Best of OR: Backcountry Essentials

Our spies return with a look at some of the hottest gear at Outdoor Retailer

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Every year at Salt Lake City’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market we think we’ll get tired of all the new backcountry essentials that pop up at the show.


That never happens. Here are some of the most promising backcountry essentials (stoves, poles, etc.) we saw at the show:

Stanley Stainless Steel Bottles. It’s pretty kick-ass that Stanley’s new stainless steel bottle has a push-button for one-handed operation. (Cyclists rejoice!) But the wild graphics — a dragon or coiled snake –give this bottle real Kung Fu attitude.

Brooks-Range Mountaineering All-In-One UTM Grid Reader. Compatible with 8 USGS topo magnifications from 1:24,000 to 1:250,000, this 4.25″x7″ map tool goes one better than most you’ve seen: It also features an inclinometer for reading slope angles. That key safety device makes this $6 card a no-brainer for backcountry adventurers navigating remote areas and snowy peaks year-round. “It lets you gauge slope degree based on a maps contour interval,” says BP Senior Editor Shannon Davis.

Tanka Bar. Taste this new buffalo-cranberry snack made on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and you might not eat regular beef jerky ever again. A winner of a BACKPACKER Editors’ Choice Award this year, the all-natural 1-ounce Tanka Bar is moist, tender and tangy with a hint of sweetness from the fruit (best flavor: Spicy Pepper Blend). Also available in pouches of bite-sized nuggets.

Soto OD-1NP. Soto’s OD-1NP white gas stove is a culinary wonder that requires no priming, simmers and burns super clean, meaning no more sooty stove parts or time-consuming maintenance. With its stable base, it can handle big group pots, but it’s still super light and packable ($125). “It has all the convenience of canister stoves( no priming required, great simmering control, no maintenance required) with the bennies of white gas (cold weather performance, refillable bottles, hot output),” says BP Gear Editor Kristin Hostetter.

Komperdell Approach. Komperdell brings an intriguing new trekking pole design to market with the collapsible Approach. Instead of a twist-lock or flick-lock, it borrows from tent poles with shock-corded sections with male/female that pop into each other and secure with a light turn. It comes in five lengths and collapses as small as 14 inches long. Available in carbon ($240/pair) and alloy ($170/pair) versions, both superlight and featuring an extended grip.

Baladeo Outdoor Cutlery Set. Not all multi-tools are the same – dieu merci! French-based Baladeo, being distributed in the United States by Pacific Outdoor, offers a car-camper’s delight with the Outdoor Cutlery Set that comes with a removable fork and spoon, as well as an attached knife, bottle opener, screw and the pièce de résistance: a wine opening corkscrew ($47.99).

CGear Multimat. The CGear Multimat was originally designed as a deployable helimat to eliminate dirt, dust and debris from being kicked up by helicopter rotors when landing. It worked so well, the company thought why not apply that technology to ground cloths for camping and beach use. Sand and dirt fall straight through the mat to the ground beneath, but not back up through the mat. The Multimat doubles as a shade and a windbreak — perfect for when that helicopter delivering the Chardonnay for the camp dinner arrives.


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