Time-Tested Gear: Essentials (Cookware) (Stoves)

Apparel, cookware, stoves...swimsuits?

Tried and True

Arc’teryx Beta AR

Tried and True

MSR XGK EX Stove

From the Vault

Swimsuit Models?

Where are they now?

Minimalist pioneer Ray Jardine

Field Notes

Notes from decades in the field

Editors’ Choice Hall of Fame

GSI Outdoors cookset

Expert Wisdom

Fix, clean, carry

Best of BACKPACKER

See all Time-Tested Gear

Arc’teryx Beta AR | MSR XGK EX Stove | Swimsuit Models? | Minimalist pioneer Ray Jardine | Field Notes | Editors’ Choice Hall of Fame

| Expert Wisdom | All Time-Tested Gear



Tried and True

Arc’teryx Beta AR

It was love at first sight in 1997 when testers tried on the Beta’s predecessor, the Theta (inset). Until then, we had never called a rainshell “sexy.” The Theta was sleek and clean and precise-fitting, to be sure, but the construction was all business: rugged three-layer Gore-Tex, waterproof zippers (the first ever), and dialed features, like a skull-hugging, one-hand-adjustable hood. The jacket worked so well in the field that we gave it an Editors’ Choice Award in 1998. The latest version, the Beta AR, is even more impressive. Made of Gore-Tex Pro Shell (W.L.’s most durable and breathable waterproof fabric yet), the Beta is a 14-ounce torso-fortress that kept testers dry in Colorado storms above 11,000 feet, with drenching rain and 30-mph winds. And yes, it’s still drop-dead gorgeous. $450; 14 oz. (men’s M); m’s XS-XXL, w’s XS-XL; arcteryx.com.

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Arc’teryx Beta AR | MSR XGK EX Stove | Swimsuit Models? | Minimalist pioneer Ray Jardine | Field Notes | Editors’ Choice Hall of Fame

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Main: MSR XGK EX Stove Inset: Model G (Courtesy Photo)

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Tried and True

MSR XGK EX Stove


We can’t say for sure exactly how many meals this stove has cooked for us over the decades, but 5,000 is a conservative estimate. MSR introduced the original Model G (inset) in 1973, and our early testers were thrilled to have a “hot, reliable, all-season stove” that sat low to the ground (rather than perched atop an integrated fuel tank, which elevates pots to a precarious position). Today’s XGK EX is still the go-to stove for big expeditions and winter travel. With a bit of practice, it can be dissected like an erector set to field-fix any problem. And the remote fuel bottle/pump system means you control the pressure inside the bottle, so you can achieve a steady, hot flame no matter what the altitude or temperature. $150; 13 oz. (without fuel bottle); msrgear.com.

Arc’teryx Beta AR | MSR XGK EX Stove | Swimsuit Models? | Minimalist pioneer Ray Jardine | Field Notes | Editors’ Choice Hall of Fame

| Expert Wisdom | All Time-Tested Gear



From the Vault


No, that’s not Photoshopped. Our apparel testing included all layers for this swimsuit and sportswear round-up (5/87). It’s “what to wear when you’re in between expeditions,” the article rationalized. Nobody on the current staff had anything to do with it.

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Arc’teryx Beta AR | MSR XGK EX Stove | Swimsuit Models? | Minimalist pioneer Ray Jardine | Field Notes | Editors’ Choice Hall of Fame

| Expert Wisdom | All Time-Tested Gear



Ray Jardine (Photo by William Wood)

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Where are they now?

Ray Jardine


Need proof that you see more by going ultralight? Jardine, the minimalist pioneer (“The Ray Way,” 2/98) who helped jumpstart a revolution, has since (among other things) completed two AT thru-hikes, skied to the South Pole, rowed across the Atlantic, climbed the highest peak in Antarctica, completed a coast-to-coast biking yo-yo in 92 days, and, this year, embarked on a solo, 4,200-mile cross-country bike trip.

Arc’teryx Beta AR | MSR XGK EX Stove | Swimsuit Models? | Minimalist pioneer Ray Jardine | Field Notes | Editors’ Choice Hall of Fame

| Expert Wisdom | All Time-Tested Gear

Field Notes

“Take any new gear through a dry run before hitting the trail. And in the case of electronics, read (and maybe pack)the manual. On a trip in Utah’s San Rafael Swell, I was testing a SPOT when unfortunate events delayed my schedule. I hit the ‘I’m OK’ button, but failed to check whether I had acquired a satellite lock (I hadn’t). Bottom line: My wife freaked out and called in the local SAR team for an embarrassing ‘rescue.’” —Jim Gorman, Senior Editor, 1994-1999

Arc’teryx Beta AR | MSR XGK EX Stove | Swimsuit Models? | Minimalist pioneer Ray Jardine | Field Notes | Editors’ Choice Hall of Fame

| Expert Wisdom | All Time-Tested Gear



GSI Oudoors Pinnacle Dualist (Photo by Steve Howe)

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Editors’ Choice Hall of Fame

Only four cook sets have earned our highest award over the past 18 years. And the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist leads the bunch—it’s a complete backcountry kitchen, with a 1.8-liter pot and strainer lid, two cups and bowls, two sporks, and a welded bag that doubles as a kitchen sink. It’s all two hikers need (minus a stove) to dine in style. $60; 1 lbs. 4 oz.; gsioutdoors.com.

Arc’teryx Beta AR | MSR XGK EX Stove | Swimsuit Models? | Minimalist pioneer Ray Jardine | Field Notes | Editors’ Choice Hall of Fame

| Expert Wisdom | All Time-Tested Gear

Expert Wisdom

1. Stock these. With Seam Grip, Tenacious Tape ($8 and $5, mcnett.com), and a bit of ingenuity, you can fix almost anything.

2. Revitalize your jacket’s DWR (durable water repellent) treatment. Rain gear needs periodic retreating to keep it working properly. Apply Nikwax TX Direct (Spray-On or Wash-In) whenever water stops beading on the surface ($10-14, nikwax.com).

3. Carry an extra hipbelt buckle. It’s the only one you’ll ever really miss.

4. Clean your gear. Dirt, grime, and body oils can diminish the performance and durability of sleeping bags and rainwear. Launder according to manufacturer directions.

5. Save your sole. If it delams, reglue it using Freesole (mcnett.com, $7).