Readers' Choice Field Gear Test

Four trail-proven picks from the winners of our Be a Gear Tester Contest

THE PICK

Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL Backpack

I’m your classic multisporter, and I need a like-minded pack such as the Futura Pro. Its springy, steel-rod-framed suspension system and dynamic, padded hipbelt easily handled up to 25 pounds on weekend trips in Grand Teton NP. The bottom zipper and multiple pockets let me quickly access gear on long climbing days. And the rain cover kept my stuff safe from thunderstorms and splashes while canoeing. $145; 3 lbs. 14 oz.; deuter.com

Image placeholder title

THE TESTER

Stephanie Buelow


Age 23

Test Trips Backpacking, rock climbing, and canoe camping in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks

Image placeholder title

THE PICK

Stoic Hadron Hoody

This superlight midlayer packs a lot of protection. The 850-fill down is sheathed in 15-denier Pertex Quantum, which beads up light rain and, despite its wispy appearance, stood up to granite, grabby branches, and self-arrest practice on rough summer snow. The simple pullover, kangaroo-pocketed design keeps weight low, but three snaps allow chest venting and a hood boosts warmth. It packs to grapefruit-size, and proved the ideal midlayer from 20°F to 40°F. $179; 8 oz.; stoicgear.com

Image placeholder title

THE TESTER

Toby Citret

Age 24

Test Trips Hiking and camping along the Pacific Crest Trail in California, bouldering in Idaho and Nevada

Image placeholder title

THE PICK

Rab MeCo 120 Tee and Pants

This merino/Cocona blend wicked copious sweat during days in the mid-90s; even when soaked, it was bone-dry within two hours. I wore the tights under my hiking pants on cool (mid-50s) nights in camp. On multiday stints along the AT, the shirt (hung in a tent) seemed to refresh itself—shedding the day’s BO and campfire smell—each night. Fit is relaxed, and the fabric shows no sign of pilling after months of use. $80/$60; 3/3.5 oz.; us.rab.uk.com

Image placeholder title

THE TESTER

Esther Easter

Age 59

Test Trips Backpacking and dayhiking in Alabama and along the southern Appalachian Trail

Image placeholder title

THE PICK

Snow Peak Starter Kit

I’m a gram-counter and fanatic packer, and this kit is right in my wheelhouse—perfect for ultralight soloists. It includes the proven Giga Power stove, a .75-liter titanium mug/pot with lid, and a titanium spork, all of which (plus a small fuel canister) nest inside the pot. The stove proved reliable in all sorts of three-season weather (even blustery conditions during Hurricane Irene!), and boil times averaged 4.5 minutes. $85; 9 oz.; snowpeak.com

Image placeholder title

THE TESTER

Justin Paynter

Age 31

Test Trips Backpacking along Vermont’s Long Trail and fishing in New York’s Adirondacks

Image placeholder title