Hiking Gear Reviews: Get in gear this fall with these new products

September 10, 2015

Publisher’s Choice

By Carolyn Price


It’s fall and ’tis the season for some of the Northwest’s best hiking, camping and backpacking weather. Here are some products we saw at the outdoor industry trade show, Outdoor Retailer, Aug. 5 –7, and tested on Mount Rainier a week later.

X Ultra Mid 2 GTX

In search of a sturdy hiking boot that served her wide forefoot and narrow heel, our reviewer found her perfect match in the X Ultra Mid 2 GTX and pronounced this boot “amazing” after a backpack trip to Mount Rainier. With running-shoe comfort right out of the box, there was nary a blister or hot spot.

The Gore-Tex lining proved worthy during a Rainier rainstorm and the boot’s mid-height, sturdy grip, mud guard and toe protector were allies on muddy and rocky sections of the trail and through small streams. Available in men’s and women’s sizes, $160. www.salomon.com

Hoka One One
Tor Ultra Hi Waterproof Hiking Boots

According to a rep from Hoka One One, retailers cannot keep this boot in stock. It’s no wonder. For its first foray into the hiking boot world, Hoka One One has come out a winner. There is no break-in period, and I found these boots to be comfy from the start. The Tor Ultra Hi features a dark plum/purple brown color for women and Black/Flame for men, eVent® Waterproof breathable bootie and full grain leather and nylon uppers. But what I’ve always liked about this brand is its wide toe box and cushiony soles—making my feet very happy on my first backpacking trip this summer. $230. www.hokaoneone.com

Renegade GTX

The rule is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The award-winning Renegade certainly isn’t broken and it’s become the standard bearer in LOWA’s arsenal of hiking boots. Wide width, out-of-the box comfort, Waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX® and with the reliable Nubek leather on the upper. And you can feel good wearing these knowing that they were handcrafted by highly skilled bootmakers in Slovakia—at least they know what makes us smile in the Northwest. Men’s and Women’s, comes in wide widths and a variety of colors, $230. www.lowaboots.com

Off-Road Photographic Walking Sticks

This is a great little two-fer. Manfrotto’s new trekking poles reveal an integrated camera mount with quick wheel attachment under the protective cap of one of the handgrips. Presto, you’ve got a monopod! Photography aside, the lightweight aluminum poles are super-strong and their three telescopic twist-closures are easy to use—and stay put—with their simple Twist-to-Lock feature. Comes standard with spike bases, rubber covers and a pair of baskets for use in the snow. Available in blue, red and green. $99/pair. www.manfrotto.us

Big Agnes
Tumble 3 mtnGLO

During an evening rainstorm backpacking at Mount Rainier this summer, I was lulled to sleep from the gentle pinging of raindrops, knowing for a fact that I would wake up in a dry tent. I did.

The Tumble 3 mtnGlo is a spacious three-person, three-season tent which comes integrated with a string of LED lights in the top seams of the tent body. Using just three AAA batteries (not too heavy to carry on a backpacking trip), the mtnGLO™ Tent Light Technology cast a nice ambient light inside. Other features we loved were the quick three-pole set-up, color-coded fly-to-tent buckles, two zippered doors and two vestibules—the storm flap offering plenty of room that kept our boots and backpacks dry. The 5lb.13oz. tent didn’t break our backs either and set-up from sack to finish was a cinch! $330. www.bigagnes.com

Midori 2

Called a “killer deal” by trusted source Backpacker magazine, the Midori 2 is both price-conscious and user-friendly. With Eureka’s nearly 10 square feet in its Full V3 front vestibule (venting, volume and versatility) our two campers had plenty of room for themselves and all their gear. This three-season, water-resistant tent features a large D-style door for easy in- and-outs, plenty of mesh for enhanced air flow and star-gazing, color-coded clip attachments for securing the fly to the tent and weighs less than 4.5 pounds. Yellow/white, $159. 90. www.eurekatent.com

MiniMo Cooking System

The MiniMo is my new BFF—and I’m not surprised it was deemed a winner in Backpacker magazine’s 2015 Editors’ Choice Awards. Weighing in at just 14 ounces and measuring 5×6 inches when packed, it’s perfect for backpacking, especially since it includes an insulating drink-through lid. (Think: Less dishes to wash.). The MiniMo is ignited with a push-button piezo ignitor from a screw-on propane fuel canister; average boil time for the 33.8 ounces of liquid in the pot is between 2 and 4½ minutes. $129.95. www.jetboil.com

Fruit Snacks

No outdoor adventure is complete without great snacks! Froodles is an organic fruit leather cut into strips resembling fettuccine noodles. Hold the butter—this product is the real deal with no artificial flavors or preservatives and the three kids I tested them on gobbled them up! Froodles uses whole organic fruits grown on the Colorado Plateau. Offered in four flavors: raspberry, apricot, peach and cherry. Each 3-ounce bag contains about half a cup of fruit. www.froodles.com

Insect Repellent

In the case of our family, our fair-skinned daughter is a mosquito magnet. When we had her try the wrap-around wrist BugBand during our last foray into the woods, she returned bite-free—and happy. The BugBand is child-safe (and fun—it glows in the dark), and naturally repels mosquitos, flies, gnats, fleas and ticks, is water-resistant even when swimming, deet-free and the band is reusable up to 120 hours when kept in its case. $4.95 per band; also comes in towelettes. www.bugband.net