Any trip can be amazing… or totally suck. The difference often comes down to the details. In the backcountry, the little things matter and so does asking the right questions. Did you pack enough snacks? Did you take the right fork? Who invited you? Basically, ignore the usual rule of life and do sweat the small stuff.
The destination can put you in the right place, but often it’s the people that separate the good trips from the great trips. Our advice: as the length of a trip increases, so should your vetting of companions.
Jackets and shirts may get all the attention, but a good-fitting pair of pants is essential and shockingly hard to find. The Arc’teryx Sigma SL Pant ($200; arcteryx.com) is a rare bird. They’re super light so you won’t overheat, wind- and water-resistant so you won’t freeze and look casual enough you won’t feel like a dork getting an après drink.
It’s hard to like anyone when you’ve only got 14 square-feet of personal space, so bring a tent that’s rated for one more person than you’re housing—the weight gain is usually less than a snack—or get an MSR Zoic 2 ($439.95; msrgear.com). The three-season tent melds about a kilogram per person with nearly 17 square-feet per person, and plenty of elbow room.
No matter what, when or where the next meal, the Morsel Spork ($13; morselspork.com) is the right tool for the job. It combines the classic weight- and bulk-saving spork with a reinforced spatula that works well for spreading and scraping.
The fourth law of physics states that whatever size pack you bring, you will fill it. Yes, weight matters more, but bulk throws off balance, wastes energy, requires heavier packs and steals room in the car for the beer. Cutting unnecessary items and squeezing air out of stuff sacks helps shrink packs. As does GSI’s Escape Series pots (from $49.95; gsioutdoors.com). Because the sides are silicone, they collapse into discs, eliminating one of the bulkiest items in a pack. They’re loaded with features, none better than heat exchanger bottoms that increase stove efficiency and cut fuel needs.
Things break. Bring a repair kit, first aid kit and a tool, like the Leatherman Free P2 ($119.95; leatherman.com). To make it easier to use, Leatherman ditched the tiny nail-nicks for their lifting tools in favour of bigger levers that make it easy to open the nine tools, even one-handed. They lock in place with magnets, improving the performance and longevity of the unit.
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