Sad to say I don't know when/if I'll squeeze in any more backpacking yet this season, but there are a few new bits of equipment that I rolled out this year.

Primus Express Spider stove--remote canister stove with the Express burner, a generator tube and the valve at the canister end. It's relatively simple and a decent weight, if not top-of-the-canister light. Has rotating joints at the burner and canister ends so 1. the hose won't flip the burner and 2. the canister can be inverted for liquid flow. Even though there's no canister stand this is a good option for cold weather.

A problem showed up on day 1 of a seven-day trip--the bloody thing wouldn't light, giving a weak flame that wouldn't sustain if you took the lighter away. After much disassembly and colorful language, I asked "anybody have a sewing needle?" Nobody did but eventually, a fishing hook was offered and voila: it worked! First time I've ever had a canister stove clog and the problem did not reappear after.

The Express burner puts out a narrow flame so isn't the easiest to "cook" on but the stove's low profile makes it stable and easy to screen from the wind. It's also frugal with fuel.

I give it a conditional thumbs up, provided it never clogs again.

Adidas TerreX Gore-Tex hikers. Comfortable, rugged, waterproof and above all, maybe the best traction on rock of any shoe or boot I've worn. The soles are made by Continental, the tire maker, so they're on to something. One-pull laces with toggle locks.

My sole (hah) concern is the tongues, which work open on the go, letting in debris.

Unreserved thumbs up.

Delorme InReach satellite communications gizmo. Hard to describe but basically, a more-advanced SPOT that uses a different satellite network and--this is very important--offers two-way communications. It works in a rudimentary fashion by itself but when paired with a smart phone, has an array of tricks that includes tracking with detailed map and satellite image, overlays and the aforementioned two-way messaging.

It's large, heavy and requires a subscription, so not for everyone. One pair of batteries lasts for days and days and days, but of course smartphone batteries don't, so the combination is not (yet) a GPS substitute. But should be.

Two thumbs up.

Granite Gear-Klymit Vapor Current Air Beam suspension for the Crown 60 pack. Basically a tiny air mattress that replaces the thermoplastic frame sheet, this thing makes a comfy pack MUCH more comfy and yes, even adds some weight capacity. I was skeptical, but no more. You pump it up with a little bulb and a valve lets air out.

Three thumbs up. Yes, I'm alien.

So, what's new with you?