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Backpacker Editors’ Choice 2008

The year's best packs, boots, tents, jackets, and sleeping bags. Period. Plus, a never-die headlamp, a life-saving beacon, a back-saving ultralight chair, and more innovative, trail-tested gear.
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Big Agnes Copper Spur

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3
The lightest, roomiest tent we tested this year. Enough said.

With legit space for three sleepers, this tent weighs just a pound and change per hiker–you simply won’t find anything else this light, roomy, and weatherproof. To achieve such a rock-bottom weight, Big Agnes uses gram-saving poles and a silicon-treated ultralight nylon fly. Testers worried it might be too flimsy, but we had no problems even when the tent was pounded by wind and rain in the Rockies (the two-person version withstood gusts that shredded a lesser shelter). The three-season-plus strength is a result of poles interlinked with hubs, a short bridge pole, and well-placed guypoints. Condensation wasn’t an issue, even in cool, drizzly conditions in Washington’s Lakes Wilderness with three campers inside. Color-coded tabs make setup quick and eliminate the need for even glancing at the owner’s manual. The floor easily fits three 20-inch-wide sleeping pads. Our six-footers reported plenty of room to stretch out, but they did gripe about the low doorways. Amazingly, despite the Copper Spur being 4 ounces lighter than the Quarter Dome T3, its two vestibules are 60% bigger, with storage space for a trio’s gear. Like the T3, the Copper Spur pitches rainfly-only with an optional $60 footprint (3 lbs. 4 oz. total weight). Caveat: Premium performance has a price–literally. $500; 4 lbs. 3 oz.; (877) 554-8975;

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