Summer Gear Locker: 2017 hiking and camping gear by MSR, RMU, Fjallraven, KEEN and more
Summer toy chest
Trail socks by FITS | $15.99-$18.99
Merino wool is the new polyester blend, but for lightweight running and hiking socks? You’d better believe it. The athletic line from FITS features socks of various heights and weights made with a Merino-nylon-polyester blend, with extra cushioning in the heel, toe and arch for long days on the trail. The price seems steep, but that’s just about average for purpose-made socks by Smartwool, Under Armour and the like.
Force Dry by DryGuy | $50
It seems like hiking and mountaineering boots get more ridiculously expensive every year, which means they’d better last for years and years. But what if you’ve got stinky feet? The Force Dry from DryGuy is a (relatively) cheap alternative to replacing boots every season. It gently warms one pair of boots, gloves or other items in about an hour, battling odors and mold at the same time. It’ll really tie together your mudroom.
ItBandz knee brace | $19.99
Mountain-town knees take a beating. If you live here (or visit often), chances are good you’ll battle some kind of joint pain from skiing, running, hiking or anything. The ItBandz knee brace is made for people who struggle with knee pain but still can’t say no to the outdoors — and don’t want anything to do with bulky braces. It’s a sleek, slender brace the width of a cellphone that fits directly under your knee, providing support without slipping or bunching like some soft braces.
In just a few short weeks, hiking trails high in the Rocky Mountains will be ready for a long, long season of trekking and camping and scrambling.
Until that day arrives — and it will — update your trail gear with the latest and greatest from MSR, Camelbak, Rocky Mountain Underground and Fjallraven, a Swedish company that’s quietly been making some of the most fashionably reliable hiking apparel this side of Aspen.
1. Hubba Hubba NX by MSR | $299.95-$399.95
It takes more than a catchy name to make a reliable backpacking tent and MSR has hit the jackpot with the Hubba Hubba NX. Redesigned in 2014, this is one of the best mid-range, lightweight tents on the market, weighing in at 3 pounds, 7 ounces with all components, or as light as 2 pounds, 2 ounces with the “fast and light” option (no rainfly). It’s tight for a two-person tent at 29 square feet, but a rectangular floor with no taper helps it feel just a little bigger. So do two zippered doors and a large vestibule. Best part: the price. At about $300, depending on where you buy, it’s one of the cheapest three-season tents you won’t find at Target.
2. Franconia 24L by Camelbak | $160
Camelbak has been in the game for so long it’s hard to imagine how the company will improve on its core concept: elegant water reservoirs with a backpack built to match. Enter the Franconia 24L, one of the newest products in the Low Rider line. The 24-liter pack is made for long, demanding treks and rides: air suspension back panel, ventilated hip belt, exterior stretch pockets, a trekking pole attachment and, of course, a separate compartment for the included three-liter bladder with compression straps for minimal sloshing. It’s a day-hiker’s new best friend.
3. Core Pack by RMU | $199.99
The guys and gals at Rocky Mountain Underground keep reinventing themselves — first skis, then dog bowl collars, then a ski bar — and it’s all in the name of making mountain life better. The Breckenridge company’s latest addition, the Core Pack, is the first foray into backpacks, featuring everything a skier-slash-mountaineer needs: durable outer material, easy-to-access pockets, no extraneous straps, an inner waterproof sleeve, helmet holder and more. The 35-liter pack is in the final pre-production stages now, with an expected release date of June or July.
4. Women’s Terradora by KEEN | $140
Not all hiking boots are created equal. Take the KEEN Terradora: a women’s-only, mid-height, waterproof hiking boot built with lightweight breathable mesh that’s tough enough for the trail, but trendy enough for a night on the town. It features a cushion panel through the ankle to take pressure off the Achilles, as well as a synthetic liner with natural odor control. Until Louis Vuitton starts making hiking boots, these will do the trick.
5. Newport Evo H2 by KEEN | $100
Some folks like hiking boots, others like hiking shoes and still others like hiking sandals. It takes all types, you know? The KEEN Newport Evo H2 is made just for the sandal-hiking types, along with anyone who spends time on the river. The polyester outer features a drawstring closure, plenty of ventilation and a reinforced toe-cap (no more stubbed toes). It comes in men’s and women’s sizes, and both are made with an anatomical footbed to protect your arches on long hikes. If you’d rather have a sandal that’s more about fashion than function, try the open-toe Rialto ($100), also in men’s and women’s sizes.
Backpacking just got a little more luxurious with the Abisko Lite men’s and women’s trekking trousers from Fjallraven, a storied Swedish outfitter with North American headquarters in Boulder. The Abisko trouser line features lightweight synthetic material that’s breathable and waterproof — the trousers were tested in rainy Scandinavia, after all — with an articulated cut through the knees and rear for bending, stepping and shuffling down the trail. All models come with two hand pockets, waist loops for gear, hip-to-knee vents and reinforced leg endings to prevent boot abrasion. Sure, a pair might cost as much as Diesel jeans, but we’re betting the crotch won’t wear out nearly as fast.
7. Abisko Eco-Shell by Fjallraven | $375
Fjallraven’s Abisko line doesn’t end with trekking pants, and the Eco-Shell for men and women is a perfect complement to its lower half. The 2.5-layer jacket is wind and waterproof, with a sleek outer membrane that won’t crinkle or crease like other beefy shells. And this one sure seems beefy: with a hood, three pockets, oversized two-way front zipper and waist ventilation (its in the pockets), it’s made to handle three seasons in the Rocky Mountains, Scandinavia or anywhere, and yet still packs into its right-hand pocket.
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