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2008 Backpacking Light Staff Picks
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James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
2008 Favorites on 12/17/2008 15:31:12 MST Print View

1) Tarptent Tyvek Sublite
2) Big Agnes Clearview 72" mummy
3) GoLite Ultra 20 quilt
4) AGG Caldera Cone with Snowpeak 600 mug
5) GG Mariposa Plus

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Top 3 on 12/17/2008 15:47:56 MST Print View

MLD Zip - It's been replaced by the more durable Exodus, but my first generation Zip was tough enough to function as my day and overnight pack for a full season of on- and off-trail guiding in Denali National Park and come out looking good as new. Light, tough, simple.

Mont-Bell Peak Shell - At 11oz, it's far from the lightest jacket out there, but the combination of breathability, features (really nice hood, hand pockets, big pit zips), and durability made it the perfect choice for a wet Alaskan summer. I practically lived in this jacket, including 5 weeks of solid rain spent slogging through blueberry bushes, willows, and mountain alders, and there's not a hole to be seen.

RailRiders Weatherpants - Indestructible. Just as perfect guiding in Denali as doing sub-zero WFR scenarios in the Tetons (with a set of Patagonia R1 Bottoms underneath), these pants are comfortable, cool/warm as needed, quick drying, very wind resistant, and bomber. Despite a lot of abuse, they still look brand new.

Other gear of note
Patagonia R2 Jacket - My go-to fleece. Supremely breathable on the move means that wind cuts right through, but throw on the rain jacket or wind shell that you're always carrying anyway, and you're quite toasty.

Patagonia R1 Hoody - My second skin. Breathable, warm, built-in head and hand warmth, long waist, and tough. If it stays below 50F for the day, this is it.

Backpacking Light Cocoon UL 60 Hoody and Pants - For the volume of a medium stuff sack and a total weight of 17 ounces, you get an insurance policy against being cold. These were especially wonderful to have above the Arctic Circle in late September; they kept me warm standing around camp and easily pushed my 32F bag into the teens.

Western Mountaineering Summerlite - For 19 ounces and a teeny stuffsack, I'm comfortable from freezing on up. The hood and full-zip let me use it as a quilt, hatches-battened bag, and everything inbetween. Combined with my Cocoon clothing, it's a solid three-season bag.

Books - Sibley's Field Guide to the Birds of Western North America, Wildflowers of Denali National Park, Dena'ina Plant Lore, Discovering Wild Plants, Kantishna, and so much more. The more you put into the world around you, the more you receive. Learning about where I was and carrying that weightless knowledge into the backcountry added to all my experiences in untold ways.

Edited by milesbarger on 12/17/2008 15:56:12 MST.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: For Rick Dreher on 12/17/2008 16:37:24 MST Print View

Hi Michael,

Is this the one you're thinking of?

It's more than I prefer to spend, but it *is* wearable, which changes the equation. Hmmm....



Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: 2008 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/17/2008 16:42:49 MST Print View

Doug, Doug, Doug,

It's December '08, mon. Don't jump the gun just yet! Haven't you received your Cuban-carbon fibre hoody/shelter prototype?



William Webber
(micwebbpl) - F
My Favorites on 12/17/2008 17:06:42 MST Print View

Innov-8 shoes rock. They have become my favorite for trail hiking. Light, comfortable.

Injini socks are helpful - even if they look very ninja-ish.

Crocs are super - light, great for High Sierra Camp shower and bathroom trips.

Photon Micro Lights with the new extra bright LED. (I don't like the Freedom which is microprocessor controlled, I like the original.) At first I didn't believe these could replace a flashlight or headlamp, now I'm a believer. Ok, a headlamp is still best for reading a book, but I clip a Micro Light to my zipper pull for everything else.

The new, returns-to-its-roots Marmot Windshirt. After improving the original DriClime Windshirt to the point where it was more of a city jacket than true windshirt, Marmot returned to its roots with an ultra-simplified version, with no side pockets and a simpler chest pocket. The shirt-tail hem mean one of the BEST uses of the Windshirt is as a next-to-skin "shirt" tucked into your hiking pants, for cool or wet weather use. Yeah, what shirt has a nylon shell and zipper - think outside the box, because the DriClime (very thin base layer material) innder coupled with the nylon exterior and arm pit vents makes this piece mimic the design of the Pertex/Buffalo "pile" shirts at an affordable, for US shoppers, price - in rain next to skin, the Windshirt breathes well, and keeps your skin, even if the fairly rain resistant exterior should "wet out." Also doubles for adventure travel and cooler airplane cabins - compact and warm, like 200 weight fleece in still air, but oh-so-much better in the wind or rain.

Fisher Space Pens, in the "micro-stick" version sold at REI for $9. Writes for a surprisingly long time despite the small size, and writes upside down too.

Cliff Mojo bars in the nut flavor. Finally an energy bar that isn't chocolate or other "too sweet" flavored, has 20 grams of protein, and under 200 calories.

A toss-up between the various narrow neck Platypus plastic film water bottles and the wide-mouth ones from Nalgene. Both compress down when not in use; the Nalgene versions are heavier, since the cap is much larger, but the wide mouth adds a lot of versatility.

Thumbs down on drinking tubes. Tried them - but prone to leaking at the connection, hard to clean, mostly add a "taste," and it isn't that hard to pull a Platy out of a side pocket for a water break.

Golite Jam and, presumably, the Jam2. All you really need for High Sierra Camp treks at Yosemite - even with a sleeping bag (the tent cabins have ineffective, nasty blankets).

Sleeping quilts instead of sleeping bags. Mainly because I do the High Sierra Camp routine, but many use them for outdoor or tent or bivvy sack camping too. Why waste insulation on the ground - that's what the ground pad is for.

The Spyderco Dragonfly knife. The only small knife - 1.5" blade - with the craftsmanship of larger knives and good steel to boot. When other companies are shifting to Chinese fabricators with dubious materials and quality control, Spyderco continues to have their knives made in Seki City, Japan, Mecca of fine pocket knife manufacturers.

The entire Capilene 1, 2 line from Patagonia - not because they now include better odor control, but because THEY FINALLY HAVE LONGER TAILS that won't keep pulling out of my pants.

Patagonia or Ex Officio synthetic underwear (briefs). Keeps your junk dry.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: 2008 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/17/2008 18:09:41 MST Print View

1. Caldera cone gram cracker

2. BPL long handled ti spoon

3. Montbell Alpinelight jacket

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: 2008 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/17/2008 20:01:26 MST Print View

My three favorites:

1. The BPL, long handled SUL Ti Spoon. I gave my "heavy" one to my son.

2. Henry Shires Tyvek Sublite tent. 18.5 ounces of condensation/bug free comfort. My Big Sky Evolution 2P stays home unless I'm hiking with Susan.

3. Montbell Thermawrap Parka. It's almost too warm. Great for sitting around camp and a perfect addition to my sleep system. Takes my North Face Beeline down to the low 20's

Edited by redleader on 12/17/2008 20:02:23 MST.

Jeroen Wesselman
(jeroenman) - F

Locale: Europe
2008 favorites on 12/18/2008 12:29:32 MST Print View

We are a year in our 15 months world travelling trip were hiking is our main objective. This was a year of almost using all my gear non stop, a great experience.

Although i have used a lot of gear in 2008, three items really stood out for me.

White Box Alcohol Stove; this is the best alcohol stove i have ever used and it is a pleasure to use. Everybody who saw it was amazed with the performance and the weight. My Favorite pot with this stove is the MSR Titan Kettle and this was the cooking set up we used everywhere from New Zealand, Autralia to the high andes of Peru and Bolivia.

Montbell UL Thermawrap Jacket. I always underestimated this jacket as being too thin but i think this is the beauty behind it and it makes it hte most versatile jacket i have. Again this jacket was used everywhere and it will be in my pack for next three months.

Patagonia Wool 2 Zip Neck. In my opinion the best wool base layer out there. I am a wool afficionado and i have loads of woll base layers but this one is the one i used on every hike last year (and the have been many). It performed well all over the world and sadly after one year og very intense use i have to retire it because of the wear and tear. But i already have a new one bought on sale (they are way too expesive, thats the only negative about this shirt).

Jeroenman currently abusing gear in Argentine Patagonia

Keith Hultman
(helios) - F

Locale: Missouri
Re: 2008 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/19/2008 00:04:11 MST Print View

Didn't get out much this year but these are my picks for best gear I did get to use. Both increased my freedom outdoors in some way.

MYOG momentum90/silnylon bivy: Based on the VAPR side zip design, it protected my sleeping bag from wind blown rain under a short rock outcrop on a climbing trip to RMNP. Only downside was that I kept sliding down with my thermarest pad over the slippery silnylon. I fixed that with some silicone strips on the pad. I just love throwing down the bivy on a clear night. Makes overnight trips with good weather so convenient and fun.

Arc'teryx R320 climbing harness: Ok, maybe not Backpacking Light material per se, but this harness could have been inspired by UL backpacks. A pared down harness with no bulky padding sounds painful, but it's an ultralight laz-e-boy. Truly revolutionary kit.

Patrick Young
(lightingboy) - F

Locale: Southwest
Top 3 on 12/19/2008 08:27:04 MST Print View

1 MontBell UL Inner Parka
2 Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3
3 Trail Designs Ti-Tri Caldera Cone (works with both my 1.5L and 1L MSR ti pots)

Edited by lightingboy on 02/20/2009 07:53:31 MST.

Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
Top Gear List on 12/19/2008 12:24:21 MST Print View

My top three pieces of gear for 2008:

Aluminum Caldera Cone with Gram Cracker Esbit stove- with my SP 600 mug, homemade tin can lid (thanks Jason and Ben!), Reflectix cozy, REI long-handled Ti spoon, and 4 fuel tabs I have a full solo cook set for a long weekend for about 7.5 oz. This setup is extremely efficient: .3-.4 oz of fuel per 2-cup boil. Great for FBC style or freeze-dried meals.

Western Mountaineering Megalite long w/ 2 oz. overfill- this is lighter than my previous 40* bag (I'm slowly getting lighter)! I have used it quilt-style in 55*, and zipped, but not quite battened-down, in 30*. I love the full zip, and it is nice to have a bag that is more than long enough for me.

Patagonia Houdini- after a year of soaking up the great info on this forum, I finally decided to buy my first windshirt. This now comes with me on warm weather trips with no rain in the forecast instead of a rain shell. I also bring it when highs are expected to be 55* or less. Along with a wool baselayer , it is my most versatile clothing piece. I have just finished scooping snow in it in a windy 30* for an hour with wool baselayer and was able to stay very dry and warm.

Thanks to everyone that has helped me find these and other great pieces of gear. I guess my next move will be to post my gear list and take the slings and arrows to try to lighten up further.


Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: 2008 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/20/2008 21:35:24 MST Print View

"Doug, Doug, Doug,

It's December '08, mon. Don't jump the gun just yet! Haven't you received your Cuban-carbon fibre hoody/shelter prototype?


Totally Rick! I really should shoot for an all-Cuben list for 2009. I mean, that merino hood is already SO last-week.

Ha! dj

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Too much stuff and not enough time! on 12/21/2008 11:11:05 MST Print View


Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone
Lowe Alpine Contour HyperLite
ULA Circuit


B.A. SL1
O.R. Hubba
TT Double Rainbow
TT Contrail


Nunatak Arc Alpinist (1.0 oz Pertex Q.)
Nunatak Arc Specialist (1.0 oz Pertex Q.)


Montbell ThermaWrap Parka
Patagonia #2 Zip-T-neck top & bottoms
O.R. Celestial jacket and pants

Edited by mfog1 on 12/21/2008 11:13:57 MST.

Mark Bishop
(mark_b) - MLife

Locale: Northwest (WA)
2008 favorites on 12/21/2008 12:27:16 MST Print View

My top three choices, all are new to me in ’08:
1. Montbell UL Down Inner Vest
2. Golite Ultra 20
3. SMD Serenity net tent (designed for the Gatewood Cape, another great product)

Richard Morris
(mkuzi47) - F
Re: My favourites for '08 on 12/21/2008 17:20:31 MST Print View

I have been eyeing the Terroc 330 as a replacement for my aging boots. I read a review that said that Terrocs were dangerous on wet rock. I wondered about your experience.

Martin Rye
(rye1966) - F

Locale: UK
My favourites for '08 on 12/21/2008 17:28:59 MST Print View

A map

A compass

A train ticket to were the location the map is for.


Pacer Poles, Carbon Fibre models

Inov-8 318

Primus Eta Express solo stove

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
2008 best gyear ever on 12/21/2008 20:06:19 MST Print View

Mont-Bell Ex Light down jacket: 6.2 oz.
     3/4" of fairy down for layering. Full zip, size Large. Worn on top, it floats, so.. weightless? Rime PowerShield shirt: 10 oz.
     Thin 'softshell' pullover shirt, great for the cold, next-to-skin. Easy care. Minimal.
MYOG backpack: 22.2 oz.
     Pack frame design, with or without trash compactor bag. Cushy Osprey straps, no hip belt.

Edited by Paul_Tree on 12/22/2008 15:35:22 MST.

Johann Burkard
(johannb) - F

Locale: Europe
Waterproof Socks on 12/22/2008 03:45:52 MST Print View

Wasserdichte Socken

I used these waterproof socks just yesterday around the Spitzingsee. Lots of snow and rain, but my feet stayed dry.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
2008 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 12/23/2008 11:02:07 MST Print View

Like Carol I have become addicted to the comfort of the BG Clearview pad and the Cyclone XL chair kit. I have made a slight modification to the Clearview which allows me to create a pad system, taking my comfort down to about 20 degrees. I added a evazote 1/8" topper pad and my wife stitched up a sylnylon 1.5oz sleeve for the two. Now I can protect this delicate pad from sharp stuff and combine it with the topper when needed for extra warmth -- all without worrying about the pads slipping apart at night. I even have a set of sewn on strings at the top of the sleeve which allow me to keep my UL air pillow attached to pad. What a system and all for a total weight of 17 oz.

My third item is my ULA Catalyst. What a sweet pack this is! Best hip belt I have ever encountered and easy to carry up to about 27 lbs. without a worry or any discomfort.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
My top three for 2008 on 12/23/2008 12:55:20 MST Print View

1. Westcomb Mirage eVENT shell - Special edition. Best rain shell I've ever owned. Also the lightest.

2. Ryders Eyewear Adrenaline Intersect Interchangeable Sunglasses - finally a pair of sunglasses that stays in place. The interchangeable lenses are a bonus.

3. Oboz Yellowstone boots - First pair of hiking boots on which I didn't need to use custom footbeds.

Wild Things EPIC windshirt and BPL Beartooth Hoodie are close runners-up.