Gear Guide 2011

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EDITORS' CHOICE AWARDS

How do you find 2011’s best new gear? First, test tons of products for months to winnow the field. Then brutalize the finalists on an off-trail hike through Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park. The winners: blister-free boots; an ultralight load hauler; a next-gen GPS and survival tool; and 11 more top performers.

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BACKPACKS

Whether you’re loading for a local dayhike, a weekend in the wilderness, or a once-in-a-lifetime thru-hike, this year’s class of packs redefines comfort.

BOOTS

From barefoot trail runners to alpine stompers, the shoes we picked amp up weatherproofing and fit features to deliver more comfort, stability, and protection.

TENTS

Stay warmer and drier thanks to efficient pole structures, geometries that enhance space and stormproofing, durable lightweight materials, and wind-tunnel-proven shapes.

SLEEPING BAGS

Enjoy sweet dreams in nasty conditions with these sacks—from summer bargains to down featherweights to waterproof winter mummies—and the cushiest new pads.

ESSENTIALS

Welcome to accessory and apparel heaven: puffy jackets, stoves, windpants, knives, iPad apps, solar panels, GPS, hydration, first aid, socks, camp food, baselayers, and more.