1. Klymit Inertia XL Sleeping Pad
We tested this pad on remote hunts this year, but being deep in the Alaska bush experiencing some far-flung steelhead, trout or Arctic char adventure doesn’t mean we can’t be comfortable at night. That’s what our testers believe anyway, and the Klymit Intertia XL certainly helped us realize that ambition. The lightest, most compact and technically advanced camping pad we’ve found, this oversized version offered increased support, a neutral body-mapping design and even an integrated head-cradle pillow.
2. Counter Assault Pentagon Electric Bear Fence
We used this bear fence on a remote hunt and found it easy to set-up and breakdown. The 53-foot fence puts out 8,000 volts, is a good size for 2- to 3 campers and weighs only 15 pounds. As far as we know, no bears tested the fence, but we slept more soundly knowing we had an extra layer of defense. One of our testers woke to what sounded like a bear, but he quickly realized it was the other guy snoring.
3. Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy
We tried Biscuits and Gravy as well as Apple Crisp in the field in 2014. Our tester especially liked Biscuits and Gravy, so it got the nod for an Editor’s Choice Award. We’ve been living on Mountain House in the field for over a decade.
4. MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set
Made from durable stainless steel, this pot set reliably stood up to a season’s worth of camp use.
5. Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium
MSRP: $39.95 to $44.95
Just what we were looking for in our quest to sleep comfortably no matter where in Alaska we dropped camp. This luxurious high-performance pillow didn’t add any weight or bulk to our packs, either.
6. Platypus SoftBottle
This one-liter BPA-free bottle packs down small, is flexible and weighs barely more than an ounce.
7. Jetboil MiniMo Stove
Hardly a season goes by when we don’t find some new Jetboil stove to love and this year was no different, with the MiniMo winning hearts and minds (and eventually, stomachs) here at Fish Alaska. The stove offered new valve technology for more efficient, and controlled, operation as well as a new cooking-cup size that we found just right.
8. Montbell Down Hugger 800 EXP Long
Montbell has brought extreme comfort and thermal efficiency to the lightweight backcountry sleeping bag market with this outstanding product. The innovative technology is bewildering (the fabric’s warp and weft threads are oriented at 45 degrees to most major seam lines, making the sleeping bag more fluid in nature, while an elasticized thread is used in the stitch to create small “gathers” in the quilting, producing unrivaled fit and comfort). It was easy to tell that this bag snugs closer to your body and eliminates drafty dead spaces, keeping our testerʼs body heat inside the sleeping bag.
9. REI Joule Women’s Sleeping Bag
MSRP: $299 to $319
A premium backpacking sleeping bag for wet conditions, the REI Joule was ideal for venturing into Southeast after steelhead in the spring and silvers in the fall, as well as on trout expeditions to western Alaska, when the unceasing rain can make for an uncomfortable day. The bag features REI’s double-protection design, which uses both water-repellent down and waterproof/breathable fabric panels.
10. Western Mountaineering Kodiak MF Sleeping Bag
MSRP: $654.95 to $694.95
The Western Mountaineering Kodiak MF 0 Degree Sleeping Bag stood up against the harshest weather we encountered this year, keeping our testers completely warm. Filled with 30 ounces of down to give a full 7 inches of loft, the draft tube and collar on this mummy-style bag are 3-D sewn and filled with down as well to provide complete insulation. Western Mountaineering uses their MicroLite XP shell on the Kodiak MF to insure water-resistance and tear-proofing. The total weight is only 2 pounds, 12 ounces.
11. Big Agnes Jack Rabbit SL4 Tent
This three-season, superlight backpacking tent offers double doors and vestibules, plenty of internal storage and lots of headspace. Our tester reports that it offered all the convenience and space of a full-featured, heavier tent, but at a fraction of the bulk and weight.
12. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Venture
MSRP: $59.95 to $89.95
We found this air mattress perfect for shorter trips this season, with the all-new and patent-pending WaveCore construction allowing quality, performance and value. Over 100 insulating cells in this mattress also means the warmth is doubled over that of un-insulated air mattresses, without adding the bulk, weight or long-term durability concerns of down or synthetic fills.
13. Montbell U.L. Comfort S Pad 180 CAMP 50
A thicker version of the Montbell camp pads, the 180 CAMP 50 is a 2-inch-thick pad and 4 inches wider than their other pads, adding comfort and roominess to nights afield.
14. Hilleberg Nallo 4 GT
This lightweight, four-person tent was able to handle all of our adventures throughout the season. It’s a great option for those wanting more space and storage capacity, including families, without adding a ton of bulk and weight.