OR: The Latest in Ultralight

Senior Editor Shannon Davis reports from Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City with the best in new ultralight gear. Included: packs, trekking poles, and argon-filled sleeping pads.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Our Facebook followers asked me to track down some ultralight gear, and that wasn’t hard to do—check these gossamer items I found in my first meetings:

Thru-hikers, meet the Osprey Hornet 46. This pack is just 1lb. 8oz. and will run $159. Coming out in spring 2011. Hell yeah, we’ll be testing these.

Black Diamond’s Ultra Distance Z-pole. These things are unreal–eight-ounce carbon-fiber poles. They will be pricey ($149), and they will come in four fixed-length sizes. The poles fold like a tent pole with a protected inner bungie cord, and they snap to rigidity like an avalanche probe. The Distance model will be $20 cheaper, adjustable, and about and ounce heavier.

Remember Klymit? The company that makes the inflatable vest? You pump it full of argon, an inert but insulative gas; we reviewed it in our 2009 Fall Gear Guide. Now they have a 9.1-oz. sleeping pad. Look comfortable? It’s called the Inertia-X Frame ($99) and comes out this fall. Blow it up with lung power, then top it off with a hand pump. These guys pared it down to just a frame with padding at your shoulders hips and feet.

It’s so scant, I’m not even sure if it’d keep me afloat in the hotel pool, but they say the gaps will allow your sleeping bag to loft beneath you, rather than compress under your body weight, thus providing more warmth. We shall see—we’re heading home with a unit to test (lucky me!).

—Shannon Davis

Trending on Backpacker