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March 2008 Perfect System: Southwest

Pad
Therm-a-Rest Toughskin

This is the only self-inflating pad we’ve found that can survive prolonged use in cactus country. It endured 30 nights of camping in northern Arizona and southern Utah–including being strapped to the outside of a pack–without a puncture. Credit construction that incorporates a closed-cell foam bottom and dense-weave fabric on the exterior. The tradeoff is a little more weight and bulk. $120; 2 lbs. 7 oz. (reg.); thermarest.com

Hydration Reservoir
Nalgene CXC 3L Big Bore Tanker
The wide-mouth opening with a handle makes it easy to fill this 3-liter reservoir in shallow potholes. $27; nalgene-outdoor.com

Bargain!
Water Storage
MSR Dromedary

There are other ways to store water for dry camping in the desert, but none are as packable and reliable as this proven canvas bladder (available in 2-, 4-, 6- and 10-liter models). The 1,000-denier Cordura fabric is virtually puncture-proof, and the plastic cap and pour spout never leak. $33; 7 oz. (4-liter); msrgear.com

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