March gear

A good night’s sleep: it’s even more important after you’ve covered 15 miles with 30 pounds on your back. This month, we focus on the importance of sound, warm sleep — and comfort in general — on the trail. Some gear we especially love this month.

Sleeping bag: Western Mountaineering Everlite

If you camp in winter, you likely have a bag that goes down to 20 degrees — or lower. If you don’t camp in winter (or eschew cold weather in general) you likely won’t be backpacking when the temperature is much below 50. So why invest in a bag that carries the extra bulk, weight and constriction of a bag with more fluff than you need? Why not invest in the Everlite, which weighs in at just 14 ounces (for a Regular bag accommodating a 6-foot camper) and stuffs down to 5 inches by 8 inches? Rated to 45 degrees, the Everlight is a full-zip down bag with an ample foot box that accommodates the most restless of sleepers. It’s got durable 12D nylon ripstop on the outside, comfy 15D nylon taffeta on the inside (taffeta, mmmm … ).

Worried that 45 degrees might not cut it? A bag liner will comfortably get you into the mid 30s. And, if the temperature gets into the 60s or higher, the Everlite opens completely to act as a blanket. Ideal gear for the bulk of the backpacking season.

Learn more here.

Colder sleeping bag: Big Agnes Women’s Slavonia

So maybe you don’t like to backpack when sparse daylight means you’ll be spending 12 hours — or more — in your bag. But you are eager to hit the trail early in the Spring and stay on it late into the Fall. You want the assurance of a bag rated to at least 30 degrees, such as the synthetic-fill Big Agnes Slavonia. So it weights a little more (around 2.5 pounds) and it takes up a little more room in your pack — if you’re looking for reliable warmth and comfort at a reasonable price, the Slavonia is hard to beat.

And it’s got all sorts of nifty features, from a zipper garage (beats the Velcroed kind — “that tearing …”), to a stash pocket in the shoulder, to the his & hers zippers that make it possible to  unite two bags. The vaulted foot box gives your feet room to wiggle, ditto the extra two inches in the hip area. There’s also added insulation in the foot box, helping to insure that your feet don’t go cold in the night.

Learn more here.

Ethos: tentree

Form. Function. And now, responsibility. In the beginning, in the days of canvas and wool, the basic requirement of our gear was that it perform well. Then, we started caring a little more about how we looked. Today, we still care about both, but we also care about the impact of our gear on the planet.

We proudly carry a number of brands that go above and beyond to promote sustainability. tentree, for instance, offers a range of snazzy men’s and women’s lines that not only look great but whose manufacture has earned the Certified B Corp — businesses that, according to the non-profit B Corp, “meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency” (there are currently just 2,100 B Corps worldwide) — a b-score of 94. As part of its commitment, tentree plants 10 trees for every item it sells. (They’ve planned nearly 20 million so far.)

Learn more about tentree, their mission and their products, here.

Versatile shoes: Astral

You’re about to head out for a day of adventure and fun, but you’re flummoxed as you stare into your shoe closet. On the one hand, you’ll be doing a little hiking. On the other, some paddling is on the agenda, too. And — let’s borrow a foot here — afterward, you plan to hit a pub. That’s three separate pairs of shoes!

Or is it?

Astral has a line of shoes that do triple duty. Take the Astral Loyak Water Shoe, a low volume, high performance shoe providing durability, superlative grip, and supreme comfort on water or land.  And check ‘em out: who’s going to be self conscious walking into a bar — or even a decent place to eat — in these babies?

Learn more here.