Covet This Stuff

It’s time to hand out some Elevation Outdoors’ Editor’s Choice hardware for the best stuff we put to the test out in the field.

1. Deuter ACT Lite 65+10

There are no bells and whistles on this pack, but damn does it carry well. At 65 liters, plus a 10-liter extension, it was the perfect size for core backpacking—but it was the fit and feel that really impressed us on a four-day trip over the lava rocks of Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. Once we cinched it down, we barely knew it was there when rock hopping and navigating tricky traverses. And the Aircontact Lite ventilation system kept us dry and comfy without feeling like too much bulk on the back. $199; 

2. Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket 

The truth is that you don’t often need a rain jacket in the Rockies—it becomes an extra bulk piece you stuff in your pack. What you do need is the Helium II, a 6.4-ounce shell that packs down small enough to stash in a water bottle pocket. And while it’s not the choice for all-day storms, the waterproof/breathable Pertex Shield DS fabirc shucked off spring precipitation. $150;

3. Petzl Nao

It won’t be on store shelves until July, but we were lucky enough to test Petzl’s much heralded USB-rechargable-power headlamp in caves and camp this spring. It comes complete with a sensor that powers the LEDs according to how much light you need. So we didn’t blind our buddies in camp but were able to peer into the darkest recesses underground. $175; 

4. Sierra Designs Zissou 30 Sleeping Bag with DriDown

This summer backpacking bag has already won numerous awards from a host of outdoor publicatons and we will happily hop on the bandwagon. The 600-fill DriDown is real down, but it works even when wet, ideal for Colorado where down is a logical choice but a huge bummer if it does get wet. $200;

5. Native Eyewear Endo

These shades became our go-to eyewear for everything from fly fishing Boulder Creek to chasing our racer buddies on mountain bike rides to slogging a big backpack up the steep trail to James Peak. The key was ventialtion above the interchangable lenses that truly stopped fogging. $109–$129; 

6. Big Agnes Fly Creek 2P Platinum UL

Our first reaction when we picked up this ridonkulously light, 1-pound, 13-ounce tent was, “no way.” We were not sure if we could trust it on a serious trip. But we manned up and packed it for a traverse of the Indian Peaks and we were aboslutely shocked how well it survived a graupel squall and nasty gusts in Wild Basin. Even better we got rid of the tent itself and used it in tarp-and-ground-cover mode for a hard-charging expedition into Utah slot canyons. $500; 

7. Jetboil SUMO Companion Cup

We are big fans of Jerboil stoves—except the cup can often be a bit too small when we are using it for more than two people. The 1.8-liter Sumo is the perfect community cooking solution and allowed us to leave the crockery at home.  $50;    

8. Kelty LumaSpot Rhythm

Yeah, we know, you like to get away from electonic devices when you are in the wild. But if you want to party down a bit while car camping, this lantern, spotlight and MP3 player speaker system is the type of thing for which your CU-student neighboors would burn a couch. But it’s best for families who may find the need to put on a little Jeff Kagan every once in a while to keep the marshmellow roast rolling along whine-free. $64; 

9. Easton Mountain Products Kilo3P

Here’s another piece that’s already received some awards for good reason. There’s nothing worse than two big dudes squeezed together in a tent on a long backpack trip. But this super-shelter provides 43 square feet of space while tipping the scales at just 3 pounds. Plus, it set up in a snap when we rolled into camp in Fruita late on a windy night. $499; 

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