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2011 Backpacking Light Reader Picks
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Eric Swab

Locale: Rockies
2011 Backpacking Light Reader Picks on 12/29/2011 07:17:15 MST Print View

1. Saucony Exodus trail runners - With wide feet these work great, super comfortable all day long, I find myself wearing them for just about everything.

2. GSI Minmalist / Cat Food Stove / Windscreen - I messed around with the windscreen and hole layout to to get a package that works good. For less than $30 I love sitting it down next to others Jetboils, a little slower, but the coffee is always hot in the morning.

3. Simblissity Levagaiters - Put them on and forget about them.

4. Mike Clellands Ultralight Backpackin' Book - What a great read.

Greg Pehrson
(GregPehrson) - MLife

Locale: playa del caballo blanco
2011 reader picks on 12/29/2011 09:22:56 MST Print View

1. The brilliance shown again and again on the MYOG forum
2. BPL member John Roan's instructions for building a cuben backpack for about $35 in materials at
3. Costco $30 down jacket with hood

Karple T

Locale: Mid-Alantic
"2011 Backpacking Light Reader Picks" on 12/29/2011 10:05:56 MST Print View

1) Our new hiking buddy "Summit" A Hungarian Pointer / Vizsla
along with anything for dogs by RuffWear (Sporting his boots and harness)


2) New Caldera Fissure w/ Inferno + GramCracker for the Evernew Titanium Ultra Light Deep Pot .9L

3)Camp-tek Microburst for our 2 Stephenson's Warmlites

Edited by ctracyverizon on 12/29/2011 10:50:22 MST.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Gear on 12/29/2011 11:04:46 MST Print View

This hasn't been a big shopping year for me and I like my kit already. Two pieces that have made my backpacking outings even better :
A Golite Ultra 20, that Douglas Ide had converted to an under quilt and then generously passed on to me. I converted it back to a quilt, which is now shorter (perfect) and weighs just over 14 ounces!!
A full length Hammock Gear underquilt. Baffled and with almost 4 inches of loft. No more pads to adjust under me to match the 3/4 length. Cozy and comfortable as I can be.

Edited by Kat_P on 12/29/2011 21:25:17 MST.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
reader picks on 12/29/2011 12:32:32 MST Print View

I see a lot of repeats from last year on here :)

Katabatic Pallisade- a true below freezing quilt, quality materials, quality workmanship- I was very pleased with it's performance this past year

MLD Duomid w/ Duo inner- this replaced our MSR Carbon 2, my wife is not the "tarp type", setting up the Duo w/ the inner wasn't too different than setting up a tent- shaved about a pound or so off our previous tent AND also gives me a shelter I can use in the winter

MLD Solo Trailstar- my solo trips I had been using a poncho-tarp, I wanted something light, but less spartan- the Solo Trailstar was just what I was looking for

honorable mention- Steri-pen Opti, a nice, a no fuss water treatment that preserves the taste of the water- a little more weight in the pack (vs Micropur tabs), but thus far no complaints

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
New Hiking Buddies in 2011! on 12/29/2011 12:37:03 MST Print View

Those are two very beautiful hiking buddies who have joined us in 2011!

I consider my dog part of my sleep system (he makes a great foot warmer!) as well as good company, so it's certainly appropriate to recognize new dogs here!

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/29/2011 18:30:08 MST.

Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
2011 Backpacking Light Reader Picks on 12/29/2011 19:14:56 MST Print View

1. SteriPen Opti: In the Pac Northwest, I almost never carry water. Can you find a better tradeoff? Lose 1-2 POUNDS of water for 4 ounces? Rides in my pocket and any little stream becomes a water source. Cold drinking. Fast. No chemical taste. Obviously geography dependent, but most areas out here we cross water every 30 minutes or so. Has truly changed the way I travel.

2. Te-Wa Underquilt. Tried multiple configurations of pads, but nothing comes even close to the speed, simplicity, and crazy warmth of my Te-Wa. Have not had one single cold night since. Best 16 ounces a hammocker can invest in.

3. Balvenie Scotch. 'nuff said.

Conner D
(cdipaolo) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: 2011 Backpacking Light Reader Picks on 12/29/2011 19:46:03 MST Print View

1) Katabatic Gear Palisade Quilt: definitely warmer than 30ยบ, I have not used it to its limit but it is the nicest piece of gear that I own.

2)MYOG: Just got into it and it is rewarding, not much to say.

3)Montbell UL Down T: Less Drafty compared to a vest, cooler than a jacket. It is a great piece when you want something warm to hike in cooler temps.

John Devitt
(cabana) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
picks on 12/29/2011 19:53:10 MST Print View

1. Exped Snymat UL7...warm, comfortable and better built than others I tried

2. Ibex hooded indie...great for sleeping and cold mornings

3. Nano puff pullover...great layer for my needs, still want to try cocoon hoody


robert v
(mtnbob123) - F

Locale: Upstate South Carolina
My Top Three Picks For 2011 on 12/29/2011 20:27:40 MST Print View

#1 Lightheartgear Solong6 Tent-
This tent has made me rethink my whole concept of what I needed for a tent. It is more than long enough and wide enough for my 300# 6'1" self and has also worked well with my girlfriend or my 11yr old son. It has survived winds on top of a mile high bald near the A.T. and weathered pounding storms on various trips. All of this for 27oz fully seam sealed and with guylines and tensioners. Nuff Said!!!

#2 Thermarest Neoair Large-
This pad made me give up my all time favorite pad(Exped Downmat Delux 9) and save over a pound of weight in my pack!

#3 Alcohol Aluminum Stoves and Titanium Cookware- A no brainer but it took me awhile to let go of my MSR Whisperlite for 3 season trips.

Christopher Yi
(TRAUMAhead) - F

Locale: Cen Cal
top 3 on 12/29/2011 20:49:02 MST Print View

1. Inov-8 Roclite 295s. Switching from boots to trail runners made my feet feel a lot more comfortable and the huge toebox made all the difference. Still looking for the perfect boot.

2. Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket. Previous down jacket was an older Montbell Down Inner Jacket, and it was just never warm enough for me. For the extra weight, the Rab keeps me warmer, especially having a hood and the thicker fabric doesn't make me paranoid for day to day city use.

3. ULA Circuit. Always suffered from sore shoulders, and I assumed that's how it was suppose to be until I got the Circuit. Felt like I had no pack on with the Circuit.

Edited by TRAUMAhead on 12/29/2011 20:49:42 MST.

Kevin Haskins
(kevperro) - F

Locale: Washington State
Mine on 12/29/2011 22:51:59 MST Print View

I'm not going to restrict myself to a year. Just my three favorite peices of equipment...

1. ULA Catalyst (7-8 years old now). I'm thinking of trying an Ohm 2.0 but for now this is my favorite item. It represents freedom.

2. Walmart Trekking Poles: Hey... for $20 they work great!

3. Feathered Friends Jacket: Not ultra-light but it has kept me warm for nearly a decade, packs small, and has super warm pockets. I never regret carrying the few extra ounces. I've looked at other jackets but none of them have enticed me to retire my FF jacket, patched with duct tape and silicon sealant in various places.

I've bought some new year in 2011 but none of it has yet earned it's stripes like the above yet.

Joshua S
(joshualee101) - F - M
Re: 2011 Backpacking Light Reader Picks on 12/30/2011 11:08:43 MST Print View

#1: Zebralight H51w. Best headlamp I've owned. Bright, lightweight, and durable. I can easily hike at night using the medium setting.

#2: Ti-Tri fissure and MLD 850 pot combo. I have finally found the perfect stove/pot set-up. Everything fits inside the pot and I still get all the benefits of the full size caldera cone. The pot is the perfect solo size for me. Plus the pot shape makes it a great drinking mug. I can even squeeze my trapper mug inside if I want to bring a separate mug. You won't find this cone on the Trail Designs website, but all you have to do is email them. Those guys have great customer service.

#3: Inov8 roclite 315. I finally broke down and gave Inov8 shoes a try. I went with one of the more durable models. They're great. Super lightweight and breathable. Pretty durable for such lightweight shoes. These are now my go-to shoes for on-trail hiking.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: reader picks on 12/30/2011 11:46:19 MST Print View

1. MLD Burn- making my list for the third year running. Can't imagine a better pack for week-long 3 season adventures.

2. All the same old stuff packed in it. Things I won't be replacing any time soon are: houdini wind shirt, cocoon pullover, Ibex indie, MLD pro poncho, BPL vapr bivy, firelite 550 pot, and gram weenie pro stove. My perfect gear list.

3. The Northville Placid Trail- proving you don't necessarily need to find new places to have new epics. I'm already planning a return trip, this time with a pack raft to take advantage of the class III rapids and numerous lakes.

Craig- awesome dog!

Todd Hein
(todd1960) - MLife

Locale: Coastal Southern California
2011 Reader Picks on 12/30/2011 14:16:40 MST Print View

1. Zebralight H51W Headlamp: My favorite headlamp, ever: Bright, adjustable, well made (OK a little heavy).

2. CEP Men's Running 02 Compression Socks: These socks make a HUGE difference in my recovery time and on-the-trail comfort. BTW, I wear long hiking pants...

3. Zimmerbuilt ZB2 Custom Backpack: I ordered three different packs from Chris Zimmer and all three are well made and comfortable.

Edited by todd1960 on 12/30/2011 18:47:17 MST.

Jennifer McFarlane
(JennyMcFarlane) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Gear favorites on 12/30/2011 16:43:45 MST Print View

1. Chris Zimmer custom pack. He listened to what I wanted/needed and built the pack- it's beautiful.
2. Montbell Down Inner Parka (I'm almost always cold, unless it's 80, so I love this jacket)
3. Kooka Bay insulated air mat-- a little extra wide so I'm not balancing on a pad all night.
4. Discovering my feet are happiest in Men's size 10E shoes (thanks to Roger Caffin's wife- I never thought my feet were that wide before) but after I saw one of his reviews I decided to try a pair on an upcoming hike.

Patrick S
(xpatrickxad) - F

Locale: Upper East TN
2011 Picks on 12/30/2011 17:55:28 MST Print View

1: Cutting out sucrose from my diet. Hands down the best thing I've done this year. My awful allergies disappeared completely so I can go play outside and be much happier. Plus my energy levels and motivation went through the roof. Only downside is its difficult to find good hiking food when you're used to packing lots of cookies and snickers.

2: DIY Cuben tarp. Love the flexibility of a flat tarp compared to the Spinn Twinn I had been using. Plus the weight savings and all the extra room for food it created.

3: Slowing down. Cutting miles and moving at a slower pace and enjoying and exploring more details of my hikes. Doing out and back style hikes without a goal and getting a second look at things from a different direction.

Michael Williams

Locale: Queensland
My top 3 for 2011 on 01/02/2012 03:25:38 MST Print View

My picks:

1. Stickpic / Bottlepod
This year I really learnt that pictures of your trips are great but pictures with you in them are better. These also mean I can take better video too.

2. ULA Ohm
I took 550g (1.2 pound) off my old pack but more importantly its fits properly and is comfortable. This more than anything else has seen me get out on the trail more.

3. Tarptent Contrail
Another of the big 3 I'd swapped in and when it got cool enough for hiking I finally got to put it to use. Lighter, more compact and roomier than the tent it replaced.

Runner up
Golite Ultra Quilt (the old version). First quilt and lighter than what it replaced. Very nice.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: My top 3 for 2011 on 01/02/2012 07:54:06 MST Print View

I didn't buy a whole lot of gear due to all the upheaval from the earthquake, but after a lot of careful consideration and then wonderful results from using them, these are the ones that stuck with me:

1) Finetrack Storm Gorge Alpine Pants (

I used them throughout my two-week volunteer work up in the tsunami devastated zone in Tohoku three weeks after the quake. It was still winter up there, freezing cold, snowing and raining, and in the midst of atrocious and dangerous rubble and debris, with razor sharp metal everywhere. Wearing GoLite C-Thru long underpants underneath I stayed warm and well-protected from abrasion and cuts while working in the disaster fields. They've become my favorite, extremely well-made mountain pants. Even the Israeli rescue team when they saw them went to Tokyo during their break to buy them for their entire team. Only problem with them is that the legs tend to sized for Japanese and are too short for me. I had to sew new hems on to lengthen them. Last month I found that the company had lengthened the pants and I was able to buy another pair that fit me just right. I don't like pants where the crotch hangs too low between the legs so that you have to pull them up higher on your waist (high volume cut), sort of like having a sack of potatoes between your legs. I much prefer a low volume cut, similar to those of jeans, with the rise and gusset clean in the angle of the crotch and the waist relatively low. These fit perfectly like that.

2) Toss up between the MLD Solomid and GoLite Shangri-La 2.

I love the Shangri-La 2 for its wonderful ease of set up and great room (I use half the inside as a sort of side vestibule and storage space), but as so often happens in Japan, I often had a hard time finding a big enough pitching space for it. So I got the Solomid for the typical Japanese small site space. The Solomid is more fiddly to set up, with not nearly as much useable space, but it does what I want a solo shelter to do when space is a premium. A problem I had on all my hikes last year was not being able to get the stakes into the ground anywhere, even in the grassy sites. Free rocks to hold the guy lines down were sometimes, believe it or not, hard to find. Too hard and stony, even for MSR Ground Hogs. I'm thinking of moving back to a "free-standing" dome tent, or maybe something like the upcoming REI Quarter Dome T1. I know I still need to stake it down, but at least I can easily get it to stand up!

3) Mountain Equipment Postman Mini Bag (

I finally found my ideal, UL waterproof photography bag. I carry a DSLR with a single 24 to 300mm zoom lens. This bag carries it perfectly and with lightweight padding and a waterproof outer fabric and zipper protects the camera and extra gear just right. The bag comes with a somewhat heavy shoulder strap and waist strap, which I promptly detached. In their place I attached two lightweight nylon adjustable straps with double plastic clips, taken from my Ortlieb bicycle panniers. I attached them so that when worn they formed an "X" across my back and carried the bag like a harness, slightly above my hip belt. Even when climbing up and down very steep slopes the bag remained securely in place, but was easy to access when standing and easy to remove. I carried the bag through a summer monsoon deluge and the camera remained dry. Took me forever to find something like this, and I think a lot of outdoor and travel photographers (not just UL) would find this piece of gear ideal for their needs

Edited by butuki on 01/02/2012 08:03:26 MST.

Mark Primack
(Bufa) - MLife

Locale: Cape Cod and Northern Newfoundland
Favorite new bpl toys on 01/02/2012 10:52:34 MST Print View

1. Panasonic G3 camera: Having given up taking DSLRs while packing more than a dozen years ago, and having used a great P&S Canon S90 for a few years but dissatisfied with image quality, I bought a G3 and some lenses. It is such a joy to have a more capable versatile camera when I hike. Yes, it weighs somethin' but the body and lenses are half or less the weight of a DSLR. Taken it on 3 4-5 day mountaineering trips this fall.

2. MB Super Spiral #3 L: Finally a bag that is comfortable to my large old body which tosses and turns all night. Though I didn't need the additional length, the additional width and stretchiness make sleeping much more pleasant. And I've taken it down to 7 degrees F with only my top and bottom longies on.

3. Leatherman PS4: For just two ounces, this is the greatest little tool with pliers, scissors that actually work, knife, etc.

Also: McMurdo Fast Find PLB: While this gift from a year ago doesn't make much difference to me, it seems to make my family much more comfortable with my tendency to wander off solo into remote and very remote places.

Edited by Bufa on 01/02/2012 11:11:15 MST.