Our Guide to the Best Backpacking Gear for Men

best backpacking gear
Photo by Kyle Meck

For long weekends or expeditions away from civilization, we backpack into a basecamp so we can spend more time exploring, climbing, and running, taking off for hidden lakes and high summits that would be inaccessible in a day. Being able to haul your stuff is a tricky proposition, so going ultralight is always a goal. Read on to learn more about some of best backpacking gear for men.

Cotopaxi Nepal 65L Backpack, $230

Cotopaxi just keeps putting out great gear year after year. The Nepal’s bevy of pockets and zippers mean nothing is too far away, while being easily stashable and protected from the elements. It also includes the appropriate compression straps and attachment straps to ensure a good fit. We’ve always been fans of their colorful gear and this one’s no different: the bright red/blue scheme here means you’re easily spottable on the trail.

Western Mountaineering MegaLite Sleeping Bag, $460-$470

Western Mountaineering MegaLite Sleeping Bag

A comfortable, warm night’s sleep is almost as crucial as food and water. This ultra-premium bag has an 850-fill down insulation coupled with an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio to be both useful and lightweight. It’s even set for unpredictable weather with a water-resistant coating the shields the bag (and you) from frost, condensation, and other drip. It’s certainly an investment, but this American-made bag will ensure countless nights of restorative rest on the trails for years to come.

Klymit Inertia X Frame Sleeping Pad, $70

Klymit Inertia X Frame Sleeping Pad

Gone are the days when you have to sleep on a glorified yoga mat to shave ounces from your pack. Klymit’s Inertia X Frame is a skeletonized inflatable mattress that weighs a mere nine ounces. It fits in your mummy bag, which ensures you won’t slip off, and also that you’ll have extra air pockets and loft to keep you warm. It’s got a mouth inflation valve as well a a small hand pump (it looks like the bulb on a blood pressure cuff) so you can fine tune it to your liking. If you’re counting out the ounces, this is one comfort you can’t afford to cut out of your pack.

Mountainsmith Bear Creek 2 Tent, $140

We like this option because of its “Fast Fly” setup for some respite after a long day tackling miles. The tent is made of a durable poly material and sets up for a little over 30 square feet of living space — roomy enough for one or two people. At under $150, it’s a great value too; you’re getting all of the benefits of a tough, ultralight tent at a much more tangible price point (leaving room for more accessories for the trail!).

Primus Primetech Stove Kit Lite, $120

Primus Primetech Stove Kit Lite

Packing and prepping a hot meal is always a challenge, but this portable stove makes things much easier. The 2.3-liter ceramic pot from Primus has a nonstick coating, making cleanup a breeze, and it takes under four minutes to boil water. Each component of the stove packs into the pot and the whole thing weighs under two pounds for easy transport. One-button ignition means easy heating and cooking, while an integrated colander lid lets the water drain from a pre-cooked meal. On a cold morning, you’ll be thankful you have a way to heat up breakfast.

Vasque Breeze III GTX Hiking Boots, $180

Perhaps only secondary to your backpack is the right pair of shoes. The Breeze III’s are a more rugged take on Vasque’s trademark durability with a Vibram Megagrip and built-in Gore-tex. Although a bit stiff out of the box, they’ll break in nicely over time and really mold to your foot as the miles add up. Proper ankle support helps keep your dogs from barking too much, and you’ll be feeling great with plenty of ventilation and breathability throughout.

ExOfficio Sol Cool Nomad Pant, $80

ExOfficio Sol Cool Nomad Pant

Although they’re known for some of best travel underwear on the market, ExOfficio makes some pretty sweet pants too. These particular ones are made from an SPF 50 fabric with additional specialized engineering to wick away moisture. They also have a Teflon finish for maximum stain protection. As for utility, two zip leg pockets hold items out of sight beyond the regular front and back pockets.

Feature image by Kyle Meck. Article originally published by Austin Parker on September 01, 2015. Last updated by Geoff Nudelman on November 7, 2017.