Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter

2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks

Backpacking Light staff pick their favorite gear of 2009.

Print Jump to Reader Comments

by 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

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)

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

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)


"2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks," by Staff. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2009-12-29 21:00:00-07.


Reader Comments

You must login to post comments.

New Visitors: Create a new account
Remember my login info.

2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks
Display Avatars
Sort By:
Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
My top picks of 2009 on 12/31/2009 09:34:11 MST Print View

I bought a lot of gear in 2009 going from around 24 pounds for a 3 day trip to around 18 pounds or less for the same trip so this is tough.

1. Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus – I originally wanted a ULA Circuit, but tried the Mariposa and it carries like it was made for me. It is just as comfortable with 20 pounds as my old Mountainsmith Phantom which was twice the weight. I liked this pack so much I also bought a Gorilla as the Mariposa Plus was a little big for my summer kit.

2. Gossamer Gear SpinnShelter & Alpinelite Bug Shelter 1.25 Combo – I had been using a BA Seedhouse SL1 and although I was very happy with it, I wanted something lighter. This combo gives me the same amount of square footage as my Seedhouse and is a full double wall shelter for a scant 23oz including stakes and guylines. That is lighter than the Tarptent Contrail.

3. BPL Pro 90 Balaclava – I am a side/stomach sleeper that has never used the hood on a sleeping bag, and I have gone through several hats and balaclava’s looking for something that was light, warm, and wouldn’t come off during the night. This is it.

Runner Up:

ULA Rain Wrap – This is the rainwear to use in the summertime here in the Southeast.

Other items that I like, but don’t yet have enough experience with to warrant putting them in my Gear for 2009 list

Golite Ultra 20 – This is my first quilt, and it makes since to me because I never use the hood of a bag. I have used this for three nights in the mid twenties and have been plenty warm, but I don’t think three nights is enough to get me to sell off my WM sleeping bags yet, but it is getting there.

Caldera Cone – So far this is making me think of getting rid of my canister stove forever. I only have a month or so with it so we will see how it does in 2010.

Nunatak Skaha Plus with overfill – I picked this up to replace my non hooded Mont-Bell Alpine Jacket and help me push the Golite Ultra 20 down into the single digits. I haven’t gotten a chance to use it yet, but I get the feeling that is going to change here soon. We have had some cold weather here the past few weeks.

Marmot Essence - Full rain jacket protection with a nice hood and good breathability for 6.4oz in a Mens medium. It seems to good to be true, but so far it seems like the real deal.

Edited by Mocs123 on 12/31/2009 09:36:21 MST.

John Roan
(JRoan) - MLife

Locale: Vegas
2009 BPL Staff Picks on 12/31/2009 09:54:05 MST Print View

My top 3, in no particular order;

1. GG SpinnTwinn tarp for 2, very roomy and simple!

2. Nunatak BCB, made extra wide for 2, then modified by removing velcro, closing footbox, and adding draft sheets to sides. Has kept us warm well below freezing.

3. MYOG Caldera Ti-Tri for Heineken for stove/windscreen/pot/lid is 3.35oz. Easy to use in woodburning mode, and esbit or alcohol as a backup.

2009 has been a year of simplifying my gear, and getting my base weight below 7lbs (to include shelter & quilt for 2).

2010 will bring more MYOG projects (backpack in the works), and hopefully help some heavy weight backpacking boy scouts to see the light (pun intended).

Happy Trails :~)>

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: 2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks - Matt Lutz on 12/31/2009 10:18:24 MST Print View

"Arctic mukluks by Steger Mukluks: My feet were warm and dry in a myriad of conditions with these muks on. For the UL hiker, they're 20 oz per foot of warmth. Try to get that out of any other full-on winter boot. You won't. Now I just need to figure out how to keep the laces from absorbing moisture and freezing at night..."

How many miles do you hike in these comfortably? They look fantastic!

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
also @Matt Lutz: 2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/31/2009 11:35:58 MST Print View

Arctic mukluks by Steger Mukluks: My feet were warm and dry in a myriad of conditions with these muks on. For the UL hiker, they're 20 oz per foot of warmth

20oz ... outstanding! My oversized Inov8 390GTX are 18oz per shoe ... that's before adding thick socks and an insulated insole. Although I'm sure you wear a smaller size. Which model are you wearing?

Now I just need to figure out how to keep the laces from absorbing moisture and freezing at night...

I wonder if silicone leather treatment would work for that.

Might be worth asking the Steger folks, after all they do live in work in exactly the climate their product is designed for.

Edited by jcolten on 12/31/2009 12:36:37 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: also @Matt Lutz: 2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/31/2009 13:03:45 MST Print View

> Now I just need to figure out how to keep the laces from absorbing moisture and freezing at night...
> I wonder if silicone leather treatment would work for that.
In my experience the silicone wears off too quickly, otherwise it would be a good idea. A bit of fluorocarbon DWR maybe? Or maybe just a good dose of Sno-Seal?


Patricia Combee
(Trailfrog) - F

Locale: Northeast/Southeast your call
RE: 2009 favorite gear on 12/31/2009 15:49:40 MST Print View

GG Light trek 4's
Neoair pad
Montbelle spiral down hugger #2

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: 2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/31/2009 16:06:47 MST Print View

Gear this year that earned top honors in my gear closet are...

1 - MLD Prophet
2 - Caldera Cone
3 - Custom Nunatak Ghost

Honorable mention to MLD Cuben Grace Solo and JRB Stealth

My 2009 MYOG list is
1 - MYOG Quilt (3" loft weights <21 oz worked down to 15 degrees)
2 - Ray Jardine Backpack Kit
3 - MYOG Minitent (12.9 oz in silnylon)

Honorable mention to Thru-Hiker Kinsman Pullover

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: also @Matt Lutz: 2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/31/2009 16:51:50 MST Print View

I've gone through two coatings of their silicone spray. I called the folks in Ely about the issue, and they really didn't have an answer. I suggested Sno-Seal, and they said that sounded OK. I'm going to use it eventually (likely this coming week) on the laces. Perhaps the customer service rep was new or something.

I use their Arctic model (without the ribbon).

I haven't tested them for mileage, but Will Steger and company have hiked across Antarctica with them.

I wear size 9 double wide, with the following sock combo: X-static liner, ID VBL, Smartwool Mountaineer.

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
2009 favorite gear on 01/01/2010 00:12:21 MST Print View

My 3 favorite gear aquisitions over the past twelve months:

1. ZPacks Zero L (awesome - custom; transformable from kid's to adult pack!)

2. Coast LED Lenser Micro Headlamp Model 7451 (simple +uses just one AAA)

3. REI 400ml Titanium mug + Sippy Lid (used ~ every day for tea + hydration)

Juston Taul

Locale: Atlanta, GA
2009 Favorites on 01/01/2010 00:41:41 MST Print View

1. Therm-A-Rest NeoAir

2. GG Vapor Trail (post mod)

3. ZebraLight H60

I think this is a dupe thread. I'm pretty sure I answered this elsewhere. No matter. I have to also thank and all of you guys for your help this year. I've dropped a lot of weight. I never thought I would be below a 10 lb base weight. With the new gear i've recently ordered, I'll finally meet my goal.

Tim Marshall is making me a wonderful cuben quilt. (WLQ) Epiphany
Ron Bell over at Mountain Laurel Designs is making me a few items: Cuben Grace Tarp Solo, 2010 Alpine Bivy, and a Superlight Bivy. Those should arrive in the next month or two. I'm very excited. This will drop the last couple of pounds I needed to lose to get a sub 10 lb base weight. FINALLY!!!

January is a very welcomed month. On the 5th I get to walk again. It's been almost 3 months since the motorcycle accident and I've missed out on a lot of winter camping. I'm thankful to be alive. What a year. Happy Twenty Ten everyone!

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: 2009 Favorites on 01/01/2010 07:07:38 MST Print View

1. Thermarest Prolite XS- I am always out when it's too cold for a Neoair and it is an ounce lighter.

2. Keen Voyaguer low shoes- great desert shoe

3. Thermarest Compack Chair- it is perfect with a cut down Ridgerest and the Prolite XS for long nights in camp.

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
2009 best on 01/01/2010 11:29:30 MST Print View

One that comes far ahead for me :
my neoair regular

never slept that good
i would sacrifice hot food / stove before sleeping again on my cut ridgerest

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @
Favorite gear on 01/01/2010 15:44:54 MST Print View

GG Murmur Pack
GG Litetrek poles
Gatewood Cape
Marmot Driclime Windshirt, with homemade hood
Western Mountaineering Megalite
Western Mountaineering Flight Jacket

all six of these go on just about every trip except warm summer ones (when down insulation not needed) or longer ones (when bigger pack is needed for >2 days food)

Jim Cowdery
(james.cowdery) - MLife

Locale: Central Florida
My Three on 01/01/2010 17:52:49 MST Print View

Reconfigured Western Mountaineering bag to use as a quilt;

Western Mountaineering down jacket;

Home-made soda can stove (various versions)

Janet; When does the pack review come? I need a smaller pack and would love to see some comparisons....

Nick Truax
(nicktruax) - F

Locale: SW Montana
Top 3 of 2009 on 01/03/2010 16:04:32 MST Print View

1: Neoair med -
marvelous, just had to learn to under-inflate

2: Bushbuddy reg version -
I know, its not new but it is new to me. It came with me on nearly every trip since acquiring it and hasn't let me down once.

3: Western Mountaineering down booties -
Light and toasty for a great price. Have not had much field use but will soon, that is if my lady doesn't commandeer them first!

EDIT: 3. Patagonia R1 Hoody -
I'm gonna eat my words on the WM down booties, as they haven't seen enough use yet and as I just remembered the R1 hoody. This is truly a great piece of gear. Amazingly versatile and fairly lightweight for its temp range. Also not new but its a first for me. I can't get enough of it.

With so many recent advancements in fabrics and materials in general, I am curious to see what the next decade has in store for us lightweight enthusiasts. Heres to Twenty-ten!

Edited by nicktruax on 01/03/2010 16:26:23 MST.

Thomas Kight
(ningen) - F
2009 Picks on 01/06/2010 07:10:51 MST Print View

Here are my picks. Not really new gear in 2009, but new to me, so here goes:

1. Trangia (sp?) Stove: Used on WT1. Many feel it is too heavy for UL, but I find it transfers heat more efficiently and effectively than some other alcohol stoves. It holds enough fuel so it doesn't run out just before your pasta is done. Plus, you can put it out whenever you want with the lid.

2. Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn Tarp: light, pitches beautifully, and is luxuriously spacious.

3. BPL Merino Hoody: great design with the hood and the thumb tabs. The warmth for weight return is remarkable.

Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
Where's Don? on 01/10/2010 15:03:33 MST Print View

I just noticed that for the first time Don Wilson didn't list his picks, is he still involved with BPL?

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Re: Where's Don? on 01/10/2010 17:00:29 MST Print View

Hey Pete -

I'm still here. Just got too busy to send in my picks.

My picks for 2009 would probably be:

Montrail Mountain Masochist Trail Running Shoes. Light. comfortable, durable. The best shoes for my feet that I've ever used. Just bought another pair.

My homemade super simple can stove. I've made lots of these, but this is the best one I've made. It's similar to Skurka's approach, but I use three rows of small holes, instead of two rows of standard hole-punch sized holes. I love the fact that the can also serves as the pot stand. Simple, always works, wicked light.

Last is my favorite meal from 2009. Ore-Ida potatoes, mixed with foil tuna and olive oil. Throw in random spices. Heavenly when hungry. Sticks to your ribs.


Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 01/11/2010 09:45:10 MST Print View

> Ore-Ida potatoes, mixed with foil tuna and olive oil. Throw in random spices.

I should not be hungry for this at 09:45 a.m. - - but I am!

Thomas Gauperaa
(gauperaa) - F

Locale: Norway
Re: 2009 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 01/17/2010 07:57:32 MST Print View

Caldera Cone - It's just a genius design with the pot stand being the wind shield. Very stable, very efficient and cool looking too. I have three of these now: the Keg-H, the standard cone for the SP900 and a ti-tri with inferno for the MSR Titan.

Buff - it's always in my bag/pack, being used year round as a cap, scarf, mask etc. Everyone should have one. I've recently bought the Polar Buff too, which I like.

Lundhags Traverse Pant with Schoeller strech material. Very comfortable! Only downside is that it is a cotton-polyester lend pant, so will wet through eventually. A bit heavy too, but worth it.

Honorable mentions:
Trekking poles (Leki) - just makes it easier, faster and more fun to hike. Great multi-use item when used as poles for a tarp too.
Swedish fire steel with quick-fire tinder
MSR Titan kettle
Jason Klass's lid for the SP900

Edited by gauperaa on 01/17/2010 07:58:33 MST.