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Here’s What Backpacker’s Editors Loved in October 2021

Cookware, comfortable trail running shoes, and a pack for pooches highlight this month’s favorites.

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Emma Veidt, Assistant Skills Editor: Merrell Antora X Trail Sisters Trail Running Shoes

Merrell Antora X Trail Sisters Trail Running Shoes
(Photo: Courtesy)

I usually wear Merrell hiking boots, so I decided to give their trail runners a spin. So far, I’m extremely impressed: My feet stay secure as I weave through rocks and stumps on the trail. A rock plate prevents bruising, the breathable mesh upper means I haven’t gotten too sweaty, and the foam midsole helps correct overpronation. These shoes also support a good cause: increasing womxn representation and opportunity in outdoor sports. The vibrant design comes from a partnership with Merrell, REI, and Trail Sisters, a community for hiking and trail running womxn. Portions of the proceeds go toward the Trail Sisters Adventure Grant, which gives recipients a gear kit and $500 toward their next adventure. $120; Buy Now

Kristin Smith, Assistant Destinations Editor: Omnia Oven

Omnia Oven
(Photo: Courtesy)

When I’m at a campsite or on a boat with nothing but a stove burner, I find myself reaching for the portable Omnia Oven. Everything I’ve baked so far has turned out great (even my first cake attempt, when I had to fiddle around to find the right setting), and I’m in love with the accessories, especially the silicone muffin mold. I’ve got a whole bookmarks folder on my laptop now full of Omnia recipes I want to try. Unfortunately, it won’t quite fit on my backpacking stove—it’s about a foot wide and 4 inches tall—but it’s perfect for car camping stoves or campfires. $67; Buy Now

Robs Sawyer, Art Director: Fjällräven Keb Trousers

Fjällräven Keb Trousers
(Photo: Courtesy)

This is hands-down my favorite pair of pants I’ve worn this hiking season. The Keb is durable and adaptable for any weather. As summer transitions to fall in Colorado, we start to feel more brisk conditions set in with the occasional toasty afternoon—perfect for the Keb, with its side vents. Another huge plus is the thoughtful placement of pockets. This pant promotes mobility as well: The stitching around the knee and elastic fabric near the crotch really set the Keb apart from other pairs I wear. A bar of included wax improves wind- and water-resistance as well.  $225; Buy Now

Shannon Davis, Editorial Director: Kuiu Base Camp Insulated Snap Shirt

Kuiu Base Camp Insulated Snap Shirt
(Photo: Courtesy)

Autumn in the foothills of Colorado’s Rockies is a beautiful and unpredictable time. On any hike, you can be chilly, then hot, then downright cold. Then hot again. The temps swing 20 degrees with passing clouds. This is the perfect jacket for these changing conditions, which is why I’ve worn this thing everyday for the past few weeks. Its 20-denier, two-way stretch ripstop nylon breathes like a softshell and is DWR-coated to shed light moisture. The Base Camp shined in Rocky Mountain National Park on a hike to some late season fly-fishing. And when the weather exceeded the limits of the jacket late in the day on the hike back, I threw on a shell and stayed warm yet sweat-free into the low 40s thanks to the thin layer of synthetic insulation. It has a trim fit, so size up for more room or layering beneath. $150; Buy Now

Zoe Gates, Senior Skills Editor: K9 Sport Sack Trainer 

K9 Sport Sack Trainer
(Photo: Courtesy)

My hiking-dog-in-training is too young to take on real trails on her own four feet, but with this pack, we can still enjoy hikes together. The daypack-style carrier specifically for puppies and small dogs features mesh paneling on the sides to keep your pup comfortable, and arm holes to keep her secure. (When she’s tucked in, her paws will rest on your shoulders as you hike, which both eliminates the worry of her wriggling free, and looks darn cute.) My pup sat comfortably and content all the way up Boulder, Colorado’s 8,459-foot Bear Peak; the pack allows her to enjoy the views without risking injury to her paws and joints—not to mention offers killer selfie opportunities. With minimal support, no backpanel breathability, and no hipbelt, this pack works best for dogs 15 pounds and under, and for short hikes only. It features one slim water bottle holder on the outside, but no additional pockets to store snacks and treats, so bring a friend to carry the real pack. Be warned: You won’t hike very fast with the K9 Sport Sack Trainer; not due to the extra weight, but due to every hiker you pass wanting to stop and pet your furry cargo. $50; Buy Now

Eli Bernstein, Senior Gear Editor: Db Hytta 90L Duffle

Db Hytta 90L
(Photo: Courtesy)

It’s car-camping season for me, and as an Avid Organizer—yup, I’m cool—the Hytta and its myriad zippered compartments go a long way towards preserving my packing sanity. This duffle folds open, and each half has multiple layers of smaller, divided pockets that make separating my clothes—hiking apparel from in-camp apparel, clean from dirty, and so on—and accessories from each other a breeze. The 840-denier nylon exterior laughs in the face of rough treatment and rocky ground, and the included backpack straps give my body a break when I carry the fully-loaded Hytta from car to campsite. (I go full lazy-mode when I car camp.) $329; Buy Now

Adam Roy, Senior Digital Editor: Wintersteiger Ski/Snowboard Waxing Iron

Ski waxing iron
Wintersteiger Ski Waxing Iron (Photo: Courtesy)

Ski season has arrived in Colorado—kind of—and I’ve already managed to notch a couple of days dodging rocks on the white ribbon of death. Between the backcountry and the resort I put a lot of miles on my skis in all conditions, and that means a lot of maintenance—and a lot of shop time if you’re not willing to do some of it yourself. For the past few years I’ve trusted this affordable iron from Wintersteiger when it’s time to wax. It’s a simple tool—a temperature dial, a smooth metal base, and a sturdy plastic handle—but it heats up quickly and holds its temperature reliably. I’ve already busted it out of storage, and I expect to be spending a lot of time with it this season. $48; Buy Now

How to Pack for Backcountry Skiing

Get to know the winter safety gear you need in your pack.