March 2008 Perfect System: Northwest (Beginner Skills) (Climbing/Mountaineering) (Destinations Stories) (Gear Checklists) (Ultralight)

Pack

ARC'TERYX Naos 55


With waterproof fabric, welded seams, and a roll-top closure, the Naos (Maia 50 is the women's version) is not only rainproof, it's dunkproof. That, plus a stable, comfortable ride with a weekend-plus load earned it an Editors' Choice Award (4/06) and endeared it to all wet-weather hikers. $499; 4 lbs. 10 oz. (M); three sizes per gender; arcteryx.com

Hat

Outdoor Research Nimbus Sombrero


This may not be the coolest-looking hat on the planet, but Northwest hikers need waterproofing before style. A CoolMax headband pulls sweat off your brow, and a thin layer of closed-cell foam keeps the brim umbrella-stiff. If you want to raise the roof for a bit more light, snap up one or both sides. $40; 4 oz. (L); orgear.com

Shell

ARC'TERYX Theta AR


In certifiably horrendous weather–from the soaking showers of the Olympics to the wet snowstorms on Mt. Rainier–the Theta AR justifies its price tag. The Gore-Tex Pro Shell has excellent breathability and bomber durability, plus the jacket is beautifully cut for a comfortable fit that doesn't sacrifice performance. The extra long hem covers your butt, and the articulated hood moves with every head swivel. $450; 1 lb. 4 oz. (men's M); men's and women's sizes; arcteryx.com

Pants

Sierra Designs Crest Convertible Pant


Durable nylon and a touch of spandex give the Crests just the right blend of weatherproofing and stretch. They dried quickly after a brush-thrashing hike along the wet Snoqualmie River Trail. The slash-style pockets are accessible when you're wearing a hipbelt. $80; 1 lb. 4 oz. (38"); men's and women's sizes; sierradesigns.com

Sleeping bag

The North Face Orion


When your bag gets damp, as it inevitably will, you won't lose sleep thanks to this sack's synthetic fill. The Orion is stuffed with ClimaShield Neo, a new high-loft insulation that we're finding warm and compressible. The bag is efficiently cut–snug below the hips, but with good wiggle room in the shoulders–and the 20°F temp rating proved spot-on for our warm sleepers. Available in men's and women's versions. $179; 2 lbs. 8 oz.; thenorthface.com

Insulation

REI Spruce Run Jacket


You need a synthetic puffy (down soaks up more water and dries more slowly), and this PrimaLoft One-filled model is more versatile than average. The sleeves zip off, creating a vest for mild temps. $149; 1 lb. 8 oz. (XL); men's sizes; rei.com

Tent

Black Diamond Oasis


You won't mind sitting out nasty weather in this tent, thanks to a 45-inch-high ceiling and generous floor plan that allowed even our 6'2" tester to stretch out. Good ventilation minimizes condensation. And a 12-square-foot vestibule keeps every bit of gear sheltered during downpours. $330; 5 lbs. 11 oz.; bdel.com

Boots

Kayland Convert


Eliminate wet feet with the mid-height Converts. The eVent membrane keeps water out, while outstanding breathability prevents sweat build-up. Tough suede uppers and stout midsoles protect feet and ankles, and grippy rubber outsoles provide great traction even on wet granite. They fit mid-volume feet best. $185; 2 lbs. 13 oz. (men's 9); kayland.com

Navigation

Aloksak Map Case


A soggy map is a useless map. Protect topos in this clear waterproof case. The 12-inch square version perfectly holds a folded USGS quad. $11 per 3-pack; 1 oz. each; watchfuleyedesigns.com

Traction

Kahtoola MicroSpikes


Cascade concrete–the heavy, wet snow that typically falls in the Northwest–often turns hard and slippery come spring. Enter the MicroSpikes, the perfect choice when full crampons are overkill and rubber tread won't cut it. The binding snaps onto any shoe, and steel chains and 3/8-inch spikes bite into slopes up to about 25 degrees. $59; 13 oz.; kahtoola.com

Bargain!

Backup shelter

GoLite UL Poncho Tarp


On rain-soaked treks, this extra protection is a godsend. The coated nylon tarp adds nearly 38 square feet of dry living space to camp (great for kitchen duty), and it can also be strung over a tent door to make a tall awning. Yes, you can wear it as a poncho, too. $50; 10 oz.; golite.com

Midlayer

Outdoor Research Specter Pullover


This midweight fleece slides easily between layers thanks to a smooth outer finish that's laced with nylon to increase abrasion resistance. The zip turtleneck collar keeps wet gusts from sneaking down your neck. $90; 15 oz. (L); men's sizes (for women, there's a Specter Jacket); orgear.com

Pack cover

Sea-to-Summit Deluxe Pack Cover

Not spending the big bucks on a waterproof pack? Keep your stuff dry with this lightweight ripstop nylon cover. The contoured shape conforms to most internal frame packs (three sizes available to fit packs from 1,800 to 5,500 cubic inches). $27; 5.5 oz. (M); seatosummit.com