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A Good Night’s Rest and Other Great Ideas

Therm-a-Rest Neo Air XTherm Our friends in Seattle do it again: Therm-a-Rest continues to lead the way when it comes to sleeping pads. The Neo Air®  XTherm™  is light (15 ounces), warm (R-Value 5.7), and packs small. It puffs up to a more-than-comfortable 2.5 inches. And it’s durable. This is what they mean when they say “top of the line.” ... Read More »

Great Outerwear for the Trail (and Town)

Arc’teryx Beta AR Woman’s Shell As we’ve come to expect from Arc’teryx, the Beta AR Woman’s Jacket represents a pinnacle of hard-wearing, all-weather engineering: absolutely bomb-proof. Combining two weights of GORE-TEX® to maximize both breathability and ruggedness, the Beta AR has bells and whistles galore—an advanced  hood/collar interface featuring a soft microsuede chin guard, generous (but low-profile) pit-zips that glide ... Read More »

A Base Layer, a Pullover, a Balaclava…and a Rhino Box

Arcyterx RHO AR Men’s Bottom Base Layer Made of a combination of Polartec® Power Stretch® polyester and elastane, the RHO AR base layer from Arc’teryx delivers amazing light-weight warmth and durability for cold weather activities. Weighing in at only 7.8 ounces, the RHO AR hugs the pelvis and legs, providing complete contact—and warmth— against your skin. It’s moisture-wicking, breathable and ... Read More »

The Art (and Science) of Your Backpack

Someone asked me recently if ultra light gear has gotten too light; too weak to hold up to the rigors of outdoor adventures. While there will always be some problems with manufacturing, ultra light gear requires extra care to avoid shredding it. Zippers can’t be forced, pads can’t be thrown down on rocks, and backpacks need to be fitted and ... Read More »

Hiking Essentials for Your Cascadian Summer

Arc’teryx Gamma MX Softshell Jacket The ‘best of both worlds’ beauty of the softshell concept is simple – yet complicated. The idea is that softshell garments shed water, snow and wind and yet offer the comfort of stretchability and a ‘soft hand’. The Arc’teryx Gamma MX lives up to this promise with style and the kind of bomb-proof construction that ... Read More »

Best Ski Boots for Baker? Try These

At Backcountry Essentials, we’ve expanded into alpine skiing with more services and boot-fitting. Now in addition to carrying the best of backcountry ski boots, we also carry boots for inbounds skiing that will provide the performance and comfort you’re looking for. And we guarantee that fit when you buy boots and custom footbeds (come in to learn more)!   Wherever ... Read More »

Sweet Dreams – Spend the Evening with Big Agnes

Yin or Yang: When choosing a sleeping bag you’ve got two choices – down or synthetic. Down is lighter, more compressible, more durable, and in my opinion, more comfortable; but it’s slow to dry if it gets saturated wet. Synthetic bags, by contrast, are heavier, bulkier, more fragile and lose their loft sooner than down; but when wet, they’ll dry ... Read More »

Gimme Shelter: Three Great Tents

When it comes to selecting backpacking gear, your tent is obviously a prime consideration. You want lightweight – but you also want comfort and dependability. Here are three great options. The Black Diamond Mesa is the ideal two-person tent for the northwest mountaineer. This tent blends the pole structure of a four-season tent with the materials (mesh walls) of a ... Read More »

Gear for the Adventurous Photographer, Tasty Treats and More

Vasque Erikkson GTX Boots Uh-oh… The new boots from Vasque arrived the day before we were heading out on our gear testing trip, a three-day backpack in the North Cascades. No time for break-in. As it turned out, no need. The brand new Vasque Erikkson GTX boots set the bar for comfort. Combining rigidity to support long hikes over rough ... Read More »

Cascadia Gear: Crampons, A Bear Can and Sweet Boots

Heading out into the untrammeled wild? Make sure that your gear is solid. Great boots, dependable crampons and a bear-proof food storage solution. You’re good to go!   La Sportiva Omega GTX Hiking Boots The sweet spot for me when it comes to hiking boots is the place where ruggedness and light weight meet. The Omega GTX from La Sportiva ... Read More »