Gear of the Year

Tents, sleeping bags, and stoves

Apr 15, 2003
Outside Magazine


REI Roadster $129
It's fast and sleek-just like a real hot rod. We're betting everyone will want to jump in. Why It's Cool: Setup is a snap—the fly can stay attached to the tent body in its stuffsack, meaning all I had to do was slide in a pole and pull out and tension the corner struts. Granted, my five-foot-six frame doesn't fill up most tents, but with 15.5 square feet of floor space, the two-pound-ten-ounce Roadster is the roomiest one-person abode I've ever slept in. The vestibule was large enough to protect my pack and boots, as well as to allow easy entry and egress, even when the rain was sheeting down. Thanks to umpteen ventilation options, every nocturnal slumber proved to be a condensation-free experience. Hmmm... The Roadster could do with a few more inches of fly coverage over the foot of the tent. During one cloudburst, the exposed lower section of my sleeping bag ended up damp.

Sleeping Bags

Marmot Fusion 15 $189
A bold new bag stuffed with down and synthetic fill, combining the strengths of each. Why It's Cool: Marmot claimed it in the lab, and we confirmed it in the field: The Fusion is warmer than a synthetic bag with the same measured loft. Why? The PrimaLoft PL2 synthetic outer layer maintains its insulation chutzpah even when condensation forms beneath the shell fabric—a common occurrence that degrades a down bag's efficiency. An inner layer of 600-fill down envelops you in Mother Nature's own warmth Zounds, it's less than 200 bucks! Total weight for this 15-degree bag is an easily hefted three pounds three ounces. External moisture rolls off the DWR finish on the nylon shell—fabric that might infect your dreams with its cool, almost-three-dimensional grid pattern. Super-stiff zipper guards banish those aggravating midnight hang-ups. Hmmm... As a hybrid it is—inevitably-neither as light as an all-down bag nor as inexpensive as an all-synthetic model. I'd like to see a fatter down collar on a 15-degree sack.


Optimus Crux $70
This cooker's MOMA-worthy design RULES the canister-stove kitchen. Why It's Cool: The Crux unfolds from a flat, sleek package into a high-output stove. Simply rotate the burner head upright on its ball-and-socket joint, allow the spring-loaded retaining collar to lock into place, and unfold the flame-adjustment lever. Once collapsed, the 3.1-ounce Crux slips neatly into a change-purse-size neoprene pouch, which in turn nestles perfectly into the concavity found under all isobutane canisters. The positive "snap" of flame adjuster and burner head engaging—not to mention the flawless polish of the whole package—reveals master-craftsman-level machining. It cooks as good as it looks. That expansive burner boils in a flash, and the flame adjuster is smooth and consistent, down to the slightest simmer. Burns: Isobutane canister. Hmmm... Ball-and-socket joints in general have some inherent play, and the Crux's imparts a worrying wobble to larger pots on the boil.

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