Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nemo - Best in the Backcountry

Nemo Equipment is on a roll.  With three Backpacker Editor's Choice Awards in the past four years, we give them a lot of credit for innovations that continue to raise the bar in the outdoor industry.  This year's Backpacker Gear Guide showcased the Nemo Nocturne 15 and Nocturne 30 Spoon Sleeping Bags.  "The best night of sleep I've ever had in the backcountry," raved Backpacker's deputy editor.  Two major innovations--not just one--make Nemo's new sleeping bags "pioneering".  The obvious introduction of the "spoon" shape led Backpacker's gear editor to observe, "The ability to roll over and slide my legs up inside the bag gave me unfettered, home-like comfort".  And the use of 700-fill "Down Tek" means that this down bag performs more like a synthetic bag when wet than a traditional down bag.  "Down Tek" is one of several new down treatments of the last year that "resist moisture" and will completely change the way we look at down insulation in the outdoors.  We're excited about the entire new line of Nemo sleeping bags. 

But Nemo's reputation for making great products began in 2002 with "air-supported" tents like the Morpho 2P.  Out-of-the-box thinking led to pole-less tents supported by columns of air.  Several award winning tents later, Nemo developed the Meta 2P trekking pole tent that arrived with much fanfare in the ultra-light backpacking world.  Although arriving on the scene without the same buzz, Nemo's Obi tents deserve a serious look from any backpacker considering buying a new tent.  Now available in a three person version--the Obi 3P tent--and an "elite" series of trimmed down tents, nothing beats an Obi for ease of use and liveability.  And nothing beats the deals you'll find right now if you buy during our Nemo tent sale

First known for its rugged, light, and smart tent designs, Nemo expanded into the world of lightweight backcountry sleeping pads two years ago with the Nemo Astro Air pad that made a splash winning an Editor's Choice award two years ago for it's comfort, weight, and value. Combine all three--bag, tent, and pad--and go for your best night in the backcountry. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Big Agnes Tents: The Backpacker's Choice

Why does Big Agnes win so many Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Awards?  Outstanding design, cutting-edge materials, and innovation that meets the needs of backpackers and campers.  This year's Big Agnes Scout UL2 proves it, setting a new standard for space to weight ratios.  It's unique single wall, trekking pole design offers a roomy interior with lots of head room at a trail weight of 2 lbs.   While you can't stand straight up, most people can at least stand enough to pull on their pants.  And the Big Agnes Scout tent costs only $279 to boot. 

While the Scout UL2 is still only available in limited quantities and thus is not part of our Spring Big Agnes Tent and Sleeping Bag Sale other past Big Agnes Backpacker Editor's Choice winners are on sale!  The Copper Spur UL4 won the award two years ago as well as Outside Magazine's Gear of the Year Award.  Good luck finding a better four person tent on the market!  And the Fly Creek UL2 tent won the 2010 Backpacker Editor's Choice and still remains the go-to thru-hiker tent for those who don't want to hunker down in a bivy or a bivy-like one-person tent. 

Really all the Fly Creek and Copper Spur tents are excellent choices for backpackers. The Fly Creeks are for those willing to sacrifice more on space than weight, while the Copper Spur tents offer excellent weight savings for those expecting a little more than "just enough" room when out in the backcountry.  Go with a 2 person or 3 person tent if you want just a little more room for yourself, your partner, and/or a dog.  And go with the Copper Spur series if you like to have room to sit and play cards. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Backpacker's Editor's Choice Awards 2013

The Backpacker Gear Guide is like a Bible to us so we like to call attention to it on our homepage and our blog.  As much as we like to hike and test gear ourselves, we simply don't have the cadre of devoted gear testers...or the resources to put so much gear to the test in so many diverse locations.  For many of Backpacker's reviewers this is not only their passion, but their vocation.  Most spend 80 nights a year or more in the backcountry.  So when these folks gather to review their experiences with the new gear and feedback--and then award the Backpacker Editor's Choice Awards to the best of the best--we listen.  At the moment we've got 7 of the 15 pieces of gear either in the store or on its way and we're hoping to bring in more.  So visit online or in-person and find out more about these Backpacker award-winning tents, boots, sleeping bags and headlamps. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ahhh! Restons.

Looking to buy the Asolo Reston award-winning trekking boot? (or it's sister the Asolo Athena?)  Our first shipment arrived an hour ago and we couldn't wait to try them on and tell you about them!  These boots are so new--and limited in availability--that if you've heard of them at all it's likely because they were just given Backpacker Magazine's 2013 Editor's Choice Award in the 2013 Gear Guide that started hitting mailboxes at the end of last week. 

Asolo's Reston and Athena are a part of their new "Natural Shape Line" an innovative combination of the low to the ground, lightweight minimalist trend and the support offered by traditional boots.  Besides the impressive styling, what is initially striking is how comfortable the Reston is when you slip it on.  OK, it's also hits you immediately how light this shoe is especially given that it has a full-length "shank" that Asolo is calling the "Central insert Asoflex Natural Shape in TP".  While it's not as substantial as a heavier weight boot, this insert clearly offers support and protection against the contours of the trail in a way that running shoes and minimalist footwear can't.

The size 10.5 weighs in at just about 1 lb 3 oz. apiece...for comparison this is about an ounce heavier than Treksta's lightweight Evolution Mid hiker that won the 2011 Editor's Choice Award.  For protection give the edge to the Reston's TPU underfoot, but for support the Evolution's Nestfit outperforms for anyone looking for more motion control.   Both are surprisingly comfortable shoes, the Restons on my feet almost feel like slippers!   I can't wait to test them on the trail. 

Note:  While a comfortable average width, if you've got a wider foot you probably should be looking at Zamberlan's 230 Crosser...also see yesterday's blog. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The 2013 Backpacker Gear Guide is Out!

The 2013 Backpacker Gear Guide has hit newstands!  This big annual event pulls together the best new--and old--offerings in the outdoor gear world.  Backpacker rigorously tests new gear and pronounces only a few of the best pieces of equipment as Editor's Choice Award winners.  This year Backpacker chose 15 Editor's Choice winners, more than in recent years.  We're featuring seven 2013 Editor's Choice winners of these on our home page. 

The first Editor's Choice Award winner was announced at the annual winter Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City and it went to the Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Mid GTX hiking boots.  Three years ago when  Zamberlan won it's last Backpacker Award, it was a struggle for the Italian bootmaker and retailers to keep up with the demand created by the prestigious accolade.  This time around Zamberlan has already set up a second production line for the 230 Crosser...and boots will be air freighted to the United States.  We expect to our first Crossers any day and we've already set up a waitlist for folks excited for this boot!