Gear Makers

“There are five basic attributes I look for in all of my backpacking gear: simplicity, functionality, durability, lightweight, value.”

Either I myself or trusted hiking buddies, have used products from all of the gear manufacturers mentioned below. The companies are listed in alphabetical order:

  • Anti Gravity Gear:  Ultra lightweight equipment. Includes rainwear, pots and stoves.
  • Cascade Designs:  Parent company of Therm-a-Rest, MSR and Platypus, three of the most trusted and well known backpacking brands on the market. I have used Therm-a-Rest sleeping mats since the early 1990’s. My current favourite is the inflatable NeoAir. For closed cell mats I still go with the classic Z Lite or Ridge Rest.
  • Dirty Girl Gaiters: Lightweight, durable, inexpensive. Weighing in at 1.2 oz, these usually colourful gaiters (see the website for scores of funky patterns) have been a regular part of my three season backpacking kit since 2007.
  • Enlightened Equipment: Highly regarded lightweight down and synthetic quilts. Very good value for money.
  • Feathered Friends:  Specialize in quality goose down products. Jackets, sleeping bags, vests. I have had my Helios Jacket since 2003 and it’s still going strong.
  • Gossamer Gear:  Ultra lightweight backpacks, hiking poles, sleeping mats and shelters. I used their Kumo pack during my 2015 traverse of southwest Tasmania’s Arthur Range.
  • Granite Gear:  Lightweight, durable, well-made backpacks. Their Crown VC 60 is an excellent choice for hikers looking at lightweight internal frame models.
  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear: Bomber tarps and backpacks. I used the HMG Southwest 2400 pack during my traverse of southwest Tasmania, and it held up like a champ going through some of the roughest terrain on the planet.
  • Jacks R’Better: In 2008 & 2009 I used one of their No Sniveller quilts. Great multi-use piece of equipment. Doubled as a “Serape.” Like a goose down version of what Clint Eastwood wore in the Spaghetti Westerns.
  • Kathoola: The maker of Kathoola Microspikes. Lightweight, low profile, slip-on traction device. Big improvement over the Yaktrax I once used.
  • Kelty: The triptease has been my guyline of choice for many years. Kelty don’t make too much in the way of uber-lightweight equipment, but what they have done since 1952 is produce quality, reliable and reasonably priced backpacking gear. Great choice for folks looking for solid equipment that won’t break the bank.
  • LOKSAK: Odour and waterproof storage bags. Since 2007, these bags have been an integral part of my backpacking kit, irrespective of the season. More than 25,000 miles and not a single critter has gotten into my food.
  • Marmot:  Although not specifically a lightweight gear manufacturer, Marmot nonetheless produce some of the best lightweight sleeping bags on the market. Their
  • Montane: UK company that produces a wide range of high performance garments (e.g. base, insulation, outer layers). I’ve owned their Lite-speed wind jacket and Featherlite pants since 2011, and both pieces are still going strong.
  • Montbell:  Wide range of ultra lightweight clothing and equipment. I have used their down jackets, windshirtswindpants, rain gear and Thermawrap vests/jackets since the early 2000’s. Great balance between weight, functionality, durability and reasonable prices.
  • Nunatak:  Quality down and synthetic sleeping bags and quilts.
  • Patagonia: Although not specifically a lightweight gear manufacturer, Patagonia nonetheless produce several outstanding lightweight clothing options (e.g. Houdini Jacket, Nano Puff and R1 Hoody). The Hoody has been a long-time layering stalwart whenever I’m venturing into cold, wet and/or winter conditions.
  • Six Moon Designs: Lightweight tents, tarps and backpacks. A long-time favourite item of friend & legendary hiker, Billy Goat, is the classic Gatewood Cape; a shelter/rain wear hybrid that weighs in at 12 oz (340 gr.).
  • Steripen: UV water purifiers. Great option for hiking and travelling in third world countries where tap water is generally not potable (i.e. minimizes the amount of plastic water bottles you need to buy).
  • Tarptent: The standard in single wall silnylon Tents. I have had my Squall since 2004, and it still rates as one of my favourite two-man shelters. Well designed, lightweight, durable, very reasonably priced products.
  • ULA Equipment: Arguably the most popular Lightweight packs in the US long distance hiking community.
  • Western Mountaineering: Quality goose down sleeping bags and  jackets. Amongst the US long distance hiking community, their products invariably rate right near the top.
  • ZPacks: Specializes in super light outdoor gear made of cuben fiber. Shelters, packs,sleeping bags and bivys. Their tarps consistently receive good reviews amongst ultralight hikers.