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Trail Time

Cooler temperatures and thinner crowds—not to mention crisp air and gorgeous foliage— make fall the ideal time to go backpacking. Here’s the gear to get it done.

Gregory – Baltoro 75

This big hauler is our pack of choice for gear-heavy trips (it swallows up climbing ropes, pack rafts, and fly rods) or adventures when we volunteer to carry the bulk of the family’s gear. And the suspension system, which comes in three size options and allows for additional adjustments to match your torso, distributes that load with ease while also providing lots of air flow via mesh venting. But it’s the little details that really impress us: A 14-liter mini pack attaches inside, mesh back pockets make it easy to keep essentials nearby, and the hip-belt pockets have ample space for gear you want to grab in a hurry. $350;

Osprey – Eja 58

Tipping the scales at under three pounds, this women’s pack strikes the perfect balance—both lightweight and extremely stable. Credit that reliable on-trail performance to the brand’s AirSpeed suspension, which features a 3D mesh that gets the pack off your back to ventilate air and cut down on weight. It’s a pack designed for the long haul of thru-hikes, but we find it’s just as effective on weekend jaunts. $260;

Leki – Makalu FX Carbon

Light and sturdy, these trekking poles give you all the support you need to navigate rocky slopes and babbling brooks with a heavy pack on your back. But since they weigh just about nine ounce per pole, they don’t feel bulky or wear you down during a long trip. The five-piece poles break down and set up in a snap and adjust between 110 and 130 cm, and a long grip shaft lets you grab down and shorten the pole on uneven ground. $220;

Para’kito – Mosquito Repellent Wristband

A wise haiku by the Japanese poet Issa observes: “All the time I pray to Buddha / I keep on / killing mosquitoes.” Spend any amount of time in the woods and you understand. But you don’t have to kill the damn bugs if you wear this effective bracelet. DEET-free, it loads up with essential oils that keep the much-hated denizens at bay. Yes, it works. $19.50;

Oboz – Bridger Mid Waterproof

Our standby shoe for backpacking or big trail adventures provides all the support you need when you are schlepping a big load but (even straight out of the box) they feel far more comfortable than more rigid trekking boots. The brand’s proprietary B-DRY membrane means you can stomp through muck with confidence and the responsive O-FIT insole keeps the shoe lively over hundreds of trail miles. It’s a versatile boot you can use for that bucket-list thru-hike or simply on a fun scramble with friends. $190;

Vasque – Breeze

It’s back, baby. This light hiker has been a crowd favorite for ages and the latest iteration includes technical upgrades, including a burly Value Trail Slider outsole that can handle mud and slickrock. Weighing two pounds, two ounces and providing waterproof protection in the upper, the women’s model is a fine choice for backpacking or quick day hikes with friends. $160;

Sawyer – Mini Water Filter

Carrying a bunch of water inflicts a heavyweight penalty on your lightweight backpacking set up. Don’t do it. This 1.4-ounce handheld filter provides a far better option. It fits right on the mouth of a store-bought plastic bottle and purifies your drinking water whether you are on the trail or traveling abroad. $25;

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