What is the minimum recommended thickness for a backpacking tent floor to prevent early wearing out of the tent? Big Agnes sells a Seedhouse 2 tent with a rated trail weight of 3 lb, 14 oz. It sells a Seedhouse SL2 tent—the se size and design except for different materials—with a 2 lb, 14 oz. trail weight. One difference that saves weight: a 1,500 mm polyurethane-coated floor for the Seedhouse 2; 1,200 mm for the SL2. Marshall Atlanta, GA

I was wondering why more people don't use a blanket to sleep in the backcountry. They are more temperature adaptable, lighter weight (for a given size), there just aren't a lot of options offered. What do you think? Josh Vallejo, CA

I find that whenever I sleep outside with friends, I wake up with by far the most condensation on my bag. I have a four-year-old 15-degree Marmot down bag. It is probably near the less-warm end of the spectrum of bags me and my friends use, but not outrageously different from everyone else's. Why do only I wake up freezing cold and drenched? Charlotte Duluth, MN

I'm planning a trip to South America this summer and want to invest in a water filter and/or purifier system. What do you recommend? Paul Salt Lake City, UT

Good campsites—close to water, a flat spot for tents, etc.—are relatively common. Great campsites are more elusive. To find yours, be sure to consider these four factors.

I've been a conventional tent guy for years, but the Hennessy Hammocks intrigue me. How much of an adjustment would it be a for a tent guy to switch to a hammock? Do they really live up to the hype? Andrew Shreveport, LA

Carry a featherweight load without leaving comfort behind.

I agree with four of your five "top gear innovations" picks, but would strongly argue that the Therm-a-Rest pad should be in the #2 slot over the humble Ensolite pad. While Ensolite pads were a good step forward, the self-inflating matt has done more to enable a good night's sleep in the backcountry than anything else. Jeremy Omaha, NE

My son is completing Cub Scouts this spring and moving on to Boy Scouts in the summer. I searching for a sturdy tent for his use in the Boy Scouts, who average about a three- to four-mile hike in on most of their trips. I would like to find a one- or two-person tent that would allow for his gear to be stored inside and still have some room for dressing and sleeping. The weather in our area (Southeast United States) is hot, wet summers with thunderstorms and moderately cold, dry winters. Cost is a consideration because I expect this tent to be replaced at least once before he finishes Scouts. Jack Charlotte, NC

I a 5'8" female and wondering if I should get a women-specific sleeping bag. Is there really a difference? I'm a very cold sleeper, so I'd like a zero-degree bag. I also don't want to spend $300 dollars on it. Any suggestions? Thanks. Jessie Baltimore, MD

I have a Moonstone bivy sack—it has seven graphite rods with both graphite and metal ferrels (similar to tent poles). Does Moonstone still exist? If so, how do I contact them? If not, is there another source for these graphite rods? Geoffrey Cbridge, MA

What is your recommendation for a largish two-man tent? We're both six foot, two inches tall. I'd like to use it for an upcoming AT thru-hike, starting in Georgia in January, and also for some winter Pennsylvania camping. Any chance we can find one that weighs under five pounds without sacrificing durability? Luke Scranton, PA

I was thinking about buying a zero-degree bag. I winter cp once or twice each year and won't go if the temps will be too low (So far the coldest may have been 10 degrees). I have a buddy who is dead set against inexpensive brands. Is there really a warmth difference between an inexpensive zero-degree bag and an expensive one? I not a warm sleeper but a "cheap son-of-a-gun." Are there any recommendations that you can make? Marty Morgantown, WV

What is the lightest solo tent, one that also offers serious protection in storms? Peggy San Jose, CA

Don't let the dark of winter slow you down. We tested two dozen next-gen lights to bring you the six best and brightest.

Why don’t more people use a blanket to sleep in the backcountry? They seem more temperature adaptable with a lighter weight for a given size. There just aren't a lot of options offered. Josh Vallejo, California

What is the minimum recommended thickness for a backpacking-tent floor? Big Agnes’s Seedhouse SL2 tent has a trail weight of two pounds, 14 ounces, with a 1,200mm polyurethane floor coating. Should I instead opt for the similar Seedhouse 2, which has a 1,500mm floor coating but weighs three pounds, 14 ounces? Marshall Atlanta, Georgia

I’m an avid day-hiker, and now I want to do weekend and longer hikes. I have thought about doing the Appalachian Trail but need tips on light-weight gear. I was in the infantry in the army and spent time in the mountains of Afghanistan, so I know weight is crucial. Any help? Jeremy Carrollton, Georgia

How long should you hold onto a sleeping bag? When cleaning out our attic, we ce across some sleeping bags that are from our college days (we’re 35 now). Is it time to retire them? Sarah Frisco, Texas

My wife and I are trekking in Chile and Argentina next summer, so we’ve decided to exploit the circumstances and replace most of our equipment with newer and lighter items. Can you build the ideal shopping list for us? Yonathan Tel Aviv, Israel

Solio‘s Magnesium Edition solar charger can store enough juice to recharge your cell phone three times ($170;

Headlamps are for when you’ve got to have your hands free. When traveling, though, carry a tiny, ultrabright flashlight like Surefire‘s T1A Titan ($239; Surefire TIA Titan…

When collapsed, Black Diamond‘s ultrabright Orbit Lantern is the size of a cell phone ($30; Black Diamond Orbit Lantern             Train: Oakley Radar Sunglasses Oakley Radar SunglassesBecause the Oakley Radar‘s photochromic lenses quickly adapt to changing light conditions and repel almost…

They might be cute, but Guyot Design‘s silicone Squishy Bowls are also packable, tough, and practical ($16; Guyot Design Squishy Bowls          …

Stay warm and dry through the miles, no matter how nasty the weather gets

Could you recommend a good freestanding, lightweight two-person tent? My husband and I often take multi-day kayaking trips and cp on rocky islands (e.g., in Sweden or Canada) where pegs can be difficult to use. We’d also like to take it on hiking trips of up to a week. We tend to go places that aren't particularly warm and can be wet. Katrina Cbridge, United Kingdom

My 12-year-old daughter gets very cold at night when we’re camping. We are backpackers and tend to camp just under treeline between May and October. She currently uses a junior polyfill bag with an inflatable pad and some good long underwear. What could we do to keep her warm and give us a peaceful night’s sleep? Lori Lakewood, Colorado

I have always stored my sleeping bag loose in a large plastic bin or a pillow case. But what about long-term storage of nylon tents? Should I be concerned about storing them rolled up in the original bags? Sadly, it could be a year or so before they get used again. Jay Fredericksburg, Virginia

We go to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival every year in mid-June, when temperatures reach mid-80s in the day but can dip into the 20s at night. We need a tent that’s large enough for a double bed, duffel bags with 10 days of clothes, guitars, and headroom to stand up in without tripping over the bed. And, of course, the tent should hold in warmth. We were thinking a 10’x18’ cabin-style tent would work. Any suggestions? Bill Colorado

I have a massive backpack, and thus my hiking buddies load me up with everything (last year the record was 70 pounds). I need a much smaller pack that I can use on ultra-light weekends and leaning toward an Osprey Talon 44. Thoughts? John Pleasanton, California

I pretty filiar with the Outback Oven, in which you have to bake in a pot or a frying pan. But I recently saw the new Backpacker Oven and wondering if you have used this or if you think this might be something to look into. Dave Lancaster, California

Climashield is increasingly being used in sleeping bags and insulated apparel these days. How does its performance and weight compare with other synthetics such as Polarguard Delta and the Primalofts? Steve Olympia, Washington

I just returned from Mt. Rainier where we experienced rainy, cold weather (not unexpected). I noticed my Marmot Couloir sleeping bag felt dp around the feet in the morning. Is there anything I can do to prevent this in the future?

Our group of four to six people takes a yearly fly-in fishing trip on a remote lake in northern Ontario. I'm in charge of water filtration. I have two MSR pump filters and still come up way short on water supply. Do you have any recommendations for a large group that can’t stand the taste of iodine? Ed Hburg, New York

My hiking buddy for Vancouver’s North Coast Trail already has a solo tent, so I'm looking for something for me. Is a freestanding tent worth the extra weight and the extra pole? Dan Calgary, Alberta

Who makes the Marine Corps MOLLE system backpack? Is there a civilian version? Tyrone Aberdeen, South Dakota

Surefire, known for making indestructible, blind-your-buddy flashlights, is launching a new line for your noggin. Its first-ever headlamp, the Saint, cranks out 100 lumens (twice that of average headlamps), and its aluminum housing is both water- and smashproof ($150; Not to be outshone, Petzl created the…

I'm looking for a woman's overnight/weekend backpack for a friend. I’ll likely carry most of the gear, so I’m not sure of the optimal pack size. An Osprey Aura 50 was recommended, but it seems slightly small. What do you think? Andrew Seattle, Washington

I'll soon be living in my tent for six weeks in Tanzania, and I’m looking for a lightweight, compressible, and not-too-pricey sleeping bag that will do well over that stretch of time. I like the idea of a down bag, but I'm worried that moisture from me or humidity could accumulate over a long stretch of time. Thoughts? Sara Stony Brook, New York

I've been a backpacker for 30-plus years, and recently I've noticed my knees complaining after steep downhill stretches. I'm considering making a shift to ultralight gear, and I think a lightweight trail-running shoe is a good start. Can you offer some suggestions for someone making this switch? Kurtis Seattle, Washington

Do you have any recommendations for a good weather-tight, car-camping, summertime, family tent (for six people)? Charles Fort Smith, Arkansas

I snow cp, warm-weather cp, and do moderate mountaineering, so I need a good all-around sleeping bag. Is the Mountain Hardwear Lyell (rated to -15 degrees) suitable? Chris Seattle, Washington

I’m going backpacking in South Dakota’s Badlands, and everything I read says that you have to bring in your own water. For a four day trip, that could mean as much as five gallons. What type of water containers should I use to most effectively carry this much water? Junior Minneapolis, Minnesota

I have just acquired a Quest Starlight tent that’s in pretty good shape. But, the older fellow who sold it to me said that it likely wouldn't hold up to several days of rain. Can I make the fly waterproof enough so it won't wet-out if rained on for a long time? What about the floor? Ken Calgary, Alberta

I would rank my outdoorsyness at a seven. I love backpacking, but I don’t get out as often as I would like. I did, however, recently backpack South erica and survived winter in southern Argentina with a cheap-o tent. Now I want to invest in a good two-person tent. What do you suggest? Alex San Francisco, California

My husband and I are looking for relatively lightweight, zero-degree sleeping bags that can be zipped together and are suitable for backpacking. Any advice? Kathy Kremmling, Colorado

I’m looking for a new cp stove for climbing at high altitude (10,000+ feet). What’s the best stove for the harsher conditions at higher altitudes? Matt Vancouver, British Columbia

I find mummy bags to be really confining. I understand the point, of course, but I'm a side sleeper, and I like to lay "can-opener-style." (You know, with one leg pulled up and the other straight.) Can this question get any more awkward? Anyway, do you have any suggestions for sleeping bags that are a little less crped but would still keep me warm from April to mid-October in the Colorado Rockies? Sarah Boulder, Colorado

My buddy and I are planning a mega-hike down one of Colorado’s mid-length trails during summer 2009. What type of preparation and equipment will we need for a 250-mile hike? What about an overnighter that I'll be doing later this summer? Jason Pace, Florida

Have you tried the Aquira Frontier water filter yet? Also, what's the best way, that isn't too expensive or heavy, to treat water while backpacking? Claudia Asheville, North Carolina

What’s the best three-season, ultra-light tent for Rocky Mountain backpacking? I've looked at the The North Face Vario 23, MSR Hubba Hubba, and Marmot Aura 2P. Gabe Montana

I walking the Cino in Northern Spain at the beginning of April and will be staying in hostels. Can you please to recommend the lightest sleeping bag that is sufficiently warm for this time of year? Kate Faversh, Kent

I'm going on a trek through the Indian Himalayas near Darjeeling in early March, and don't know what, or how much, to bring. We’ll spend several days hiking between villages in moderately cool weather. What should I bring, and are iodine tablets sufficient to make the water safe? Chris Cincinnati, Ohio

I looking for a real backpack, with a useful hip belt, that will also fit the dimensions for airline carry-on. Since European commuters are somewhat more restrictive about that, I would prefer something in the 21"x14"x7" neighborhood. Can you make a suggestion? Don Denver, Colorado

My son and I winter cp, and we want to buy a new tent that will last many years and survive his solo trip to Alaska. Would you recommend the Hilleberg brand? Van Sioux Falls, South Dakota

My son is headed to New Zealand for the spring semester. Things sure have changed since I went to college! He will have some time to backpack, and he’s not sure if a canister or white-gas stove will be easier to travel with and refuel. We have been eying the Vargo Jet-ti. What do you think? Mike Front Royal, Virginia

I noticed that Sierra Designs rates its tent-floor waterproofing at 165 psi, while Mountain Hardwear rates its tents at 5,000 mm. Which of these two fabrics is the most waterproof? And why the different rating method? Grant Birmingh, Alabama

I'm a student on a budget. Every weekend I go snowboarding and figure I may as well sleep outside to save money, plus I like the outdoors. The Outdoor Research Aurora Bivy combined with a Coleman Tasman XO Hybrid seems like it would work. Would this be suitable for sleeping outdoors around Whistler B.C. and similar locations? Chris Vancouver, British Columbia

I'm looking for a tent that can do it all. I’ll be in New Zealand in July (their winter) biking around the North Island. I also really like to backpack here in Oregon. Which tent will work for both pursuits? Zach La Grande, Oregon

I just read that Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) has pulled all polycarbonate water bottles from its shelves due to safety concerns of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). Should I be worried? With a retailer of that magnitude deciding to no longer sell polycarbonate bottles, it makes quite a statement. Brian Columbus, Ohio

I understand the MSR Reactor stove has an internal pressure regulator, but do you think this stove will perform in very cold temperatures (-10F and colder) or at high altitude (above 10,000 feet)? Justin Tacoma, Washington

I’m curious if layering sleeping bags is an effective way to turn a three-season bag into a four-season bag. I currently own a Marmot Arroyo, and I wonder if tucking a Feathered Friends Hummingbird or Lark inside of it would do the trick for snow camping, paired with a four-season tent. I know you have both the Marmot Arroyo and a FF Swallow…care to head out into the Cascades and let me know? Nicholas Seattle, Washington

I’m looking for a weekend bag that will hold a two-person tent, sleeping bag, and a little food and clothes. I have a Mmut Direct 28 daypack and love the airflow on my back. Is there a weekend backpack with a similar design and comfort level? You're the best. Thanks. Jason Chattanooga, Tennessee

I have a Marmot EOS 1 tent that I love for three-season camping in Colorado. I would like to use the EOS occasionally for winter camping, but I wonder how well the EOS would protect me from blowing snow. Would it be a wise investment for me to purchase a bivy to use inside my EOS for those few times I may camp in the winter? Sherry Parker, Colorado

I went camping in the Adirondacks recently, and my sleeping bag—which once seemed comfortably roomy—had mysteriously become pretty tight. It must have shrunk in storage; weird, huh? In any case, who makes a good synthetic, roomy bag for middle-aged people in the 15 to 20 degree range? John New York, New York

I’m looking for a relatively inexpensive tent for winter camping. I’ve seen some tents advertised for three-and-a-half-season use, but I'm not exactly sure what this means. What is the difference between a three-and-a-half-season tent and a four-season tent? Michael Poynette, Wisconsin

I try to keep my backpack light, so for water purification (in Washington’s Cascade Mountains), I carry just a vial of household bleach and use two drops per quart of drinking water. I have never had any problems, but I have a cast iron stomach anyway. What do you think? Doug Tacoma, Washington

I’m curious about the ARB Simpson II Rooftop Touring Tent, which attaches to a vehicle's roof rack. It makes sense in a place like Australia, where sleeping on the ground could be riskier. But for the North American camper, is this a revolution in car camping or just a waste of money? Jay Dana Point, California

What do you recommend I get my son for winter camping in New England? He is five feet tall and weighs about 100 pounds. I want to keep him warm and dry—and keep the bag for several years. I'd like to spend under $150, if possible. I was also told 0 degree is best and down is not good if it gets wet (and it probably will get wet). Cindy Hartford, Connecticut

We plan to visit friends for a day or two at a time and would like to get sleeping bag liners to use instead of sheets. We also want something to use as a light sleeping bag when our 15 degree bags are too much. Can you compare the silk, cotton, fleece, and synthetic liners on the market? Diane Portland, Oregon

I need a light tent that comfortably fits two people but can fit three in a pinch. I leery of single-walled tents because of numerous reviewers citing condensation problems. What is your recommendation? Mike Midland, Texas

I was told to avoid plastic water bottles containing Bisphenol-A (e.g., Nalgene bottles) because of the health risk they are thought to pose. So, I recently acquired a Laken aluminum bottle. Is this really an improvement, health-wise? Ron Orleans, Ontario

I rolled out my tent fly after not using it for a while and it was all stuck together. With difficulty I was able to unstick it for use. But if I roll it up again, I’m sure it will get stuck and perhaps rip when I try to use it again. I've aired and sunned it out on the line for many days. No change. Help! Charles Fairfax, California

I am the project officer in charge of the design, development, and procurement of all Individual Load Bearing Equipment for the United States Marine Corps. We’re currently performing market research on backpacks with approximately 2,500 cubic inches of capacity. Durability and comfort is top priority. I would like to purchase several different styles of backpacks to study the best ideas out there. Which manufacturers and packs should I consider? John Quantico, Virginia

I'm going camping in the Caribbean where it’s relatively dry and night temperatures are usually 75F. What sleep system would you recommend? Abel New York, New York

I'll soon be traveling around Ethiopia for three weeks, and I need a new pack for this trip and beyond. I travel mainly to third-world places on the semi-cheap. I need a pack that’s light, can take a beating, and doesn't take up much room. And I don't want an attachable day pack on it. Any suggestions? Herb Danbury, Connecticut

I planning to trek through Nepal and India and wondering what is the best purification and/or filter system to use. I have heard a lot about the SteriPEN. How does it compare to the rest? Miri Halifax, Canada

I’m getting more involved in backpacking and trying to find the right camp stove and cookware to use. For now, my trips will be no more than four days. I just need a good beginner stove, preferably one that has a simmer option, and cookware that will last. Any ideas? Bill Everett, Washington

I have a single wall Garuda tent, and I recently noticed that the fabric had separated into two pieces of fabric with water pooling between it. I planning on sealing it with techtron. Will this also help the fabric to rebind into one piece? John San Luis Obispo, California

I bought a batch of white gas about three years ago. Will using this dage my stove? Also, given how flmable the fuel is, is there a safe and recommended method of disposal other than burning it in a stove? Skot Vancouver, British Columbia