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Gear Reviews

The Backpacker Gear Hall of Fame: 11 Products That Stood Up to the Test of Time

Backpacker's editors and testers have best testing the best gear on the market for decades—and these are our all-time faves.

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Backpacker testers and editors have tested thousands of products over our magazine’s run—tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, boots, freeze-dried meals, you name it. A lot of them are great, but some just rise above the others, earning the honor of an Editors’ Choice Award.

But even among Editors’ Choice-winning gear, we have our favorites. For the 25th anniversary of EC in 2018, we asked our editors and contributors to pick their favorite gear of all time for the Backpacker Gear Hall of Fame. Need proof that these products are all-time greats? Five years later—30 years after we first began the Editors’ Choice Awards—you can still buy all of them. And if you love great gear, maybe you should. —Adam Roy, Executive Editor

REI Half Dome 2 Plus

rei half dome 2 plus tent
Christin Healey

Backcountry shelter has changed a lot in the 16 years since REI debuted the Half Dome 2. But this tent? Not so much. REI knew it had something good from the get-go: a tent that’s big enough, tough enough, and light enough, at a price that’s approachable for most backpackers. Read the Full Review / Buy REI Half Dome 2 Plus Now

Kahtoola Microspikes


It’s been just over a decade since the MICROspikes debuted, and we’ve used them so often since then, it’s hard to remember what we did before. They solve a longtime dilemma: what to pack when crampons are overkill, but you need legit traction for steep, snowy terrain. Read Full Review / Buy Kahtoola Microspikes Now 

Marmot PreCip

marmot precip jacket
Louisa Albanese

When it comes to raingear, the latest tech can set you back $400 or more. It’s no surprise that the price of a shell goes up as weight falls and breathability improves, but unless you’re going on an expedition to Patagonia or rainforest trekking in the Pacific Northwest, the cost isn’t always worth it. For backpackers who simply want protection from the elements, there’s the PreCip. [Editor’s Note: Marmot has since replaced the original PreCip with the PreCip Eco] Read the Full Review / Buy Marmot PreCip Eco Now

Gregory Baltoro 65 / Deva 60

editors choice 2018 gregory backpack
Photo by Louisa Albanese

You can tell a lot about a hiker by his or her backpack. See a Baltoro on the trail and one thing’s for sure: The owner of this pack gets out a lot. Read the Full Review / Buy Gregory Baltoro 65 / Deva 60 Now

Chaco Z/1 Classic

Jesse Sandals
Louisa Albanese

For almost a decade, the Z/1 served one tester as a true do-it-all shoe: sea kayaking in Baja, backpacking in Arizona, river running in California, and even a wedding in Glacier National Park. (“I’ve used it for everything but snow hikes,” he boasts.) Read the Full Review / Buy Chaco Z/1 Classic Now



The one and only. We’ve been throwing a Snickers (or several) into our food bags for decades now, and adding them to the shopping cart is as much a part of a backpacking trip as getting a permit. Read the Full Review / Buy Snickers Now

Outdoor Research Crocodile


There’s an old Irish proverb that goes, “May the path rise up to meet you and your lower legs be sheathed in armor.” (Or something like that.) If that quip isn’t a paean to the Crocodiles, it ought to be. Read the Full Review / Buy Outdoor Research Crocodile Now

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 tent review
William M. Rochfort, JR.

When the copper spur debuted in 2008, it changed the formula we used to choose a shelter. In the decade since, Big Agnes both tweaked the design and expanded the line, resulting in what we now consider the peak of weight savings and livability: The HV UL3. At just 3.5 pounds, this tent is plenty light for two campers, but the 41-square-foot floor and near-vertical walls make it legit for three. Read the Full Review / Buy Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Now

Patagonia R1 Fleece Hoody

Patagonia R1 Fleece Hoody
Louisa Albanese

The all-day layer is our unicorn. For the longest time, changing conditions meant changing your clothes. But since the R1 was introduced in 1999 (we gave the entire R Series an Editors’ Choice Award the following year), this piece has kept us warm—then cool—and comfortable, outing after outing, even as gear trends changed. Read the Full Review / Buy Patagonia R1 Fleece Hoody Now

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid

editors choice 2018 lowa boots
Photo by Louisa Albanese

Over the last 20 years, the trend toward lighter gear has pushed many hikers into trail runner territory. That’s OK if your load is light and your trips are on easy trails. But when you want support, stability, and durability, you want the Renegade. Read the Full Review / Buy Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Now

Gear Aid Seam Grip WP


“Like duct tape in a tube,” says one tester of this fix-anything substance. In fact, it’s been a backpacking staple since backpacking became a popular pastime. And unlike duct tape, Seam Grip can fix tears permanently (in the field or at home) without leaving behind a residue you have to clean up later. Read the Full Review / Buy Gear Aid Seam Grip WP Now

Originally published November 2018; last updated February 2023

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