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The Gear That Backpacker’s Editors Loved in November 2022

Affordable earbuds, slimming thermals, and an eye-popping camping blanket: Here’s what our editors brought with them on their fall adventures.

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Patagonia R1 Air Full-Zip Hoody
Patagonia R1 Air Full-Zip Hoody (Photo: courtesy)

Patagonia R1 Air Full-Zip Hoody ($169)

The R1 has long reigned amongst performance midlayers, and for good reason. With the ideal balance of insulation and breathability for aerobic, cold-weather excursions, it’s been my go-to for fall mountain bike rides, hikes, and ski tours. The R1 Air is designed for high-exertion activities when the mercury drops. Even when pedaling or skinning long uphills, the zigzag channels dump enough heat to regulate my body temperature, and the wicking fleece keeps me toasty on the descents. And when I do break a sweat, it dries quickly enough to fend off a chill.  With the R1 Air, I find myself adjusting layers less frequently than when I wear other, similar fleeces. It can be hard to convince myself to get out for a ride or a walk on these cold, shorter days, but knowing I’ll be comfortable gives me the motivation I need to step out the door. —Zoe Gates, Senior Skills Editor 

Skullcandy Indy Evo
Skullcandy Indy Evo (Photo: courtesy)

Skullcandy Indy Evo ($70)

The Indys aren’t the nicest wireless earbuds I’ve ever owned (they sound good, not great) or even necessarily the most comfortable out of the box (I had to spend a while trying different cushions before I got them dialed in. But they’re the longest-lived pair I’ve ever owned—I’ve been using an older version of them since 2019—and they work as well today as when I first opened the box. At $40, or roughly a third the price of a pair of Apple Airpods, the Indy punches well above its weight. I’ve used mine on everything from conference calls (the built-in mic has a nice, clear sound) to long Nordic ski sessions. Want noise cancellation? The ANC version is on sale now for just $50. —Adam Roy, Executive Editor

Rumpl Puffy Blanket
Rumpl Puffy Blanket (Photo: courtesy)

Rumpl Puffy Blanket ($99)

In college, I was known for always wearing a “blanket skirt”: I would tie a blanket around my waist to create a convection oven of warmth in my very poorly insulated Midwest apartment. I have since grown out of the blanket skirt days thanks to my Rumpl Geo puffy blanket. The Rumpl’s cape clip, which fastens the blanket around your shoulders, helped lock in heat in sub-freezing temps as I sat fireside and walked around the campsite. Another bonus? The blanket uses 100-percent recycled polyester fabric and synthetic insulation, a lesser evil than the virgin petroleum-based polyesters typically used. Also, it’s machine-washable and water-resistant, making it a great option for foul-weather trips. —Emma Veidt, Assistant Skills Editor

Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer Rib Hoodie
Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer Rib Hoodie (Photo: courtesy)

Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer Rib Hoodie ($140)

Thermal baselayers rarely fit me perfectly—either they bunch up in certain spots or run too long. Hoods are often an afterthought. Smartwool’s newest hooded thermal top fits like a glove: just long enough in the torso and arms to slide under other layers, with ribbed patterning in the arms and hood that expand and contract like an accordion depending on body type. The heavyweight Merino wool is like a furnace layered underneath a puffy, and thick/breathable enough to be worn on its own for aerobic activities down to the high-20s. The snug hood fits without bunching or constricting under a helmet, and comes all the way up to the chin to prevent drafts. And while it does look a bit like Spiderman cosplay (in the Rythmic Red, anyway), the varied ribbed patterning lends it a fashionable edge that’s appropriate around town. — Benjamin Tepler, Gear Editor

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