Here they are: Elevation Outdoors Editor’s Choice awards for the best gear for hiking, camping, backpacking and trail running in the Rockies.
BEST DO-IT-ALL PACK
1. Bergans of Norway Glittertind
A backpack proves itself on the trail and nothing we hauled felt better on our backs than the 55-liter Glittertind. Credit that comfort and carrying prowess to the pack’s DNA, so to speak—the internal SPINE system consists of a steel double helix that holds the load and bends with shoulders and hips as you walk. It also comes in a 70-liter version for bigger outings.
BEST SLEEPING BAG
2. Sierra Designs Cal 30°
This bag delvers everything we wanted: It’s light at 1 pound, 3 ounces and stays fluffy and cozy even when wet thanks to DriDown.
BEST RAIN SHELL (MEN)
3. Westcomb Shift LT Hoodie
Polartec’s light, durable waterproof/breathable NeoShell and Vancouver-based Westcomb’s sense of style made this shell the one we counted on when summer squalls hit us in the high peaks.
BEST RAIN SHELL (WOMEN)
4. Rab Myriad
Our female testers were also impressed by the light weight and breathability of Polartec’s NeoShell—and more so by the nice fit and lines of this jacket.
5. The Power Pot
Providing simple electricity in the woods, the Power Pot will charge up your phone, GPS, camera, SteriPen, etc. while you boil water, be it over a camp stove or open flame. At 5 watts, it charges faster and more evenly than many solar devices we have hauled on the trail.
BEST TREKKING POLES
6. Black Diamond Ultra Distance
Built with strong, light carbon fiber these easy-to-collapse poles survived scrambles on the talus slopes of the divide in Rocky Mountain National Park.
BEST HIKER (MEN)
7. Salewa Hike Trainer GTX
This hiker provided classic high ankle support and a solid sole but felt light underfoot. The lacing system especially impressed since it actually helped snug our foot into the shoe.
BEST TRAIL RUNING PACK
8. Ultimate Direction Jurek Endure
Boulder-based ultrarunning champ Scott Jurek designed this double-barrel water belt pack that held the essentials but didn’t get in the way when we were running anything from the Mesa Trail to the Colorado Trail.
BEST HIKER (WOMEN)
9. Scarpa Epic Pro GTX
Weighing in a mere 13.2 ounces per shoe, the Epic made our active female testers happy since it could tackle anything from short trail runs to day hikes to scrambles.
BEST TRAINER (MEN)
10. Tevasphere Trail eVent
Teva rethought the way natural running works in this 12-ounce eVent shoe. Doing more than helping with our stride, the sole and spherical heel offered stability and traction on trail.
BEST TRAINER (WOMEN)
11. Dynafit Ghost
Sure these light (8.5-ounce), stable mountain runners felt great on the trail, but they looked good at the Farmer’s Market, too.
BEST CAMP FLY
12. Nemo Bugout
A godsend on family car camping trips, this fly protects the picnic table from the inevitable rain and holds the bugs at bay.
13. Mountain Hardwear SkyLedge 2 DP
Starting to rain when you roll into camp? No worries—this tent lets you pitch the fly first in a hurry and then crawl under to set up the main tent while you stay nice and dry.
BEST DAY PACK
14. REI Flash 22
Forget fancy suspension systems, the Flash 22 delivered what a day pack should—it’s light, comfy and swallows up a ton of swag.
BEST SLEEPING PAD
15. Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite
No more silly strapping your pad on the back of your pack—this 8-, 12- or 16-ounce (depending on length) pad stuffs inside and provides all the insulation of bulkier models.
BEST BACKPACKING STOVE
16. MSR Reactor 1.0
This light, reliable cartridge stove connects to a 1-liter pot and boils up water in no time. 1.7 and 2.5 liter versions also available.
17. Revo Converge
We chose these sunglasses by shopping at Apex by Sunglass Hut, at the 29th Street Mall in Boulder. We walked in and told the associates we wanted the best shades for hiking and backpacking this summer. They assessed our face, put us in a wind tunnel, let us see how the lenses would work in different light conditions—all within the walls of the shop and then—voila—we found these, our new go-to shades.