As our bush plane bounced and rolled through the thick turbulence of a warm spring day in the Idaho backcountry, I stared several thousand feet down on the mountainous terrain and tried to prepare myself for what lay ahead.
After flying in to a remote wilderness landing strip in the Northern part of the state, a friend and I would hike some 30 miles out to the nearest trailhead and hunt black bears up and down the jagged canyon walls along the way. We’d have as our only guide the mighty Selway river, roaring with the new life of snow melt and marking the way to our final destination.
The trip was epic. We finished the six-day journey without a bear, but it was still one of those rare trips of a lifetime you won’t ever forget. It was also a great opportunity to test some of the best new camping and backpacking gear for 2014. When you’re 50 miles from the nearest road or motorized anything, there’s a ton of pressure for gear to perform—and not a lot of room for failure. Fortunately, you can read about how the gear did before ever setting a foot in the wild.
Everything we’ve listed here was a top performer and would make an excellent addition to your gear portfolio. Here’s to your next adventure.
- When you're backpacking light and trying to keep your footprint minimal, there's really no better option than a lightweight stove for boiling water to make dehydrated meals. Backpacker's Pantry has been in the game for a long time, and its Pad Thai meal with peanuts and peanut butter may be the creme de la creme. After a long day chasing bears and pounding the trail-less backcountry, the best my pack mate and I could do was scarf down our meal and groan with culinary delight. There are plenty of options for meals, too, including single and two-person variations and surplus canned food you can measure and pack yourself. We tried everything from Huevos Rancheros to beef stew and weren't once disappointed. Price: $7 to $15