Winter: RAB Latok Mountain 2 $650 [Rab] – new version of the RAB Summit Extreme (for heavy windblown snow, you ideally want a tent that completely anchors to the ground, eg a sod-cloth, and double-walled). 2-person multi-night polar (the 3 is for 2-3 people). For the lightweight single-night – Latok Summit $500 [Rab]
Best Tent Heater
Best Propane Heater (can be used indoors) – Mr. Heater MH18B, Portable Propane Heater [Amazon]
10-11 feet is recommended for a flatter lay instead of the 9-9.5ft of many hammocks. Also, don’t get camo color, it is “militaristic” and might cause wariness in people.
Best for Sleeping: WarBonnet BlackBird (WBBB) DL 1.7 (if you definitely need a bug net or the shelf) OR for more flexibility (ie lounging or dayhiking) and more visibility out of the sides: get the WarBonnet Traveler (and carrying a bug net just in case to be careful). Only need the netting sometimes for warm weather (bugs), never when it’s cold out.
Best for the Elements: Clark CJH NX-200 (its weather shield holds in the warmth)
Don’t get: ENO DoubleNest (DN) – a frequent beginner’s buy: it’s good for lounging but not all in one, not lightweight, and must be modded (the straps stretch and suspension is heavy).
Best Tarp: WarBonnet Superfly, the Hammock Gear 4-Season Cuben Fiber, MacCat Deluxe
Best Hammock Stand: Turtledog Stand (works for WBBB)
Best Sleeping Bag
Western Mountaineering Puma (-25)
Best Camping Inflatable Mattress
For two people, it is actually better to get individual mattresses than a double; easier to put together and place in the tent through the door, and if one person moves it does not bother the other. Just get the big sheets to share!
Dirt Cheap: Intex Inflatable Fabric Camping Mattress with Built-In Pillow $10 [Amazon]
Absolute Best (air pad that inflates itself): Exped SynMat UL $150 [Amazon] (add a Downmat UL if below 25 degrees F)
The Exped is better than: Nemo Zor (vertical baffles on the Exped are better than horizontal), Therm-a-rest NeoAir All Season which is slightly more comfortable than the Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xtherm, Xlite, Therm-a-Rest ProLite and especially the Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest model non-air sleeping pad is too firm, the Alps Mountaineering Comfort series you have to inflate by mouth, Big Agnes is heavy and doesn’t insulate well
Cookware and Food
Best Portable Coffee Maker
Best Grill / Way to light a grill
Note: A Military style bag will last longer but will be heavier than a New tech hiker (ie Osprey or Maxpedition)
Small Size and Best Value ~$50: La Police Gear Operator Backpack $50 [LAPoliceGear]. Better value than the Fajllraven Kanken $100-200 (even though it’s extremely durable), better than Higher Sierra Cirque 30
Mid-Value Big-Size ~$130: Army CFP-90 rucksac with attached patrol pack [Amazon]
Premium Big-Size $300:
Eberlestock [Eberlestock Packs]
used ILBE Assault pack (better than Maxpedition) [Amazon] – Make sure you are getting it with the hip belt/shoulder straps/lid and possibly zippered pocket
Don’t get: Granite Gear, chromebag, timbuktu, killspencer, Arc’Teryx, Jansport, Rick Steves backpack, Gregory Jade 50, Dana Design, Northface, Camelbak, Ghurka Explorer, Lotuff Leather Backpack, MOLLE II ACU, Alice, Osprey (ie Porter, Waypoint and Farpoint for travelling, Xenith for hiking, Exos, but these are better than Kelty Redcloud), foxoutdoor, Eagle Creek, Kifaru Zulu (great quality but not great looking), MEC, Teton Sports, Snugpak Rocket Pack, Berghaus, Mystery Ranch Kodiak, Six Moons Designs Comet, ULA OHM pack, Gossamer Gear G4, SOC Gear Bugout Bag, 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack, Synapse 19 $170, Unavailable: Blackhawk SOF kit
Best All-Around Knife
Benchmade 710D2 [Amazon, 2] 4 inch (don’t get Spyderco or the cheaper Benchmade Griptilians with plastic grips) which is the flagship Benchmade, but for smaller/lightweight EDC (everyday carry) go for the Benchmade 940-1 Osborne [Amazon] (new version with carbon fiber scales and S90V blade versus the old version, better than 943 as more utilitarian with heftier blade), however the 710 is more sturdier / better for outdoors/hunting
Other pocket knives: Opinel No8 Carbon Pocket Knife $13 [Amazon], Kershaw Chive 1600 $35 [Amazon]
Best Forehead Light: Princetontec Vizz [Princetontec]
Best Flashlight: (even for self-defense!) SureFire E1D Defender Dual-Output LED Flashlight $174 [Amazon] Better tint and lower profile than the E2D, worth the power upgrade over 6PX
Best Fishing Rod and Reel and Line
Shimano Stradic Ci4 $215 [Amazon], G Loomix GLX Spinner [Amazon] or substitute [Amazon] (better rod even though St. Croix is a better value, worth it), Super Line (don’t use mono) 50lb [Amazon]