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Innovative Gear: Editors' Choice Award Winners for 2011

Backpacker magazine recently unveiled its 2011 Editors’ Choice award winners. The following tents and bags, which the editors said "earned our torture-tested seal of approval," are available at

Kelty Salida 2 Tent
Says Backpacker: “Tents tend to seesaw between weight and price. As one goes up, the other goes down. The light-load, low-cost Salida turns that equation on its head.” At 3 lbs. 12 oz. and $159.95, it’s hard not to agree. Downside: There's just one door.

 Kelty Salida tent

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL4 Tent
This is a huge (57 sq. ft.) family tent that somehow weighs under 6 pounds. Lots of mesh makes for superb ventilation, and the hubbed pole system is stable and efficient. No real negatives were noted by Backpacker, other than minor zipper snagging with the rainfly. $599.95. 

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL4 tent

Marmot Plasma +30 sleeping bagMarmot Plasma Sleeping Bag
Stuffed with 900-fill goose down, the regular length weighs just 1 lb. 6 oz. for the 30°F bag, (1 lb. 12 oz. for the 15° bag) and it packs down to volleyball size. That's impressive, and the Backpacker folks say it passed their field tests with flying colors. Again, a bit of zipper finagling was the only downside noted. Starts at $419.

Other Backpacker winners coming soon to and selected REI stores:

By early May, look for the Nemo Astro Insulated and Pillowtop Sleeping Pad. If you don’t mind expending a little lung power, this could be your go-anywhere sleeping pad. For backpacking, it’s a 2.5” inch, full-length mattress insulated with open-cell foam that weighs 1 lb. 8 oz. For car camping, add the Pillowtop sleeve for deluxe comfort.

Later this spring, the Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 Backpack will offer great performance for under 3 pounds. Backpacker gushes, "If the human body came with a pack, it would fit and feel a lot like this back-hugging model." The pack is highlighted by "a supportive, superbly ventilated framesheet and a category-leading hipbelt."

Next up in the REI Blog: More award winners from The North Face, Black Diamond and others.

See all award-winning gear at REI.


Posted on at 1:39 PM

Tagged: Backpacker magazine, Sleeping bag, backpacking, big agness copper spur UL4, editors' choice, kelty salida, marmot plasma and tent

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We're loving our Copper Spur UL2, smaller relative to the UL3. Pretty roomy for a 2 person tent, tall ceiling, long and spacious vestibule. We're about to go on a cross-country bike tour with our folding bikes and they fit under the vestibules :) Pretty amazingly light for a 2 person tent. Sure the UL3 is similar.

Looking forward to taking it through its paces and giving a long-term review.


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