Light-is-right fanatics take heed: don’t bother cutting the handle off of your toothbrush just yet. If you’re going on a multi-day trip, look to your sleeping system to shave some serious weight.
After 2,700 miles on the road, our cross-country walking tester Andrew Forsthoefel gave us the scoop on his setup. It kept him warm and comfy in conditions down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, and it weighs in at a mere 3lbs 1oz.
Cascade Designs ThermaRest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad keeps the ground from sucking the heat from your body without using foam, down or synthetic insulation. That's why this ThermaRest weighs just 12 ounces for a regular length. Most significantly, it packs down to the size of a one-liter water bottle.
“One morning I awoke to find that I pitched my tent in a pile of sticks," reported our tester. "But the pad absorbed it all—I didn't notice until I was packing up." $130-$180; cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest.
Sierra Designs Cloud 15 is the lightest 15-degree down bag on the market, period. The bag’s 900-fill down provides an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio, and the tightly tapered fit keeps the bag at a feathery 1lb 12 oz.
“If you close your eyes and lift it, you’ll think you’re holding a summer-weight bag; sleeping in it, you’ll think it’s a summer night,” Forsthoefel said. “And I’ve put this bag through the wash more times than I can count and the down has stayed evenly distributed and as hi-loft as ever.” Available now, $500; sierradesigns.com.
When you aren’t sure just how warm the night will be, a sleeping bag liner is a great way to hedge your bets. Colder than you thought? A silk bag liner will add almost 10 degrees of warmth to your night. Sweating it out? Use just the liner. Cocoon’s Silk Mummy Liner is cut to fit a tapered bag, saving weight. "Its best feature is that it keeps my bag clean," said our tester. "The silk doesn’t retain any odor, and it's a lot easier to wash than a sleeping bag.” Available now, $40; cocoon.at.
If you’re on the road for more than a couple of nights, you’ll get tired of sleeping on your dirty laundry pretty quickly. Splurge on a pillow so you don’t have to spend the night snoring into your hiking shorts. Cocoon’s Air-Core Ultralight Pillow is inflatable, with synthetic lining to insulate your head—where you lose most body heat. Plus, packed, it'll cost you less space than a baseball or a beer. Available now, $20; cocoon.at.
—Berne Broudy & Andrew Freeman