The Final Round
Eight BACKPACKER staffers circle around a still-warm camp stove as the moon rises over 12,982-foot Temple Crag, in California’s John Muir Wilderness. Moonlight reflects off of Second Lake and the cirque’s new dusting of snow. Our bellies are full, our muscles sore, and the cones of light from our headlamps illuminate notebooks, spreadsheets full of gear specs, and torn-out pages of catalogs. A titanium flask makes the rounds.
And so the great gear debate begins. We talk through each item on the master list of final contenders for our annual Editors’ Choice Awards. After months and months of testing—from New Zealand to Alaska—the anecdotes have piled up like campfire tinder. Some products incite passionate opinions and heated discussions. Others fade under the scrutiny of testers with a combined 85 years on the job.
We perform this ritual each night of our weeklong adventure, culling 50-odd finalists down to the very best. This year, the debates unfold during a mountains-to-desert California road trip—and by the end, we fight, claw, and shout our way to consensus. Believe it: These 13 products are worth coveting.
Win Free Gear!
We're giving away selected Editors' Choice Award-winning items in April, so check back often for new contests.
This week: Jetfoil MiniMo (enter by April 19, 2015)
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