Backpacker Magazine Announces 2015 Editors’ Choice Awards

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Get your pen and paper out because it’s time to make a shopping list for the upcoming backpacking season. Backpacker has announced its 2015 Editors’ Choice Award winners.

Every year around this time, the Backpacker editors get together and pick their top gear for the year. The selection process begins without any set categories or even a set number of recipients. Backpacker’s extensive testing drives the process and through that, the award-winning products rise to the top.

Backpacker gear reviews set the benchmark by which all others are measured,” states Backpacker Editor-in-Chief, Dennis Lewon. “That’s because no other magazine or website conducts field testing as rigorously or impartially as the crew led by Gear Editor Kristin Hostetter. Our core testers each have years of backcountry experience and expertise in multiple pursuits, from climbing to paddling to skiing. Under Kristin’s leadership, they put new products through punishing real-world abuse in the toughest terrain and worst weather.”

This year’s Editor’s Choice Award winners include: the Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System, Sea to Summit X-Pot, Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Sleeping Pad, NEMO Sonic Sleeping Bag, La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX Boots, Big Agnes mtnGLO™ Tent Lighting Technology, Outdoor Research Deviator Hoodie, Princeton Tec Sync Headlamp and Osprey Atmos AG/Aura AG Packs.

In addition to choosing the best new gear of the year, Backpacker takes a look back in time and bestows the Editors’ Choice Gold Award upon products that have sustained best-in-class performance for more than five years. This year, Backpacker is recognizing the Snow Peak GigaPower Stove and the Gregory Baltoro/Deva Packs for their continued excellence.

Editor’s Choice Award Winners

Jetboil MiniMo Stove

Jetboil

The Jetboil MiniMo is not just about boiling. It’s about cooking. The MiniMo simmers like your stove at home and features metal handles and a low spoon angle for easy eating right from the included cooking cup. The MiniMo boils a half-liter of water in 2 minutes and 15 seconds, and the proprietary regulator technology ensures consistent performance down to 20°F.

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Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System

Sea to Summit X-Pot

Sea to Summit XPot

A cooking pot can be the bulkiest and most awkward thing to stuff in your pack. Sea to Summit has the fix for that with the full-featured X-Pot. It has flexible silicone walls that allow it to collapse for compact storage, yet the walls stay stable when you’re cooking and stirring. The aluminum bottom distributes heat well for fast boiling. The X-Pot has silicone wings for handles and it includes a translucent lid with a built-in strainer.

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Sea to Summit X Pot – 2.8 Liter

Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Sleeping Pad

Sea to Summit Comfort Plus

You haven’t experienced camping comfort until you’ve tried the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Mat. Featuring two independent air chambers, the Comfort Plus lets you fine-tune your level of comfort no matter how jagged the ground is under your tent. This dual-chamber design also ensures a level of built-in redundancy; if a puncture occurs in one layer, the other layer remains fully functional.

Includes a stuff sack, a repair kit with six self-adhesive patches, and a spare silicone one-way valve flap.

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Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Sleeping Pad

NEMO Equipment Sonic Sleeping Bag

NEMO Sonic

Top-of-the-line 850-fill-power duck down provides toasty comfort down to 0°F. The ingenious zippered Thermo Gills allow you to vent body heat at your core without unzipping the entire sleeping bag.

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NEMO Sonic Sleeping Bag

La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX Boots

La Sportiva Synthesis

If you’re prone to blisters on your fast-paced, sweat-inducing hikes, then the Synthesis Mid GTX boots are for you. Equipped with highly breathable Gore-Tex® Surround™ waterproof protection, they vent heat 360 degrees to keep moisture from building up inside on sweaty days.

Both men’s and women’s versions only available at REI.

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La Sportiva Synthesis Surround GTX Hiking Boots – Men’s
La Sportiva Synthesis Surround GTX Hiking Boots – Women’s

Big Agnes mtnGLO™ Tent Lighting Technology

Big Agnes mtnGLO

Equal parts party and practical, Big Agnes mtnGLO™ Tent Lighting Technology guarantees that your tent-bound nights will be a lot more fun. With the click of a button, LED lights built into the tent illuminate the interior. Two settings, high and low, cover your lighting needs.

There are 14 tents and two accessories that feature mtnGLO™ Tent Lighting Technology. Get the entire assortment of Big Agnes mtnGLO™ tents at REI first.

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Big Agnes mtnGLO™ Tents 

Outdoor Research Deviator Hoodie

OR Deviator Hoodie

Combining Polartec® Alpha® insulation on the front torso and gridded fleece everywhere else, the Deviator Hoodie provides the ideal amount of air permeability and warmth to keep you comfortable on alpine adventures.

Available in men’s and women’s versions.

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Outdoor Research Deviator Insulated Hoodie Jacket – Men’s
Outdoor Research Deviator Insulated Hoodie Jacket – Women’s

Princeton Tec Sync Headlamp

Princeton Tec Sync

This simple and intuitive headlamp features white and red modes and five different brightness levels for versatile, trail-friendly functionality that powerfully lights up objects 58 meters away.

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Princeton Tec Sync Headlamp

Osprey Atmos / Aura AG Packs

Osprey Packs

The revolutionary Anti-Gravity™ (AG) suspension system found on the Atmos and Aura packs delivers seamless body-contouring comfort for hauling big loads on long trips.

The Atmos and Aura are each available in 50-liter and 65-liter versions with an exclusive dry sack and raincover—only when purchased at REI.

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Osprey Anti-Gravity Packs

Editor’s Choice Gold Award Winners

Gregory Baltoro and Deva Packs

Gregory Baltoro Packs

Overhauled for 2015, the Gregory Baltoro and Deva packs maintain the features that have made them great for so many years while delivering a bunch of improvements to make your grand adventures more comfortable.

The packs feature customizable suspension, a waterproof hipbelt pocket that fits a smartphone, and a hydration sleeve that converts to a daypack.

The A3 suspension system features adjustable, pivoting shoulder straps and hipbelt panels for supporting heavy loads with ease. The Deva is specifically designed to fit the female body with custom shoulder straps and a wishbone frame.

The Baltoro is available in 65-, 75- and 85-liter models. The Deva comes in 60-, 70- and 80-liter models.

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Gregory Baltoro/Deva Packs

Snow Peak GigaPower Stove

Snow Peak GigaPower

Originally introduced in 1999, the GigaPower stove still reigns as one of the most reliable compact backpacking stoves out there. It doesn’t boil quite as fast or block wind quite as well as some of the higher-priced stoves, but for the budget-minded hikers, the GigaPower continues to be a favorite.

It boils one liter of water in just under 5 minutes and weighs in at a mere 3.25 ounces. The GigaPower stove is available with or without an automatic piezo ignitor.

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Snow Peak GigaPower Auto Stove
Snow Peak GigaPower Stove – Manual

You can find many of this year’s award-winning products at your local REI store or REI.com.

  • Joslyn Bloodworth

    You have got to be kidding me with that tent choice!! Have you lost your mind or have you just sold out so badly there is no hope for you?! The best tent of the year isn’t one that keeps the weather at bay, isn’t one the prevents condensation the best, isn’t one that has great headroom and a really thoughtful shape for the best usage for the least weight, isn’t the one with great packability, no, the best tent you could scrounge up this year is the one whose only unique feature ruins night vision, messes with the eco system and destroys any sense of wilderness that I might have had. You are promoting LIGHT POLLUTION!!! That tent is the worst thing to happen to the wilderness ever and has no business being in a backpacking magazine! I’m sorry this is my last straw. Also, REI, you are equally responsible for selling and promoting such crap

    • J.A.M.

      ….well…this review brightened my Monday morning…

    • AB

      Simmer down. This is a great tent for certain segment. Maybe not the deep back country, but for some family camping with youngsters, I can see this being very helpful. Sure, kids have made it through just fine in the past, but so has every other segment of the population doing anything before any other invention. This, like anything, fill a need in a segment. It would be nice if people didn’t leave it on all night, though.

      • Joslyn Bloodworth

        This should not be a backpacking tent. I’d not care if this was for car camping and stuck in a national park campsite, but it is everything you ought to be leaving at home. It is a source of pollution and should be banned outside of a car campground.

    • http://www.rei.com/ REI

      Hi Joslyn,
      Thank you for your feedback. One of the things we love about the outdoors is how everyone experiences it differently. We are excited to offer a variety of products that can meet the needs of a diverse community of outdoor enthusiasts and tents are just one example. Some people will love having a little extra light built in, while others prefer using flashlights and headlamps. Either way, we are passionate about helping people find the right gear for playing outside. Hope you have some fun adventures ahead!

      • Joslyn Bloodworth

        Some people may love the feel of bringing the city to the woods, but if they parkiIt next to my shelter, they are going to get some nasty words words from me. This is suitable for car camping. No need for this in a backpacking tent and anyone who wants it in one, doesn’t need to be backpacking.

        • willATX

          Joslyn, clearly you are passionate about the outdoors, and I appreciate that. But you don’t get to decide what other people who want to enjoy the outdoors need for their outdoor adventures and what is suitable for backpacking.

      • Joslyn Bloodworth

        Also, something like this increases the ambient light in an area and no, that kind of pollution can’t be seen by the naked eye by the next hiker as easily as a can or a piece of plastic, but it is just as damaging to the ecosystem. Anyone who claims to be a friend of the environment, can’t support this kind of tent in good conscience. Pollution is pollution.

        • Michael C

          Thank you for your overwhelmingly insightful post! I often find myself, at 37, wondering how to feel and wondering what to do and think and use when I step outside. Thank you for clearing all of that up! I’m almost positive Big Agnes, Backcountry and REI will be contacting you about your feelings on next years product line and subsequent gear ratings.

          • Joslyn Bloodworth

            We are all their customers and I have the right to speak up. They can choose not to listen, but then they will lose a customer. That is how the system works. Sorry you don’t like that.

      • Paul Adams

        Thanks, REI, for displaying the beauty of simplicity and the value of civility in your reply. Oh…and THANKS SO VERY MUCH for your commitment to the sustainability of our natural resources as clearly evidenced in your http://www.rei.com/adventures/trips/volunteer-vacations!

        • Joslyn Bloodworth

          Promoting light pollution isn’t in line with everything else they do. I have stood by REI even as many of my friends have called them defunct, impersonal, and worse, but I can’t and won’t just ignore obvious issues I have with such a product. Civility is great, but it was just a nice way of saying we don’t care and have a nice day.

          • disqus_frJ9d7ZebX

            Consider wearing a photon philter, such as a bandana.

    • claude_balls

      Lighten up Francis. Camping with you must be tons of fun.

      Btw, your use of “LIGHT POLLUTION” (in all caps and with three exclamation points, no less) to describe these tents is the most ridiculous unintentionally funny thing I have read this year, and your absurdly overblown assertion that these tents are “the worst thing to happen to the wilderness ever” makes it difficult to take you seriously.

      • Aaron

        Thanks for expressing my thoughts Claude. Joslyn, do you not take a flashlight while backpacking? How is this any different? You say someone who would use this product has no right backpacking in the first place. Since when did you write the rules and guidelines of backpacking etiquette? Sorry, but you don’t get to tell people what they should and shouldn’t use while backpacking. I respect that you have an opinion, but it seems like all you’re doing is trying to prove how “hardcore” of a backpacker you are. And if you’re going to go so far as to say that this is contributing to light pollution and “pollution is pollution”, then may I break the news to you that the production of probably most your backpacking equipment has also contributed toward pollution. How about the car you use to drive up to the mountains? As stated above, backpacking with you must be tons of fun.

  • Chris

    While I really appreciate the Backpacker Magazine list as a way to let us know of some really good new products, I have to agree with Joslyn. Light pollution is becoming something that people no longer even notice. I’ve read that, before too long, people will be unaware that the Milky Way is up there and used to be something people saw regularly. One of the best things about camping, almost anywhere, is that you can enjoy seeing the stars, trying to ID constellations, and perhaps seeing a shooting star (or a satellite). I suppose I’d be happy to have this tent if I were stuck in it in a downpour but that’s about the only time.
    Backpacker Mag – how about writing about noise- and light-pollution that reaches in to the backcountry? NPS researchers have some very interesting information and research on this.

  • Nick

    I’m with Joslyn. That tent is icky. REI and Backpacker always struck me as environmentally conscious organizations. Products that encourage light pollution in the wild show a lack of regard for nocturnal animals and fellow campers. What’s next, a tent with a built in stereo system? There’s nothing wrong with that sort of thing in a party campground, but it has no place in the wild.

    • Steve Raphael

      Joselyn you need to chill out… If your really out deep in the wilderness, you certainly aren’t going to run into light packers with tents with led lights…

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