GEAR GUIDE2019-02-06T18:58:29+00:00

Gear Guide

Backpacking and Outdoor Gear Reviews
Everything from shelter systems, sleeping bags, stoves, backpacks and more.

Gear reviews here come from real experience in the backcountry. One thing you can always count on with us is honesty and reliability. No one likes to read a review that just spits out specs and info from a box after opening the box.
With Backcountry Exposure, you can be certain that what you’re reading comes from real experience in the field.
Enjoy the reviews, share with your friends and leave your comments!

Bivystick – 2 Way Satellite Communication Device Review

The Bivystick comes from the creators of the mobile app, Bivy. The Bivy app is an adventure based app that allows you to track your hikes, climbing, and backpacking and share it with the users of Bivy, or the Bivy community. After getting funded on Kickstarter, the Bivystick just started shipping November 2018 to Kickstarter backers. So yes, the Bivystick is quite new and it waits to see how it will be received long term by the outdoor community versus its competitors.

Bivystick has some features that set it apart in function from other satellite devices, and for the benefit of this review, I will compare the Bivystick to the Garmin InReach Mini and the Spot X, but also make reference to the original Spot Device. Bivystick basically turns your smartphone into a two way satellite communication device, allowing you to send and receive text messages with any of your contacts, obtain 3 day and 7 day weather reports, call for search and rescue and communicate with rescue after activating SOS. In addition to that, use the device to track your hike with 10 minute intervals and share your location. It’s honestly pretty intuitive and the user experience is a breath of fresh air. Continue Reading…

Soto WindMaster Stove Review

In the past five years i’ve used stoves from MSR, like the Pocket Rocket 2, Olicamp, and others. All of them have been great, but when I was working hard to save weight in my backpacking gear, I said goodbye to my MSR Superfly and went to the extreme with the Olicamp Ion Micro stove. What I found is that the Ion Micro was difficult to maintain in windy conditions. So I set out to find a stove that would check all of those boxes for me. That is when I found the WindMaster, and I haven’t looked back on it.

I’ve now been using the WindMaster exclusively for the past several trips that I’ve been on, and can say that it has been one of the best cooking experiences i’ve had with a stove. Let me explain. The WindMaster design features aspects that are hard to find on other backpacking stoves, namely a built in windscreen, concave burner shape and achieving a small form factor. These aspects are really what set the WindMaster apart from everything else on the market. Continue Reading…

Paria Outdoor Products Bryce 1P Tent Review

Ever since Paria Outdoor Products came to the outdoor market, I’ve been using their gear. I’ve always been impressed with the focus of creating budget friendly gear that is also reliable and well made. I recently had the chance to take the new Bryce 1p tent from Paria out on a 4 day backpacking trip in Capitol Reef National Park. Lets just say that I am quite happy with the design, performance and living space of this 1 person tent. Let’s get into the specifics about the Bryce and who it’s for or who it’s not for. Continue Reading…

Nemo Tensor Alpine Insulated Sleeping Pad

For various reasons it’s taken me a long time to purchase another piece of Nemo gear, but once I saw the Tensor Alpine and understood what it was all about, I had to have it. Let me explain here a little. For the past year or so i’ve been on the search for the right replacement sleeping pad to my Thermarest NeoAir XLite. I thought I had found the right pad when the Big Agnes AXL Air Insulated had been announced. But it took just a few short trips to realize that Big Agnes had missed the mark in the marketing of that pad when I slept cold about every single night I slept on it. It wasn’t until I made some changes to my sleeping bag that the AXL Air Insulated became a pad that I was willing to keep, but for summer use only. So the search continued for a good 4 season pad and that’s when I cam across the Tensor Alpine. Continue Reading…

Sawyer Micro Squeeze Water Filter Review

There’s no doubt that a common question will be how the Micro compares to the other two offerings from Sawyer. The Squeeze being the bread and butter of the filter line up, giving great flow rates, but can honestly be a little bulky. Then insert the Mini that achieves a super low weight, but lacks in the flow rate game. That’s where I feel the Micro really shines. It sits are right about 2 oz which is the same weight as the Mini, but flow rates are much better than the Mini. Add the male threaded end on the outlet of the Micro and you’ve set yourself up for a simple, but awesome gravity filter system when you thread two bags to the filter using the included coupler.

With my use of the Micro so far, mostly in the desert of Utah, i’ve enjoyed great performance from the filter. Filling bags from silty pot holes and sandy washes, I haven’t experienced issues with premature clogging of the filter. Continue Reading…

Luxe Hiking Gear Minipeak Pyramid Tent Review

After a lot of time looking for the shelter I wanted, I decided to get the Minipeak 2P Pyramid Tent from Luxe Hiking Gear. The Minipeak is a roomy two person shelter that allows various options of floors and inner tents to fit the needs of the season and user. I often am spending nights alone and not sharing a tent with someone else, so I opted to get the 1 person inner with it to allow me to have bug protection and a large vestibule area in front of the inner tent. That is the major bonus of the Minipeak when used as a single person shelter, it’s got a lot of room, which allows for plenty of gear storage, but also a place to cook and hang out if needed. This was a major selling point for me for this shelter. For an outer tent that weighs just over 2 pounds, you are getting a 1 person palace and even a roomy 2 person tent. Continue Reading…

Sierra Designs Cloud 800 20 Degree Sleeping Bag Review

In the past couple months I picked up the Sierra Designs Cloud 800 sleeping bag after some less than awesome experiences with various quilts that I had been testing. Some of that was user error and some was from the manufactures. With that said, I decided I wanted to dive into a traditional style sleeping bag again and since they were announced, the Cloud series from Sierra Designs really caught my eye.

I first laid eyes on the Cloud while attending the Outdoor Retailer trade show and got a quick look at the bag then. What struck me about this bag is its design more than anything. Here we had a design that achieved almost a hybrid of a mummy style sleeping bag with a quilt. And most notable, was the lack of a zipper. Okay, you’ve got my attention. No this wasn’t the Backcountry Bed from Sierra Designs, but a whole new design that was a play off the Backcountry Bed. Continue Reading…