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Your best gear of 2009
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David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Your best gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 09:04:04 MST Print View

Let it begin! (you're not using anything that new in the next few weeks, anyway) Try to keep it to three items, as an intellectual exercise, and recall: this is most interesting when we hear and see how it worked on trips, not just in your backyard!!

For me, the first item on my list is an easy one:

moose drewl

2009 was the year Big Sky released Moose Drool in a can, and made beerpacking the world over better and more diverse. Try though I might, I'm just not that much of a liquor person. Good scotch I can appreciate, good wine I like, but nothing says lets sit on top of this mountain, was the dust away, and watch the world disappear like a cold beer. Fat Tire in a can is not bad. Newcastle is great, but hard to find consistently. Moose Drool is a thinking man's beer for all seasons. One of the best BPin' moments of this year was sitting on the south shore of Shoshone Lake in YNP on a calm, bluebird day in late September, eating salami and cheese, watching the clouds not exist, and drinking a Moose Drool.

The second item is a trend, really, because 2009 was when I actually started making my own gear from scratch, not just modifying and hacking existing stuff. So the second best item of 2009 is my homemade All-Pack.

all-pack YNP

The best part of making your own gear is of course tailoring it so you get exactly what you wanted. And with this I did.

I've always needed and wanted less suspension for a given load than most, and appreciated a dead simple design that flexed and moved, and was overkill bombproof at the same time. A pack with my zippers, no pockets, and a doubled Ballistics bottom will get you that.

A thread with futher details is here (

all-pack GNP

Highlights and things I learned about this pack:
-The Ridgerest provides the perfect balance of flex and support for the burrito approach to suspension.
-Thin and narrow straps are just fine provided the padding is firm and the fit perfect.
-A webbing hipbelt is fine for 30 pound loads. The canted bottom means that the burrito-pad doesn't go all the way down my back. I stuff the tarp into the bottom, sleeping bag on top of that. The result is that the fabric bottom hugs my waist perfectly, and the friction of the fabric helps it carry surprisingly well.
-The beavertail pocket rules, especially for winter toys.

Making and using this thing has been immensely satisfying.

The third item is shown in the picture above, and is as simple as it is essential to all wilderness trips: the black wool beanie.

The Smartwool cuffed beanie is the one hat to rule them all. Wool works better for this than fleece, even if it does dry a bit slower. The Smartwool is big, no worries about cold ears, and flexible. It stays on my head through a night of restless sleeping. And now, with the BPL SUL beanie, I have a lighter hat with all the requisite features.

On the whole, 2009 was a good year for backpacking. I did a bunch of trips, and most especially really saw a lot of Montana. I've got a good backyard now, and am more psyched than ever to keep investigating it (winter and summer).

To backpacking!

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
best 2009 on 12/06/2009 09:59:24 MST Print View


myog custom bug bivy for my kifaru paratipi, my wife and i kept our sanity in Greenland this summer thanks to it, i was even setting it up at mid day pause so we could take a break in peace and eat without headnet, rain clothes, and mitten with 30°c/ 86°F temperature
all of that for 350g/12,3oz.
my neoair, my old bones say thanks :)
i never slept that well while hiking,

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Your best gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 10:06:54 MST Print View

2009 was the first year I really started to adopt the UL mindset, so this is a bit difficult for me. I switched over to a ULA Ohm from a Gregory Z55, and started loving (backpacking) life. Bought a TiTri Caldera Cone with an MLD Ti pot, and sitting around at camp cooking became much more than a chore. My NeoAir allowed my old bones to get the cushion they needed at much less weight than before. But if I had to choose only three:

1. My Warbonnet Blackbird hammock. I simply have never had such a good night's sleep in the woods as I have in my hammock. Not exactly UL, I guess, but still lighter than the REI tent I had before I started down the UL path, and I don't need a pad/mattress. Below pic is somewhere along the AT in PA. I've used the hammock down to around 25 degrees, and with a good underquilt and overquilt, stayed quite warm, even with a slight cool breeze blowing. I'll be using this for quite some time to come.

2. My Tim Marshall cuben/down quilt. I had this covering me on the above mentioned 25-degree outing. It kept me warm with minimal layers (a BPL beartooth hoody and Montbell Thermawrap jacket). I've used this an an underquilt on the hammock (pic below) in gusty winds and 35 degree weather, I've used it in an MLD Soul bivy with no layers (other than an Icebreaker 200 zip-T and 150 leggings) in 30 or so degree weather (2 inches of snow around my SpeedMid that night) and stayed so toasty I had the bivy unzipped for part of the night. And it only weighs 13 oz! A wonderful piece of gear.


3. Nunatak Arc AT quilt. Finally, a sleep covering for summer. Even when it's hot I like some type of covering. And even in summer the temps can dip at night. Enter the Arc AT, a 3/4 length down quilt that's well made and absolutely perfect for me in warmer climes. It quickly replaced my GoLite Adrenaline 40 degree bag and gave me some of the most comfortable (temp wise) slumbers over the past summer from WV to PA to NJ. 8 oz. Quilts overall were a big switch for me this past year. I no longer own a sleeping bag (the last one, a GoLite Adrenaline 0 degree, is in the process of being converted into a quilt by Tim Marshall). But it was the Arc AT that got me started.

I can't wait to do more backpacking in the coming year, including a trip to Scotland for 10 days late April/early May!

Brian Strong
(bmstrong) - F
Vibram Five Finger Trek's... on 12/06/2009 10:57:04 MST Print View

I live in my brown KSO Trek's. BY FAR the best gear purchase of 2009.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Your best gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 11:44:26 MST Print View

Absolutely my Montrail Continental Divides. This year saw my sixth and last pair. I'm sad that they've been discontinued. I've hard a hard time finding a new

Nick Comtois
(ObscuredCelery) - F
Sherpa Halka Shell on 12/06/2009 12:05:01 MST Print View

I'm new to backpacking - but committed - as a result I acquired most of my gear this year making it hard to pick an absolute favorite, to name a few favs: MSR Hubba Hubba, OR MicroNight Bivy, MSR PocketRocket, Big Agnes Lost Ranger bag/pad combo, and what I'm choosing for my absolute favorite my Sherpa Halka Shell I got at at our local outfitters going out of business sale (so sad) for 75% off retail. It's got all of the perks of every other high end lightweight shell out there but I particularly like the fit and style!Sherpa Halka

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Best Gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 12:48:53 MST Print View

NeoAir sleeping pad at 14oz and a 2.5 inch THICKNESS..I have never slept so good out on the trails.
Hands Down my favorite piece of gear in 2009!

Honorable mention:

TarpTent: Sublite-Sil 21.5oz
Starbucks Instant Coffee 0.1oz

Greyson Howard

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Re: Your best gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 13:07:58 MST Print View

Well, I'm about the opposite of Nick, as I haven't purchased new UL backpacking equipment this year - only accumulating winter gear for my first season of snow camping over the last few weeks - no feedback yet.

So I'll bend the rules and say my Honda Element is my favorite new piece of gear - think of it as an ultra light motor home.
This year I split my focus from backpacking to explore the Southern Sierra along Highway 395, and camped in the Element frequently. It was fantastic - drop the seats, spread out a sleeping bag, go to sleep. Wake up, slide into the driver's seat, and away I go. This was so efficient and convenient - I just loved it. I did a lot of 24 style trips this way, my sleeping bag stayed in the car all summer so I'd just throw in whatever extra cloths and food I needed and away I went.
Not to mention the cavernous plastic interior's ability to swallow whatever biking, skiing, hiking and camping gear I threw in it.

Barbara Karagosian
(Barbara) - M

Locale: So Cal
fave 09 gear on 12/06/2009 14:03:52 MST Print View

Most fave - Black Diamond "flicklock" hiking poles - saved me from many face-plants - but best of all is the flick lock system of changing the length - cos I can do it whereas the previous famous name poles I had, had an internal twisting mechanism whose functioning eluded me.
Second would be my two person BA Copper Spur tent - I know its heavy at 3lb 10 oz for 2 people - loved the 2 entrances on each side - but will likely trade it for a BA Fly Creek UL at 2 lb 13 oz for 2 people.
Third - Micropur tabs - cos they saved my butt when my Steripen died an early death.
Special mention - Neoair.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Your best gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 14:35:42 MST Print View

- Goss Gear LT4's
- GoLite Chrome Dome Umbrella
- BPL UL Merino Hoody

ben wood

Locale: flatlands of MO
Re: Your best gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 14:42:14 MST Print View

well, in no particular order;

1- caldera tri-ti cone 550 combo from titanium goat. it works so well, i really like it.

2- thermarest z-lite 3/4. seems funny, but i love this pad. i usually strap to the outside of my pack and use it for every rest stop. it tough, light, and sees alot of use.

3- JRB quilt. i never thought i could use a quilt, but turns out quilts are great. so comfy, light, and warm.

Edited by benwood on 12/06/2009 14:42:57 MST.

Trevor Wilson
(trevor83) - MLife

Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
Your best gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 15:23:53 MST Print View

No particular order here. I purchased a decent amount of gear during 2009 as I continued to try and drop my weight. I've been happy with just about everything but my top 3 would have to be:

- ULA Conduit - need I say more?
- Tarptent Squall 2 - although not new for 2009, it has been a great shelter for my wife and me this year. We've taken it all over and had no troubles.
- Golite Ultra 20 quilt - my first time using a quilt and i have really enjoyed the quilt over a sleeping bag.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Best & Worst on 12/06/2009 15:25:54 MST Print View

BEST: TarpTent MOMENT solo tent. Fantastic in sustained high winds, easy to set up, headroom where it should be, great quality and excellent design.

WORST: Neo-Air regular mattress. Too long to inflate (esp. above 11,000 ft.!) too high, too bouncy, won't stay inflated properly when night temps drop a lot, only 2 oz. lighter than Thermarest ProLite regualar but much more 'spensive. Crestfallen, I ret'd it to REI.

Jack G
(NomadJack) - F

Locale: Midwest
Your best gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 15:29:11 MST Print View

I found these this year in the housewares section of a local Asian grocery store. About 3.5 oz. for the pair. Not only really light but the balls on them give you sort of a foot massage. Nice after a long day on the trail. I should have bought out the supply because when I went back for more they were gone. Simple but my best find of '09.

camp shoes

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: Your best gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 15:32:36 MST Print View

I'd have to rate my 2009 MLD Revelation (pack) at the very top of my list... followed by my Nunatak Specialist (quilt) and Warbonnet BlackBird (hammock). These are all items which I never hiked without this calendar year.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Your best gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 15:40:29 MST Print View

New for me in 2009:

Number 1 on the list (which has been on my list every year starting in 2005)... Inov-8 Flyroc 310. I think I am on my 15th pair now. With Injinji socks my feet have been blister free and I feel agile and free. Before these shoes no amount of prep seems to prevent blisters which would appear the first day I hit the trail.

MLD 850ml Mug/Pot, UL Caldera, Gram Cracker stove + esbits. For years I wondered why people liked esbits because I never had a good experience with them. After playing with esbits in a variety of systems over the summer and early fall I found a system that not only worked (many didn't), but was the best cooking system for my style. Works well in all my 3 season conditions. Fast and easy to use on the trail. While not the absolutely most efficient system in terms of grams/day it's the second best I tried and much more convenient than the most efficient system. Great size since everything related to cooking other than food packs inside the mug.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Pack: It's put my Vapor Trail into retirement. There are lighter packs. There are packs that carry more weight or volume. This pack is the perfect size for my typical 3 season load and is as comfortable as any pack I have used for <24lbs (which is what my pack is typically below).

All time: perfect gear


Edited by verber on 12/06/2009 16:22:40 MST.

John Quinn
(inspector8598) - M

Locale: Northeast
Re : My Best Gear Of 2009 on 12/06/2009 16:06:36 MST Print View

1. Mountain Laurel Designs 2009 Revelation cuben fiber pack. My go to pack for all my 3-season trips. Looking forward to Ron's new releases for 2010.

2. Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 trekking poles. My last trip out this season, I had a pretty rough time and snapped one pole in half and fractured the other. (my fault - lost focus on the trail). After two years of reliable use, I decided to replace them with LT4's. Same pole, only adjustable. I hope that they give me as much reliable use.

3. Merrell Chameleon Wrap Gore tex XRC trail shoes. These shoes have given me over two years of trail use. They have kept my feet dry, warm and blister free for all my 3-season plus use. They are just now showing signs of some serious wear. It will be hard to retire them.

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Your best gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 16:09:35 MST Print View

New to me in 2009 that are working great:
1. Neoair
2. Inov8 370's
3. Quilt instead of sleeping bag - first the Golite Ultra, now swapped out for a Nunatak. I am so glad I tried this system.

Bonus - I bought them all with "recycled" money from selling other things I don't use.

David Noll
(dpnoll) - MLife

Locale: Maroon Bells
favorite gear of 2009 on 12/06/2009 16:15:04 MST Print View

ULA Ohm: used it in Maroon Bells and it was great
Neo Air(S): The comfort: need I say more

Andy Waters
(dirtyhiker) - F

Locale: NC mountains
Its been a good year!! on 12/06/2009 16:49:34 MST Print View

GG Gorilla, the worlds greatest pack?
GG lighttrek 4's Ive tried the rest, no comparison
MLD patrol shelter got it last week, spent the last 3 nights in 16-24 degree cold temps me the woman and the dog, I am the happiest hiker EVER!! My system is close to being perfect for me and my style of hiking........ Thanks to everybody whos helped along the way..
Insights, advice, pointers and criticism.. It all has helped tremendously. Being able to build off of the knowledge of a committed collective of ul enthusiasts has been amazing!!