Weight: 520g (single)
When the box arrives, it’s so light I expect to only find one boot inside. But, no, they’re just half the weight of my last pair of hiking boots yet still feel sturdy. To wear, they grip me comfortably around the heel and ankle with room to wiggle in all directions at the toe. I take them on a multiday walk after minimal breaking-in and have no problem with blisters, which I’d begun to think were just a given for me. The synthetic and suede upper is good looking, but what I really like about these is that the liner is highly water resistant as well as breathable – a day of creek walking confirms it. A Vibram sole offers good grip, especially on dry rock, though is not quite as reliable in really cold weather as the softer rubber soles.
Dimensions: L 184cm x W 54cm
Mats that distinguish between male and female sleepers always seem gimmicky to me, but this 38mm mat is certainly comfortable. The tapered shape keeps the weight down to less than one kilogram and, for a difference of 150g, I see no reason not to use this as my year-round mat instead of also getting the 25mm. The self-inflation is very fast but it takes quite a bit of time and effort to roll back up when packing it away – probably a combination of the density and newness of the foam. I prefer my sleeping mat folded in half for stowing in a pack, which you can do with this one even though the sack and straps are only designed for rolling it up flat – I just customise with longer straps. Comes with a repair kit.
Weight: 177g and 154g (size 10)
RRP: AUD$159.98 (per piece)
The thermal base layer at the top of Kathmandu’s range is designed for high altitude activity but is also perfect for Tassie at sea level. These thermals have what Kathmandu call a ‘double-knit construction’ that combines merino wool, polyester and polypropylene. This means a comfortably thickish stretchy thermal that is fitted but not tight and the material feels soft against my sensitive skin with the flat seams further reducing the chance of skin irritation. They’re an aesthetic red on the inside and black on the outside. Design features for trapping in torso warmth are a drop tail on the top as well as long raglan sleeves with thumb loops, while the leggings have a generously high waistband. The UPF50+ rating makes them a suitable single layer at high altitude. In short, they’re a very long way from the bottom of the Kathmandu thermal range. Only complaint: I keep thinking the XT logo on the top of the sleeve is a spider crawling up my arm.
Weight: 110g (including batteries)
This LED head torch comprises a water and impact resistant casing for bulbs and batteries, with a hinge that allows about 90 degrees of adjustability, and a single thick elastic headband. I wouldn’t want the casing to be any heavier than it is, though a piece of soft rubber cushions it against your forehead. The main feature is its movement sensor setting: the white bulb can be turned on or off with the wave of a hand. Nice idea, except when you’re constantly swatting at insects or are a fidgety type of person. In that case, there’s a separate button for manual operation. Pressing it also takes you to the static and flashing SOS red options and holding it down cycles you through the white bulb’s beam intensity. The LED focus control means this torch is equally good for night hiking and night reading. Sold with three AAAs and, joy of joys, easy to open with your fingers to replace batteries.
Dimensions: L 26cm x W 14cm x D 2cm
This piece of gear may seem like the odd one out here, but people often catch a plane or cross international borders to get to an adventure. Even though it’s not something I would use myself – mainly because it screams “tourist with credit card information to steal” – the overall design of this purpose-made travel wallet is nicely executed and the four passport sleeves makes it ideal for co-dependent couples, young families or a spy with various identities. It has an external boarding pass sleeve, multiple credit card slots, SD card pockets, SIM card pocket, two currency zipped sections and a pen loop. The electromagnetic shielding material, designed to reduce the chances of wireless credit card information theft, isn’t bulky. However, neither the outer polyester material nor the RFID shielding fabric are waterproof.