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2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks

Backpacking Light staff pick their favorite gear of 2009.

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by BackpackingLight.com Staff | 2009-12-29 21:00:00-07

Another year has gone by and it is time once again for the BackpackingLight staff to come up with their lists of favorite pieces of gear. Some have commented that it is getting noticeably tougher to come up with three pieces of gear that have become most favored and most depended upon over the past year. But in due time the staff came up with their lists and this is the result.

This isn't an "Editor's Choice" or formal endorsement, just a list of gear we like.

Enjoy - and don't forget to add your own 2009 favorites in the forum below. -Your BPL Eds

2009 Staff Picks of Favorite Gear
Backpacking Light Staff Member Favorite Pieces of Gear
Ryan Jordan Sigma DP2 Digital Camera Tenkara Hane Fly Rod Pak-Rifle
Sam Haraldson Backpacking Light UL Merino Wool Hoody Spark R&D Splitboard Bindings Arc'Teryx Palisade Pant
Will Rietveld Rab Off-Limits Pants Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 Trekking Poles Sea to Summit AlphaLight Short Spoon
Roger Caffin Taslan Clothing (MYOG) MSR Titan Pot Benchmade 530
Mike Martin Brynje Super Thermo Shirt Western Mountaineering Expedition Booties Primus ETAPacklite Stove
Carol Crooker SmartWool PhD Run Light Mini Socks Columbia PFG Pants ExOfficia Air Strip Lite Shirt
Alan Dixon Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Mattress Westing Mountaineering Down Booties Patagonia R2 Vest
Doug Johnson Custom EnLIGHTened (Tim Marshall) Baby & Toddler Sleeping Bags Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 Trekking Poles Z-Packs Blast 32
Janet Reichl Marmot Mica/Crystalline Jacket GoLite Peak Frameless Backpack Keen Ridgeline
Alison Simon Apple iPod Backpacking Light FeatherLite Vapor Mitts In the spirit of being light, I only had two favorites this year.

Ryan Jordan - Bozeman, Montana

2009 Staff Favorites - 1

Sigma DP2 Digital Camera I spent the entire year immersed in the study of digital cameras. I shot with the best of them that might be of interest to lightweight backpackers: Panasonic TS1, Olympus E-P1, Olympus E-620, Leica M8.2, Panasonic GF1, Canon S90, and the Panasonic Lumix LX3. But I fell in love with one little unassuming digital that's superbly simple, painfully slow, has an awful screen, but shoots fantastic images. Many of my 2010 gallery shots (up to 16 x 20 inches) will be from this camera. The only other camera that garnered something close to being a “favorite” of 2009: my twenty-one-year-old Leica M6 Classic, paired with Fuji Velvia 50, of course.

Weight: 9.3 oz
MSRP: $649

2009 Staff Favorites - 2

Tenkara Hane Fly Rod 2009 saw the introduction of the coolest piece of fishing gear that seemed tailor-made for lightweight backpacking, in terms of style, design, and technique: Tenkara fly rods. My favorite, by quite a long margin, is the short little Hane, for its ability to collapse to a tiny, packable size that fits in my smallest pack or my carry-on briefcase for travel. Never before have I been so excited to eliminate gear from my kit – this time, a fly reel, once revered as a non-negotiable item for most of my summer backpacking treks.

Weight: 2.7 oz
MSRP: $200

2009 Staff Favorites - 3

Pak-Rifle At 16 ounces, the ability to carry a .22LR rifle on trips that offer small game opportunities excites me for the prospect of being able to supplement my packed meals on long trips, but perhaps more exciting, allows me to combine two of my favorite passions: grouse hunting and mountain backpacking. Now, I don't have to lighten my kit to carry a heavy rifle. My triple crown goal for 2010: catch a trout, shoot a grouse, and cook'em up at the summit of a 10,000 foot peak!

Weight: 16 oz
MSRP: $425

Sam Haraldson - Bozeman, Montana

2009 Staff Favorites - 4

Backpacking Light UL Merino Wool Hoody The BPL UL Hoody has become the perfect single garment for warm weather trips. During the summer of 2009, I started bringing this as the sole shirt to be worn from trip beginning to trip end. I paired the UL Merino Wool Hoody with a windshirt and puffy jacket for conditions ranging from hot in the Wind Rivers to below freezing in the Absarokas.

Weight: 5.5 oz (size large)
MSRP: $70

2009 Staff Favorites - 5

Spark R&D Splitboard Bindings My backcountry experiences aren't limited to summer and they aren't limited to hiking. I extend my backpacking into the winter, and here in Montana, that means finding a way to propel myself through the wilderness atop meter upon meter of snow. My focus in the winter is typically snowboarding, so an ultralight splitboard set-up is a must. The item that best performed for me during 2009 was a splitboard-specific binding from Spark R&D. Using these bindings as opposed to a mounting kit for a regular set of snowboard bindings shaved over a pound off the weight of my kit.

Weight: 1003 g (35.38 oz) per pair (size large)
MSRP: $299

2009 Staff Favorites - 6

Arc'Teryx Palisade Pant I've been wearing the Arc'Teryx Palisade Pant since about 2007 and have yet to have found a more durable, comfortable, and functional pant. It has no extras - only what is needed. On top of their Spartan design, they are constructed of a fabric that has proven itself absolutely bomber. From a 1200-mile backpacking trip in the Pacific Northwest to days spent cragging along the shores of Lake Superior, the Palisade pant has served me well.

Weight: 299 g (10.53 oz.)
MSRP: $125

Will Rietveld - Durango, Colorado

2009 Staff Favorites - 13

Rab Off-Limits Pants I prefer to wear rain pants because they not only keep me dry in the rain, but they also serve as wind pants, and I like to wear them in camp over thin long johns for extra warmth. I even wear them in my sleeping bag on unexpectedly cold nights. My favorite lightweight rain pant is the Rab Off-Limits. It’s made of Pertex Shield DS 2.5L waterproof-breathable fabric and has calf-length leg zips, which I really like because I can easily pull them on over my size 12 hiking shoes. They are trim fitting and plenty long for my long legs. The only other feature is an elastic waistband; no pockets or fly.

Weight: 6.2 oz
MSRP:
$100

2009 Staff Favorites - 8

Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 Trekking Poles While I can do without trekking poles on-trail, I really like to use them off-trail. Also, I need trekking poles for many of the solo shelters I use. My favorite poles by far are the Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4. These carbon fiber poles are superlight and adjustable, so I can adjust them as needed for the terrain or the length I need for my shelter. They are also good and stiff, so they are a definite advantage for creek crossings and dropping off of ledges.

Weight: 6.8 oz/pair
MSRP: $150

2009 Staff Favorites - 9

Sea to Summit AlphaLight Short Spoon I only use a spoon for eating camp meals, and for years I carried a cheap-o plastic spoon that easily broke. I finally upgraded to a good ultralight spoon, the Sea to Summit AlphaLight Short Spoon. I love it! It brings me transcendental happiness integral to the calmness derived through the wilderness experience. Unlike other “premium” cookware, this spoon is made of hard anodized 7075-T6 aircraft aluminum alloy, which is plenty strong and slightly lighter than titanium. Other lengths and sizes of spoons are available, plus a spork.

Weight: 0.2 oz
MSRP: $7

Roger Caffin - Berrilee, NSW, Australia

2009 Staff Favorites - 10

Taslan Clothing (MYOG): Trousers & Shell My wife and I have been using our MYOG Taslan clothing for over 15 years now. It has served us in the mddle of the Australian desert (on the Larapinta Trail) and in sub-zero weather in our Alps. It has survived some of our worst lawyer vine scrub (and made sure we survived it too), and it has lasted for months with little noticeable wear in Europe. An added feature is that my designs lack all the useless commercial frills which the clothing manufacturers love to add in. No large metal studs, no bulky zips, no pointless tabs and other 'pseudo-macho street-appeal' junk; just functionality. And yes, OK, I'm biased.

Weight: Varies
MSRP: Make it yourself!

2009 Staff Favorites - 11

MSR Titan Pot I tried some of the heat exchanger pots, but I found their high weight was generally not balanced by efficiency gains, and I always go back to this very simple 115 -g (4.1-oz), 1.5L titanium pot. I tried using an alfoil lid for a while, but I have gone back to using the 58-g (2-oz) Ti lid for two reasons. The first is that when all packed up, the lid means that whatever is inside the pot is safe in my pack - very often that includes my stove. The second reason is that the upside down lid also serves quite well as a plate: dual use!

Weight: 115 g (4.1 oz)
MSRP: about US$140 for the full 2-pot set

2009 Staff Favorites - 12

Benchmade 530 The funny thing about including this knife here is that I am definitely not a knife fanatic. I took it to Switzerland in 2009 for two months alpine walking on the off-chance it might be useful. We usually eat a LOT of bread (and jam and cheese) in Europe: the 51-g (1.8-oz) Benchmade 530 knife turned out to be in constant use for this. It is the lightest folding knife I know of with a decent (82-mm / 3.25-inch) blade, and it stayed razor sharp for the whole trip.

Weight: 51 g (1.8 oz)
MSRP: US$100

Mike Martin - Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Style modesty prevents me from posting a picture of this shirt. It's FISHNET after all.

Brynje Super Thermo Shirt North Idaho sees a lot of rainy weather with temperatures around freezing. These conditions challenge the moisture management capability of any clothing layering system – especially during high-exertion activities like trail running or hill climbing. After going hard for a couple of hours, it’s nearly impossible to prevent wetting out your clothing layers. The Brynje baselayer products are made from a polypropylene fishnet material that is simply more comfortable across a broader range of conditions than anything else I’ve tried. The fabric absorbs less moisture than knit polyester or Merino wool alternatives. Plus, rather than wick perspiration farther away from your warm skin into your cool, condensation-prone, outer clothing layers, the Super Thermo fabric allows perspiration to evaporate directly from your skin. The result is a high warmth per weight ratio garment that continues to perform well after extended use in cold, wet conditions. I’ve done four-hour trail runs in 35F rain wearing a Super Thermo Shirt and a windshell and been comfortable…Well, cold, tired, wet, thirsty, and hungry, but relatively comfortable.

Weight: 5.2 oz (size large, long sleeved crew neck)
MSRP: $50

2009 Staff Favorites - 14

Western Mountaineering Expedition Booties Don’t tell the ultralight police, but for winter camping, I like to use insulated camp booties. Snowshoe footwear just isn’t warm enough for me when I stop moving in camp. And, while plastic ski boots are warm enough with the right liner, it’s just a nice luxury to get out of those Franken-boots at the end of a ski day. I’ve used, and think well of, competitive products from 40 Below and MEC, but neither can match the combination of warmth and light weight of the Western Mountaineering Expedition Booties. My favorite feature (shared with the much heavier MEC Expedition Booties) is the integrated gaiter that keeps snow from entering over the top, even in the deepest powder.

Weight: 9.2 oz/pair (size large)
MSRP: $90

2009 Staff Favorites - 15

Primus ETAPacklite Stove I’ve been a proponent of inverted-canister stoves for winter snowmelting for a decade. Over the years, I’ve used the class-standard Coleman Xtreme and even modified my MSR Windpro for inverted canister use. The Primus ETAPacklite is my favorite of the current generation of remote-canister stoves suitable for snowmelting in cold weather. The complete package, with a heat-exchanger pot, robust windsreen, piezo igniter, and all the goodies is compact, efficient, and convenient, though ultralighters may balk at the 24.3-oz system weight. However, the real jewel is the stove itself. At 8.3 ounces, it’s lighter than the defunct Coleman Xtreme, and offers a swiveling canister connection, clever windscreen support, and flat base that can be used directly on snow. My current winter stove system consists of the ETAPacklite stove, homemade windscreen, and Evernew 1.3L Titanium Pot. The whole package weighs in at 14 oz.

Weight: 24.3 oz (complete), 8.3 oz (stove only)
MSRP: $115

Carol Crooker - Mesa, Arizona

2009 Staff Favorites - 16

SmartWool PhD Run Light Mini Socks SmartWool PhD Run Light Mini socks on Arizona’s Bluff Spring Trail in December. The PhD socks are so luxuriously soft and cushiony, I grin every time I put them on.

Weight: 1.6 oz/pair (women's large)
MSRP: $16

2009 Staff Favorites - 17

Columbia PFG Pants Columbia PFG pants in the Superstition Mountains. These have been my favorite hiking pants for years. I tried to retire them since the seat is about to blow out, but I haven’t been able to find a replacement pair. The best thing about them is they have an elastic waist and just pull on: no fiddling with a zipper, button, or belt. They are long enough to act like gaiters to keep desert stickers off my socks; the material is very lightweight, supple, and quick drying; they have a nice variety of pockets; and the legs are wide enough to pull on over my shoes. I’ve probably had these pants five years and have worn them on almost every three-season trip. I’m looking hard for a replacement pair before I embarrass myself, but summerweight pull-on pants that fit my long legs are few and far between.

Weight: 10.2 oz (men's medium)
MSRP: NA

2009 Staff Favorites - 18

ExOfficio Air Strip Lite Shirt ExOfficio Air Strip Lite shirt on a day hike near Taos, New Mexico. I wear sun shirts a lot, living in the desert. Even when it gets cool I am reluctant to give up my Ex Officio shirt, since it has two nice pockets I can stow stuff in. The women’s large has sleeves long enough so my wrists stay mostly covered even when swinging hiking poles. The material is very soft and dries in a flash. As a bonus, these shirts are often on sale online and come in lots of nice colors.

Weight: 7.2 oz (women's large)
MSRP: $80

Alan Dixon - Washington, D.C.

2009 Staff Favorites - 19

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Mattress Two of my favorites this year are comfort items. It deeply pains me to make the same pick as Backpacker but the NeoAir mattress tops my list. Sure, it’s a bit narrow, a bit noisy and takes a while to inflate - but what a restful night's sleep! I didn’t realize how comfortable I was until I suffered insomnia when taking another mattress on a long trip this summer. For use with the mate, I sewed a pair of custom couplers for the NeoAirs. My wife and I aren’t large people, and with two mattresses strapped together, we have plenty of sleeping real estate under our shared down quilt. While we don’t go out of our way to abuse the mattresses, we don’t baby them either. We’ve used them in the spiky desert and in rocky areas of high Western mountains without a problem. For us, their insulation is fine down to at least freezing.

Weight: 9 oz (size small)
MSRP: $120

2009 Staff Favorites - 20

Western Mountaineering Down Booties A 6-oz pair of down booties for $65 is exciting news. My feet run cold. Once a fall nip is in the air, my feet can stay ice cube cold from when I stop hiking in the evening to when I warm them up with a brisk walk the next morning. Little else is as satisfying as putting on a pair of dry socks and down booties when I hit camp - warm feet all night! But until now I didn’t bring down booties on my fall trips. My inexpensive 12-oz down booties were too bulky and heavy, and I’ve never been able to put myself on a wait list and spend $130 or more on a pair of lighter booties. This year Western Mountaineering introduced their Down Booties and solved the problem. (The only difficulty is that my wife has “borrowed” them. I’ll need to buy her a pair to get use of mine again.)

Weight: 6 oz
MSRP: $65

2009 Staff Favorites - 21

Patagonia R2 Vest The R2 Vest is probably the most versatile insulation garment I own. I bought my first one production year and since then, an R2 Vest has been on most of my trips. Somehow even when it’s not on my gear list, I seem to slip it into my pack at trail head. My R2 Vest has been to Patagonia, New Zealand, Scotland, the Olympics, Cascades, Rockies, Sierras, Wind Rivers, Appalachians, Southern Utah, backcountry ski tours, kayaking in below freezing weather, and many more trips. The R2 Vest is quite warm under a shell and makes a great pillow. At 8 oz, it is not much heavier than a down or synthetic vest, but it has many advantages over them. It is much more breathable and less sweaty during hard work, it absorbs little water, and dries fast. Thus, it is my primary insulating piece when I exercise in cold weather. The R2 Vest is quite compressible for a fleece garment and takes up little pack space when not in use. It’s no wonder that I now own three of them!

Weight: 8.2 to 9.8 oz (depending on production date)
MSRP: $125

Doug Johnson - Redmond, Washington

2009 Staff Favorites - 22

Custom EnLIGHTened (Tim Marshall) baby and toddler sleeping bags At just 7.4 oz for the infant bag and 9.2 oz for the toddler bag, these Climashield XP bags saved a lot of bulk and weight on my back and fit the kids perfectly! These are sized for a baby and a toddler, but Tim makes bags for all shapes and sizes. The custom design is hoodless with a drawstring 6 inches from the bottom to allow for growth. Tim charged me $190 for both sleeping bags, and his craftsmanship is fantastic. These were by far the most exciting gear items I purchased this year!

Weight: 7.4 oz (infant) or 9.2 oz (toddler)
MSRP: $190 (total for both)

2009 Staff Favorites - 23

Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 Trekking Poles The Lightrek 3 poles are incredible. That is, if you are okay with fixed length poles. But it's always been that if you wanted adjustability or ease of traveling, you had to have some clunky poles. NO MORE! The Lightrek 4 poles weigh just 3.4 ounces each, adjust from 84 cm to 140 cm, and lock firmly. They aren't quite as easy as a Flicklock to adjust, but they are consistent and don't slip - and they weigh a fraction of almost anything on the market. Besides that, they use excellent Leki tips and have an extra tough layer of carbon fiber on the lower to protect against rocks. You can even get straps if you like - or a camo color! These poles are marvelous.

Weight: 6.8 oz/pair
MSRP: $150

2009 Staff Favorites - 24

Z-Packs Blast 32 This is the toughest Cuben I've ever seen! The pack carried weight and bulky loads well during summer overnights with the kids. The translucent blue beauty is a little space-age-looking, but what the heck! I love this sub-5 ounce pack: superlight, bomber, and well thought-out.

Weight: 4.3 oz
MSRP:
$125

Janet Reichl - Durango, Colorado

2009 Staff Favorites - 25

Marmot Mica/Crystalline Jacket I was happy to see my Frogg Toggs jacket wear out so I could upgrade to something more durable and better fitting. The 6-oz Marmot Crystalline Jacket (women’s model, men’s model is the Mica) is my dream come true. It has a full feature set (hood, water-resistant full-height zipper, hand pockets, adjustable hood/cuffs/hem), it’s very light, and the Crystalline is sized specifically for women. The waterproof-breathable technology is Marmot’s 2.5 layer MemBrain Strata, which is claimed to have 20,000 mm waterproof performance and 20,000 g breathability.

Weight: 6 oz
MSRP: $130

2009 Staff Favorites - 26

GoLite Peak Frameless Backpack Until now, I have stuck with my GoLite Breeze pack that I bought used from Ryan Jordan about eight years ago. My new favorite backpack is the GoLite Peak, which won’t be available until spring 2010. I have had the privilege of testing it for an upcoming Backpacking Light article on frameless backpacks, and you can’t tear it away from me! It will be available in unisex sizes Small, Medium, and Large. I am testing the small size, which fits me very well. It’s made of durable Dyneema Gridstop, has a rigid foam removable backpanel pad, a huge zippered front pocket, two side stretch mesh pockets, and two hipbelt pockets. The hipbelt is removable. The volume is 2318 cubic inches, which sounds small, but it’s actually large enough for ultralight backpacking. I use it as much for day hiking as I do for backpacking. The new Jam (2857 cubic inches/31 ounces) is one step larger and has a similar design.

Weight: 27 oz (size medium)
MSRP: $125

2009 Staff Favorites - 27

Keen Ridgeline The Keen Ridgeline is my favorite summer hiking shoe. It‘s very light (10.5 oz/shoe), very breathable, and provides good support and rock protection. Of course, fit is a big part of the equation, and I like the fit and comfort of Keen shoes. These shoes are well padded around the ankle so they do absorb water when wet.

Weight: 10.5 oz/shoe (women's 7)
MSRP: $100

Alison Simon - Washington, D.C.

2009 Staff Favorites - 28

Apple iPod NANO My life backpacking changed when I started carrying an iPod Nano. At just over an ounce, the iPod takes up neither space nor weight in my pack, yet it provides hours of entertainment. Yes, I do enjoy the crickets chirping, the birds singing and the frogs barking (or whatever they do), but I also enjoy being told a good ‘ole fashioned story at bedtime. Downloading an audio book onto the iPod and listening to it is a superb way to go to bed at night, no matter where you are attempting to get to sleep. In the winter months, it is great for the long nighttime hours in the tent; during the summer, it either helps me go to sleep or provides comic relief if the trek has taken an unexpected turn (euphemism for "things got really screwed up"). The minimum I bring with me on my iPod for a trip includes one audio book, 2-3 of my favorite podcasts, and 2-3 comic distractions (podcasts or stand-up comedian routines).

Weight: 1.3 oz
MSRP: $150

2009 Staff Favorites - 29

Backpacking Light FeatherLite Vapor Mitts I am officially addicted to cross-country skiing. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, cross-country skiing involves going to very cold places and sweating your butt off. Forbes rated the best workout sports of 2009, and cross-country skiing came in at 5th place, beating out basketball, cycling, running, and the modern pentathlon. Whatever goes on your body has to keep you warm while simultaneously pouring out gallons of sweat per hour. It also has to be versatile enough to take on and off, and on and off, and on… The BPL Vapor Mitts are a superb outer layer for my hands, which tend to run cold. With a set of SmartWool liner gloves inside, the FeatherLite Vapor Mitts provide the perfect wind block and warmth for downhill sections. On sweaty uphill sections, their vapor barrier keeps the insulation dry and maintains the glove’s warmth, even over a number of days skiing—long after other gloves would be a frozen mass of drenched sweat. The Vapor Mitts are also agile enough to be quickly put on if needed, yet big enough to throw a set of hand warmers in if required. They even fit under racing pole straps. Best of all, at 3.5 ounces, they do the job without weighing me down, allowing me focus on the herringbone up that next hill.

Weight: 3.5 oz
MSRP: $100 (currently on sale)

Citation

"2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks," by BackpackingLight.com Staff. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/2009_bpl_staff_picks.html, 2009-12-29 21:00:00-07.

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2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/29/2009 21:36:49 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: 2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/29/2009 22:39:50 MST Print View

Nice roundup.

I was interested in the Ts1 comment by Ryan as this is a camera that I am looking at for my next purchase. "It's superbly simple, painfully slow, has an awful screen, but shoots fantastic images." slow and awful screen don't too much to excite me but seeing some of the HD video taken with the camera by Ryan soon changes that. I think some of my favourites were the ones on the 24 hour hike series.

Also interested that Roger would pick the MSR pot as a favourite, care to expand Roger?

Cheers, and well done.

Mark

Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Oops! on 12/29/2009 22:57:05 MST Print View

Ryan has a man cold. He didn't mean the TS1. I'm fixing it now. Poor Ryan.

Jonathan Boozer
(anywayoutside) - MLife

Locale: South East
Re: Oops! on 12/29/2009 23:02:24 MST Print View

OH that is far too funny. I assume Ryan's bell is Ti?

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Re: Oops! on 12/29/2009 23:44:08 MST Print View

Ha!, Now that changes it all :)

Thanks Addie,

Cheers

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Picks on 12/30/2009 00:00:01 MST Print View

My 2009 Picks:

1) BPL Thorofare Pants - At 3.95oz they are radically lighter than anything else I've hiked it, yet they are durable and comfortable. After putting in a stronger waist band elastic cord they are perfect.
EDIT: Okay not that durable. These pants are neat but I've reverted to more durable Patagonia Sol Patrol pants around 7oz.

2) GoLite Ultra 20 - This is my first quilt and it has impressed me continually. I find it so comfortable and easy to use and it's also quite warm and a great bargain compared to other quilts on the market.

3) NeoAir Small - After using the regular NeoAir for most of the season I switched to the small and saved 5oz with no loss in comfort. The trick with any NeoAir is to inflate it less than common sense tells you is right and you'll sleep great. Using my packs back bad under my feet (and as a sit pad in camp) is a great way to make that item multi purpose and to lower the overall weight of your sleep system.

EDIT: Another year has passed and the Ultra 20 and NeoAir Small continue to highly impress.

Edited by dandydan on 11/28/2010 22:18:48 MST.

Julian Watson
(JulesWatson) - F
a knife ! on 12/30/2009 00:41:29 MST Print View

Roger - a knife ! I am surprised. Always good to be surprised by folks.

Julian Watson
(JulesWatson) - F
.. on 12/30/2009 00:44:32 MST Print View

.

Edited by JulesWatson on 12/30/2009 15:40:07 MST.

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: busted link on 12/30/2009 00:50:22 MST Print View

Just posted a PM to Addie for the same thing Julian :)

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
My 2009 Favs on 12/30/2009 01:39:07 MST Print View

MLD 850 Pot, UL Caldera, GramCracker Stove, Esbits. After using an alcohol stove for a number of years I experimented with esbits. A number the experiments didn't go well, but I found this system is excellent: it's light, compact, durable, simple, and effective.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Pack: I have been using a Granite Gear Vapor Trail since 2002. THe Gorilla is the first pack that I have found that was as comfortable to carry <=25lbs loads, weights less, and was more convenient to use on the trail.

Inov-8 Flyroc 310 + Injinji socks: I have been using this combination for a few years now and continue to be thrilled with the results... my feet feel free and are blister free except when fail to clear out trail debris that can accumulate inside the shoe.

Other notable items on my perfect gear page.

--Mark

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: My 2009 Favs on 12/30/2009 02:13:33 MST Print View

1) NeoAir
2) StickPic
3) Golite Ultra20 Quilt

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: 2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/30/2009 02:37:48 MST Print View

Hi Mark

> interested that Roger would pick the MSR pot as a favourite, care to expand Roger?

Um.... what can I say? It's really light, it is the right size for two, it is very robust, it has been on all our long walks since early 2006, and it still isn't showing any dings or damage. Contrary to popular myth it does not burn the dinner, although that may be partly how I cook - but I do simmer gently.

Works for me.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: a knife ! on 12/30/2009 02:46:02 MST Print View

Hi Julian

> Roger - a knife ! I am surprised.
Me too! Honest! I am not a knife enthusiast.

We have always taken a very light knife from an old English camping set with us, but while it is 'good' it doesn't stay as sharp and it has a round tip - good for butter and jam though. But for cutting bread the old knife is a compromise.

On our extended trips in Europe we always go through a huge amount of bread per day, and that means we spend a lot of time cutting the loaf. This knife is LIGHT (<2 oz) but with a decent length of blade. I haven't found another knife to match the specs (folding, 3.5", <2 oz).

We took it to Switzerland in 2009 for 2 months almost on spec, and we were sold. It was in use for breakfast, morning tea, lunch, and dinner. So ...

Cheers

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Re: a knife ! on 12/30/2009 02:57:17 MST Print View

Thanks Roger,

I have the same one, I was just interested in your though process as you say it does the job, just not what I would have selected from all my gear,

Cheers
Mark

Ryan Linn
(ryan.c.linn)

Locale: Maine!
Re: Picks on 12/30/2009 05:47:49 MST Print View

Oh my, this is making me think about how much gear I bought this year. Funny how much new gear it takes to drop your base packweight from 18 to 8 pounds. My picks...

1. Caldera cone & MSR Titan Kettle: wicked easy water boiling with a small amount of alcohol in very cold temperatures. Just got a new MLD 850 and UL Compact Caldera for next year. Can't wait to compare.

2. MLD Exodus pack: my first frameless pack, and it's been wonderful so far.

3. Golite Ultra: my first quilt. Not as warm as I expected, but it's a good introduction.

Runners up: GG LT4 poles (didn't get enough use out of them this year to be sure, and I'm waiting for a replacement pole due to a defective expander).

Hmm... If I can find one of those little bells for when I get a MAN COLD, that might be on next year's picks.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: 2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/30/2009 06:24:42 MST Print View

my top 3 for 2009?

Golite Chrome Dome Umbrella: Not the best peice for all trips, but a huge mental boost when you have a long day in the rain.

BPL UL Merino Hoody: Def the most usable layer in my closet. The weight is perfect and the hood fit is amazing

GG LT4's: My BPL Stix have been abandoned in the garage for winter sports. These poles approach perfection.

Top Skill Learned in 2009: Mastering the art if pitching a standard 8x10 Flat tarp in any situation I find myself

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks" on 12/30/2009 06:50:53 MST Print View

My top 3:

1) Patagonia R1 Hoody- Perfect weight baselayer next to skin for my cold blooded self!

2) Arcteryx Delta SV glove- Perfect balance of weight, fit, and wind cutting ability for trail running in cold weather and brisk weather hiking.

3) MSR Titan Kettle- Lightweight, durable, simple. My only titanium pot and still my favorite, used it on all my trips this year and last year and it is great for small meals or really big solo pasta dishes, the lid works perfectly and it nestles all my cooking gear just right!

Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Fixed on 12/30/2009 08:40:35 MST Print View

That link's good again. Thanks guys!

My picks (hahahahaha!) would be:
1.) Packraft. I can't believe how much fun I had in one this summer.
2.) BPL Merino Hoody. I'm vain, and the green looks good on me, plus I loved how functional it was while both packrafting this summer and hunting this fall. Most of my clothes can't claim such a nice combo of form AND function!
3.) Whatever GoLite tarp I slept under this summer. I've only ever been a tent girl, and the buggy conditions we were in had me a little freaked out for nighttime (I have a thing about mosquitoes - it's not pretty). The roomy tarp was snugged up close enough to the ground to keep the nasties out, and I didn't get bitten once.

So there. Your non-gear-head editor's gear picks. :)

Edited by addiebedford on 12/30/2009 09:14:56 MST.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
2009 Picks on 12/30/2009 11:25:40 MST Print View

In no particular order:

1- Ti-Tri/Inferno stove-- great combo, user-friendly wood stove, super-efficient alky
2- LT4 poles-- I hated trekking poles before, then tried these, and now can't imagine backpacking w/o them
3-Tied: iTP A3 EOS Upgrade light-- from Goinggear.com-- 9 grams for an 80 lumen (adjustable down to 1.5 lumen), orange peel reflector (for throw) light. Add a few grams for the clip, a few more for a AAA battery.
3-Tied: Grohmann Boat knife. Certainly not new, but new to me, and my idea of the perfect backcountry knife.

Honorable mention: Merino wool, especially Patagonia's wool 2 zip-t and wool 4 hoody. I'm thrilled w/the great performance of merino, and can't seem to own enough of it, even for daily wear.

MYOG top 3:
1- 4.5 oz down vest
2- 19 oz framed 55L pack; parts blew apart on the trail, but were repairable, and the overall performance of the pack was great
3- "Ugly hat" of climashield and 2.75 oz down booties

Edited by 4quietwoods on 12/30/2009 11:27:00 MST.

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
2009 picks on 12/30/2009 11:55:51 MST Print View

In no particular order.

MLD Duomid and Inner Tent. My favourite 3 season shelter. Loads of room for little weight. I can sit out rainy weather, and relax away from the midges in comfort.

MLD Prophet. Perfect size for my gear. The Sub-Prophet might be a pick for next year for weekend trips.

Hip cartilage repair surgery. Had it done a few weeks ago, and hopefully i'll be out playing with my gear soon! :)