It’s always a strange feeling, moving back into the van. We haven’t had a permanent residence other than our van for over two years, but we do take small breaks from time to time. We’ll stay with friends, family, or just take a break from our work and van and travel for a while. Every time we get back in for the “long haul” we feel like we’re starting a new chapter. Packing means a new set of adventures and experiences are on the horizon. It means meeting new people and it always means visiting new places. Packing the van also means appreciating gear that serves a purpose and takes up as little space as possible. We changed up a few things this year, but one thing we wanted to keep is our Gear on the Go blog. It helps us highlight some of the gear that helps us to run a successful eight month tour. As in years past, this will be a monthly feature so keep your eyes peeled and here we go!

Sea To Summit: Woman’s Ether Light XT Insulated Air Sleeping Mat and the Sea To Summit: Journey Women’s Down Sleeping Bag

I, Roxy, have an ongoing fear of being cold while camping and backpacking. I imagine myself wide awake in the middle of the night, toes freezing, nose freezing, listening to Ben breath deeply next to me. Ben is a human heater and shares non of my fears.

If you share these worries with me, then you also know that a perfect sleep system is an answer to your fears. The Ether Light XT Insulated Air Sleeping Mat has an R-Value of 3.8, which means it will keep you elevated four inches off the ground and warm from spring to fall. Even with possible frost, this mat will do its job. The stuff sack comes with Airstream Pump so you don’t have to bring anything extra with you, or huff and puff to get your sleep system set up once you’ve backpacked ten miles in. At only 15 ounces, you don’t have to worry about added weight to your pack. And, it’s quiet. Less crinkle when turning over in the night so you don’t wake yourself, your partner, or your pup up.

The Journey Women’s down sleeping bag is the second step to cozy backcountry sleeping. Besides the extremely satisfying color, I love the feel of this bag. Often, I don’t like to sleep skin to sleeping bag. It feels like a weird trash bag and I feel grimy just thinking about it. This down sleeping bag is made with 30D Nylon on the outside and feels so much nicer on direct skin contact. The down is ULTRA-DRY 650+ and certified Responsible Down Standard (RDS), which I am super happy about. You can zip this sleeping bag directly to any Sea to Summit Ascent™, Trek™ or Traverse™. Ben doesn’t like it as much as I do, but who could say no to a sleeping bag sleepover party?

The mat and bag are women specific. There is extra down in the foot area, so the cold foot nightmares never come true. There is wider areas between the hips and knees so you can sleep in more natural positions, and less wide areas by the shoulder so the warm air can’t escape. The mat follows the proportions of the sleeping bag to create a streamlined sleep system that will keep you warm for three seasons straight.

Big Agnes: Big Six Camp Chair

I’ll be the first to admit that I want my gear to be intuitive. Nothing gets on my nerves like when companies make their stuff sacks just slightly too small for the product to actually fit back inside. When Big Agnes sent over their new line of camp furniture we took it upon ourselves to try and assemble, disassemble, and repack everything without peeking at the instructions. No Problem!

The Big Six Camp Chair is the largest in the new line of Big Agnes camp furniture. It was designed for “deluxe chillin'” and they definitely hit the mark. First off, this is a full-sized camp chair, with a tall back and wide seat the Big Six sits a full 20 inches off the ground so standing back up after spending an extended time resting your legs by the fire is a breeze. Big Agnes has developed all of their chairs with a hubless frame design. This allows for smaller pack size and lighter weight.

These chairs are sturdy. They can hold up to 300 pounds and they only weigh three pounds three ounces themselves. All of the poles that make up the frame are made from lightweight aircraft aluminum that feels as nice as is looks. The collapsible frame is shock-corded together, similar to how tent poles can be shock-corded together. This makes assembling the Big Six completely intuitive. It literally takes a matter of seconds from unpacking until you’re relaxing. The Big Six, even being the largest Big Agnes chair packs down to a reasonable 3.5″ x 21″ and has found a permanent home in our van.

Stio: Men’s/Women’s Alpha Alpine Jacket

Born in the Tetons, Stio knows a thing or two about making apparel that’s ready for the mountains. The Alpha Alpine jacket from Stio is a highly technical active insulation piece that can replace many other layers in your quiver.

The Alpha Alpine is an ultra-breathable, extra light, and yet still very warm jacket that can serve as a mid-layer in the colder months, or an outer layer once the weather gets warmer. It’s so light and packable (really, it’s only 9 ounces) that it has become our go-to jacket when packing for any outdoor activity. This is the ultimate layer for when you’re really pushing it and sweating or if you find yourself on a stop and start a mission where regulating your body temperature can be tricky. The Alpha Alpine is treated with a DWR so it can shed light rain. The best part about this jacket (for us) is that it’s legitimately very comfortable. When we can go hard on a hike, then colpse back at camp and feel relaxed the whole time, that’s always a gear win.

Stio offers a hoodless pull over as well as a full zip jacket with a hood. The Alpha Alpine is also fully reversible with dual colorways so whether you are in the city or hanging from a mountainside you can look your best.