As great as having a quiver of packs is, there’s a special place in our hearts for the do-everything pack: those Goldilocks packs that are big enough to haul weight, but light enough to make miles. That’s the Paragon 58 (women’s Maven 55) in a nutshell: Despite weighing in at less than four pounds, its hollowed-out aluminum frame and a hipbelt padded with 3D-molded EVA foam let it haul above its weight class. It’s durable, too. “I don’t baby packs,” one tester said. “I throw them on the ground, sit on them, overstuff them. After trips in the Rockies and Colombia, the Paragon looks like it will handle many more seasons of this kind of treatment.” Bonus: Use the hydration sleeve as a daypack. Buy the Gregory Paragon 58 now for $173 (25% off) / Buy the Gregory Maven 55 now for $196 (15% off)
Therm-a-Rest is a worldwide leader in outdoor comfort, offering the broadest and most innovative assortment of outdoor comfort products available. In addition to over 18 top-level independent product awards, Therm-a-Rest was the first of two brands awarded BACKPACKER Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Gold Award. BACKPACKER readers also voted the Therm-a-Rest self-inflating air mattress as one of the five best outdoor inventions of all time. Therm-a-Rest is proud to maintain a single-minded commitment to quality and innovation by designing every product from a wealth of personal experience and producing the majority of what they sell in-house. To learn more about Therm-a-Rest, visit Thermarest.com.
When your room is in the backcountry, get your best rest with this lightweight, go-anywhere comfort-minded sleep system.
Offer valid August 1– 31, 2020. Cannot be combined with any other promotion. U.S. and Canada orders only. Code only valid on Thermarest.com.
NeoAir® Topo™ Luxe Sleeping Pad
For those familiar with our legendary NeoAir mattresses, the NeoAir Topo Luxe brings the line of sleeping pads to new heights. A whopping 4 inches (10 cm) thick, the Topo Luxe is our thickest backpacking NeoAir ever. The Topo Luxe packs down small before inflating for plush support and warmth thanks to our Triangular Core Matrix, the best warmth-to-weight construction for air pads. Available in several sizes, including a roomy regular wide, the Topo Luxe features the high-performance TwinLock valve with two dedicated valves for lightning-fast inflation or deflation. Like all Therm-a-Rest pads, the NeoAir Topo Luxe is made in market to ensure quality and minimize environmental impact. The pad includes a breath-saving pump sack, compact stuff sack and field repair kit.
Questar™ 20F/-6C Sleeping Bag
This is the field-proven, feature-packed down bag you’ve always wanted. We’ve loaded this bag with the comfort features that Therm-a-Rest bags are known for. Our SynergyLink™ Connectors integrate the bag with your sleeping pad while allowing our Zoned Insulation to keep fill where you need it most. The fit of the bag has been perfected in our onsite cold chamber to create our W.A.R.M. fit that allows room for multiple sleep positions without compromising thermal efficiency. Stuffed with water-resistant 650 fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down certified by the Responsible Down Standard, the four-season Questar is ready for your next backcountry adventure. The Questar is offered in three sizes, and designed to fit both men and women. Compression sack and storage sack included.
Air Head™ Pillow
Designed with the perfect amount of loft and just the right amount of support, the Air Head™ Pillow will help you drift off—just about anywhere. This innovative pillow is made with an inflatable, baffled core, providing a stable, compressible foundation. Then, to top it off, we cover the entire pillow in partially recycled luxuriously soft brushed polyester filled with synthetic insulation for better nights under the stars.
On short trips or epic expeditions, clean water is a must. Here’s how to pick the right filter or purifier for you.
When it comes to choosing a water-cleansing method, there are seemingly endless options. But what works for your favorite local overnight may not stand up to the challenge of an overseas adventure. Choosing the right one can be the difference between a memorable trip and a trip to the hospital.
Before you pick, it’s helpful to recognize that there are two primary ways to clean water, filtration and purification. Water filtration removes dirt, chemicals, protozoa, and some larger bacteria from water via a porous medium, i.e. a hollow-fiber filter. However, filters don’t catch some of the smaller bugs (such as viruses and smaller bacteria) that can squeeze between through their pores. Purifiers get rid of everything through the use of UV light, chemicals, or a charged medium. While filters can handle most of the dirty work in the backcountry of the United States and Canada, you’ll probably want a purifier if you’re traveling abroad.
A tarp is one of the most versatile shelters you can carry on the trail and a great option for cutting pack weight. The Element 2 is no exception: You can set it up in multiple configurations, and it weighs less than two pounds. Its sil-coated Cordura fabric is also waterproof and hardy enough for years of use. Get the Element 2 now for $119.99 (25 percent off) at Moosejaw and start planning where you’re going to pitch it.
My first week on the trail, a hiker asked me if I had ever heard of type 2 fun. Before that, I didn’t realize that there were different kinds of fun, but I soon learned to tell them apart. Type 1 fun is plain and simple fun: lapping runs at the ski resort or riding your bike. Type 3 isn’t really fun at all (think forgetting your tent in a rainstorm.) Type 2, on the other hand, is a little bit of both: an experience that is unimaginably tough in real-time, but morphs into an epic adventure of glory and survival when you retell it. That’s the Colorado Trail.
Back at home, I had a routine. Any given day was a combination of the same few tasks and events: work, emails, raising my son, eating, chasing sleep. Out here on the trail I’m still attending to some of those immediate needs, but it’s all mixed with a steady diet of pain.
I’m not really a breakfast person out here. I don’t tend to eat a lot in the morning: For me it is easier to wake up and get hiking than it is to try and force feed myself. Instead, I drink as much water as I can (as long as I am near a water source and not dry camping) along with a couple ibuprofen to get ready for the foot swelling I know I’m going to have to deal with later in the day. Depending on the previous night’s weather, may attempt to at least partially dry my tent and sleeping before packing it away. If I have time, I do calf stretches to get prepared for double-digit mileage.
More than anything, my success depends on how much my feet can tolerate. It’s largely a matter of how much discomfort I allow myself to acknowledge: The pain itself seems inevitable.
The most recent challenge came while hiking over Searle Pass. On any given day I am the slowest person in the pack. By noon on this particular day, I was still miles from dropping below treeline when the steady stream of hikers passing me stopped and I realized I was bringing up the rear again. I should have crossed the pass hours earlier to reduce the risk of being caught in a storm, but the aforementioned wet morning slowed me down mentally as well as physically. As I crossed the ridge I saw dark clouds rolling in, and I still had over 5 miles of exposure I contemplated continuing on but the rumble of thunder changed my mind. Suddenly, I thought of my 13-year-old son and my decision was made. I quickly made my way back down off of the ridge to an alcove of pine trees which would become my home for the night.
When the troubles of the trail land on me—sore feet or lightning or anything else—I remind myself that I’ve been through worse—far worse. When my son was born, I developed eclampsia, and both I and my baby needed to be resuscitated. I don’t remember any part of labor and delivery because of the seizures that racked my body as it failed under my rising blood pressure. What I’ve come to understand in hindsight is just how much my body is capable of. My body fought to stay alive and save my child without any conscious effort. Compared to that, what’s a little foot pain, or a sprint down a mountain?
I cursed the wet morning, the slow start, the arch and heel pain until dusk, when I had time for a small meal. By then, most of the pain and fear had given way to awe. It occurred to me that this was that type 2 fun I had heard about: I was surrounded by rocky cliffs on all sides, a few pine trees hanging on to the sides of the ridge, a perfectly temperate and pleasant breeze, and a tasty dinner of apple slices and freeze-dried cheese
When you’re hiking for hours every day, there’s a lot of quiet time to think of what is chasing you from your past. It’s at moments like this that I think of the trauma of my birthing experience and how it informed my power and desire to thrive. Clearly, I can tolerate much more physical discomfort than I believe I can. So tomorrow, I’m going to wake, stretch, warm up my exhausted muscles, and start hiking. Whatever pain or fear the trail has in store for me, I’m stronger by far.
Ed note: Patricia’s close call with eclampsia isn’t unique: Black mothers die in childbirth at two to three times the rate of white mothers. Learn more and find out how you can help at the National Birth Equity Collaborative.