In the outdoors, comfort always matters, but it becomes even more paramount when you’re out for days at a time, covering dozens of miles, without the option to change boots or sleeping bags if what you brought isn’t quite right. This spring we tested a slew of the latest women’s backpacking gear—some of it female specific, some of it unisex product that we just really loved—from shirts and shorts to tents and sleeping pads. Here are the items that topped our list.
Black Diamond Women’s Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles ($180)
These 100 percent carbon-fiber sticks have moisture-wicking cork grips that are shaped for smaller hands, solid and easy-to-use FlickLock Pro length adjusters, and interchangeable carbon tips.
Sierra Designs Synthesis Mummy 35 Sleeping Bag ($130)
The Synthesis is a slick option for those who sleep hot, with a loose-fitting hood, two-way zippers on both sides, and a slit in the footbox for freeing your piggies. The 20-denier outer fabric stands up to abrasion without weighing down your pack—the whole bag is 2.25 pounds.
Merrell MQM Ace Mid Boots ($160)
Tested in a freak snow squall, the waterproof-breathable membrane proved impenetrable. The four-millimeter lugs are at home on rocky, slushy trails, while sealed air pockets in the heel and an EVA midsole keep feet happy for miles.
Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail Shirt ($39)
Not everything has to be complicated. This simple, breezy tee is made from a polyester performance knit that feels soft like cotton but dries in minutes.
Eddie Bauer BC Sandstone Stretch Jacket ($210)
Say goodbye to stiff, crinkly shells. Made of stretch-knit polyester, the three-layer BC Sandstone is impervious to rain and snow but delivers the roomy fit and friendly feel of a soft shell.
Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 Platinum Tent ($600)
The 2.6-pound Spur packs small, but with 40 inches of head height, two arcing doors, and generous vestibules, it feels huge. It’s also easy to pitch, thanks to the color-coded aluminum pole system.
Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Air Sleeping Pad ($190)
Plush yet feathery (15 ounces), this pad consists of dozens of small interconnected air chambers instead of traditional horizontal baffles. It feels more supportive than a typical pad, and you won’t spend the night sliding into the side of your tent. Synthetic Thermolite insulation and a sheet of heat-reflective material keep you warm on chilly nights.
Deuter Trail Pro 34 SL Pack ($165)
The Trail Pro has a flexible internal steel frame that keeps heavy loads compact and closer to the body’s center of gravity. For added comfort, open-cell foam on the back panel boosts airflow. Tall women may want to try the lower hipbelt of the men’s version.
Darn Tough Her Spur Light Cushion Boot Socks ($22)
The best socks are the ones you forget you’re wearing. Made from merino, with slight cushioning along the base of the foot, the midcalf Her Spur won’t slip, bunch, or cause blisters.
Helly Hansen Maridalen Shorts ($75)
These are your new summer bottoms. Flattering yet tough, the quick-drying, four-way-stretch Maridalen is made of 70-denier ripstop nylon and has six pockets, including a zippered one on the thigh.