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 we’ve come to expect from Arc’teryx. Attention to detail is obvious – the water-resistant outer layer is breathable and the inner lining offers soft and cushy fleece. Five pockets hold all your stuff and a hem drawcord snugs it tight for extra warmth. And the Gamma MX is light, weighing in at only 1 lb., 4 oz.
More info: arcteryx.com
Black Diamond Alpine Ergo Trekking Poles
Trekking poles are my knee’s best friends. When hauling a backpack up and down mountains, they provide support and stability – and help mitigate the impact on my aforementioned trail-weary knees. The new Alpine Ergo poles from Black Diamond deliver on all counts – they’re strong (carbon fiber mid- and lower-shafts and aluminum upper), light (1 lb., 2 oz.) and the ergonomic design of the cork grips provides comfort as the miles glide by. They’re not the most compactable poles I’ve used – 30 inches when collapsed – but the dual Flicklock adjustment mechanisms are easy to use and rock-solid.
More info: blackdiamondequipment.com
KEEN Logan Mid WP Hiking Boots
KEEN’s Logan Mid WP Hiking Boots are yet another variation on the theme of comfortable – and sturdy – boots for backpacking. At just a whisker more than 2 lbs. per pair, they’re delightfully light and thanks to KEEN’s heel lock design they are easily adjustable to provide as much ankle support as you like. The WP is shorthand for waterproof and like all KEEN footwear, they fit perfectly on those of us with wide feet. I broke them in on a week-long backpacking trip in Utah’s Paria Canyon where a good portion of each day was spent walking in the calf-deep Paria River. Built of 100% synthetic materials, they were amazingly comfortable, and provided excellent traction even when saturated and covered with a thick coat of mud.
More info: keenfootwear.com