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Staple Gear Items for Your Next Backpacking/ Camping Trip

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With the arrival of summer, now is the time to pull old gear from storage and assess the damage from last year’s pursuits. Below are a few key items that would be intelligent additions to your stash or be worthy replacements to beloved items needing to be retired from the field.

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Plot your next great outdoors adventure, perhaps in the Wheeler Geological Area in southern Colorado. Volcanic tuff rock spires and ghostly pinnacles rise above the tree line in the La Garita mountain range. The nearly 16-mile round-trip hike to the rock formations begins at a trailhead located off Colorado 149 on the end of Pool Table Road at Hanson’s Mills—about seven miles southeast of the town of Creede.

Starting at an elevation of 10,800 feet, you’ll head north, rising to nearly 12,000 feet elevation at the formations. Or if you have a sturdy 4WD vehicle, you can drive the 14 miles from the Mills up to the geological area and just stroll along a 2.8-mile loop trail among the spires. Put your new La Sportiva boots to the test on this exhilarating hike, and then return to basecamp for some well-deserved steaks (or veggie hamburgers) grilled to perfection atop the Primus Profile Dual.

La Sportiva Thunder III GTX: $185

One of the quickest ways for a long hike or backpacking trip to turn sour is for your boots to fail you—that and if your buddy eats all ofthe M&Ms in the community trail mix. La Sportiva has recently released the new mid-weight boot Thunder III GTX in men and women’s styles to curtail potential tootsie calamities; unfortunately, there’s no new tech to remedy your partner’s lack of trail etiquette.

At $185, the Thunder III GTX is a moderately priced mid-weight boot ideal for light to medium loads on backpacking adventures or long day hikes. An imbedded half-steel shank deflects much of the abuse from your feet on jagged terrain while the molded rubber heel stabilizer saves ankles from painful rolls.

What separates the latest edition from the former Thunder II is the addition of a Vibram River—soles that provide a very effective grip, even on wet rock faces. Another added feature is the boot’s outsole Impact Break System, which La Sportiva states will increase braking power up to 20 percent and drop impact forces by around 20 percent. Translation: the boot should prevent the trail from morphing completely into a muddied version of Slip N’ Slide and also save your feet from blisters.

The combination of full-grain Nubuck Leather uppers and a GoreTex membrane will keep your feet dry in most conditions (everything eventually gets wet in torrential downpours). However, if you’re hiking in hot weather, the GoreTex lining can trap sweat inside the boot and keep feet damp. But a good price and reliable support without the feel of a more cumbersome boot makes the Thunder III GTX a worthwhile purchase.

My first time using these beauties was on a 12 mile hike to the top of Mount Harvard near Buena Vista, Colorado. I stashed a pair of broken in tennis shoes in my pack just in case the Thunder III GTX started to give me trouble. But didn’t need the change of shoes because even on the varied terrain and steep climb up, I didn’t have a single problem. And better yet, once we were back to the basecamp no damage (i.e. blisters) to report. To me, this is a very impressive boot to be able to cover so much ground without any problems along the way.

Primus Profile Dual: $159.95

There is a time and a place for ultra-light camping stoves—like trekking the rugged backcountry of Denali National Park or embarking upon France’s 124-mile Haute Route through the mountains of Corsica. But those small stoves for one-person pots fall short when cooking for a larger car camping crowd. (People become slightly miffed when waiting an hour for you to cook each dish one tiny pot at a time).

If you’re about to impart your expert camping knowledge to neophyte friends at the campground, it’s time to bring in reinforcements—the Primus Profile Dual basecamp stove. Weighing in at 11.9 pounds, this gas-fired beast features a 3360 W burner in addition to a BBQ grill burner. The stainless steal drip tray and removable non-stick grill tray will make dish/clean-up duty feel less like a punishment and prompt more of a “feel good for pitching in” sensation.

Water boils in three minutes, so caffeine fiends won’t have to wait long for morning coffee. Built-in wind shields help prevent interruptions from grilling perfection. The grill/stove combo is built to accommodate up to 10 people and also features a flexible hose for easy connection to a one-pound canister of propane.

The Primus Profile Dual is ideal in basecamps for friends on a rock-climbing bonanza, a family exploring a new national forest, and most any other group outdoor adventure you can cook up.

Visit the Fjällräven Denver store to purchase the stove. Address : 777 Pearl Street in Boulder, CO

Fjällräven Move With Bag Regular: $300

In the middle of the night, you suddenly awake in your tent to the distressing sensation that your sleeping bag is attempting to suffocate you. Those who love nothing more than to completely zip up within their hooded bags most likely are all too familiar with this disorienting occurrence: You turned in your sleep. But the bag didn’t, so now the hood opening is on the back of your neck rather than over your face.

If you have taken pause to reminisce about your own sleeping bag woes, then the Fjällräven Move With Bag could be the remedy to your nighttime battles. As its name suggests, this sleeping bag model is designed to move with your body as you toss and turn during the night.

The lightweight bag (9.5 ounces) features a hybrid construction: The box channels around the torso are filled with 700 cuin down while 600 cuin down is in stitch through channels. The top and bottom of the bag possess the same fill weight, and the zipper construction (4/3 length) allows you to conveniently zip it out into a blanket when you have someone to snuggle with.

The Move With Bag comes in black, blue and red; sorry, you’ll have to bedazzle it on your own. The regular-sized bag’s shoulder width is 29.5 inches, foot width is 20.5 inches, and the tallest you can be for this bag is about 71 inches. The bag’s temperature rating for ideal comfort while snuggled inside is 48 degrees Fahrenheit.

So say goodbye to waking in a panic because you’re trapped inside your sleeping bag; however, you still will have to handle those pesky sticks and rocks that always seem to find their way beneath you no matter how carefully the tent site was chosen.

I used this sleeping bag recently while camping in Iron City near Buena Vista, Colorado. The weekend prior I was camping in similar weather conditions with a different sleeping bag and woke up numb from my toes to my nose. It was that kind of moment when you can’t wait for the sin to come up in hopes the shivering will stop and feeling will return to your feet. It was COLD and I thought about ditching the second night of camping to stay warm. After switching to the Fjällräven Move With Bag on my last trip, I wanted to extend the travels. I woke up cozy and non-tangled with the sun instead of being alerted to freezing temperatures at 2:17 a.m. Needless to say, this bag doesn’t dissapoint. It packs down much more compact as well leaving more space in my pack—for trail mix

Visit the Fjällräven Denver store to purchase the sleeping bag. Address : 777 Pearl Street in Boulder, CO

Osprey Viva 50: $180

Osprey has recently launched the new Viva line of women’s packs. The goal of this line is to provide adventurous ladies with a lightweight, affordable fitted pack. Although the line doesn’t contain all of the bells and whistles of, say, a $400 pack, the Viva products haven’t shaved off what counts—comfort, durability and plenty of room to stash all of the necessary food and gear to hit the backcountry, in style and comfort.

For its size and quality, the $180 price tag is a good deal for the Viva 50, which is available in plum purple and emerald green. The 50-liter pack (3,051 cubic inches) weighs in at 3 lbs., 9 oz.—may not be the lightest pack on the market but it’s still lightweight enough to help prevent your back from seizing up in pain during a trek into the backcountry.

The pack’s adjustable torso and hip belt ensure a custom fit, and six exterior pockets provide ample space to stash a cell phone, trail mix and other goodies in easy-to-reach spots. My go to pockets sit right on the hips and were perfect to put the items I grabbed most, like sunscreen and the camera! The Viva 50 is top loading, equipped with a bottom sleeping bag compartment and even ice axe loops for the hardcore gal. The pack is easily adjustable for height and distributes weight so evenly that carry 60 plus pounds on my back wasn’t even a bother at times. For longer adventures, check out the slightly larger Viva 65 backpack.

Mosquitno Bands: $3.99

Mosquitno’s repellent bracelets will keep you safe from pesky bugs on your trip. The clever wristbands are a convenient and easy way to repel mosquitos and another biting bugs whether you are hanging out in the backyard, gardening or hiking. They are infused with citronella, and each band lasts for 6 days (or 150 hours of exposure).

The rubber wristbands come in resealable packages to preserve effectiveness when not in use. And not only are they non-toxic and DEET-free, they’re waterproof as well. They work for people of all ages. Whether you too are looking for protection at a creekside camp spot or want to protect your kids who love to run through the sprinkler or jump in the lake without having to reapply a spray after swimming.

Put away messy, toxic sprays and simply slip on the Mosquito Wristbands and you can enjoy the outdoors without worrying about mosquitos. They’re excellent for traveling since they take up very little space and eliminate the need to pack one more bottle of liquid – or hunt for spray when you arrive at your destination. Also, no more risk of bug spray leaking all over your suitcase!

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