – April 2009

Get This Gear: Essentials From A to Z

We tested more than 500 products–stoves, clothes, cameras, filters, tech tools, knives, and meals–to find these proven performers.

by: The Backpacker Editors, Courtesy Photos

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L
M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | XYZ

eureka chrysalis Get a perfectly comfortable–and remarkably flat–night of sleep in the easy-to-sling Eureka Chrysalis. It's heavy for a solo shelter, but the most restful hammock we've used. $200; 4 lbs. 15 oz.;

Hand sanitizer
Wisconsin Pharmacal's Pocketpak Spray Pen is slimmer than a Sharpie and slides into the smallest pockets. The pump top delivers a quick-dry mist that kills 99.9 percent of germs, and it won't freeze. $3; 0.4 oz.;

COLD Get a softshell beanie that scrunches down to baseball-size but offers the warmth and windproofness of a much burlier, bulkier dome. Cloudveil's Rayzar, made from water-resistant yet breathable Schoeller WB-400 fabric with a fuzzy fleece lining, kept one tester comfy on a winter Grand Canyon trip when lows dipped into the 30s and winds hit 25 mph. $40; 2 oz.;

RAIN Outdoor Research's Coastal Sombrero is an updated version of the classic Seattle Sombrero (Editors' Choice Gold Award, 4/05). Think of it like an umbrella for your head–made with Gore-Tex Paclite and a four-inch stiffened brim. An elastic cinch battens the hat down against wind. $50; 3 oz.;

SUN Beat the heat with Royal Robbins's Extreme Expedition Hat, made from breathable, fast-dry Coolmax. "The Lawrence of Arabia neck protected my ears and neck from UV on long, shadeless days," said one Southwest tester. Fashion note: The shield snaps off for use in non-desert-dork mode. $20; 2 oz.;

Ultralight The featherweight Princeton Tec Scout has three brightness levels, two flasher speeds, enough battery life for all-night epics, and a can't-be-beat price. Downside: It takes four 2032 lithium coin-cell batteries, which are pricy. $20; 1.6 oz.;

Ultra-versatile Mammut's X-Zoom sets a new standard for do-it-all headlamps, with the ability to adjust for every lighting need from camp chores to midnight navigation. The versatile performance earned it an Editors' Choice Award this year. See page 33. $100; 7.3 oz.;

Cellpoint's Flamingo Music Active Lifestyle Headset delivers clear high tones and rich bass. The customizable in-ear clips are much more comfortable and secure than ear buds. $50; 1 oz.;

Heat packs
We reheat (or prevent) numb digits with Grabber Hand Warmers. They produce up to 10 hours of warmth and come in a boot version. Like duct tape, they have many uses–boosting stove-canister performance, keeping water bottles from freezing in extreme cold, drying wet boots and gloves, warming sleeping bags, and thawing everything from frozen bite valves to car locks. $2 per pair;

Our tester said the new Petzl Altios is "the most comfortable brain bucket" he'd worn in years. The key? Soft, wicking microfiber covers scalp contact points, and a trampolinelike net keeps the helmet floating above your head. Sizing adjustments are a cinch with the large rubberized dial. $80; 11 oz.;

Hydration bladder
CamelBak's 100-ounce Omega reservoir is virtually indestructible (for proof, go to, never leaks, resists hydration-system funk, and has an easy on/off bite valve. $30;

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

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Reader Rating: Star Star Star Star


Dec 28, 2010

What an excellent list you've put together. Honestly, this is by far the best essential gear list I have seen online so far. I am going to be buying several things off this list as both presents for others and treats for myself. So thank you for sharing this!<a href="">.</a>

Nov 13, 2009

Are you kidding me with the $30 chopsticks?? I thought this magazine was about appreciating outdoors, not marketing a bunch of needless crap.

Lost Keys
May 27, 2009

I use the nite ize s biner as a key chaine. I hook it to my belt loop. Numeros times my keys have fallen off. I usually can hear the sound of keys hitting the ground. On a recent end of Fly fishing adventure. I turned the car around to do a final check for any forgoten equipment. The metalic reflection came from the ground. I got out and there was the nite Ize S-biner. BackPacker Editors award and all. Spring not strong enough!

May 16, 2009

How many backpackers do you know that carry $600 binoculars? Get real.

May 14, 2009

I'm really surprised to see MSR's quick 2 system at the same time that GSI's dualist system is not mentioned yet it has the 2008 editor's choice and lighter than MSR's. This really makes me question the credibility of the whole backpacker's site that I have always had it as a flagship.


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