It’s award season again, which means that fans of the outdoors eagerly anticipate one of the biggies: Backpacker magazine’s Editors’ Choice Awards. The honor confers a kind of Holy Grail status on winners, so act fast if you have your eye on one of these stars.
Backpacker editors, no-nonsense experts with years of backcountry experience, gather annually for this sacred ritual. The selection process begins without predetermined categories or a set number of recipients. Extensive testing throughout the year drives the process, and only elite performers are left standing at the end.
Now it’s time to shine our 1,000-lumen headlamp on some of the big winners: the Exped SynMat Hyperlite Duo sleeping pad, men’s and women’s Columbia OutDry Ex Diamond rain shells, men’s Mountain Hardwear AP pants and the MSR Guardian Purifier. One entrée made the cut: Backpacker’s Pantry Chana Masala. And, perhaps to raise a toast to that tasty treat, the Stanley Stainless-Steel Shot Glass Set was also honored.
In addition to choosing the best new gear, Backpacker bestows its Editors’ Choice Gold Award on gear that’s ascended to legendary status over the past five years. This year that distinguished honor goes to men’s and women’s Vasque Skywalk Gore-Tex® Hiking Boots.
With varying levels of success, jacket makers have been trying to one-up Gore-Tex®technology for decades now. OutDry Extreme is a worthy waterproof/breathable contender. What’s unique about its microporous magic is that no durable water repellent (DWR) coating is required. Its surface has something more akin to “PWR” (perpetual water repellency), a quality that’s engineered directly into the material. So, unlike almost any other type of rain jacket, the waterproof/breathable performance of these shells won’t diminish over time.