2010 Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide: My Top Picks

I just received my copy of Backpacker Magazine's annual Gear Guide, the ultimate compendium of outdoor equipment available for the coming 2010 season. The guide highlights numerous new and/or innovative products, but a few in particular caught my attention.

Soto Pocket Torch
This nifty little gadget turns a cheap disposable butane lighter into a pocket flamethrower. According to the company, the Pocket Torch hits temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Zowie! It's also cheaper ($20) than most windproof lighters on the market. The Pocket Torch is designed for use with those inexpensive rectangular lighters; it doesn't work with the rounded shape of Bics. The bigger drawback at the moment appears to be limited availability in the U.S.—you'll likely have a hard time tracking it down for a few months at least.

Soto OD-1R Micro Regulator Stove
Another entry from the Japan-based company, this canister stove ($70) is remarkable for its size and ultralight weight (2.6 ounces), but is even more noteworthy for the tiny regulator component included in its base. If you've ever used a canister stove in below-freezing temperatures, you've probably noticed a less robust flame (gas vapor pressure inside the canister drops with temperature). And if you've ever used a gas canister that's approaching empty, you've also likely noticed a piddly, low-heat flame that takes forever to cook dinner. The regulator addresses both problems to produce a better, more consistent flame. It also features a push-button piezo igniter for convenient lighting. The only drawback I've noticed playing with it are the pot supports, which seem a bit loose when locked in place.

Ultralight Tents
A pair of two-person tents caught my attention for their remarkable ultralight weights. The
Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 ($350) is a double-wall tent (tent body and separate fly) that weighs only two and a half pounds yet is wide enough to accommodate two standard-width sleeping pads side-by-side. The Nemo Meta 2P ($350) is another great tent from New Hampshire-based Nemo Equipment. (Read my previous post profiling the company here.) A spacious single-wall design that uses trekking poles for structure, it weighs just under three pounds. Unlike other trekking pole designs, however, the Meta offers attachment points for both the handle and tip of the trekking pole for an easy and stable set-up.

All four of these products received Editors Choice Awards from Backpacker. Good stuff!

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.