Gear review: Into the woods
Written by Kimberly Nicoletti
With the wildflowers popping, it’s the perfect time to get into the woods with these products:
Big Agnus Fly Creek HV UL2 Solution Dye
I love tents that make me feel like I can truly enjoy the outdoors, with fine, transparent mesh that extends nearly to the floor and an easy-to-attach fly that makes it cozy at night. If you’re looking for an ultra-lightweight backpacking tent, this three-season shelter has been redesigned from the stakes up to become an award-winning, humble outdoor abode. The big draw of this tent is it’s extremely lightweight. At 2 pounds, 4 ounces, I really couldn’t feel it in my backpack. Big Agnes has outfitted the Fly Creek HV UL2 with a larger vertical entry arch on the door and steep wall architecture to provide more headroom, which, at its height is 42 inches and, in the two-person version, is sufficient. It also includes lighter and stronger tent stakes that hold up to pounding with a rock. This tent combines ultralight materials with technical features like solution-dyed fabric that’s highly resistant to fading in sunlight — plus, the company has found a way to significantly reduce energy consumption and water use while constructing the product. It’s simple to set up once you get the main gist, with proprietary tent corner construction, reflective guy lines, color-coded webbing, and fast clip buckles, as well as directions conveniently attached inside the stuff sack. Two interior mesh pockets and a roomy media packet stash small items, while the fly’s extension keeps your backpack protected from the elements. Like all true ultralight backpacking tents, you sacrifice some roominess, so get ready to snuggle up in this 28-square-foot (86 inches long by 42-52 inches wide) interior. But, when packed, you can’t beat the 7.5″ x 5″ x 1.5″ complete tent, which easily fits in a backpack. $399.95, bigagnes.com
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System
We all know that the last thing you want while backpacking or traveling is a case of giardia or other intestinal upset (And it’s nasty when the dog gets it, too). This portable water filtration system removes 99.99999% of bacteria like salmonella, cholera, leptospirosis, and e. coli and removes 99.9999% of protozoa like giardia and cryptosporidium, according to independent testing laboratory Hydration, LLC. It also filters out 100% of microplastics, though it warns it doesn’t remove chemicals, pesticides, or heavy metals. This filter is extremely efficient; a large volume of tubes in the compact filter increase the surface area by 20 to 1, compared to a ceramic filter and provide a high flow rate. Each filter is tested three times before packaging to ensure performance standards, which is amazing quality control and gives me peace of mind. It also comes with a limited lifetime warranty. At 5 ½ inches high and 2 ½ ounces, it easily fits into any backpack. And, it’s super simple to use: Just screw the filter onto one of two 32-ounce, BPA-free, collapsible hydration pouches the kit comes with or onto any standard water bottle with 28 mm threads. When flowrate slows, you simply backwash the filter. The kit comes with the filter, cleaning plunger, inline pack adapters, gravity tube, two pouches, and a mesh bag with a hanging loop. The best thing about this company is it employs water filters to help people worldwide who otherwise wouldn’t have clean drinking water, which impacts just about every aspect of life, from physical and mental health to the ability to work and care for a family. From disaster relief and refugee camp programs to training locals to use water filters that last 10-plus years, this company is changing lives. This year, the company completed a five-year project installing filters in every household in the Marshall Islands, impacting 42,000 lives. You can donate to the Sawyer Foundation or otherwise help them distribute water filters at sawyer.com. $29.08
A 20% DEET Premium Controlled-Release Lotion will work well against mosquitoes, but Dr. Zimring says he prefers the 20% Picaridin lotion since it also protects against ticks, gnats, chiggers, and flies. (In both instances, he recommends Sawyer brand.)
Part of spending time outside means battling ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting insects. For this, Nelson swears by permethrin.
And out of the products we tested, Dr. Zeichner highly recommends Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent.