Meet the Gear Testers: Kelly Bastone - Backpacker

Meet the Gear Testers: Kelly Bastone

Tester Kelly has tough standards, and it takes a lot to convince her that something new can replace what she already has.

Kelly Bastone

Backpacker Contributing Editor; Freelance Writer

Steamboat Springs, CO


Height: 5’0”

Boot Size: W 6.5

Torso Legth: 16”

Hemmed pants and accordion-style sleeves are de rigeur on my small frame.

My most memorable gear testing story: I’ve been coordinating a lot of the tent reviews over the past few years, so I’m constantly grabbing different shelters to use. For one trip, I was rushing to get out the door and neglected to check whether the tent sack included all parts. It didn’t--it was missing the poles--but we lucked out big time, and only saw a little drizzle, on the last night!

My “gear philosophy”: For a gear tester, I’m surprisingly un-covetous of new stuff. I tend to stay intensely devoted to my tested, trusted standbys. Only, I don’t often get to use them because I’m always testing new things.

My greatest outdoor achievement: Pulling my daughter (in a sleigh) and 60 pounds’ worth of gear to Colorado's Sangree M. Froelicher Hut--and back out again, through rotten, posthole-ridden snow, with a broken ski. It took our entire team of four adults to help that happen, which is when you know you’re on a real adventure--when the trip requires people to work together as a team.

My coolest backpacking trip: One of my first-ever backpacking trips was an ill-conceived winter hike in the Pennsylvania woods with my sister. Our stove malfunctioned, so we had nothing to eat. Our summer pads left us shivering all night. I lay there wondering what in tarnation I was doing there, loving it all the while. We just giggled away most of that sleepless night.

My dream adventure: I’d like to ski the Haute Route, and eat fondue. And just this week, I hatched an obsessive urge to flee to the Grand Canyon’s Toroweap district and spend a month crawling among its remote reaches and pictographs.

More about me: I’m a hobbit at heart. Grand adventures are splendid and all, but I like them best when they end at the pub, or at a big plate of strawberry pancakes. I’m a mother of one toddler daughter. In 2003, I thru-hiked from Springer to NJ on the Appalachian Trail.