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Backpacker April 2019

Published nine times a year, Backpacker is a magazine of wilderness travel, offering practical, "you can do it, here's how" advice to help you enjoy every trip. Filled with the best places, gear, and information for all kinds of hiking and camping trips, each issue delivers foldout maps and stunning color photography.

United States
Pocket Outdoor Media, LLC

in this issue

3 min
cold comfort

OUR NEOLITHIC ANCESTORS did all kinds of inventive things. They domesticated livestock and cultivated crops and made sophisticated stone tools. And for reasons that are still poorly understood, they erected megalithic monuments by placing flat rocks atop vertical ones, like tables. The relics, called dolmens, exist all over the world. Some were used as tombs, but not all have human remains. Like some ancient mysteries, they’ll probably never be fully explained. I had plenty of time to ponder the meaning of one such dolmen last fall in Catalonia, the northeastern province of Spain. I was camping near the stone monument, midway along a trek with other BACKPACKER editors and gear testers, and I was freezing. A snowstorm and unseasonably cold temps—the mercury dropped into the teens—left me wide awake and shivering…

2 min
never gonna give you up

This issue is full of the latest gear. But no matter how great the new stuff, there’s some equipment that’s earned a forever home in our packs. We asked our Twitter followers: What do you bring with you every time you hit the trail? See what they said, then find a new favorite on page 12. “My carbon-fiber ladle.” Blair Braverman (@BlairBraverman) “Big Agnes Q-Core pad. I’m only as good as the sleep that I get.” Rob Saker (@robsaker) “A simple bandana.” Patricia Baker (@PatriciaFBaker) “My SPOT Gen3 Beacon. It’s the most important piece of gear I have.” Robby DeGraff (@Robby_ DeGraff) “I have my first MSR WhisperLite from when I was in middle school.” Matthew LeBlanc (@acadianrunner) ANISH ANSWERS Some readers wished for more info about Heather “Anish” Anderson’s superhikes. Good timing. Check out her new…

2 min
meet the testers

Thank you, testers: Chris Abercrombie, Jesse Albanese, Louisa Albanese, Max Albanese, Sofia Albanese, Oran Allen, Anastasia Allison, Aaron Allison, Justin Bailey, Aaron Baldwin, Kelly Bastone, Jon Bausman, Jean Belanger, Eli Bernstein, Aaron Bible, Jason Bickford, Chris Boehlert, Jason Boyle, Corey Buhay, Kate Butler, Jacob Callaghan, Tom Callaghan, Evelyn Callahan Spence, Donna Campbell, Irwin Campbell, Kristen Coats, Tom Coffin, Anne Coles, Nick Cote, Chris Cullaz, Paulina Dao, Eric Eagan, Sheila Eagan, Mary Emerick, Rob Ender, Steve Eng, Bennett Fisher, Kevin Flint, Leanne Fosbre, Tyler Fox, Corey Frankovich, Julia Frantz, John Gibbons, Kellyn Glynn, Adam Goering, Andrea Goering, Megan Goldenberg, Olga Grunskaya, John Haffner, Everett Hartings, Ian Havlick, Curt Himstedt, Pam Himstedt, Summer Holt, Maren Horjus, Ryan Horjus, Joey Hostetter, Kristin Hostetter, Marisa Jarae, Eryn Kaiser, Reid Kalmus, Krista Karlson, Lara Kaylor,…

16 min
the year’s best gear

CULTURE EXPLORER. HISTORY BUFF. Foodie. Hiker. Everyone will find something in the Catalonian Pyrenees. People have inhabited this mountainous swath of the Spanish province for millennia, which makes trekking here an unforgettable combination of human and natural highlights. In late fall, it didn’t disappoint, serving up the perfect mix of rain-snow-and-sun, meadow-mountain-and-village for our final shakedown before choosing this year’s Editors’ Choice Award winners. In Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, we started our journey hiking in sunny, warm weather. A string of cerulean alpine lakes led up to a windraked pass, where we gazed out on craggy, 9,000-foot Els Encantats. Two more hours of hiking (and one glorious sunset) delivered us to the stone Refugi d’Amitges. In the Pyrenees, as in the Alps, staying in mountain huts is a…

13 min

BEST HYDRATION PACK 1. Thule Rail 8L OUR TAKE The Rail’s speed-friendly design impressed our testers when they were legging it down the trail. Huge, 5-inch-wide hipbelt wings and shoulder straps that widen around the ribs ensured the pack hugged one tester’s body at all times as she ran down steep switchbacks in France’s Aiguilles Rouges National Nature Reserve. It’s slim enough that it never interferes with arm swing, and despite the small volume the long, narrow packbag has plenty of room for the included 2.5-liter HydraPak reservoir, extra layers, and lunch. THE DETAILS The Rail is designed with mountain biking in mind, but its feature set ably crosses over into hiking and trail running. “My favorite part is the 6-inch magnetic covering on the hydration tube that locks it to the shoulder…

2 min
comfort system

When I backpack, I don’t really care about having the lightest stuff. I want gear that keeps me comfortable from trail to camp. That usually means my pack is brimming, so I choose a model with good organization, like the (1) Gregory Zulu 65 (page 31), and fill it with camp luxuries, such as (2) REI Co-op’s Flexlite Air chair (page 118), the cloud-like (3) Sea to Summit Aeros Down Pillow ($65; 2.5 oz.; seatosummit.com), and whatever (4) book (yes, paper) I’m reading at the moment. On the trail, I don’t compromise on my shell, opting for the fully-featured (5) Montbell Storm Cruiser (page 77). My fellow editors might make fun of me for this, but I carry enough underwear and socks—like the supersoft (6) SAXX Ultra ($32; 3.3 oz.;…