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, August 10, 2016

Summer 2016 Outdoor Retailer Trade Show: Footwear of Interest

By Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl

 Footwear (this article)

There are so many footwear brands at Outdoor Retailer that we could easily devote all of our time to footwear. Instead, we highlight several new shoes that we found that should be of interest to lightweight and ultralight hikers.

Overall, we are preferably looking for all-synthetic materials, no-stitch construction, reinforcement for stability, cushioning, a wide toebox and snug heelcup, and a good traction outsole.

Please note the following:
·         Items covered will be available for purchase in spring 2017, unless noted otherwise.
·         Weights are per shoe for a men’s size 9, unless noted otherwise.

The new North Face Endurus Hiker and Runner have ExtraFoam midsole (thick foam cushioning), an all-synthetic upper, stitching in the hiker but no-stitch in the runner, and grippy Vibram outsole. The hiker (top) weighs 14.3 ounces/shoe and costs $130; a Gore-Tex version will be available. The Endurus Runner (bottom) has a 6 mm heel rise (20 mm/14 mm heel/forefoot sole unit), weighs 11.2 ounces/shoe and also costs $130.

Coming from Columbia and Montrail, is OutDry Extreme Footwear, with the OutDry Extreme membrane on the outside. Examples are the Terrebonne OutDry Extreme Mid (top), a hiking shoe with a Vibram outsole (17.5 oz/shoe, $150); and the Caldorado II OutDry Extreme, a trail runner (9.4 oz/shoe, $155). Both shoes are all-synthetic and have no-stitch construction, which is what we like to see.

Last year I reported on the Lone Peak NeoShell (bottom shoe), which is a low-cut shoe coming out this spring (10.9 ounces/shoe and $149). A mid-high version, the Altra Lone Peak NeoShell Mid (top shoe) is coming out now that will weigh 11.9 ounces/shoe and cost $159. The unique features about these shoes are they are zero drop (no heel rise), have a wide toe box for foot expansion, and are the only shoes that use a Polartec NeoShell membrane as the outside shell of the shoe, which makes them waterproof-breathable.

The new Salomon XA Enduro Shoe is intended for rough terrain and wet surfaces. It has a built-in gaiter at the top to keep grit out, reinforcement to provide stability, all synthetic materials, no-sew construction, a Contragrip outsole with wet-traction rubber, and weight of 10.6 ounces/shoe; $160.

As I reported from the winter 2016 OR, Under Armor is in the footwear business now and they have some good lightweight shoes suitable for hiking. This time we found the Under Armour FKT Trail Shoe, part of their Horizon trail run collection. FKT stands for Fastest Known Time. The collection features no-stitch sonic welded upper, durable welded overlays, ESS plate for protection, a translucent rip-stop upper with internal forefoot bootie construction, a high-density foam tongue, and a Michelin outsole with a Wild Dig Decent’ R lug pattern for all-weather traction. Weight is just 10 ounces/shoe and costs $130. It has a 7 millimeter heel rise.

We didn’t pay much attention to Sketchers shoes before, but then we started hearing some good things about their latest models. At their booth we found a new version of the Sketchers Go Trail Shoe, which will be available in September. This one has stitching around the toebox and 4 millimeters of heel rise. Weight is 9.6 ounces/shoe and MSRP is $120.

 Footwear (this article)

Summer 2016 Outdoor Retailer Trade Show: Food Items of Interest

By Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl

 Food (this article)

There are many different brands of energy bars around nowadays, and at each OR there are always more. We like to feature the new ones to give them some visibility.

GLUKOS, as the name implies, is based on glucose, a directly digestible sugar for fast natural energy. Other sugars must be converted to glucose to be utilized by the body, and that process requires energy and time, and produces byproducts like lactic acid and triglycerides. The company serves up glucose in the form of energy bars, energy gummies, energy gel, energy tablets to dissolve in water, energy powder to dissolve in water, and a liquid energy drink. They also make a protein bar and protein powder based on whey protein.

Muir Energy Gels have all-natural ingredients and more calories than the competition, and they are available with or without caffeine. One pouch sells for $2.75.

Milkman is back. After being retired for awhile, Milkman is being revived and their packets of instant lowfat dry milk will again be available. They claim to produce the best tasting low-fat powdered milk product, based on their slogan “A kiss of cream”. So when you pick up your packets of Idahoan Instant Potatoes, pick up some packets of Milkman instant milk to go with them. $1.99 a packet.

We found the Simply Native Wild Rice Hot Cereal to be very tasty and it contains all natural ingredients: pre-cooked wild rice, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, cranberries, and blueberries. It cooks in 10 minutes, so in camp you can add boiling water to it, let it sit for 10 minutes, and eat; $8/package.

Gorilly Goods are snack mixes consisting of nuts, fruit, and spices; well I see from their flier that they sneak in a little chocolate, kale, hemp, and cilantro to add a little kick. They come in six yummy flavors, each with a unique taste. Cost is $2.19 to $2.49.

Bogg’s Trail Butters are mixed nut butters with natural flavorings that make them awesome. We really liked them; they rival nut butters from Justin’s and Yum Butters, which are also very good. They are calorie dense with healthy fats, come in three flavors for $5 per 4.5 oz pouch.

Santa Barbara Bars are fruit and nut based plus superfoods. They don’t contain any refined sugars and are a good source of healthy oils and protein; $1.59 to $2.50 per bar.

Skout Backcountry Organic Trail Bars deliver nutrient-rich organic fuel on the trail. They are date-based with various fruits, grains and seeds, and deliver 170 to 200 calories per bar. Although the contain grains they are gluten free; $2.30 to $2.40 per bar.

Kate’s Bars come in five flavors, each a separate recipe similar to energy bars you might make at home. Ingredients are all natural. Kate is best known for her Tram Bar, which started it all; ingredients are: oats, honey, peanut butter, chocolate, rice nuggets, dried bananas, dried apricots, raisins, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and sea salt. Each of the five varieties has a distinctive flavor; $2.99 per bar.

Simple Squares are nut and honey bars infused with herbs, and are made with just five organic nutritional ingredients. The eight savory flavors give you the idea: Chili Pep, Cho-Coco, Cinna-Clove, Coconut, Coffee, Ginger, Rosemary, and Sage; $2.49 per bar.

Thrive Go Macro Bars come in ten different flavors with all natural ingredients and provide 220 to 290 calories per bar. Each uses organic brown rice syrup as a binder with numerous nuts, fruits, and seeds; $2.19 to $2.99 per bar.

B.REDI Salsas are dried salsa mixes that come in a packet. One 18 gram packet plus water makes 8 ounces of salsa. They have four flavors available: Roasted Red, Tangy Tomatillo, Relleno, and Chipotle. I see great possibilities to use on chips or to provide flavor to our homemade trail meals. The cost is $2.50 per packet. http://www.bredifoods.com/

We reported on Health Warrior Chia Bars last year; this time we found the new Health Warrior Protein Bars that deliver 10g of clean, plant protein from a superfood blend of chia, quinoa, and oats. No soy, no whey, and half the sugar of many protein bars; $1.99 to $2.50 per bar.

 Food (this article)

Summer 2016 Outdoor Retailer Trade Show: Ultralight Gear of Interest

By Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl

 UL Backpacking (this article)

Most of the gear found at the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show is conventional gear that shows up in outdoor stores six months later. But most conventional gear is getting lighter due to the incorporation of lighter and stronger materials. It’s an evolutionary process, and when gear gets light enough to meet our lightweight and ultralight standards we include it in our Show coverage. As you might expect, the majority of gear we feature from OR is in the lightweight category, and the list of ultralight gear is shorter.

However, a lot of ultralight gear comes from the big gear manufactures – shelters, hammocks, sleeping bags and pads, insulated clothing, rainwear, windshirts, gaiters, to name a few. Herein we report our ultralight gear findings, in no particular order, from the summer 2016 OR Show.

Please note the following:
Items covered will be available for purchase in spring 2017, unless noted otherwise.
Weights are for a men’s size Medium, unless noted otherwise.

Its been a long time since Big Agnes last introduced an ultralight sleeping bag, but the new Big Agnes Flume UL 30 sleeping bag is worth waiting for. It’s insulated with 12 ounces of 850 fill-power down enclosed in a 7-denier shell with a 2/3-zipper. The weight is 22 ounces and cost is $470. Big Agnes uses a combination of baffling methods to hold the down in place. A warmer version also coming out is the Hitchens UL 20 weighing 27 ounces and priced at $530. These look to be well designed bags with cutting-edge materials, ample dimensions, and honest temperature ratings.

The new Nemo Spike 1-person and 2-person tents are floorless and trekking pole supported, and weigh just 15.5 ounces and 26 ounces, respectively. The fabric is 40-denier silicone coated ripstop nylon. MSRPs are $230 and $300. They did not have the tents on display, but we were able to take a photo of a page from their workbook.

Sea to Summit, which has well thought out products in nearly category will be introducing the Sea to Summit Ultralight Hammock which weighs just 5 ounces without straps and costs $89.

An addition to Sea to Summits sleeping quilt line is the Sea to Summit Ember EBIII Quilt filled with 750 fill-power down and rated to 14F. Weight is 27 ounces and MSRP is $299.

The Sea to Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pads have become very popular because of their lightweight and comfort. For spring 17, STS will add an Extra Small size, which is 50 inches long, weighs 10.4 ounces, and will cost $89. While the Thermarest XLite Short is a bit lighter, some hikers may like this one better because of its comfort. 

In our past OR coverage we have reported on some very lightweight but minimally breathable emergency bivies from Adventure Medical Kits. For spring 2017 AMK is introducing the AMK Escape Pro Bivvy, which is claimed to be “super breathable” and reflect 90% of body heat, which makes it more than an emergency bivy. Weight is 8.5 ounces and MSRP is $125.

More ultralight sleeping bags coming out in spring 2017 are the Marmot Phase 30 and Phase 20 Sleeping Bags, weighing just 17.6 ounces and 23.3 ounces respectively. The bags are insulated with 850 fill-power down, have a full-length zipper, and 60 inches of shoulder girth for the regular length and 62 inches for the  long version. Prices are $399 and $459. A women’s version of the Phase 20 will be available, weighing 29 ounces (that’s 5.7 ounces heavier, which I assume is mostly down, so much warmer, but fits to only 5' 6").

Some years ago The North Face Flight Series was ultralight gear, then it changed, and now its back. For spring 2017 we will get TNF Flight Series Fuse Jacket, which will be a sub-4 ounce rain jacket. The spots in the jacket (Fuse-Form Venting) are cutouts in the fabric covered with their DryVent PU waterproof-breathable membrane, which saves weight and increases breathability. The jacket has water-resistant zippers, one chest pocket, and attached hood. MSRP is $250 (not cheap).

Also from The North Face is TNF Better Than Naked Jacket, which is a windshirt weighing approximately 2.5 ounces (our estimate since they did not have data). It features FlashDry fabrics, stitch-free seams, and body-mapped venting. Notice the openings in the side seams to catch breezes while running. MSRP is $120.

A new type of garment from Patagonia is the Patagonia AirShed Pullover, which weighs just 4 ounces and is claimed to function as both a baselayer and midlaryer. This one is a little hard for me to wrap my brain around; it seems like more of a baselayer, a very light one at that. The fabric is 20-denier nylon, the same as the face fabric used in their Nano-Air jacket. It has lots of stretch and is abrasion-resistant. MSRP is $119.

Also from Patagonia is a new lightweight hooded rain jacket called the Patagonia Stormracer Jacket, weighing just 6 ounces. The W/B technology is Patagonia’s H2No, a 2.5 layer construction. MSRP is $249.

For men only. You are probably familiar with the MyPackage “Keyhole Pocket” technology, which provides for men what a sports bra provides for women. For spring 2017 they will be introducing the MyPackage Running Short (held at the top of the photo) with the same technology. This would eliminate for wearing anything under the short. A version with an attached running tight (lower part of the photo) will also be offered. MSRPs are $80 for the short and $85 for the short+tight.

CAMP, the climbing gear company, has provided us with several ultralight gear items to feature in the past. This time we found the 3.3 oz/pair CAMP Mini Gaiter. The ankle height gaiter is made of a stretch fabric with a Cordura tab at the toe where the gaiter hook is attached. It has a tough Hypalon underfoot strap, which will eventually wear out from hiking (but not from skiing), but it can easily be replaced with Velcro patches on the heel of the gaiter and shoe. MSRP is $40, available now. I previously reported on the CAMP Crystal Gaiter, which is a very lightweight tall gaiter for hiking.

The popular lightweight Big Agnes Fly Creek Platinum Tent will get the HV (High Volume) treatment, increasing its volume 20%. The 1-person version will have a trail weight of 1 pound 7 ounces ($500), and the 2-person version will weigh 1 pound 10 ounces ($550). The Platinum version uses 7-denier fabrics, which accounts for the higher cost. This tent has an end entry (which reduces weight), compared to the Copper Spur’s side entry. Normally I would put a double-wall tent into the lightweight backpacking category, but this one is light enough to slip into an ultralight gear kit. 

 UL Backpacking (this article)

Summer 2016 Outdoor Retailer Trade Show: Lightweight Gear of Interest

By Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl

LW Backpacking (this article)

As you might expect, the majority of gear we feature from OR is in the lightweight category. Lighter weight is a desired feature in most outdoor gear and manufacturers strive to reduce weight while retaining features, durability, and performance. They accomplish that through improved design and incorporating improved materials that provide the same or better performance with lower weight.

Nearly everyone wants to reduce their pack weight, so lighter weight gear is appealing if performance is not compromised. That means desired features, comfort, dryness, warmness, adequate shelter, and ease of use, to name a few attributes.

As gear gets lighter from various improvements, and meets our weight criteria, it gets included in our coverage of gear of interest to lightweight backpackers, and nowadays to other lightweight endeavors like bike packing, canoeing and kayaking, and lightweight mountaineering.

Herein we report our lightweight gear findings, in no particular order, from the summer 2016 OR Show.

Please note the following:
·         Items covered will be available for purchase in spring 2017, unless noted otherwise.
·         Weights are for a men’s size Medium, unless noted otherwise.

For skiing and mountaineering, the durable CAMP Duo Gaiter is a good choice. It’s made of 1000-denier Cordura, has a full-height zipper, and lightweight underfoot cable to hold it in place. Weight is 8.4 ounces/pair and MSRP is $60. Available now.

REI really delivered on lightweight gear this time around. Their REI Quarter Dome II Tent is destined to be a popular choice because of its light weight and value. It will be available in 1-person, 2-person, and 3-person versions with weights of 2 pounds 7 ounces, 3 pounds 5 ounces, and 4 pounds 1 ounce, respectively. Notable features are 15-denier fabrics in the canopy, 20-denier floor, steep sidewalls at the head and foot ends for great headroom, and huge vestibules. MSRPs are $279, $339, and $399 respectively.

Also included in REIs suite of new lightweight gear is the REI Flash Insulated Sleeping Pad, which has an R-Value of 4.1 and will come in four sizes: Short, Regular, Regular-Wide, and Long-Wide. Size Regular is shown in the photos. MSRP is $99 for the Regular size, and weight is “less than 1 pound”.

Next from REI is the REI Magma Sleeping Bag featuring 850 fill-power down, a temperature rated to 10F, Pertex Quantum shell, and weight “under 2 pounds” (which is good for a 10-degree bag). There will be men’s and women’s versions selling for $349, which is a great value.

Still going from REI is the REI Magma Jacket which is a lightweight hoodless puffy featuring 850 fill-power down insulation, Pertex Quantum shell, and two hand pockets. Weight is about 10 ounces. Men’s and women’s versions will sell for $189.

Finally from REI comes the REI Flash 45 Backpack to join the existing updated Flash 60. This must be about the fourth generation of the popular lightweight Flash backpack. Weight is 2 pounds 12 ounces. I didn’t catch the MSRP, but the Flash is always a good value. Note that a 45 liter pack is about the right volume for a lightweight backpacker who has worked diligently to reduce weight and bulk of her gear kit.

Our good friend Andrew Skurka is now a brand ambassador for Sierra Designs. A new backpack designed by Andrew with SD is the Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor, which expands from 40 to 60 liters in volume. Features of the 2.5 pound pack include two top access zippers, top cap, large hipbelt pockets, two stretch nylon side pockets, a removable hydration sleeve, and a pronounced lumbar pad. The pack’s internal Y-shaped tubular frame (shown in the right photo) is lightweight and supportive. The MSRP is $200; a limited number will be available in September on Sierra Designs’ website.

The second innovative new product of the Skurka/SD collaboration is the Sierra Designs High Route Tent, which is a very roomy 1-person tent with two doors with vestibules. The inner tent has a 30"x90" floor (18.8 square feet); with a 3-season fly-only pitch the tent provides 36 square feet of protected area. The tent has a diagonal ridgeline and requires trekking poles for setup. There is a lot of space between the inner tent body and the fly, so ventilation should be good. The body fabric is 20-denier, and the floor is 30-denier, and weight is 2 pounds 5 ounces, which is very good for a double-wall tent. MSRP is $299.

The Columbia OutDry Extreme Eco Jacket is the next introduction in Columbia’s innovative line of “membrane on the outside” shell jackets. So far, only Columbia’s OutDry membrane is sufficiently durable to put it on the outside of the garment. The resulting jacket has a rubbery look and feel, but it’s entirely functional because it eliminates the face fabric and DWR coating (which are the nemesis of conventional 3-layer W/B jackets), allowing the jacket to breathe much better. The Eco Jacket features 100% recycled materials, PFC-free membrane, and it’s not dyed to minimize water use in its manufacture. The white color is attractive and very functional to avoid overheating. Weight is 12 ounces and MSRP is $199.

Really lightweight double-wall tents under 2.5 pounds are becoming more common. The new Nemo Hornet Elite Series Tents attain their low weight by using lightweight materials throughout: 7-denier body, 10-denier floor, lots of no-see-um mesh, and a minimal wishbone pole structure. The 1-person version has one door with vestibule and has a minimum weight of 1 pound 7 ounces ($449); the 2-person version has two doors with vestibules and weighs 1 pound 12 ounces ($499). Really lightweight tents like these are expensive because of the cost of the specialty fine denier fabrics that are available only from certain factories and take longer to weave.

Also coming from Nemo is the Nemo Tensor Field Insulated Sleeping Pad weighing 16 ounces ($170). This sounds heavy, but when you consider it’s double insulated to be comfortable down to 10-20 F, the weight is more acceptable. According to Nemo, a typical insulated pad is warm down to 15-25F, so the Tensor goes a step lower. It has horizontal tubes like the Thermarest NeoAir All-Season pad that weighs 19 ounces and costs $160.

Big Agnes has many lightweight tents to choose from, including the new Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL Tent Series, which replaces the current series.  HV stands for High Volume, 20% more, without a weight increase. The tent has an X-pole design plus a crossbar (replacing the current wishbone design), it’s more squared at the ends, and a new random ripstop body fabric has 25% more tensile strength. The series contains 1, 2, 3, and 4-person versions with minimum weights of 2 pounds 2 ounces, 2 pounds 12 ounces, 3 pounds 7 ounces, and 5 pounds 3 ounces respectively. MSRPs are $380, $450, $500, and $650 respectively. The Copper Spur is one of their most popular tents for backpacking because of its light weight and side entry, and the 2017 HV update makes it even better.

If you want to go even lighter you can get the new Big Agnes Copper Spur Platinum Tent and save a half pound. The Platinum version will be available in a 2-person size with a trail weight of just 2 pounds 4 ounces ($600). The weight savings (and increased cost) come from the use of 7-denier fabrics throughout the tent. However, this version retains the wishbone pole structure and does not have the HV volume increase.

What is unique about the new Black Diamond Iota Headlamp is its rechargeable battery (hooray, no AAA batteries!), 2 ounce weigh, and 150 lumens of light. It’s very user friendly too: it comes on at full brightness, then continue to hold the button and release it at a desired light level, and just tap the button to go back to high. It lasts 3 hours on the high beam and 6-8 hours on low intensity. MSRP is $40; available Oct 1.

At the Cascade Designs booth we found the MSR Big Titan Kettle, a 2-liter version of the popular Titan Kettle. It weighs 6.4 ounces and costs $100. This will be a very handy pot for a couple or small group.

The popular MSR Pocket Rocket Stove gets an upgrade to the MSR Pocket Rocket 2. It's 2.5 ounces lighter than the original and not nearly as tall, so its more compact when collapsed. The pot supports are wider at the top to accommodate pots ranging from a small cup to a larger one like the Big Titan Kettle above. Weight is 2.6 ounces, $45, available January 1.

Here’s a new twist, err squeeze, on water filtration. The new MSR TrailShot Microfilter has a bulb that you squeeze to pump water through the filter. It weighs just 5 ounces and will filter 1 liter of water per minute. It has a claimed lifespan of 2000 liters. To flush the filter just fill it with water, shake it, and drain it; $50.

Granite Gear made so many changes to their popular lightweight Crown 60 pack they renamed it the Granite Gear Crown2. The pack now has a lid (which is removable), more durable side stretch nylon pockets, a Re-Fit adjustable length hipbelt, large hipbelt pockets (formerly there were no hipbelt pockets), and stiffened framesheet. They did all this without increasing the weight; it remains at 2 pounds 2 ounces. It will be available in men’s and women’s versions for $200. For women it will be available in a Short size, and for men a Long version will be available.

We visited Craghoppers for the first time and found some interesting items. Their Craghoppers NosiLite ProLite Shirt and Pant are lightweight, durable, fast-drying, and treated with Insect Shield for bug resistance. Non-treated versions are also available. Both are available in men’s and women’s versions and extended sizes, like a Long for men and a Short for women. Weight is 6.7 ounces for each piece in men’s regular (lighter for women’s) and MSRPs are $75 for the shirt and $80 for the pant. Did you know that the mosquito is the most dangerous animal in the world? It carries the most dangerous diseases, including the current Ziki virus. So insect repellent clothing is something many people will be interested in nowadays for both domestic and foreign travel. However, please note that the garments protect only the areas they cover; they do not provide protection of adjacent exposed skin.

The new double-wall freestanding Marmot Bolt Tent has a trail weight of just 2 pounds 10.1 ounces for the 2-person version and costs just $369. It has a lightweight wishbone frame, end entry, and a mostly mesh interior to reduce weight. A 3-person version weighs 3 pounds 5.3 ounces and costs $489. Both are a great value.

The Marmot Tungsten UL 2P Tent claims to provide the most space per ounce than any other lightweight tent. That may be an overstatement, but the Tungsten does have 32 square feet of floor space, 52 square feet of protected area, loads of headroom, two side entry doors with big vestibules, and a polyester (no stretch) fly, weighing just 3 pounds 8.5 ounces, and priced at just $299. This is a very likeable, roomy couples tent, and a great value. A 3-person version will also be available for $389.

The new North Face Hyper Cat Sleeping Bag is claimed to be the lightest 20F synthetic sleeping bag available, weighing 30 ounces. It has a ½-length center zipper and vertical baffles; $249.

More tents. The LL Bean Microlight UL1 and UL2 double-wall freestanding tents weigh just 1 pound 14 ounces and 2 pounds 11 ounces respectively. The body fabric and mesh are 15-denier and the floor is 20-denier, a good balance of durability and light weight. The double wishbone hubed poleset is easy to assemble, and provides adequate headroom at the head end. The vestibuled side entry is large and convenient. MSRP for the 1-person version is $299 and the 2-person version sells for $349. Available now.

This coming January 1 Patagonia will introduce a lighter version of their Nano-Air Jacket called the Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket. Its breathability is achieved by sandwiching a porous synthetic insulation between thin/porous face and liner fabrics. This is a hoodless highly breathable synthetic insulated jacket for continuous wear in high exertion activities in cool temperatures. Compared to the original Nano-Air’s 60-gram insulation, this one has 40-gram insulation that provides 85% as much warmth with 60% of the weight (10 ounces). Men’s and women’s versions will be available for $199. A vest version will also be available.

Montane is introducing a similar hooded breathable insulated jacket called the Montane Halogen Alpha Jacket, which is insulated with 50-gram Polartec Alpha. The outer shell is a non-calendared open-weave version of Pertex Microlight and the inside lining is a HyperVent fabric. The jacket is designed for continuous wear in cool weather high exertion activities. The jacket packs into the right pocket for stowage. Weight is 12 ounces and MSRP is $209.

Also from Montane is the Montane Terra Pack Pant for travel or hiking, which is made of a stretch nylon fabric. It comes with a belt, slit side pockets with a zippered pocket behind, and loops to roll up and fasten the legs. Men’s and women’s versions will be available in regular and short lengths, 8 ounces, $105.

Jetboil will be introducing their first non-integrated stove in spring 2017 called the Jetboil MightyMo. At 3.3 ounces, it isn’t the lightest, but it has a piezo igniter, wide burner head (10,000 BTU), regulator, and wide pot supports. It fits all Jetboil heat-exchanger pots and costs just $30.

The Nite-Ize Radiant 250 Headlamp is rechargeable and produces 250 lumens of light. It has multiple modes (spot, flood, and red), red and white LEDs, and comes with a USB charging cable. Weight is 3.15 ounces (headlamp only) and cost is $50; available now. The rechargeable feature is really nice; no more expensive throw-away AAA batteries.

I remember reviewing the Primus Micron Canister Fuel Stove years ago, and it was one of my favorites. The new version of the Primus Micron Stove weighs 2.8 ounces in the plain version ($39), 3.2 ounces with a piezo igniter ($45), and 3.3 ounces with regulator and piezo igniter ($55).

Our coverage has been heavy on lightweight tents, but here is another good one from Mountain Hardwear. The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Series Tents are available now in 1, 2, and 3-person versions, with minimum weights of 1 pound 4 ounces ($349) for the 1P, 2 pounds 2 ounces ($449) for the 2P, and 2 pounds 11 ounces ($549) for the 3P. All have a wishbone frame, front entry with vestibule, 10-denier nylon fly, and 20-denier nylon floor. The floor areas are a bit on the cramped side at 16, 27, and 39 square feet respectively.

If you are a lightweight backpacker, chances are you are using your smartphone to navigate, take photos, take notes, and carry reading material. Another use is the Snakebite 911 App. If you get bit by a snake, chances are you are standing there wondering what to do. With the app, all you need to do is take a photo of the snake, use the app to identify it, and then the app will tell you where the nearest medical facility is that can treat you. If you have a cell signal you can call 911 directly, otherwise you will need a personal locator device, like the SPOT, to alert search and rescue with your location.

LW Backpacking (this article)