Weight savings are a continuing story in this category. Examples: the Pounder from Marmot, a 40-degree Primaloft-filled sleeping bag that weighs—you guessed it—a pound. It'll be $159 (www.marmot.com). Valandré, the French company whose high-end sleeping bags impressed me last year, was back with a new bag called the Mirage 350. It's billed as good to the 20-degree range, yet weighs just one pound six ounces. Price: $355 (www.valandre.com).
Of course, there were lots of new tents on display this year. Most emphasize light and fast, such as Sierra Designs's Reverse Combi, which uses variable-diameter poles and other ounce-saving features to produce a full-size, free-standing tent for two that weighs just over five pounds. A similar tent would have easily hit seven pounds three or four years ago. Price: $239 (www.sierradesigns.com). But big tents are becoming popular, too, as more families go camping. Hilleberg the Tentmaker showed a new tent concept called the Stalon Combi, modeled off its Stalon two- and four-person tents, both lightweight tents based on a tunnel-tent design. Buy an "extension roof" and join two tents together with a big vestibule in between. For that matter, keep joining them—you could set up a veritable tent city by joining Stalons end to end. Hilleberg tents are always light and impeccably made, but you do pay for that. The Stalon 2 runs $520, and the roof extension $135 (www.hilleberg.com).
Cascade Designs, of course, changed how people sleep in the woods with the introduction of the Therm-a-Rest back in... I don't know, 1876 or so. Lots of companies are chasing them now, and some of the new insulated inflatable pads are extremely impressive (example: Big Agnes's Air Core pads, from $55-$70; www.bigagnes.com). But for weight savings and decent comfort, the Therm-a-Rests still have a lot to offer. New in the lineup is the Women's ProLite 3, which has variable insulation to allow for the fact women lose heat from their feet and torso more quickly than men. Weight is one pound four ounces; price $80 (www.thermarest.com).