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The Path Ahead: Backpacking Gear

The trails are calling. It’s time to gear up and go backpacking in the wilds of the Blue Ridge (and beyond). Here’s the best equipment to make your journey easier and lighter.



Atmos AG LT 65

Here’s a pack for those of us who want to keep it light but not obsess over ounces. Tipping the scales at just over four pounds, this hauler provides more comfort and stability than ultralight packs, thanks to Osprey’s AntiGravity system, which integrates a hip belt and back panel and easily adjusts on the fly. Plus, it includes more features than you would expect from a more minimalist pack, including a raincover, removable sleeping pad straps, and a floating top section. $290;



Jade 53

This svelte women’s overnight pack weighs less than four pounds and has a suspension system that shifts with your torso, keeping movements easy and stable when you are navigating rough terrain. And it gets extra points because it’s built for female frames with special emphasis on how the pack conforms to and rides on the hips. Bonus: A nifty clip system makes it easy to remove or secure a hydration bladder inside. $220;



Pedroc Pro Powerflex Mid

Continuing with our theme of lightweight power, this supercharged speed hiker has the brawn to support your ankles when you are carrying a full pack but doesn’t cramp your style. Weighing in at under 14 ounces, it will put a spring in your step when you are crushing on packed dirt and handle the rigors of a Blue Ridge bushwhack to reach a remote summit. $200;



Black Series FX Carbon 

An all-natural cork Aergon Air grip keeps these hiking poles comfortable—whether they are wet or dry—and the internal core locking device is easy to manage with just one pull. At a mere eight ounces per pole, they are adjustable from 110–130 cm and store down at an easy-to-stash 38 cm. $270;

PACT Lite Kit


Lite Kit

We already loved PACT for its smart, all-in-one poop kits for car camping. The new backpacking version, which weighs just four ounces, includes an aluminum shovel for burying your waste. And there’s more. Inside the handle are 12 compostable wipes and 30 tabs that aid in decomposing your feces. This may sound like TMI, but it’s critical to properly dispose of waste in the backcountry. $35;



Mythic Ultra 180

Good down to freezing, this ultralight sleeping bag saves ounces and space with an item that usually hogs up both. Rab got the weight down to just 14 ounces by using Thermo Ionic Lining Technology, a heat-reflective fabric treatment that ensures your body heat is not wasted during the night. It’s no pushover, either; ripstop nylon on the outside means you can confidently roll it out on the open ground. $600;


Outdoor Vitals 

Nebo Windbreaker

The perfect layer for summer in the mountains, this shell will cut the chilly wind on an exposed ridgeline or just keep you warm as the sun sets. At a scant four ounces, it packs down into a water bottle or stash pocket so you can grab it in a hurry as the weather shifts. $125;


Royal Robbins

Venture Crew Sock

Socks are the forgotten essential when it comes to backpacking gear—but they can make or break a trip. Made with a blend of recycled polyester and hemp, these babies not only feel soft as you pound the trail, they wick away sweat so you don’t stink in camp. $22;

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