Reviews

Book Review: Arctic Traverse

Arctic Traverse, by Michael Engelhard; Mountaineers Books, Seattle, 2024   What makes a travelogue a great read? In my opinion, it uses the trip’s events as a springboard for reflection and exploration and asks important questions about our impact on the landscape and what we can do to minimize it. The basic story of writer Michael Engelhard’s book, Arctic Traverse, …

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The Last Sleeping Bag

When it comes to high-end sleeping bags, most would agree that Western Mountaineering (WM) makes the very best. With proper care, this might be the last sleeping bag you’ll ever need to purchase. Backcountry Essentials is proud to carry these bags, made in the USA, because they deliver some of the best nights’ sleep you’ve ever had. Are you a …

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Whatever the Weather: Gear for Spring in the PNW

Jack Wolfskin Eagle Peak 2L Shell Guest Review by Nikki Here in the Pacific Northwest, could any piece of gear be more important than a trusty raincoat? My new Jack Wolfskin Eagle Peak 2L Jacket has kept me dry on foggy mornings and in wintery downpours and protected me from icy winds. It’s lightweight and breathable, even when I’m pedaling around …

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Weston Heated Vest Review: Discover the Sleek Solution to Winter’s Chill

Traveling to colder climates presents an adventurous and often breathtaking experience, filled with unique landscapes and activities that are unavailable in milder regions. However, along with the beauty and excitement comes the challenge of extreme cold, which can significantly impact both comfort and safety. The sharp drop in temperatures, biting winds, and prolonged exposure to cold environments are factors that …

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A Camera Bag and a Pair of Tents for Autumn Adventuring

  LowePro Nova 200 AW II Camera Shoulder Bag I have used a wide variety of camera bags over the years to haul my photography gear. When backpacking, a hipbelt bag worn on the front works well, but for day hiking, a shoulder bag is my conveyance of choice. The Lowepro® Nova 200 AW II is ideal for this purpose. …

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Pack Rafting…Lite

Is Backcountry Essentials now a paddle sports store? As the Northwest gets warmer, it seems like we are all going to want to find some water sports to cool off within the summertime. Backcountry Essentials has been researching what makes sense for us to offer the community. We have added two new brands in the pack rafting world, Kokopelli and …

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Great Gear for Summer Hiking Adventures

Therm-A-Rest Trekker Chair A Therm-A-Rest® Chair has been a staple in my backpack for decades. Since I first tried one in the 90s, I’ve never headed into the backcountry without this ingenious little system of straps and sleeves that converts a sleeping pad into a reasonably comfortable camp chair. But in recent years, sleeping pads have evolved (gotten thicker and …

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New Gear for Spring Adventures

Therm-a-Rest Vesper™ 20F/-6C Quilt Quilts have replaced sleeping bags for many weight-conscious hikers who are serious about shedding pounds in their backpacks. Thanks to its ingenious SynergyLink™ Connectors, the new Vesper 20-degree quilt ensures a comfortable night’s slumber without the weight of a zipper by connecting to—and utilizing the warmth— of your insulated mattress. Weighing only 19 ounces, the Vesper features 900-fill Nikwax …

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Gear Spotlight: Kokopelli Recon Pack Raft

Sometimes as a shop owner, I have to creatively justify expenses for the toys I want that we sell. In this case, I wanted to try the Kokopelli Recon pack raft, so I bought two for our rental fleet (despite the fact that 20 years ago I had decided that whitewater scared me more than rock and snow so I …

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Elan Ripstick Tour 104 vs. Ripstick 106

Backcountry Essentials is stoked to offer skis from Elan this year. We focused on the Ripstick series for both men and women because we felt these skis best complimented and differentiated themselves from all the other skis we carry. These skis are not slarvy, nor do they readily butter; they are precise carving machines—and they are a blast! We have …

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