DURABLE This puncture-resistant self-inflater is reinforced with closed-cell foam on the bottom. It didn’t leak even after we laid it atop a pile of sticks and jumped on it. 20′ x 72′ x 1.5′, 2.5 lbs; thermarest.com…

VERSATILE With nearly three inches of cushion, this sub-two-pound mattress is the choice for ultralight and ultracomfortable. The synthetic fill kept us warm even in the single digits. 20′ x 70′ x 2.8′, 1.8 lbs; orgear.com…

LIGHT Die-cut foam reduces weight and bulk, and raised “berms” along the perimeter, which prevent you from rolling off, make this featherweight feel wider than it is. The minimalist cushion is best for smaller (or tougher) hikers. 20′ x 72′ x 1′, 1.2 lbs; pacoutdoor.com…

From game-changing new materials (like moisture-wicking cotton) to evolutionary leaps in engineering (like a rotating helmet for extreme crashes), the avant-garde of 21st-century gear has just one thing in common: a total disregard for the status quo.

There's the gear you want, and there's the gear you need. After much internal debate, we present the 25 products every guy should own.

Base camp essentials that take the rough out of roughing it

What's the best full-length, ultra-light sleeping pad? Beth New Canaan, Connecticut

Our esteemed gear editors offer the insight and advice you need to find the right gear for you.

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

I’m climbing Kilimanjaro this summer. Does it make sense to use a silk liner on the inside of my sleeping bag and a vapor barrier liner on the outside of the bag? Lauren Edmonton, Alberta

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

Sustainability meets performance in these eco-friendly products

I’ve had a Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad for a few years now, and I believe it has lost its cushioning. I stored it rolled up in its carry bag. Was that bad? Any recommendations on a new one? Rafael Laredo, Texas

I'm going on a sea kayaking trip in Palau and looking for recommendations on the best sleeping gear. Can you recommend a tropical weight sleeping bag or other solution that provides some cover without too much warmth? John Washington, D.C.

I’m considering buying a bivy to add warmth to and protect my Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 sleeping bag, which I chose for its light weight. I cp mostly in lean-tos or other minimalist shelters, and when the temp gets down to 35 degrees, I get chilled. I’ve tried liners for warmth and to protect the inside of the bag, but they’re too confining. Any thoughts on the Mountain Hardwear Conduit Bivy? Or do you have other recommendations? Cheryl Melrose, Massachusetts

Is there a tried-and-true product I can apply to my sleeping pad and bivy bag to stop slippage? Just spent a lousy night sliding around on a nylon groundsheet (seldom can I find an off-trail flat spot in the Superstition Wilderness). Tom Arizona

I sleep curled up and cannot find a sleeping pad that's wide enough. Some part of my body ends up hanging off normal pads, and I can feel the heat being sucked away. Two pads don't stay in place overnight. Does anyone make pads that are wide? Eve Nashville, Tennessee

Which is better, an insulated inflatable sleeping pad (such as the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core) or a self-inflating pad? I want to pack light, but I also want something durable and warm enough for three-season camping. Rick St. Louis, Missouri

We do a reasonable amount of winter camping in both Adirondack lean-tos and in tents. Typically I use some combination of an emergency space blanket, a closed-cell pad, and an inflatable Therm-a-Rest pad. A couple years ago I had a hip replacement so padding comfort is a big factor. My question, then: Are the pricier down-filled sleeping pads like those from Exped really that much warmer? Jim Holland Patent, New York

I've been looking at some Big Agnes sleeping bags and interested in adding one of their REM sleep pads. Seems like a great idea (the pad inserts into a sleeve in the base of the bag), but I was wondering if this would be a mistake because the sleeping bag sacrifices insulation on its base. Should I go for the "system," or just drop for standalone sleeping bag and sleeping pad? Brad Durango, Colorado

Page 2