The Manual’s 2014 Guide to Outdoor Gear
Although we wish it were the case, you can’t simply swap out your pair of Chacos for some wool socks and call it a day when the autumn nights begin to show their true colors. Climate and lifestyle changes accompany late September, signaling the end of the summer season and ushering in the short days and brisk nights that will come to characterize the next few months. However, a mere polyester t-shirt and a pair of fast-drying nylon shorts just won’t cut it in the wilderness any longer, nor will that light sleeping bag you’ve been pleasantly laying atop in your skivvies as you wait for the sun to go down. The latter months of the year require down insulation and moisture-wicking materials — not to mention the proper lighting and something to sip on. Hence, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite outdoor gear for 2014.
Patagonia DAS Pants ($249): Jackets may seem like the outdoor essential, but it’s just as important to keep your bottom half warm and dry as it is your top. Sculpted to maximize warmth and outfitted with PrimaLoft insulation, Patagonia’s DAS Pants are designed to keep your legs warm even when wet. The nylon shell also shields you from wind and water, while the two-way side zips mean you can get in and out in mere seconds.
Mountain Hardware HyperLamina Spark ($220): The latest offering in Mountain Hardware’s lauded sleeping bag line, the HyperLamina Spark is designed to be the lightest and warmest synthetic sleeping bag on the market. Though the ultralight offering uses the company’s Thermal.Q insulation opposed to down, the 35-degree bag still compresses to a modest 5 liters and weighs just shy of 2 pounds, with a half zipper.
Big Agnes mtnGLO Tent ($200+): Lanterns and headlamps may be the first things that come to might when you think of proper lighting, but Big Agnes’ latest offering is rethinking convenience. Several strands of LED lights line the top seams of the lightweight, 2.6-pound backpacking tent, producing a soft glow with two AA batteries and the simple flick of a switch. Plus, the headlamp-size battery is entirely optional.
Vargo Titanium Funnel Flask ($75): Alcohol, particularly whiskey, is a mainstay of any camping venture. However, pouring copious amounts of booze into a small opening is never any easy task. Vargo’s odor-less, titanium flask provides the solution with an integrated silcone funnel that easily flips up when pouring liquids and back down when not in use. The only downside to the patent-pending flask? Eight ounces is rarely enough.
Icebreaker Helix Hood ($285): The New Zealand-based Icebreaker has been a tour de force as of late. The company’s lightweight Helix Hood is just one example of the company’s hold on repurposed Merino goods, one that offers substantial warmth without unnecessary bulk. A recycled polyester exterior even fends of light precipitation, while the interior wool lining ensures breathability and odor control on the trail.
goTenna ($150): For many people, high-tech gadgets are the last thing on their mind in the wilderness. However, goTenna is more so a tool for communication than one for entertainment. The simple devices come bundled as a pair and connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing you to send text messages and share your location between goTenna’s without a network connection using long-range radio waves.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Ice Pack ($345): Don’t let the name fool you, Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Ice Pack is backpack built for all seasons. The ultralight, 2.3-pound backpack is made of sailcloth and built to be nearly indestructible, providing ample room and protecting your gear from the elements sans a rain cover. Compression straps and daisy chains also come standard — and yes — there’s still room for ice picks.
Sierra Designs ASAP Bivy and Tarp ($260): A large bivy sack is always a welcome addition to any outdoor arsenal, as is a waterproof tarp constructed to deflect the unexpected rigors of the great outdoors. Sierra Design’s is one of the best out there, one that utilizes your trekking poles to create a small shelter under which you can cook, crash, and stretch out. At 1.6 pounds, it’s not the lightest on the market, but it is compact.