Today was the day! We’ve heard so much about this tradeshow for weeks and today was the day we actually got to experience this gear mecca firsthand. Fortunately, BACKPACKER Gear Editor Kristin Hostetter had given us an assignment for each day to help keep us focused. Gerben and I were tasked with finding an ultralight package: a tent, backpack, sleeping bag/pad combo, rain shell, and few other weight-conscious items for backpackers looking to move fast and travel light. With three hours until our first deadline, we put our heads down and got to work.
Sierra Designs is Going Sailing
I'm familiar with the brand and their offerings, so I started there and immediately found my piece de resistance. Floating (really, it was) before me was a silvery, two-man, three-season tent aptly named the Mojo UFO. It’s lightness is thanks to Cuben fiber, the same material used in boat sails, and a hubbed, carbon-fiber one-pole system. Obsessed ultralighters will love this tent, which comes in at 1 lb 11 oz., but dig deep. MSRP is $1,800 and way out of this Denver-dad’s budget! sierradesigns.com
Mountainsmith is in a Haze
Ten years ago, Mountainsmith made an attempt at ultralight gear. They were [erhaps a bit ahead of their time, and the public didn’t embrace the idea like they are now. But current demand for lighter gear gave Mountainsmith the inspiration to bring back the concept with some of the new packs in their “Mountainlight” lineup. The Haze 50 caught my eye immediately.
New for 2013, this minimalist toploader comes in just under 2 lbs, primarily due to a lack of internal framework. It's ideal for three to four nights with no more than 45 lbs (so trips with the wife and kids might require a bigger pack). The $129 MSRP is pretty sweet too. mountainsmith.com
There’s a New Bag in Town
Therm-a-Rest’s mantra has always been to provide us with a great night’s sleep. Are their new sleeping bags for 2013 the next logical step? I focused in on the Antares bag, part of their 3-Season line up. The bag is ultralight at 1 lb. 15 oz., with 750+ fill down rated to 20 degrees. Most of its insulation is on top, with 30% around the sides. “SynergyLink” connectors (think elastic bands that hug your sleeping pad) are the answer for active sleepers wiggling off their pads. Fits any mattress up to 25 inches wide. MSRP $350 regular length, $380 long. cascadedesigns.com
Table for One?
So ultralight purists probably wouldn’t have one, but the Ozen Solo Table by Snow Peak is so light, you may never cook on the ground again. It folds in half to about the same size as your morning newspaper, but at a measly 12 oz, it probably weighs less. MSRP $50 snowpeak.com