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Outdoor Research Lobster Claw Gore-tex Rain Mitts

Outdoor Research Lobster Claw Rain Mitts
I've spent alot of money over the years on gloves, always looking for the ideal combination of size, weight and function. Well, it took a while, but I think I've found the ultimate backpacking and hiking rain mitt. The Outdoor Research Lobster Claw Rain Mitts are the perfect combo of size, weight and function, albeit at the upper end of the price chart. Here are some of the mitt's features:


  • Weight: 1.4 oz. / 40 g. (size Medium, per pair)
  • Ripstop Gore-Tex, 1.4 oz., 3-layer (lightest 3-layer Gore-Tex available).
  • Waterproof
  • Windproof
  • Fully-taped waterproof seams
  • Lycra cuff keeps wind out and holds warm air in by reducing the "bellows" action at the cuff.
  • Split mitt design
  • cost: $45.
For activities such as running, hiking, and cross country skiing, where weight reduction is critical but wear and tear is minimal, these mitts excel. The rain mitt is separated into two pockets each holding two fingers. This arrangement allows for better hand movement and also lets each pair of fingers share heat and reduces the surface area presented to the cold. This mitt design is a perfect combination of mitt and glove. It matches well with all three weights of liner gloves. I typcially wear the rain mitt with lightweight thermal glove liners in the warmer months and then switch to expedition weight liners in the colder months.

Note 8/20/04: The OR Lobster Claw mitts are no longer produced. OR is now producing the "Rain Claw Mitt" in their place Check them out here.

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Functional Design Sweetie Pie Doubler

Sweetie Pie Doubler
The Doubler is great for the backcountry traveler (like me) whose spouse accompanies occasionally or for parents (like my daughter pictured above) who appreciate the choice of cuddling with their young ones or zipping the Doubler onto itself to create a child's bag. My wife and I, as well as my daughter and her son, tested the mummy configuration above and can testify to its comfort, warmth and roominess. This particular one - a Three-Season Doubler - weighs 28.57 ounces, is rated to 10°F, and costs $99.

The Sweetie Pie - which uses Polargard 3D for insulation - comes in three weights.

Doubler 12oz (0.35kg)rated to 40°F (4°C) 

3 Season
Doubler 25oz (0.69kg) rated to 10°F (-12°C) 
Expander 16oz (0.45kg) rated to 10°F (-12°C) 

For additional specifications and purchasing information, contact Functional Design.

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Big Agnes Horse Thief

Big Agnes Horse Thief
Interested in lightweight gear but not too fond of narrow profile mummy bags? Tired of your mattress popping out from under you when you're trying to dose off in your hammock or simply tossing and turning? Don't like the confinement of a hood and prefer to just wear a fleece cap? Don't want to use the kid's college fund to go ultralight? Well, you might want to check out the new 2002 Big Agnes Horse Thief. The Horse Thief has ample room for moving around and is well suited for folks who just flat out don't fit a standard mummy bag. The Horse Thief has a generous 67.5" shoulder area and 64" hip section. It's filled with 11 ounces of 775-fill goose down, weighs approximately 1 pound, 12 ounces (size regular) and has a conservative rating of 35 degrees (I've been comfortable to 30 degrees, without tent, bivy or extra clothes). The Horse Thief also has very practical yet leading-edge features such as an integrated pillow case and a mattress sleeve on the bottom of the bag instead of down -- this last feature attractive for hammock users. The cost of the Horse Thief is a relatively reasonable $199.00. How about a Horse Thief with a hood and three extra ounces of goose down? Well, actually, it's called the Zirkel, but it offers the same unique features as the Horse Thief and is very comfy. Upon crawling into the spacious confines of the Zirkel, one of my bag reviewers mumbled something like, "mine, mine, mine".

For additional specifications and purchasing information, contact Big Agnes.

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Hilleberg Bivanorak®

Hilleberg Bivanorak®  Hilleberg Bivanorak®
It's a bivy! No, it's an anorak! No, it's the new 2002 Hilleberg Bivanorak®! One of the most desirable and useful pieces of outdoor gear is one which has multiple functionality. The new Hilleberg Bivanorak® certainly falls into that category. The Bivanorak®, which is 94.5 inches in length (240 cm) and weighs 23.28 ounces (660 grams), is made of waterproof, windproof and "breathable" ripstop nylon. It has a long front zipper with a large three-inch-wide rainflap secured by velcro. It has drawcords at the hood, bottom hem and cuffs and all of its seams are tape-sealed. The bivy becomes an anorak when a person dons the bivy and cinches the bottom hem around their waist. A person's height and torso length will determine the length of the anorak.

Rain gear and shelter in a less-than 1 1/2 pound package - not bad! For additional information or to purchase the Bivanorak®, click HERE.

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Princeton Tec Aurora LED Headlamp
Princeton Tec Aurora LED Headlamp

I thought the 2.187 ounce (62g) Petzl Zipka was the ultimate in ultralight headlamp technology. Wow, wrong again. Enter the new Princeton Tec Aurora, at 2.275 ounces (73g - with a little headstrap trimmed off), a smidgen heavier but more functional than both the Zipka and the Zipka's bigger brother, the Petzl Tikka. The Aurora has (1) adjustable pivoting head (2) adjustable lightweight headstrap (3) five different output modes -- 3 constant and two blinking and (4) is waterproof. All features which are foreign to the Zipka and Tikka. Couple those features with the Aurora's more powerful, evenly distributed light beam and the Aurora is hard to beat (but hopefully Petzl will try).
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