Thanks to smart engineering and materials advances, today's backcountry necessities pack in more tech without packing on more pounds. Here are five items you'll want in your backpack this fall.
1. CMG Phoenix Motion-Sensing Lantern
No more groping for a flashlight at night: The 3-ounce Phoenix switches on for 45 to 55 seconds when its infrared sensor detects movement. With two AA batteries, it'll illuminate a 12-foot area for 4 to 6 hours.
2. AirZone Pop-Up Tent
Inflatable tents have been in development for 70 years, but finally someone has got it right. The 10-pound AirZone pitches in just 7 seconds, as a carbon dioxide cartridge inflates its support poles. The poles are basic rubber inner tubes surrounded by woven polyester. Turning the release valve deflates the poles in 2 seconds.
Price: $200 to $300.
3. Brunton Solo Generator
Weighing in at 8 pounds—18 pounds lighter than comparable generators—the Solo can power a cellphone, TV, air pump, or a laptop for 5 hours. You can recharge it in 2.5 hours with a vehicle adapter or in 10 hours with an optional solar panel.
Price: $650; Solaris 25 panel, $400.
4. Brunton Optimus Crux Cook Stove
This 3-ounce butane stove burns 2,000 BTUs hotter than others like it, and can also simmer. It's powerful enough to boil a cup of water in 3 minutes, and its flame spreader eliminates spot burning. The entire stove collapses down to 2 by 3 by 1 inches. Each butane cartridge provides 1 hour of burn.
5. Mountain Hardware's Banshee SL-10 Sleeping Bag
With welded instead of stitched seams, this sleeping bag will keep you dry no matter the size of the storm outside. The bag is made of nylon covered by a waterproof, breathable laminate. Inside are 28 nylon tricot tubes, full of down, welded to the shell. We couldn't test the bag, which weighs 3 pounds 3 ounces, but the company claims it withstands 22 inches of rain in 24 hours.
Available this spring for $400.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.