0618 backpacking gear guide with numbers ljlamn

1. PackTowl Ultralite

Go ahead—jump into that alpine lake. This full-size towel purportedly absorbs four times its weight in water and dries 80 percent faster than a cotton towel ... all in a package the size of a handkerchief. 3.4 oz, $34.95 at packtowl.com

2. Voilà Instant Coffee Discovery Box

Bend-based Voilà takes high-end, locally roasted coffee—like Portland’s Coava, Sterling, and Upper Left—and dehydrates it down into a tiny package. Add 8 oz hot water, and enjoy a legitimately excellent cup of coffee deep in the backcountry. $16 for 5-cup box at voila.coffee

3. Therm-a-Rest Z Seat

Trivial though it may seem, this mini version of a sleeping pad quickly becomes an essential. It keeps your caboose warm, dry, and cushioned during rest breaks on anything from hiking trails to ski tours. 2 oz, $15 at thermarest.com

4. Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka

Portland’s rare outpost of Japanese outdoor gear-maker Montbell turns out a jacket with 1000-fill goose down and an überthin nylon shell. It weighs a scant 8.4 oz and can keep you warm in brutally cold conditions. $439 at montbell.us

5. Brooks Cascadia 12

Pop on the PCT for a day hike, and you’ll find that many thru-hikers are wearing Brooks Cascadias. The venerable long-trail favorite will quickly replace your heavier, ankle-high boots with a super-supportive, cushioned midsole and a meaty tread pattern. 10.5 oz, $130 at brooksrunning.com

6. MSR PocketRocket 2 Mini Stove Kit

Sick of carrying the kitchen sink just to boil water for a Mountain House meal? The PocketRocket folds down, origami-style, into nothingness, while a nesting doll of titanium pot, heatproof plastic, and fuel keeps your system to the size of a roll of toilet paper. 9 oz (minus fuel), $80 at msrgear.com

7. Therm-a-Rest Space Cowboy 45

A sleeping bag with the water resistance and heat retention of a synthetic and the packability of down defies the laws of backcountry physics. The Space Cowboy lets you fall asleep en plein air and stays insulated on damp, dewy mornings. 1 lb, $150 at thermarest.com

8. Tenkara Rod Co Mini Sawtooth Package

If you’ve ever fantasized about backpacking into the wild, catching a fish, and eating it like a true pioneer, Idaho-based Tenkara Rod Co is your enabler. The carbon-fiber tenkara rod (a Japanese type of fly-fishing rod without a reel) telescopes out to 8 feet, 8 inches, shrinks down to the size of a Harry Potter wand, and weighs a mind-boggling 1.1 oz. $199 at tenkararodco.com

8. Benchmade Bugout Knife

This 3.25-inch steel blade from coveted Oregon knifemaker Benchmade is virtually weightless at 1.85 oz, and it keeps its edge like a champ. $135 at benchmade.com

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