https://www.flickr.com/photos/paxson_woelber/
Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/paxson_woelber/

Are you planning a backpacking trip this summer? Check out these six essentials to make life easier in the backcountry:

Gregory Baltoro

GregoryGregory

($350; gregorypacks.com)

With big packs, it’s easy to “lose” stuff and waste time digging around for it. Not so with the Baltoro. With nine pockets and sleeves, there is a place for everything, including a waterbottle sleeve that’s actually reachable without taking off the pack. An interior hydration sleeve doubles as a daypack, with enough room for essentials on short side trips. A rain cover hides inside. And a big zip on the pack makes it easy to find stuff in the guts. All of these conveniences add up to almost 2.6 kg. But we barely noticed: the padding is plush and thick, ideal for schlepping big loads. 

Snow Peak Hybrid Spatula + Spork Set

Snow Peak Snow Peak

($11; snowpeak.com)

In the package, this looks like a 17-gram titanium Spork and a 25-gram spatula. But it actually holds four tools that also mix, stir and mop-up the last bits and bites. The handle of the spatula releases. Slip it onto the Spork to increase its reach for stirring deep in a pot or freeze-dried dinner bag. That leaves the silicone end of the spatula free for scraping a bowl clean. So, not only does it make camp cooking easier, with little added weight, but it also means you’ll get more calories.

Fox River Peak Series Outdoor Lightweight Crew

Fox RiverFox River

($24; foxsox.com)

Thick where it counts, thin for venting—these socks not only felt super comfortable, but they kept our piggies just right in a range of temperatures. A mix of Tencel and merino wool helps. Made from eucalyptus wood fibre, Tencel wicks moisture, dries fast and is naturally odour suppressing. Merino also moves moisture, doesn’t retain odour and regulates temperature. The combination ensures comfy toes for long days on the trail.

 Marmot Force 2P

MarmotMarmot

($480; marmot.com)

It’s fine to scrimp on features on an overnight trip, but when you’ve planned multiple nights together, you want two doors, two vestibules and plenty of elbowroom. Not only does the Force deliver on all three fronts, but it also weighs the same as an ultralight shelter, at 1.3 kg. It’s also easy to set up, with colour-coded poles and clips and a freestanding design. The small footprint makes it great for wilderness camping where you can’t always count on finding open spaces. 

Arc’teryx Bora Mid GTX

Arc'teryxArc'teryx

($270; arcteryx.com)

Normally, hiking boots are built with an inner liner glued to an outer boot. By separating the two in these, their first footwear, Arc’teryx improved fit and performance. The sock-like liner conforms to the foot. This allows the outer boot to be made tougher. And because there’s no glue holding them together, the whole package is more breathable and dries faster. All together, it’s an odd-looking duck but trust us, it’s a better boot ideally suited to off-trail rambles.

Black Diamond Distance Z Carbon Trekking Poles

Black DiamondBlack Diamond

(170; blackdiamondequipment.com)

In the backcountry, the footing can range from loose to uneven, to steep climbs, to equally pitched descents. In this type of terrain, trekking poles are essential and these may be the best in class. Full carbon fibre, they only weigh about 280 grams and swing effortlessly. Choke up on the foam handles on steep climbs. And when you need to go hands-free, the poles collapse in seconds.

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