Welcome! Ultralight backpacking is my passion, and keeping up on new technologies, gear, and techniques relevant to UL backpacking is what floats my boat. I'm always looking for the lightest, most functional gear to improve a lightweight or ultralight backpacking kit, and report my impressions and field testing results here. For hikers wanting to keep up on the latest and greatest ultralight backpacking gear, this is a good place to hang out. Also, there is a lot of information here (and on our informational website Southwest Ultralight Backpacking) on useful techniques and backcountry etiquette -- food for thought for hikers wanting to lighten their load and their impacts.

My goal for Ultralight Insights is to understand, test, and report on new technologies and gear of interest to lightweight and ultralight backpackers. It's a passion after all, so we just plain enjoy talking about it. I hope readers will add their own wisdom and comments, respond to my questions, ask their own questions, and correct me if I get something wrong. Happy hiking! Will

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Outdoor Retailer Winter 2016: BASELAYERS, MIDLAYERS, and SHELLS

Please note that this article simply highlights new lightweight gear of interest, and by no means is it comprehensive of the category or constitute a review of the item. It’s simply a collection of new interesting gear for lightweight backcountry travel.

Items featured will be available in spring 2016 unless stated otherwise. Weights are for men’s size Medium unless stated otherwise.

Kora Shola 230 Zip Top. Kora baselayers are made of Yak wool, which has hollow fibers.Yaks molt in the spring, so there is no shearing.  Kora buys Yak wool directly from nomatic Himalayan communities and processes it for their baselayers. Since Yaks are mostly raised for their milk, meat, and hides, Kora created a market for their wool. Kora claims that Yak wool is 40% warmer and 66% more breathable than an equivalent weight of merino wool, and is also lighter and softer. MSRP is $160; available now; Sold online at Kora.net.

Mishmi Takin Garamba Jacket. The company and products are named for the national parks in northern India. The Garamba Jacket is made of eVent DVS (Direct Venting Storm), eVent’s most breathable shell fabric. It’s a 2.5-layer construction. The jacket has lots of ventilation: perforated vents in the chin area and top center in back, core vent pocket liners, pit zips under the arms (the first eVent jacket I have ever seen with pit zips), and of course the front zipper. Weight is 14.2 ounces for size Large. MSRP is $275. The jacket is modeled by the company’s founder Kapil Dev Singh.

Montane Power Up Hoodie. This mid- or outer layer is made of Polartec PowerGrid fleece for high breathability and fast drying. It has a full-height front zipper, attached hood, one chest pocket, two hand warmer pockets, and thumb loops. Weight is 10 ounces, MSRP is $179, available now. I included this piece because of its versatility for use on day trips in cold weather.

My Package Icefil Boxers. These boxers for summer wear contain Lyocell in the fabric to produce a cooling effect. It basically works the opposite of Outlast. MSRP is $45, available April 2016.

Saxx Fuse Boxer. The Fuse for summer wear is 88% polyester and 18% Spandex, which enables the colorful design shown. MSRP is $32. The right photo shows Saxx’s built-in technology, which supports  their claim of “Life Changing Underwear”.

Saxx Kinetic Runing Tight and Blacksheep Long John. Saxx will introduce the Kinetic tight (right) in fall 2016. It’s made of 85% nylon and 15% spandex for stretch and moisture wicking; $60. The Blacksheep Long John (left) is merino wool; $60.

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