It’s the season to get out and roam in the high country and this roundup of the best gear we took to the trail will help you explore the hills

BEST STOVE

Primus Express Spider

The contemporary answer to that classic backpacking stove, the Spider impressed with just how light it was (a scant 7 ounces) but more so, just how effectively it heated up our soup. Big Plus: Manual ignition is a slight inconvenience, but far more trustworthy than an automatic igniter that might break in the field.

$60; primuscamping.com

 

BEST TENT

Nemo Espri 3

This baby strikes the perfect balance between ultra-light, tipping the scales at a silly 4.5 pounds, and functionality, we like the roomier 3p, especially for two dudes. Stash your gear under the vestibule that minimizes what you carry by using trekking poles for support. Big Plus: Eco-friendly DAC tent poles.

$370; nemoequipment.com

 

BEST PACKS

Mountain Biking

Osprey Raptor 10

This is quite simply the perfect day-to-day pack for hitting the trails. At 10 liters, it’s compact enough for a quick spin on the neighborhood trails yet roomy enough for a full-day adventure. Big Plus: The lid latch carrier makes it easy to attach your helmet to the pack with no bouncing around.

$89; ospreypacks.com

 

Bring the Family

Deuter Kid Comfort III

Once you find yourself a parent, a kid carier becomes mandatory if you want your outdoor lifestly to continue. This is the best we tested, comfy and easy to adjust for you and the kid and complete with a roomy gear compartment. Big Plus: You can unsnap the child harness from the side to gently extricate a sleeping kid.

$279; deuterusa.com

 

Big Trips

Millet Odyssee 60+10

Here’s the big hauler you need for a wilderness trip to a remote peak when you’ll need to haul alpine gear or for a multi-day wilderness backpack (or even for bumming around Europe). Surprisingly light for such a spacious bag at just 4.6 pounds, it’s a smart simple design. Big Plus: It’s built for winter too, with ice axe and ski attachment straps.

$199; milletusa.com

 

Overnights

Black Diamond Infinity 50

BD put a ton of work into developing the independent hip-and shoulder-strap suspension in this pack and it shows. It’s ideal for a summit attempt or fast light backpacking, moving along with your body while you navigate talus fields or 4th class chimneys. Big Plus: Removable sleeping pad straps.

$200; blackdiamondequipment.com

 

BEST SHOES

Natural Hiking

Tecnica Tarantula

You have heard about natural running, well, Tecnica heads down the road of natural hiking with this shoe that features a 2/3 flat rear sole and 1/3 rolling rocker front. That makes it fast and comfy for high-adventure trail runs and backpacking trips alike—just give your mis-trained feet and ankles some break-in time. Big Plus: Snug upper sock fit. $115; tecnicausa.com

 

Do Anything

Salewa Firetail GTX

A combination of sticky rubber approach shoe, hiker and tail runner, the Firetail GTX is so versatile we have used it for everything from low 5th class climbs to backpacking trips to day hikes out the door. Just make peace with that Euro neon green. Big Plus: A Gore-Tex membrane is just enough to repel creek crossings.

$139; salwausa.com

 

 

GEEK OUT

dew motion quiver

Here’s a pack for your electronics. The Quiver lets you carry your iPod, iPhone etc. into the wild and keep your hands free. Operate the units with a control panel on the front. Big Plus: It’s just as useful on a city street. $80; dewmotion.com

RunKeeper.com

Our favorite new app for iPhone and Droid does much of what a fancy wrist-op computer will do, tracking your route via GPS, elevation gain, calories and allowing for computer upload and analysis back at home.

BEST BAGS

 

Bring a Friend

GoLite Adventure 3-season

These are fantastic synthetic 25-degree bags in their own right … but mate the zippers to create an intimate, warm two-person bag o’ love and you’re sure to want to sleep out in the wild more often. Not everything has to be shared, though, you each get your own foot space. Big Plus: Snuggle guilt-free, the bags are made with 100 percent recycled materials.

$235–$255; golite.com

 

Light

Sierra Designs Vapor 15

SD claims this is the lightest 15-degree bag on the market, weighing an obscene 20 ounces. We felt no downgrade in warmth when testing it during a cold spring ski mountaineering season. Big Plus: 850-fill goose down keeps it plus.

$420 sierradesigns.com

 

 

BEST GUIDE BOOK

Eldorado Canyon: A Climbing Guide

Sharp End Publshing

You think you know Eldo? Steve Levin’s brand-new guide to this Front Range slice of red rock paradise contains detalied info and photo overlays on over 1,500 routes in the canyon from multi-pitch classics to the obscure. But the history of climbing in Eldo that Levin details here may be as valuable as all that juicy route beta. Big Plus:  There’s beautiful photogrpahy by local -climber Matt Kelley.

$40; sharpendbooks.com

 

 

BEST WATCH

Suunto Elementum Terra

What do you give the dude retiring from corporate life to go become a mountaineering bum? Why a functional luxury wristwatch of course. Big Plus: A functional compass.

$899; suuntousausa.com