We scoured the massive show floor of last week’s Outdoor Retailer trade show in Denver in search of the most exciting pieces of backpacking gear hitting shelves—and trails—in the coming months. From stoves to sleeping pads to backpacks, the innovation of your favorite brands didn’t disappoint. Backpacking gear is getting lighter, more comfortable and more feature-rich.
Primus Firestick Ti Stove
At just 3.1 ounces (with an included, external Piezo igniter), the titanium Primus Firestick weighs less than your headlamp but doesn’t sacrifice any camp-cooking performance. (It’s also available in a steel version that weighs 3.7 ounces.) Air intake holes, a recessed burner head and a fine-tunable pressure regulator (with a large, foldable control knob) give the stove top-notch fuel efficiency and cook times: This 8,530-BTU stove will bring 1 liter of water to a boil in a little more than three minutes, and an 8-ounce canister of fuel will burn on full for up to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Plus, the sturdy pot support arms click into place over the burner when it’s not in use, keeping it protected while eliminating the need for a separate case. It packs down to just over 4 inches long with a 1.4-inch diameter—about the same size as a candy bar. Pick up the Firestick online in spring 2020. ($120)
Black Diamond ReVolt 350 Headlamp
The headlamp power arms race is still in full swing. Black Diamond’s rechargeable ReVolt Headlamp is getting a boost from 175 lumens up to 350, the upper end available for headlamps this size. Of course, you likely won’t need all that power all the time, so the ReVolt is easily dimmable. (Nice touch: Like most Black Diamond headlamps, once you find a power you like, the light will remain set there until you manually change it, even after it’s turned off and on.) It also features Black Diamond’s new 1,800-mAh, removable lithium-ion battery, which can be recharged in a cradle and swapped in for a fresh one (or throw regular AAAs in there). This allows you to carry an extra or two for long trips, rather than needing to plug the light into a power bank while on the trail. Once you get home, a quick recharge ensures you always head out at 100 percent and don’t need to worry about disposable batteries. Buy the new ReVolt at select REI stores or online in spring 2020. ($65)
For backpackers who like to charge on the go, this featherlight solar panel may become your new standard. The single monocrystalline panel—protected behind a durable, rugged plastic enclosure—weighs 12.7 ounces, smaller and lighter than any Goal Zero panel before. (At $59.95, it’s cheaper, too.) It’s the perfect size for shoving into the brain of your pack. The 5-watt output might not keep your mirrorless camera alive in the backcountry, but for phones, headlamps and small power banks, it’s all you need. A single female USB port on the back makes charging phones and Goal Zero’s Flip chargers simple, and a kickstand on the back and lash points around the perimeter make setup easy. (You can prop it on a boulder or the ground at camp or affix it to the outside of your pack when you’re hiking.) Pre-order the Nomad 5 online now; it will be available at all REI stores in July 2019. ($60)
Gregory Paragon 58 / Maven 55 Packs
The updated 58-liter Paragon and women-specific, 55-liter Maven have backpackers and weekend warriors drooling. Now made with Gregory’s patent-pending FreeFloat Hybrid suspension system, the load haulers boast dynamic fit and carry (so the packs move with you as you hike and high-step). The precurved hipbelt is designed to comfortably hug your body, and the back panel has airflow channels. Stretchy exterior mesh pockets, including a huge one on the back and narrower ones on each side, give you lots of options for stashing wet clothes, extra snacks and other items you might want to grab on the go. With all that, the Paragon 58 comes in at just 3 pounds, 5 ounces. REI will have the first-to-market exclusive beginning in November 2019, and the packs will be available in most stores and online. ($200)
Exped Outer Space II Tent
Weathering storms by lying on your back and staring at a mesh tent body are a thing of the past, thanks to the Exped Outer Space. Designed for maximum livability without losing its lightweight backpacking credentials, this two-person, three-season shelter weighs 5 pounds, 11 ounces with a staggering 37 square feet of vestibule space. With the inner tent body set up inside and the fly zipped down, there’s enough room for campers to eat, play cards or even sit in chairs. If the weather is nice, open it up in porch mode (pictured) for even more space—and a view. Find the Outer Space II in select REI stores and online in spring 2020; it will also be available in a three-person version. ($449)
NEMO Flyer Sleeping Pad
The Flyer blurs the line between lightweight inflatable pad and luxe self-inflating pad. NEMO took a standard foam pad and cored out about 60 percent of the actual foam to create hollow air channels. The result is a $120, 1-pound-7-ounce sleeping pad that packs down to the size of a football—but still inflates on its own. On the show floor, it seemed to provide a generous amount of support, even for side sleepers. Added bonus: If you puncture it or bust an air chamber, the foam on the inside makes it still relatively comfortable when deflated. A durable-yet-supple, 20-denier fabric adds to the plush factor, and an R-value of 3 means you can push it into cooler temperatures if paired with a warm sleeping bag. The Flyer will be available in all REI stores and online in spring 2020. ($120)
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent
Who knew a single zipper could make such a difference? By adding a second zipper to the fly of Big Agnes’s super-popular, lightweight backpacking tent, you can now prop both sides up with a trekking pole to create awnings. If you don’t need open porches (in the event that the weather is a little spicy), just close up that new zipper and use it as a traditional fly. Even with the new porch feature and an updated, more durable ripstop nylon throughout the fly, the revised Copper Spur still comes in at 2 pounds, 13 ounces. REI will have the first-to-market exclusive beginning in November 2019, and it will be available in all stores and online. ($500)
Looking for more new product picks scouted from the show floor at Outdoor Retailer? Find our favorite gear for the trail here.