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It’s Trail Time

Warmer weather means it’s time to start exploring deep in the hills again—especially as social distancing continues and you seek space and solitude. Check out our picks for the best hiking and backpacking gear to help get you out there.

Ariel Plus 60

Osprey upped the game in its already impressive Ariel (women’s) and Aether (men’s) packs this season by revamping the back panel to better hold up to heavy loads. That foam panel circulates air and plenty of stability but still flexes with your torso on the trail—and, since it’s injection molded—the production of the pack creates virtually no plastic waste. The “Plus” packs include a removable top compartment that transforms into a day pack and carry loops for trekking poles. $340;

Alp Trainer Mid GTX

This sturdy hiker can withstand all the abuse of days scrambling over rough Appalachian rocks hauling big loads, but, weighing in at an impressive 19 ounces per shoe, it doesn’t bog you down. Waterproof and quite breathable, it proves the perfect answer to the wet and muck of big spring adventures in the Blue Ridge and beyond. $200;


Cutting down on weight in your pack is the prime objective when it comes to assembling your backpacking kit, but one place you don’t want to skimp is on your stove. Jerboil’s latest is featherweight at just 7.1 ounces (including a .8-liter pot) but the easy-to-pack unit summons all the power you want to boil water in a hurry (Jetboil claims 2 minutes 30 seconds) when you pull up late into a backcountry camp spot. It’s an ideal choice for  thru-hikers as well as weekend warriors. $130;

Sypes Mid Leather Waterproof

Meet your new favorite shoe for all occasions. Comfortable straight out of the box, this mid hiker can eat up trail miles thanks to a deep lug pattern on the sole that sticks to wet rocks and roots and cuts through mud. And while it offers plenty of protection, the beefy Cordura upper is comfy enough that you won’t want to rip these shoes off when you are chilling out post-hike. $165;

Stash N’ Dash Harness

This sturdy dog harness packs into a carrying case you can stash in the bottom of your pack or back of your car for when you and your canine companion head out into the wild. Providing lots of support without pulling on your pet’s neck, it comes in handy when you have to lift that pup up over obstacles or want to run and not worry about yanking. $38;

Downpour Eco

British mountaineering brand Rab continues to impress us with apparel that’s meant for serious alpine ascents but serves just as well on far more modest adventures. Take this sturdy rain shell: It tips the scales at just 11 ounces, and the 2.5-layer Pertex material shucks off foul weather while providing enough breathability to keep moving at a brisk pace while wearing a pack. Add in an easily adjustable hood that fits without cramping your style and pit zips for when things really heat up and you have a winner. $120;

Zerk 40

Iconic packmaker Mountainsmith designed this 40-liter hauler with input from thru-hiking celeb the Real Hiking Viking. The result is a minimalist pack ideal for big day outings and minimalist overnighters. The thought that went into it shows in the smart details: the mesh side pockets hold lots of gear and keep it handy; the shoulder straps draw on ultra-running design and hold a water bottle and other necessities; and it even comes with a bear canister strap up top to carry those big, clumsy containers without using up all the space inside your pack. $220; 

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