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March 2008 Perfect System: Southwest

Sleeping Bag
Western Mountaineering Summerlite

Desert nights can be surprisingly cold, making this ultralight sack the perfect choice: It’s surprisingly warm. Lofty 850-fill down and a featherweight nylon shell make the pound-plus bag extremely packable–and true to its 32°F rating. A full-length two-way zipper offers adequate venting for milder nights. $300; 1 lb. 3 oz.;

Big Agnes Parkview 2

It’s hard to beat a dark night in the Southwest for stargazing. Get an expansive view of the sky with this tent’s huge, mostly mesh canopy. During a five-day trip in the Grand Canyon, testers pitched the freestanding Parkview on slickrock and watched it hold firm in wind gusts that rattled less stable tents. It’s heavier than the leading lightweights, but the spacious interior, 48-inch peak height, and two large vestibules make it an all-purpose (and big guy) favorite. For a lighter, pricier option, check Big Agnes’s Copper Spur series (page 54). $290; 5 lbs. 13 oz.;

Five Ten Camp Four

Low-cut and low on the clunk factor, the Camp Four offers good support for moderate loads and agility for tricky canyon terrain. A polyurethane exoskeleton wraps the heel, providing exceptional lateral stability, and the sticky tread clings spiderlike to sandstone. The nubuk leather upper and rubber toe cap protect against cactus and rocks. The absence of a waterproof membrane increases breathability; one tester reported total comfort on 10-mile, 90°F days in Arizona’s Superstition Wilderness. $100; 2 lbs. (men’s 9);

Rab Latok Alpine Jacket

The Southwest may seem dry, but for sand storms, snow, and summer monsoons, a shell is a smart buy. Choose this year-round model, made with highly breathable eVent. The Latok is light enough for three-season use, yet weatherproof and durable enough for winter. $275; 1 lb. (women’s L); men’s and women’s sizes;

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