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2013 Staff Picks
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 09:40:22 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

2013 Staff Picks

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 13:32:50 MST Print View

Wait. Did Dave Chenault really just admit to fatbiking on gametrails and on wilderness trails? ...yikes.

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 14:24:44 MST Print View

Very disapointed. Hardly any backpacking items listed, and when there were, some were discontinued? What gives? Is this Backpacking light or Packrafting/Bikepacking/"Lifelist Planning"/Hunting Light??

Edited by bigfoot2 on 01/22/2014 08:59:41 MST.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 14:53:43 MST Print View

If Dave's Browning is feeling harassed, it's because I've been sending it cat-calls since I read this article. That is one sexy boomstick but as the price tag is greater than a 10-22, Remi.308, and a Mossberg 500 combined (probably could get a new Glock while I'm at it), I'll have to stay in the cheap seats and live vicariously through Dave's experience with this shotgun. Nice piece of iron though; happy hunting.


I've promised my daughter a Tenkara rod before next summer but I'm not sure if I'm going to get her the Iwana or the Amago. I realize a thorough review is outside the scope of this article but it'd be interesting to hear which line you are using with this rod and if you stick with traditional Tenkara flies or not.

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 15:12:52 MST Print View

\? Lifestyle item \?

I was relieved when I read the choices.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 15:28:23 MST Print View

I'm not looking for new gear at this point so have only a theoretical interest here. However, i agree that very few of these items are backpacking-related. As for shoes, since shoe fit is so individual, and I have really weird feet, I have always ignored shoe recommendations. I still have one unused pair of the old (pre Columbia Sportswear takeover) Montrail Hardrocks which will keep me shod for another year.

On the other hand, I don't think I've ever bought any of the past BPL staff picks, except for a very few items that I bought before BPL staff recommended them.

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/26/2013 15:29:12 MST.

Alice Hengst
(Moondust) - MLife

Locale: Southern Sierras
re 2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 15:55:51 MST Print View

These were probably the least helpful picks ever, here or on any other hiking site. Let's summarize what's on the list (* denotes hiking or backpacking gear I might be interested in):

shoes that give the wearer blisters - good thing they have a "heal cup"
a gun
a bike
a fishing rod
an avalanche protection backpack for skiers which costs over $1000 dollars
a recommendation to take a class
a tent which is "not available for several years"
a running shoe with no details given
a foam roller
a puffy jacket*
hiking poles*
a text editor
10 year old snowshoes
snowshoes for kids
a commuter bike
a rainjacket*
a kayak
the idea of journaling
a cuben fiber pyramid costing $800 (those ads must be generating some revenue!)
a kayak paddle
a national park

Three out of 21 items are realistic hiking and/or backpacking items. To be fair, the title of the article was not "Staff Gear Picks", so I guess we should feel lucky we got items somehow related to being outdoors. They could have picked their favorite beer or movie star. But the email said "...take a minute and see which gear our staff uses often." I would have gotten a lot more out of reading about gear I would potentially be interested in buying.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: the grinch on 12/26/2013 16:18:27 MST Print View

Wilderness with a lowercase w Tim, what's the problem with that?

Sounds like you folks might want to think about backpacking as involving more than just hiking.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Re: re: the grinch on 12/26/2013 17:12:11 MST Print View

Dave, or maybe you staff want to think about not watering down the concept of this site. This was just another boring article. Wow, Ryan likes HMG, is he an ambassador maybe?

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 18:46:24 MST Print View

Kids, the site's been branching out for quite some time now. Embrace it already! Instead of whining, add your picks. I'll add a second place to each of my picks because I like to be wordy.

My picks:

Ultralight Backpacking item: My Enlightment Equipment Enigma quilt system. The three pieces snap together to give me an exceptionally functional piece of kit for a wide range of temps. Close second: Ruta Locura WiFi stove. A toasty stove for just over a pound. Really ups the fun factor on winter hikes when distance isn't important. And yes, it's UL compared to most other backpacking stoves.

Outdoor activity item: Elemental Horizons Kalais pack. Finally found a pack that just feels right. More than worth the few extra ounces. Runner up: I'll be like the other Doug and list something I've had for years - my Koga Miyata World Traveller touring bicycle. It's maiden voyage was a solo trip from Garlstedt, Germany, to East Berlin to watch Roger Waters and guests perform The Wall in PotsdammerPlatz - after the Berlin Wall had come down but before reunification. Finished that trip by cycling down to Dresden, up to Leipzig, and then back into West Germany down to Munich. What a trip! That bike also carried me on unsupported trips in Ireland, Scotland, France and New Zealand, and a trip around Arizona as well.

Lifestyle item: Vitamix 750 Professional. This thing rocks! Getting my health back, one smoothie at a time. Yesterday I used it to make some almond/oat/coconut milk (delicious!). Tonight I put a mug's worth in the Vitamix and added Godiva dark chocolate hot cocoa mix and let it spin on high for around 3 1/2 minutes. Presto! Hot cocoa! Close second: Superfood Smoothies and Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris. Fabulous recipes!

So what are your picks?

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 18:57:02 MST Print View

I don't mind the branching out at all; I have been doing that myself...

My picks:

Ultralight backpacking item.
Hennessy Hyperlite Hammock. This system is super comfortable, easy to set up and weighs in at one pound and 12 ounces, including the fly .

Outdoor activity item.
No surprise here that this would be a Trail Camera. After trying a few of them out, I pick the Cadillac of trail cameras, the Reconyx Hyperfire. Seeing what wildlife shares the trails with me has made my outdoor life even more interesting and very exciting.

Lifestyle item.
Well, soon it might be my brand new Vitamix, but I just got that so until then I will pick the item I do not own as a lifestyle choice: a tv.

Edited by Kat_P on 12/26/2013 20:41:58 MST.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
the great outdoors on 12/26/2013 19:05:53 MST Print View

For some of us, various outdoor items fit into backpacking.

I backcountry ski a pretty good amount and do some winter backpacking while skiing.

I would not want to see backpacking light become the Ski Forum, but there is enough room in the tent for the occasional rafting, biking, climbing etc post that happens to involve backpacking too.

These are the personal picks of the staff members as well. People who are active in the outdoors who do purely backpacking/hiking are in the minority. Snowshoeing, skiing, trail running, climbing, fishing etc all are into the mix. And often backpacking is way to do part of it.

So the picks reflect the outdoor style of the contributors.

I do not see it as watering down the site but making it more interesting.

Just my nickels worth.

(My personal lifestyle item is a good craft beer. Because at the end of an outdoor trip, craft beer is awesome. Maybe I should spend more time outdoors so I would have a more appropriate pick? ;-P)

Edited by PaulMags on 12/26/2013 19:11:07 MST.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Well on 12/26/2013 19:12:41 MST Print View

I don't mind the diversity at all, but not at the expense of the core product.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
And on 12/26/2013 19:24:01 MST Print View

While I'm at it. In a world of constant information overload, there's a real quality in specialised information. Less is more?

Hiking is as simple as it gets.

Edited by prse on 12/26/2013 19:24:52 MST.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 19:30:16 MST Print View

If mountain biking and packrafting are the new direction of BPL, that's fine, but that means I'll be here less and less! Actually, that's already true--even in the forum, I now skip the majority of the recent threads. That's even more true of the articles. It's not that I've lost interest in backpacking, just that I'm happy with the gear I have and also find much of the forum material and articles to be repetitious or about stuff that doesn't interest me. Anything I'd list in my 2013 gear picks will be no different than 2012. Somewhere along the line, I've lost my "gear geekness."

The posts/articles that make me pick up my ears these days are either about backpacking with kids or trip reports. As I get older (and the grandkids are able to carry more shared gear), those grandkids are going to keep me out on the trail longer! And I've always loved a good adventure yarn! There is a reason I jump at the trip reports with kids from Ike Jutkowicz (I hope I spelled that right!)--they combine the two!

And after having nearly been run down several times by mountain bikers (who are supposed to give right of way to hikers but instead forced me to jump off the trail), I have an intense dislike for the species.

Will ORVs be next here at BPL?

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/26/2013 19:39:31 MST.

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: re: the grinch on 12/26/2013 19:31:51 MST Print View


Wilderness/wilderness. Got ya. But with all due respect, game trails? Perhaps its just the tree-hugger/conservationist in me but, I think its pretty irresponsible. The relationship between hunters and mountain bikers gets very testy sometimes in my neck of the woods. Hunters often complain about mountain bikers pushing animals out of BLM so they can ride game trails and that consequently turns it into "their singletrack".

Perhaps I'm just bitter because I pay a county tax fee for an open space fund which seems to only benefit mountain bikers who want to just build more tread in these "open space areas". What ever happened to setting aside land for the protection of habitat/wildlife and keeping pervious surfaces?

End rant.

Edited by timdcy on 12/26/2013 19:33:53 MST.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 19:41:18 MST Print View

I personally think hiking with a backpack on is a pretty narrow topic and enjoy reading about these other adventures and interests.

My picks:

UL Backpacking Item: I had to revamp my kit this year so I have many items to choose from but the Lite Trail Solid Fuel Cook System V2 continues to impress. This system works well for when I want to shed weight from my pack but still want a warm meal at the end of the day. I fully expect that 2014 will bring a Flat Cat dry baking system into my life for the trips where I am less worried about hiking from dawn to dusk and want to bring my back-40 culinary experience up several notches.

Outdoor Activity Item: As mentioned above, the very large majority of my 2013 fun money went to my backpacking kit. Slowly but surely I'm bringing my 29er up to snuff for some bike packing in 2014. A couple buddies and I are planning a couple rails-to-trails trips next summer to shake down our gear before we commit to a more ambitious single track adventure.

Lifestyle Item: I started a thread a few months back about wanting to improve my photography. I've ordered a couple books today which were recommended to me on that thread and hope to steal a day here and there to explore the wilderness and work on my photography.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 12/26/2013 19:45:12 MST.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
A rock on 12/26/2013 20:01:54 MST Print View

All these extraneous toys: rifles, tenkara rods, saws, skis, daggers, bikes, ropes, axes, helmet mounted HD video cameras, selfie helping trekking pole me, me, me thingies, live tweeting smartphones, battery driven loudspeakers, drones, music instruments, breaking bad playing tablets. They all remind me of what my generation is called. The masturbating generation. More, more, more!

What happened to the art of just going out in the wild, find a nice rock, sit, be.

I have loads of toys myself. But that's another story. Not one I need this site to tell me.

Don't take this personally, just ranting on. Take care, merry christmas :-)

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: A rock on 12/26/2013 20:27:04 MST Print View

"What happened to the art of just going out in the wild, find a nice rock, sit, be."

THAT is downright un-American! Expect to be pulled aside for interrogation by the TSA the next time you try to come and sit on a rock and be, here in The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. :=[

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: A rock on 12/26/2013 20:43:41 MST Print View

Peter, then why even go online? Just head out and enjoy.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

2013 Picks on 12/26/2013 20:50:42 MST Print View

My picks out of the gear I acquired in 2013 are:

1) ULA Catalyst Cuben Hybrid
This pack is great for larger loads such as packrafting and winter hikes. The cuben hybrid fabric minimizes water weight uptake and keeps my gear mostly dry when packrafting (I use drysacks for crucial stuff). At 40oz, it enables me to undertake a wider variety of backpacking trips. Compared to the HMG cuben hybrid packs, the Catalyst is more fully featured which suits my style.

2) Locus Gear FL CP2 poles
The Locus Gear Flick lock poles are the best poles for ultralight hiking. The flick locks are much nicer to use than the GG LT4 twist locks, and they're decently stiffer too. The also collapse shorter since they're 3 piece and the price isn't too ridiculous. My only complaint the small diameter grips, which I remedied by replacing them with GG grips. 4.8oz ea with the straps off.
flick lock

3) Garmin Geko 301
This GPS is excellent for trips where you'd prefer to have the safety net/convenience of a GPS, but you don't plan on using it much. The Geko 301 is very light (~3oz) and it gives me a my UTM coordinates which is all I need to locate myself on the map. It's been discontinued for several years now, which means they are widely available on eBay for $30-$70. The 301 has much better battery life than the 201 and 101 versions.

Nite-Ize #1 S Biners -Light, strong & well made. Great for bear bagging. 0.1oz.
Nikon AW100 Camera - Waterproof camera's are much nicer to use, and this one is good.
Mountain Hardware Quasar Rain Jacket - The move to more durable 9oz 3 layer rain jacket with a higher quality membrane looks promising.

Edited by dandydan on 01/19/2014 19:54:25 MST.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Re: Re: A rock on 12/26/2013 20:52:32 MST Print View

Kat, because I like to communicate. But you are partly right. I'm taking an online break, and I'll see you guys some time in 2014. Take care :-).

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
My Picks (and an anit-anti-consumerism rant) on 12/26/2013 22:16:00 MST Print View

My picks

Ultralight Backpacking Item - Exped Lighting 60. Great pack! Best 2 pound load hauler I've tried so far.

Insert anti-anti-consumerism rant here

Sometimes the focus on gear isn't some selfish consumerism its just a real need. I would have been happy to use my old pack till the end of time but it wore out, and is discontinued. I didn't go shopping for a new pack because I wanted too but because I had too. I imagine people who hike hundreds of miles a year like Jordan and Chenault are in the same boat.

End of rant.

Outdoor Gear - Running in Merrell Trail Gloves. I tried this on a lark after deciding I didn't have the energy for a 2 mile run in my regular shoes. I thought I'd run a mile. But I felt great! It wasn't just the forefoot striking and ground feel often discussed. I was already forefoot striking more or less. The problem was my stiff NB shoes would slip on the loose gravel as my feet landed and as I toed off. It wasn't as bad as running in sand but it wasn't real efficient. The Merrells just worked better. I think it was because they had a smaller "footprint" so I was slipping on less gravel. Also they wrapped around rocks they hit rather than slipping on top of them. I beat my feet up a bit more but my running was more efficient and I felt less fatigued overall.

Lifestyle - Focusing on Family and Friends. I had ambitious plans for the summer but due to a death in the family I kept feeling like certain family and community events were more important and my backpacking trips kept getting pushed back. I took cousins on a backpacking trip (at there not UL pace), volunteered to help a church youth group on a car camping trip, took my little brother on a short trip and spent a week in Yellowstone with my immediate and extended family. In the end all this cut into my backpacking time a lot more then I thought it would. If I'd known how little backpacking I'd do I might have skipped a few family events. But in the end it was one of the richest and most rewarding summers of my life and I'm glad I (unknowingly) sacrificed backpacking for more important things.

Daniel Pittman
(pitsy) - M

Locale: Central Texas
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 22:52:05 MST Print View

Also a bit underwhelmed by the article, but enjoying the responses!

Ultralight backpacking gear: Exped UL-7 sleeping pad and Exped Schnozzel pump bag. Can't say enough good things about this setup.

Outdoor item: Electric pump that plugs into the car to inflate tubes for when we go tubing the Comal or Guadalupe rivers. I see these kids using their lungs to inflate tubes... taking all day when they could be out on the river like this lazy old man. Or renting a tube every time. Dang! Buy your own tube, inflate it yourself, and save money and time!

Lifestyle item: Baby carrier/backpack. I wouldn't be able to get out on the trail at all without it, but it still gets a lot of use in town. Like when Mrs. pitsy has the stroller with her in the car and I need to go collect my paycheck at work... Just pop little Radley Moon in his carrier and hike over to the shop.

Bonus item: Merino/baby Alpaca hat from Kat_P. My head was the only thing that stayed warm on my walk home from work this evening. Severely underdressed for the temperature drop this afternoon. Remembering my new hat was in my bag brought a smile to my face.

Edited by pitsy on 12/26/2013 22:54:24 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
My Favorite Part About Staff Picks... on 12/27/2013 01:07:19 MST Print View the picks that you all have in each of your categories. I really enjoy learning about the diversity of what makes BPL readers tick. Thanks to those of you who are contributing yours, as well.

(jpovs) - F

Locale: Arrowhead
Re: My Favorite Part About Staff Picks... on 12/27/2013 04:52:54 MST Print View


Edited by jpovs on 06/15/2014 14:14:25 MDT.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
2013 picks on 12/27/2013 08:18:06 MST Print View

Backpacking Gear: Being thankful for what you have

I've got a great kit that works together well, so it's hard to pick any one standout item. Notables that haven't changed in years include a Patagonia Houdini, cocoon pullover, BPL vapr bivy, MLD burn pack, Javan Dempsey quilt, firelite 550 pot, and some cutdown foam. In truth though, any of these could be easily interchanged with a similar item and my experience would be just as good. I think the search for the perfect gear sometimes detracts from just enjoying the experience.

Outdoor Gear: An alternate mode of transportation

Be it packraft, skis, snowshoes, or bike, it's nice to see parts of the wilderness that may not be accessible by foot.

Lifestyle: Lake Superior

I never planned on living in the Midwest, but the Lake Superior shoreline has made it worthwhile, transforming Michigan from being just another Midwestern state into a premier backpacking destination. I've spent the last 3 years exploring it, and feel like I've only scratched the surface. The ice formations, caves, and cliffs have to be seen to be believed.

Wishing you all a happy holiday season. Thank you for the 2013 inspirations. Here's to 2014!

David T
(DaveT) - F
um.... on 12/27/2013 09:55:36 MST Print View

"Ryan, are you ever going to respond to my many emails to you about the grandfathered forum membership?"



Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Garmin Geko 301 +1 on 12/27/2013 10:44:17 MST Print View

I picked up this GPS a couple of months ago as well and I should have given it honorable mention. So far it's been the perfect GPS for me as I've found that the option of maps, GLONASS, and WAAS with the newer GPS are unnecessary (at this time) for my purposes.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 12/27/2013 10:49:17 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
wilderness biking on 12/27/2013 11:05:24 MST Print View

Tim, I appreciate your comments. This is an issues you're going to hear more about here later in 2014. To preview that and further the thread drift:

Wilderness (lower case) biking is for me mountain biking well away from pavement on paths not built for cycling and not traveled often by people via any mode of transport. Finding legal routes in the lower 48 where a bike is an enhancement to travel rather than a hindrence (with respect to both speed and enjoyment) is a challenge.

I live near one of the few remaining large chunks of national forest in the lower 48 which has wilderness trails open to bikes. The social side is pretty insignificant as outside hunting and CDT season you don't see anyone back there. In other areas prejudice against bikes can be a pain but it's just that, and something to be dealt with.

Game trails are another matter. Even when such activity is legally unproblematic, its the rare game trail which is bikeable. In the mountains and forests they're almost always too steep or thick. Locally, I ride game trails to cross islands and link up sloughs and gravel bars while riding river courses at low water in the spring. The areas are public land, get flooded every few years, and receive almost no human traffic.

Again, the issues here are almost always social, as opposed to environmental.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/27/2013 11:57:07 MST Print View

I guess I'll add to the diversity... even though mine aren't diverse as other's:

UL packing stuff. Zimmerbuilt pack/ Gregory 3d belt. Best AND simplest pack I've had ever. Light, right volume for me, simple with one external pocket, tough (Dimension), comfortable. (yes, Eric, comfortable:) )

Outdoor Activity: I understand that I'm not cool cause it's not a flashy activity, but I just really love to be in the wilderness and walking is slow so I can smell the roses. -Never been cool anyway why start now?

Lifestyle item: I don't understand what "lifestyle item" means. Doug put a juicer. We just got a juicer and its pretty cool. Oh! Disc Golf! Yeah been into that lately! Pier Park in St. John's is Sweeeeet! But in a fit of uncoolness I carry my 3 discs in a little bag from a record shop, like a book bag sort of thing. I guess that Golf itself falls under "outdoor activity" so maybe I'll make the bag be my "lifestyle item" My buddy carries his discs in one too and when we play through other groups its fun to carry our douchy little bags and throw just as well (if not better) then they do with their 18 discs in a big ol bag and stool. Especially since we are both left-handed finger-poppers. We feel like cheesy black sheep. Its a gas.

EDIT: OK Vitamix isn't a juicer- its a blender. Take it easy, Doug. LOL Smoothie maker... whatever. :) Must be line helluva blender.

Edited by WoodenWizard on 12/27/2013 23:36:51 MST.

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: wilderness biking on 12/27/2013 12:04:43 MST Print View

Thank you for the clarification, Dave. I look forward to reading more either here or at Bedrock. Both social and environmental consequences seem to always be at stake here in CO.

Stopping threads instead of derailing them is usually my speciality so I feel honored to be in new territory.

John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
2013 Staff Picks on 12/31/2013 00:32:20 MST Print View

Roger Caffin once ridiculed me for suggesting he review the Hoka One One shoe. I suppose instead of saying talk to the hand I should say talk to Kevin Sawchuk. And i write this with a smile on my face, because I admire Roger.

And for Mary D above, the ultimate mountain bike encounter for me is having to jump out of the way of a speeding mountain bike on a trail where bikes aren't allowed as happened to me today on a day hike at Lake Natoma near Sacramento. Oh well, at least I get to practice my jumping skills and yell "POG MO THOIN!" like my Irish grandfather used to do.

Getting into the spirit of the theater of the absurd (a shotgun?) for a internet site titled "Backpacking" Light my favorite gear for 2013 was the Transatlantic Sessions youtube of Eric Bibb singing "Don't Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down." It is spiritual and yet has backpacking applications as well as it is concerned with slipping, sliding and falling. It embodies my attitude of life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and remember that Christmas represents an important person's birthday.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/31/2013 07:58:27 MST Print View

"my favorite gear for 2013 was the Transatlantic Sessions youtube of Eric Bibb singing "Don't Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down.""

Good stuff John, thanks for mentioning it. I'll add Mavis Staples, Have A Little Faith []

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Mountain Bikes and Wilderness on 12/31/2013 08:13:25 MST Print View

I once met two mountain bikers a couple miles into the Pecos Wilderness. I asked them if they knew they could get a ticket for being there (I was bluffing I assume the FS would ticket them). They seemed surprised (or faked it) and headed out by the quickest trail. I didn't personally threated to turn them in but I sort of implied that the area was being monitored for hunting season and lots of people would be waiting to turn them in.

tony landrum
( - MLife

Locale: Texas
Re: re 2013 Staff Picks on 12/31/2013 10:39:00 MST Print View

I have to agree, I looked at this post hoping to find some replacements / upgrades, like a sleeping pad. I haven't seen any gun totin hikers!!

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: re 2013 Staff Picks on 12/31/2013 11:31:20 MST Print View

"I haven't seen any gun totin hikers!!"

That's because I conceal carry Tony

(flame war in 3.... 2.... )

Edited by IDBLOOM on 12/31/2013 11:32:46 MST.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: re 2013 Staff Picks on 12/31/2013 11:53:01 MST Print View

I realize there are some on this site (hopefully a small minority) that have a fetish like attachment to their killing toys.

But killing toys are not about the outdoors ... they are about killing.
and isn't this an Outdoor site ?
and if you really want to "Backpack Light" well, a gun doesn't cut it.

Could you, especially the staff, show the courtesy to tout your prowess in this area on hunting sites and spare those of us who truly love the outdoors the pain of having to listen.

my 2013 gear pick is a gun that animals can use so they can shoot back.
oh right ... it hasn't been invented yet.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Useless on 12/31/2013 12:11:00 MST Print View

This list is just about as useless as me sitting at my desk on NYE. Like a tree falling in the woods, who even cares if it happened. Maybe next year someone will put the Sawyer Mini or something remotely relevant (no ill meant to the Rab puffy or Patagucci rain jacket) on the list. Yep. This year's sucked.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Useless on 12/31/2013 12:22:34 MST Print View

Why are y'all mad for people posting their opinions?

Its opinons! Sheesh

David T
(DaveT) - F
u mad? on 12/31/2013 12:30:23 MST Print View

why are you mad about people posting their opinions about the opinions?!

they're opinions!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/31/2013 12:31:05 MST Print View

I'm starting a thread "2013 Reader Picks" so we can show how it's done :)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Useless on 12/31/2013 12:58:37 MST Print View

"Why are y'all mad for people posting their opinions?

Its opinons! Sheesh"

I think the issue is quality and appropriateness. People come here looking for the answers and this article falls short. It smacks of being thrown together at the last minute rather than pointing the readers to quality, useful information. Shame shame.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
the theatre of the absurd on 12/31/2013 13:34:05 MST Print View

Art, I'm not going to change your mind. Past evidence makes that pretty clear. I would however submit that your above comments suggest that on a root level you do not know what you are talking about.

Dale, I'm not clear on what questions you're looking to have answered by something like this. I am genuinely curious.

I don't direct content for this site, but as a writer my personal answer to what seems to be the implicit question here is that there is only so much that can be said about plain old walking around in the woods. Take lightweight rain jackets: the only thing worth noting in the 2 years since I wrote a SOTMR is the same laminates on new materials with new names, and that Haglofs discontinued the Ozo. Sleeping pads? Ridgerests work. Thermarests work. Neoairs work but are fragile and stupid expensive. Everything else is variations on a theme or white noise.

I'm shocked no one has admonished me for forgetting my helmet on that Waterton trip and riding anyway. Only went two for three this time around.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
I like it on 12/31/2013 13:38:17 MST Print View

I like this years picks. It seems to me there is only so much you can say about std backpacking gear that hasn't been said before. So for me it's good to hear about a diverse range of kit. Without Bpl I wouldn't know about packrafting and there wouldn't be surly ogre in the garage ready for a trip in the next couple of weeks.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Useless on 12/31/2013 13:45:30 MST Print View

People come here looking for the answers and this article falls short.

I'll probably hate myself in the morning for stepping into this squabble but ...

This reader comes here for information, not answers. Information helps me formulate my own answers.

I'm not sure any of the annual staff picks articles has ever filled that need for me. But member interests are varied enough that I'd expect few articles or threads to be useful to all readers.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Nickelback on 12/31/2013 13:51:20 MST Print View

Story time kiddies... gather 'round. A lot can be learned from the relationship I have with Nickelback.

I don't like Nickleback and would rather staple my face to the floor than listen to them. Sometimes the local hockey arena plays Nickelback over the loudspeaker. Sometimes I hear Nickelback on the radio. There are even times when I'm walking past CDs in a store and I see a Nickelback album.

Despite my desire to start screaming at the top of my lungs, rip off my clothes, and flee the establishment sobbing violently……

I just take a deep breath.... count to ten.... and chant "It'll be ok. It'll be ok."

And then I move on with my life. If you have a magazine you subscribe to and are happy with every article ever written, then good on you but it seems unlikely.

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
Re: the theatre of the absurd on 12/31/2013 14:09:25 MST Print View

The inclusion of only 1 BPL item on each staff members list seems to have left many of us wanting for a little bit more insight to the kit of the pros. In past years, the 'lifestyle' item was balanced by 3 or more conventional BPL gear pieces (+1 for Sawyer mini function and price)

That said. +1 on Dave C.'s use of BPL gear and philosophy to make outdoor pursuits of ALL types safer and more accessible to us. I've yet to pull-off a planned packraft/turkey hunt/fat bike loop on the northern edge of the Navajo reservation but thanks to BPL and Dave's inspiration its coming. I did however take my zpack zero, foster can/starlyte, quilt,and roclites on numerous walks and overnights with my A5 this season. That's (Browning A5; 8 heavy lbs.) a shotgun and I guess it could be called.... hunting. But to me and many of us its just backpacking lighter, outside.

I do look forward to the other months of the year when my SUL and UL base-weights aren't dwarfed by blued metal or rabbit-hole rims. HYOH!

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
Re: the theatre of the absurd on 12/31/2013 15:01:06 MST Print View

David Chenault - BPL Staff - said "my personal answer to what seems to be the implicit question here is that there is only so much that can be said about plain old walking around in the woods."

and therein lies the rub, or in this case the difficulty in writing essays for a backpacking magazine-website year after year.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: the theatre of the absurd on 12/31/2013 15:14:40 MST Print View

The point is: who cares what their opinions are. They are just some folks that work for some website. They may do thing differently than you so their picks dont apply to you. Why be mad?

Don't hunt? Ignore the part about the gun. The people who do hunt (the intended audience) may get an idea from it.

I hike with people so all of the solo shelters don't apply. I just skip em. I don't bike, i don't raft, i don't -who cares what i don't do.

Whats your favorite piece of gear? Well it sucks! My x is better!

See how ridiculous?

Dave t made my point.
Who gives a rats ass about any opinion!?!?

... This is just my opinion

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: the theatre of the absurd on 12/31/2013 16:20:15 MST Print View

"Dale, I'm not clear on what questions you're looking to have answered by something like this. I am genuinely curious."

Answer, conceptually speaking: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

And shame on you, BTW, for riding helmetless up at Waterton. Where is Smokey when we need him? ;0)

And now, what you've all been breathlessly waiting for:

The ouzel's 2013 picks

UL gear

Locus Gear CP3's. I thought I'd be using LT4's for the rest of my career for Sierra doin's, but these poles have them beat hands down. The extra ounce or so turns out to be an advantage for pole management in windy conditions and brush, IME, and the
locking mechanisms are bomber.

Outdoor item

Mountain Hardwear Mountain Tech vest. It weighs 11 oz in a size small, but gives great core protection in temperatures down to the mid 20's so far, and probably lower, when windy. Also superior thermo regulation from there up to about 40 degrees. No further need for a windshirt, which I have had trouble with in the 30 degree range while on the move. Not UL, nor would I use it in the sierra, but up here in the Cascades in winter and early spring, it is a dream.


Just keep moving, preferably ion the mountains. simple as that.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: the theatre of the absurd on 12/31/2013 16:24:42 MST Print View

"Dave t made my point.
Who gives a rats ass about any opinion!?!?"

A wise BPLer, Nick G IIRC, once observed that opinions are like a$$holes, everybody has one. Since rats apparently have 'em, too, maybe we should turn this thread over to the rats at this point, before it gets any more acrimonious?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Reader expectations on 12/31/2013 16:26:52 MST Print View

My expectations as a (paying) reader would be some new but tried and tested items used by experienced ultralight backpackers AND generally in the UL realm. This is quite different than surfing a site like and getting a head full of gadget eye candy.

I posted my 2013 favorites in a couple minutes and several others were able to add their pertinent selections in a short time, so I really don't buy the fact that there isn't anything new to write about.

BPL isn't Backpacker magazine in terms of budget or staff. IMHO, limited professional staff has always been an issue for BPL. They have done a very good job with what they have, but having two or three product testers not only limits the sheer quantity of gear tested, it also limits the range of experience and subjective leanings to that of the few writers on staff.

In a perfect world, there would be a larger staff bringing a greater diversity of views. And someone would need to help pay for that. Backpacker mag has multinational corporations buying ad space, which may never be in the UL niche. As I said, I think BPL could have fluffed this article up a bit.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Reader expectations on 12/31/2013 16:38:21 MST Print View

I didn't object to this article for reasons I've already mentioned. I fully realize that this is a gear-centric website and a thread about a new Sawyer water filter will generate more chatter and responses than the many wonderful trip reports shared on here either as a BPL sponsored article or a Post Trip Report submission. It'd be interesting (to me) to read a sister article to this where the staff provide a synopsis of their favorite adventure from the year prior.

BPL openly solicits contributions from the membership so those who are dissatisfied are more than welcome to step up and provide an article. I realize you have in the past Dale.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 12/31/2013 16:38:55 MST.

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
It's Backpackinglight on 12/31/2013 21:19:11 MST Print View

Some favorite backpacking gear:

Montbell Alpine Light Down Jacket
I love that jacket. Warm, light, compressible. Mine weighs 16 oz. It's part of my sleep system.

Caldera Keg
Stable, efficient, light, nests beautifully. Mine weighs 6.3 oz.

Marmot Hydrogen sleeping bag
It's been a very warm, light bag and still lofts beautifully after thousands of miles. Mine (an older model) weighs 23 oz.

ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tent
Mine weighs 8.5 ounces, plus stakes. I have stayed dry and bug-free with it every single night. Wish I'd had one long ago.

Three gear lists:
Alaska Traverse
Desert Trail

Edited by Colter on 12/31/2013 21:23:20 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: BPL on 01/01/2014 08:44:15 MST Print View

Thanks for the response Dale.

FWIW everyone, I dislike the Sawyer filters. Backflushing frequently is too much work in a world which contains Aqua Mira.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 01/01/2014 16:14:00 MST Print View

Hi John

> Roger Caffin once ridiculed me for suggesting he review the Hoka One One shoe.
Yes, I remember the incident. I was rather cynical about the shoe, the marketing spiel and the motivations of the vendors (and still am), but I certainly deny ridiculing you. I will not go ad-hominem over that sort of thing.

What we are seeing here is probably a difference in culture: Australians tend to be a LOT more blunt than Americans. I do keep getting into trouble over that! So if you were offended at all, my apologies.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Blunt? on 01/01/2014 16:23:12 MST Print View

"Australians tend to be a LOT more blunt than Americans."

Nah. An old girlfriend's mother once told me, "Dahling, the closest you get to 'tact' is 'appalling blunt.'"

And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled....

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Thanks for the article on 01/01/2014 16:35:52 MST Print View

I appreciate the article and respect the authors' opinions since I can trust they have tested their gear.

What I like most about backpacking, besides the escapist allure, is that it can be incorporated into several other outdoor pursuits. I have been a trail runner for several years and that crossover knowledge/training has made me a stronger, more capable backpacker. Now I am also starting to climb and boulder.

I feel that all outdoor pursuits make you more capable ... outdoors.

I realize not all of this gear is SUL or UL or even strictly for backpacking, but it is gear that is designed to take you places you might not be able to reach on foot alone, and that is a good thing. If this gear has helped push BPL staff members further, and broadened their perspective, then isn't it worthy to make a list for 2013 BPL Staff Picks?

Clayton Black
(Jivaro) - MLife
Zombie Apocalypse on 01/01/2014 17:45:27 MST Print View

BPL Staff is preparing us! Thanks guys and happy holidays.

Oliver Nissen
(olivernissen) - MLife

Locale: Yorkshire Dales
MYOG picks on 01/02/2014 07:14:18 MST Print View

I've enjoyed the article (liking the non-purity of many of picks) and the selections made by various readers too. Having spent 2013 entirely on work, I'm probably disqualified from submitting my own picks. However, 2014 will see me tramping the trails again, and unlike most others, the gear I'm looking forward to are notably MYOG in nature:

Roger Caffin's home-made inverted canister stove for Winter camping over the next few months.

My current MYOG projects are a lot simpler but are also winter warmers:

Replacing the EVA handles on my trekking poles with some nice natural cork ones. I get cold digits and EVA just sucks (heat!)

Similarly, I'm fashioning some foot-beds using Primaloft's felt-like footwear quality - a really easy cut-and-sew project.

I'll post photographs in a few months after I've put them through some scenic abuse.

Happy New Year :)

Todd Hein
(todd1960) - MLife

Locale: Coastal Southern California
2013 Picks - Really? on 01/06/2014 18:13:14 MST Print View

I'm a stick in the mud I guess: This community is called "Backpacking Light", not Hunting Light, or Kayaking Light, or Packrafting Light, or Mountain Biking Light, right? These are probably worthwhile activities to some members, but, in my opinion, should be discussed in other forums. I value opinions about trips, techniques, and gear that I can use when I walk and carry my own stuff in wilderness (or as close as I can get to wilderness) areas. If this url is really supposed to be "Wilderness Travel Light", then maybe a name change is in order?

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: 2013 Picks - Really? on 01/06/2014 19:34:17 MST Print View

"This community is called "Backpacking Light", not Hunting Light, or Kayaking Light, or Packrafting Light, or Mountain Biking Light, right? "

You are right.
That's why most of them barely have nothing to do with this site anymore.
They're busy hunting, kayaking, and mountain biking.

Jim H
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
Too much subdivision kills traffic on 01/06/2014 19:52:18 MST Print View

I think the site has defined itself well. It obviously isn't backpacking in the travel-around-europe-in-hostels sense, and it doesn't focus too much on any of the standing-still outdoor activities. Calling the site BPL and allowing a variety of posts means a larger and more diverse userbase, and hopefully more resources to generate and curate content.

Not sure how many of you are familiar with, but it can be a good example of too much subdivision within a hobby. Users can create a subforum for every possible topic, and they could create a subforum for exactly their definition of backpacking (r/threeplusdaytriponly-nofishing-photographyokay-butnotelephotos/, or something). And people do that. But then they get less than 10 subscribers, and practically zero traffic. An active forum where 50% users don't always agree seems better than an inactive one.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
"This is BPL, where's the BPing Gear?" on 01/07/2014 11:55:17 MST Print View

This is a question I might have asked up until a year or two ago. But I have learned that many folks here, like me, have other outdoor interests. This is good, because who wants to talk to backpacking Zombies? There is more to life than backpacking.

We have folks like Wisner, Durston, Ike, P Mags and others who are outdoors almost every weekend and every vacation and they are not single focused. When they discuss their other interests, it tells me more about them. Although I have met very few of these folks, I know I would like most of them -- their other activities tell me a lot about them. And I have learned to enjoy some of the non-backpacking topics. I say, Embrace the Diversity!

Now I suppose some of the negative comments are really directed at Dave Chenault's choices. Perhaps some of the negative posters might want to wander over to Dave's blog and read. Now, some of Dave's blog posts irritate me, and I hate it that I need a dictionary to understand half of what he discusses -- but there is a lot of value in his perceptions.

I suggest that everyone go over there are read all of his 2013 hunting posts. I don't hunt, or even own a firearm. I know will never hunt. But his posts about hunting will give you insight about the man, his relationship to the wilderness, trails, weather, people, animals and the cycles of life. We all might learn more of wild places from him. Keep an open mind.

Now for my own choices:

Favorite UL Gear:
McHale Full-Dyneema LBP 36. Some may say this isn't a UL pack, but it must be, since most of the time I take it my BW is under 10 lbs, plus it has carried up to 14 days of food. It is virtually indestructible.

Outdoor Activity Item:
Camping with my wife in our travel trailer. Priceless, as the commercial says. [P.S. for RJ -- when you get to my age you can buy a lifetime Inter Agency Pass for $10]

Lifestyle Items:
I have owned a Sony RX100 camera for a little over a year. It has renewed my interest in photography (to a limited extent). In conjunction with the camera, I am using PhotoShop and Lightroom for processing.

The other items are an iPhone and iPad. Not wilderness gear, but items that make me more productive at work, which means I can free-up more time for outdoor pursuits.

Vanne Mocilac
(tui-chub) - MLife

Locale: South Western Montana
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 01/17/2014 21:57:31 MST Print View

Well I really liked my P-Style this year. Freaked my brothers out, which was worth something. When I got scared in griz and wolf country they said I need to grow a set to go along with peeing standing up. They call it my addadicktomy. Even my kids call it that now. So fast, leave the pack on, no tp to get out and then hide, go in bottle when it's raining outside at nite, and the best part is I don't have to walk all the way back across the reservoir when we are ice fishing and expose great surface area to the wind and other viewers.

Edited by tui-chub on 01/17/2014 22:00:32 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
This is BackPackingLight, not HikingLight... on 01/18/2014 17:58:22 MST Print View

Wow. There's a lot of crying here over what is essentially an editorial piece. Is BPL branching out slightly from utterly-literal "backpacking?" Yes, but I don't think these digressions are inappropriate. If you want to limit yourself that way good on you, but I don't. It's not like they're talking about skateboarding or collecting figurines or whatnot. Or even expedition sea kayaking. Frankly, I always thought ExpeditionsLight would be a more interesting website, anyway...

But, really, the complaints are simply wrong if you think about it. If you do an activity with a backpack, that's "backpacking." This isn't the HikingLight website, after all. Expedition mountain biking? Yes- uses a pack. Packrafting? Obviously. Backcountry hunting? Also, obviously.

As for my own contributions- unfortunately I got deployed all summer and have thus done a truly disappointingly small amount of backpacking this year. The only trip really of note was my Grand Canyon trip prior to deployment in April. Thus I don't have many new insights.

Using a lightweight bivy with a floorless shelter- I think I've mentioned this in a few threads but I've only really recently solidified this opinion. I find shelters with floors to generally be wastes of weight. A simple lightweight bivy replaces your groundcloth and bug net, plus adding a couple of degrees to the utility of your sleeping system, while being lighter. So, very versatile. Plus, you can use the same bivy with multiple shelters, thus saving the cost involved with buying multiple floored shelters or fitted footprints. It's the perfect answer, I've finally FULLY embraced it, and am very very happy with it. (My usual floorless shelters and bivies are MLD products- I have a couple of their 'mids and have a Superlight.)

Minimalist rather than Ultralight- I think that like many here I'm moving away from literal ultralight thought and more towards minimalist thought. In 99% of the time this ends up being ultralight as a side-effect, but weight per se isn't so much what I obsess about anymore. For instance my next project is probably going to be going more with cat can stoves and simple aluminum pots with foil windscreens rather than systems like the caldera cone (though the Caldera Cones are EXCELLENT products) or manufactured alcohol stoves. After I play around a bit there might be one HELL of a gear swap listing in my future...

Lifestyle favorite? Huh. This sort of screams for "non-backpacking" issues, doesn't it? I guess Paleo diet. As I mentioned I got deployed this summer, and spent most of it on a special forces COP where the guys were all into paleo, so their cook generally accommodated them. I was also not very busy (thankfully, since I'm a surgeon) so I was working out a LOT and got fitter than I've been in a couple of decades. Mind you if you're religious about it it can be hard to be paleo in a healthy way, so I tend to be a very liberal paleo dieter- I eat everything that the paleo people argue about whether or not it's "paleo", like quinoa, sweet potatoes, wild rice, and legumes, though I do try to keep them light, as I do with red meat. (The legume issue particularly chaps me- like there aren't edible wild peas around! Heck, sea peas alone inhabit most coastlines around the world, and it is ridiculous to suppose that paleolithic man didn't gather them. Yes, lathyrism is an issue, but as long as you don't gorge on them you're fine.) I miss cheese... So I'm not a fanatic who believes the hype, but this at least keeps it fun while I try to limits carbs to keep my calories down. Because that's really my problem- carb calories. I just find it mentally easy to run potential food through the "cave-man" filter.

Edited by acrosome on 01/21/2014 09:11:45 MST.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
BPL on 01/18/2014 20:54:19 MST Print View

I can't say I was personally interested in most of the choices, but then again this isn't the Doug Smith Interests ;-)

I like seeing some variety on this forum. When I first joined a couple years ago I was very concerned that I wouldn't fit in because I thought the site was entirely focused on Ultralight and SuperExtremeUltraLight, etc. What I hoped to do was get ideas for reducing my pack weight in a positive direction, while not becoming a completely different person. This site has helped tremendously.

I recently became interested in combining some of my favorite hobbies (backpacking and photography), with winter. So I started a thread on ski-touring and received all kinds of helpful tips, links, suggestions, and offers for help. Way more help than on any of the other forums I tried. In fact on an actual ski-touring forum I posted the same questions and got not a single response. I've really come to appreciate that BPL is open to people who want to channel lightweight gear and techniques into their other outdoor activities. It is an excellent resource.

OK, now my only contribution to the thread:
After some thought, the gear item that stands out most in my mind is my Barnes and Noble "Nook with Glowlight". I love to read, and used to carry real books on my backpacking trips. The Nook Glowlight is lightweight, fairly compact, and gives off an incredible amount of useful light for in-camp purposes. Since bringing it with me I've found that my headlamp is strictly for back-up or emergencies. I pretty much never use it anymore. And the Nook's light is adjustable in brightness, and lasts for an insane amount of time on a full charge. I have lots of books on it, and it is handy being able to glance at my downloaded copies of Sierra North and Sierra South, to read the trip info, and then switch to my current novel once I'm killing time in camp. Looking back, I'd say that strangely enough, the Nook has had more effect on my backpacking style over the last two years than any other single piece of gear.

Edited by Jedi5150 on 01/18/2014 20:55:09 MST.

Charles Compton
(tyemax2) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: re 2013 Staff Picks on 01/22/2014 08:49:04 MST Print View

I agree completely. I half expected to see a staffers favorite video game on the list. :-(