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Gear

Here’s What Backpacker Editors are Loving in August 2021

A breathable tech tee and a pair of stylish shades are among this month's favorites.

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Saucony Xodus ISO3 

Saucony Xodus ISO3 
Photo: Courtesy

These trail running shoes have been an incredible addition to my fleet of hiking footwear, and the pair I’ve worn most this summer. The wide, V-shape lugs on the proprietary PWRTRAC outsole helped me feel secure while shuffling down steep, loose gravel on Utah’s Grandeur Peak and while scrambling up boulders to the summit of the Pfeifferhorn. The shoes strike a balance between nimble trail runners and supportive hikers: They kept my feet happy under an overnight pack on a three-day trip to Aspen, Colorado’s Conundrum hot springs, and when I had to run down Mt. Superior in the Wasatch to make it on time to a wedding, they helped me move fast even on steep, slippery downhills. The gusseted tongue hugged my foot and locked out pebbles. I can’t wait to put more miles on these babies. Note: The Xodus 11 is the newest model in the Xodus line. Zoe Gates, Senior Skills Editor

Stio Icefloe Tech Tee SS

Stio Icefloe Tech Tee SS
Photo: Courtesy

A good do-it-all tech tee is hard to find. So much so, that for most trips over the past decade I’ve worn the same synthetic Arc’teryx t-shirt. It was super light and airy, wicked like a champ, fit just right, and somehow never developed a stench. It was a miracle, but it was discontinued in that form, and I’ve been on the hunt for more. Finally, I’ve found its equal with Stio’s Icefloe. It’s 100 percent poly, but the material feels like worn, buttery cotton, and on a three-mile morning run in Boulder’s Chataqua Park, it wicked as well as any shirt I’ve worn in the relatively muggy 85°F heat. Since that initial test, I’ve used it on dayhikes and mountain bike rides in temps up to 95°F. The flat seams agreed with my pack straps, and the slight drop-tail hem added some coverage on my ride. I hope I can hit the trail with this shirt for the next 10 years, too. Shannon Davis, Editorial Director

La Sportiva TC Pro Climbing Shoes

La Sportiva TC Pro

I broke one of my toes about six weeks ago, and quickly remembered just how disruptive such a tiny injury can be to an active person. While I was up hiking again within a week or so (thank you, athletic tape and leather boots), climbing, another one of my favorite pastimes, was a little more elusive. That is, until I unearthed these beastly high-top rock shoes from my gear box. The sole of the shoe is stiff and nearly dead-flat, useful both for climbing thin cracks and supporting injured digits while you ease your way back onto the wall. They also edge supremely, thanks to the 4-millimeter-thick Vibram XS Edge sole. While there are some drawbacks—lack of ankle flexibility can make toe hooks and far-off footholds difficult to grab—I’ll be relying on these bad boys until I’m soreness-free again. Adam Roy, Senior Digital Editor

Suncloud Belmont Sunglasses

Suncloud Belmont
Photo: Courtesy

At first glance, these stylish shades look like they’re better-suited for drinking wine in a park ( … everybody else does that, right?) than for keeping your eyes protected on a hike. But the Belmonts have proven exceptionally durable over numerous trail days, and I don’t exactly baby my sunglasses. They’ve been whipped by tree branches, dropped on rocks, and stuffed rudely in my pack, but the polycarbonate lenses and lightweight frame—which is made partly from plant-based material—haven’t suffered a scratch or dent. Although they don’t have nose or ear pads, I haven’t noticed any slippage when I sweat. They also look like they should cost twice as much. Eli Bernstein, Senior Gear Editor

Bellingham Community Boating Center

RS Quest boat

Whenever I’m out at the coast, I love getting out on the water, but bi-annual visits don’t quite justify buying a kayak and a sailing dinghy. Enter the Bellingham Community Boating Center in Washington State: It rents sit-on-top kayaks, ocean kayaks, SUPs, dinghies (RS Quests, which are incredibly fun), and even 24-foot keelboats (J24s). An hourly kayak or SUP rental costs just $18, a dinghy $25, and a keelboat $35, or you can buy a season pass for as little as $200. On my last visit home I went down there as often as possible, paddling or sailing in 6-mile-wide Bellingham Bay. From the dock you can see the boardwalk, downtown, and on a clear day, the North Cascades and Canadian Coast Range; head out past the Alaska ferry dock and Lummi and Portage Islands come into view, with the Olympic Mountains rising behind. The boating center is a nonprofit that rents to anyone in the community with no membership required. As well as providing rentals and boating classes to the public, the Center is a certified Clean Marina, minimizing the environmental impact of their operations through ocean-friendly cleaners, quick-access spill kits, and minimal fuel use. Kristin Smith, Associate Destinations Editor