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Editors’ Choice Awards
Step 1: Send hundreds of products into the backcountry with our army of veteran testers. Step 2: Winnow the field and take the top performers on a trek up a Chilean volcano. Step 3: Come back with a burn-any-fuel stove, a bargain ultralight tent, and 10 more items that make backpacking better than ever.
Get the perfect load hauler, whether you’re dayhiking in a local park or heading out on Himalayan expedition. We tested ultralights of every size, bargain weekenders, and more.
Boots & Trail Runners
From minimalist trail runners to Rainier-ready alpine boots–and every footwear type in between–our testers put 11,000 miles on the year’s best new models.
Mother Nature in a bad mood? Take shelter from wind, rain, snow, bugs, and whatever else she throws at you with 34 field-tested tents for every condition and budget.
Sleeping Bags and Sleeping Pads
Your sleep is important to us. That’s why our testers sought out conditions that took these sacks down to their temp rating–and often beyond. Plus: the warmest, softest pads.
and Softshell Jackets
Increase your trail time: Stay dry and warm in one of these 33 jackets. From 6-ounce wonders to all-season bargains, 2012’s shells set a new standard for foul-weather comfort.
The 10 Essentials
Stay safe with the best gear in key lifesaving categories.
Top cameras, GPS, and gadgets to record and share trips
Improve vision in every condition with the right shades.
Eat well, hike far with taste-tested meals and snacks.
Get the right fit with our female testers’ top picks.
Car Camping Essentials
Kick back with 10 luxe favorites for camp comfort.
Outfit yourself for paddling, climbing, and Fly-fishing Gear.
Score a sweet trail-tested bargain for less than $50.
Rip & Equip
Don’t go shopping until you’ve read these comprehensive guides to buying and fitting the right pack, boots, bag, and tent.
This year we have posted all the great Gear Charts, with the specs on thousands of new products at backpacker.com/gearcharts2012.
You can also find the issue digitally at backpacker.com/apps.