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Osprey Aura AG 65L

 

Pros: Anti-Gravity suspension? Bring it on. I was super excited about this backpack; I'd heard nothing but good things. What makes this pack truly unique is its gentle but firm waist belt, and the constant support from the non-stretch backpanel mesh. The waist belt is by far the most form-fitting and supportive that I have ever encountered. You can literally be wearing the pack with full weight, unclip the belt, and it's still just... hanging out... hugging your waist and supporting the weight of your backpack. This takes SO much of the pressure off of your shoulders, and because it's so padded, it's very comfortable on your hips. It is a spacious pack and there are plenty of compartments to keep you organized, both on the front and on the sides, with a removable top lid. Overall, it really is a comfortable backpack and offers great support and weight distribution through the constant contact of the hip belt.

Cons: Once the pack is on, it is fantastic...  but getting it on is a little trickier than most packs. That not-so-flexible, body-contouring waist belt (a.k.a. hip clamps) is a little difficult to open up enough to slide into. Combine that with the weight of your overnight gear, in addition to trying to put your arms through the shoulder straps, and it can be a bit of a pain and take some maneuvering. I'm curious if other AG owners would agree. I also think the hip pocket openings are a bit too small. I have a tough time getting things in and out of it, and I have pretty normal sized lady hands...

Final Thoughts: The frustration of getting the pack on is totally worth how comfortable the backpack is. I still give it two thumbs up. I'll be interested to see what, if any, improvements they make on this model over time.

 

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La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX Hiking Boots

 

I've worn these La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX hiking boots to DEATH, but they've taken me to some pretty spectacular places along the way.

Pros: When I tried them on, I texted @intothinair (who has the Men's version) and said "they feel like PILLOWS on my feet!" These boots are super lightweight, really comfortable and flexible. They are waterproof, yet breathable and they have pretty awesome traction - a must for me. The laces cinch up with ease, which makes getting theses babies on a piece of cake.

Cons: These boots are a bit TOO flexible at the base, and I find that I roll my ankle more often when wearing them - especially if I'm carrying any weight. I really have worn the crap out of these, but at the same time I don't feel like they are as sturdy or durable as they should be, and those easy cinch-up laces have already had to be replaced - which was a pain the butt... for @aarongerski.

Final Thoughts: I think La Sportiva is on the right track with this boot, but they need a little beefing up. 

 

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MSR Windboiler Stove System

 

The MSR Windboiler Stove System is rad, and it's red. I could leave it there, but I'll elaborate a bit. Unlike Jetboil you do need to light this stove yourself, so make sure you've got matches or a lighter with you - but I'm sure you do, since that's one of the 10 essentials.

Pros: It's lightweight and compact, it assembles easily and is fuel-efficient. Apparently it performs super well in cold and windy conditions, but I have yet to experience those types of conditions since owning it, so I'll have to take their word on it. The most important thing for me is that it's easy to use and that I haven't managed to injure myself while using it. It's fool(Holly)proof!

Cons: Unfortunately, when storing the stove (especially while backpacking) a small gas canister will not fit inside. The heating element is just too big to make room for it all, therefore making it the bulkier option when comparing it to the Jetboil. 

 

 

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Nemo Equipment Dagger 2P

 

The Nemo Equipment Dagger 2P is my favorite 2 person tent, thus far. It's a spacious, 3-season ultralight backpacking tent - coming in at just under 3 1/2 lbs. 

Pros: Lightweight, mesh walls, noticeably roomy interior, easy to assemble and features two large vestibules when the rainfly is attached. The rope on the stakes is reflective too, so that means less tripping - which for me is always a plus. 

Cons: The plastic clips at the bottom of the tent where the poles and rainfly attach are my least favorite aspect, but by no means something that keeps it from being my go-to option. I have struggled to get the rainfly clipped and unclipped a few times, but usually just when my hands are cold. 

 

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