On a search to find the lightest backpacking setup, our tester chose the Q-Core SLX as his favorite sleeping pad. The pad packs down to the size of a Nalgene and weighs 16 ounces. Our tester especially loved the quilted top, “which you’ll gain a deep appreciation for sometime around night four on the trail,” he wrote.
Water-Purification Gear for Under $50
Collect stream water in one of Sawyer’s 32-ounce pouches, then filter it through the hollow-fiber membrane to remove bacteria and protozoa. The pouches are collapsible (each weighs only three ounces) and reusable, and you can drink straight from the filter’s nozzle or pour the water into a bottle for later.
Like the LifeStraw, MSR’s TrailShot lets you drink straight from the source, but it’s also good for filling a water bottle. Drop the long straw in the stream and squeeze the hand pump to get the magic started. It works fast, treating a liter of water in 30 seconds.
Katadyn took a handy one-liter water bottle, which rolls up small to save space in your pack, and put a 0.1-micron microfilter in its nozzle that removes 99.9 percent of nasties. The BeFree can purify up to 1,000 liters over its lifetime.
Removing 99.99 percent of bacteria and protozoa, the Meta Bottle is a collapsible and BPA-free. Fill it with water, then shake for speedy filtration—up to two liters per minute. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe.
Instead of filtering water, these dissolving tablets purify it with EPA-approved sodium dichloroisocyanurate. Complicated name, but essentially it kills viruses, bacteria, and cysts in a quart of water in 30 minutes. The price ($10 for 30 individually wrapped tablets) and tiny size make Aquatabs the ideal backup on long trips.
In his test of the Journey Hydration Pack series, our tester wrote: “Ultimately, the Journey packs offer a comfortable ride, which is exactly what you want from a bag when you’re flying down singletrack.” The Journey includes an insulated bladder system, so if cold water on your ride is a priority, this is the pack for you.
Versatility is this headlamp’s calling card. A solid companion for your next camping trip, the Cosmo 225 has a beam distance up to 72 meters and is waterproof, too. Plus, it has five different modes including red night vision and strobe.
Gear editor Ariella Gintzler loves this base layer tank top. “This buttery-soft piece is form-fitting enough to layer but loose enough to wear alone,” she wrote. The merino wool and nylon blend fabric add a mix of durability with odor and moisture management.
The Wide Mouth was selected by our readers—and by our editors—as one of their favorite water bottles. The Nalgene's tough, BPA-free plastic can take a beating; we've slung ours around at crags, banged them against rocks, and generally abused them for years. Yet they still work just as intended—no leaks and only a few scratches, for character.
Gear columnist Jakob Schiller loves the Weekenders. “They look great, have high-quality lenses, and are so affordable that I won't worry about them getting a little bit dinged up,” he says. “It's rare to find one pair of shades I want to wear for 80 percent of the things I do outside—and even rarer to find one at this price.”
We're just as likely to sport this shirt at the campsite as we are at the office. That's because it's simultaneously smartly tailored and tough as nails, thanks to the fact it's made of burly, sustainably-grown hemp. During the summer, a couple of these polos is all we need.
In our roundup of affordable stocking stuffers, we wrote: “This flask should be full of bourbon and tucked into your daypack along with a compass, knife, headlamp, and matches at all times.” Stanley’s Classic Flask is compact, BPA-free, and easy to drink from.
We included this mountain bike shoe in our roundup of the best gifts for cyclists because they’re stylish, functional, and comfortable. We especially like the grippy Stealth S1 rubber for sticking to flat pedals while on rough mountain trails. Plus, the suede-and-mesh upper looks good enough around town during off-the-bike adventures.
These shoes are stylish enough for around town, but have the technical chops for charging down singletrack. The dot-rubber Stealth Phantom outsole is key for gripping flat pedals even on bumpy rides and is non-marking so you don’t have to worry about them messing up floors inside. Plus, the shoes make a great gift for avid mountain bikers.