The CleverHiker team spent last week walking the halls of Outdoor Retailer in Denver, drooling over all the awesome new gear coming to the backpacking world in 2020. Outdoor Retailer is one of the largest gear conferences in the world and last week we were fortunate enough to meet up with some of our favorite companies to get a sneak peek at their upcoming innovations. We put together this article to quickly share some of our favorite new products with you. We can’t wait to get some of these items on the trail!
New Therm-a-Rest Valve Systems
Starting in February 2020, all Therm-a-Rest valves will be getting a very nice upgrade. The popular NeoAir series, featured prominently on our Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads List, will all be getting new valves and an included pump sack with every purchase. The new valves will allow three times the flow rate for faster inflation, they won’t allow air to come out while you’re trying to fill them up, and they will purge air much faster than the old valve system. Because Therm-a-Rest makes some of the very best backpacking pads on the market, we think this is an excellent and important upgrade. In addition Therm-a-Rest will be offering several pad varieties in a regular wide size. They’ll also offer a small battery-operated Mini Pump (sold separately) which will quickly inflate and deflate all pads with the new valve system.
Copper Spur HV UL2 Updates
Coming Spring 2020, Big Agnes will be making some small but nice updates to their incredibly popular Copper Spur HV UL2 tent. Most notably, the rainfly doors on both sides of the Copper Spur will now have an extra zipper that will allow for a canopy set up with trekking poles. This will also allow the door to be rolled up and stored away for excellent ventilation and views, even with the rainfly on. Also exciting, the new pole grommets on the Copper Spur will have a locking mechanism, so no longer will one person have to fumble around with tent poles coming loose while trying to pitch the tent. The new ripstop nylon used for this version of the Copper Spur will have less stretch to it, which is a very nice upgrade as silnylon tends to stretch quite a bit when cold and wet, leading to loose pitches. Also, the new Copper Spur will have a large gear loft on the inside near the foot of the tent, which looks excellent for storage. Overall, we’re looking forward to testing out the slightly new design and we definitely expect that the Copper Spur HV UL2 and UL3 will remain high on our list of the Best Backpacking Tents.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Junction Backpack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear makes some of our all-time favorite backpacking packs. The HMG Southwest 2400 and 3400 have been at the top of our Best Backpacks List for the past three years and running. On June 21, HMG released a new ultralight backpack to their line and they’re calling it the Junction (offered in a 2400 and 3400 model). The Junction features an almost identical setup to the excellent Southwest and Windrider backpacks, but has a versatile pocket configuration that allows for ventilation and visibility in the front mesh pocket, while still giving you the durability and privacy of the hardline material on the side pockets. This will allow users to dry out wet gear, like clothing or a shelter, in the front mesh pocket, but the side pockets will remain durable and won’t develop rips or tears nearly as easily as mesh would. We think this is another useful design that HMG is adding to their pack line.
Sierra Designs Updated Flex Capacitor
The Sierra Design’s Flex Capacitor is already on our list of the Best Backpacking Packs as one of the most unique, versatile, and affordable backpacks on the market, and this upcoming spring it will receive some nice updates. They’ll include slightly lighter materials, two new sizes (25 to 40L and 60 to 75L), new color options (white and black), and new mesh sleeves on the shoulder straps that will fit water bottles for easy hydration access. For us, the new 25-40 L size looks like an excellent option, as the current flex capacitor has a bit more volume than we tend to need. This will give us the option to use the flex capacitor as a day pack or multi-day pack.
Sierra Designs Meteor Lite 2p and 3p Tents
The simple yet sleek, the fully freestanding Meteor Tent from Sierra Designs will be coming out in a new lightweight version this spring and we think it will be a great tent. With a minimum trail weight that’s just over 3 pounds, but a retail price that’s far more affordable than most tents in its weight class, the Meteor Lite is sure to be a popular option. The Meteor Lite will also be offered in a 3P design for hikers looking for a little extra interior space. We loved the style and functionality of the current Meteor, but it was a bit heavy for us, so we’re very excited to test out this new lightweight version.
NEMO Aurora Tent
NEMO‘s new Aurora tent will be taking over for their classic Galaxi tent design. This spacious entry level tent weighs a bit more than the backpacking tents we prefer to pack with at 4 lb. 9 oz., but it comes in at an excellent price point. It looks like a great camping tent and won’t be too heavy/bulky for backpackers splitting the weight amongst each other. The Aurora will come in both 2P and 3P models.
NEMO Firefly Tent
The NEMO Firefly tent is a cross between NEMO’s popular Hornet and Dagger tents. The Firefly also comes in an ultralight Dragonfly version (currently available), with basically the same design. These tents are fully-freestanding and ultralight, with enough headroom to wait out a nasty storm without making you feel claustrophobic. The Firefly and Dragonfly will both come in 1P and 2P sizes, but even the 2P size will still be a pretty tight fit for two normal-sized backpackers. We view the Firefly 2P and Dragonfly 2P as a good option for hikers who mostly backpack solo but still want a fully freestanding ultralight tent with all the bells and whistles.
NEMO Kunai 4-Season Tent
The NEMO Kunai is a new 4-season backpacking tent that comes in at a surprisingly low weight (2 lbs. 12 oz.) for a year-round tent. The Kunai looks like it should be able to handle a decent amount of snow with its sturdy pole structure, but we do wish that it had more than one door. We also hope its length is long enough to fit taller hikers. Still, for a 4-season tent in this weight class, we will be excited to test out the new Kunai.
NEMO Sleeping Bag Updates
New for 2020, NEMO will be making some entry level car camping bags that will be available at very affordable prices. With their roomy spoon shaped designs and more budget friendly materials, their weights will be pretty heavy for backpacking, but for campers on a budget, they should be a great option. NEMO is also simplifying the names of their current sleeping bag lines this upcoming year, which we think is a smart move. The NEMO Riff (now with the same name for both men and women) will be a bit tighter, but lighter this year. The popular NEMO Disco (now with the same name for both men and women), will remain mostly the same and keep its roomy design, but will add some good-looking new colors.
NEMO Updated Fillo Pillow
Therm-a-Rest Questar Sleeping Bag
The new Questar sleeping bag from Therm-a-Rest is a comfortable offering that will allow campers to sleep cozy in many different positions while still being heat efficient. With a slightly wider cut that still retains heat in all the right places, the Questar is bound to be a popular option among backpackers and campers on a budget who dislike the restrictive feeling of restrictive mummy bags.
Therm-a-Rest Corus Quilt & Vesper Quilt
Therma-a-Rest has upgraded some of their quilt offerings for 2020. The Vesper, which is on our Best Sleeping Bags & Quilts List, will now be offered in a crazy light and compact 45°F model that we think will be best for warm weather/desert trips. The Corus quilt will be receiving some nice upgrades as well, including a slightly larger foot box, synergy link connectors, and an expanded width for a slightly roomier fit. Both quilts are excellent choices depending on your needs, with the Vesper being the more trim ultralight model, and the Corus being a bit roomier and slightly bulkier. For us, we love the weight of the Vesper, but the wide full coverage of the Corus is probably what we will lean towards to keep any drafts at bay.
MSR Thru-Link In-line Water Filter
Coming in October, MSR will be releasing their Thru-Link In-line water filter to the public, even though it’s been used in the military for many years. The Thru-Link should be a convenient option for water bladder users, as it can be easily spliced into a drinking tube to filter water while you drink. It has a hollow fiber membrane filter section as well as activated carbon to filter out any nasty stuff in your water. The Thru-Link will also come at a very affordable price, which is nice to see. At CleverHiker, we tend not to be big water bladder users, so we’re not quite sure how much use we will get from this filter, but for hikers and bikers that like water bladders, this will likely be a very nice tool.
MSR Habitude Car Camping Tent
This upcoming year MSR will be getting into the family camping tent game with their new Habitude tent. It’ll come in a 4-person and 6-person model and is very roomy and spacious on the inside. The biggest difference we noticed with this tent compared to the typical family camping tent is that the Habitude feels much more sturdy and weather-worthy than the average camping tent. It looks durable enough to withstand a burly windy/wet storm, especially given a tent that size. The Habitude also has some other nice features like extra durable zippers, convenient storage pockets, and a cool porch light.
Hilleberg Anaris Tent
Hilleberg has a reputation for building clean, strong, and well-designed tents. Early In 2020, they’ll be coming out with the Anaris, which will be a highly versatile lightweight trekking pole tent. True to Hilleberg’s designs, we expect the Anaris to be very weather-worthy and strong for its weight. Even though it’s a trekking pole tent, it still comes in at right around 3 pounds because Hilleberg would rather build long lasting, durable tents than don’t skimp on materials and dependability. The tent interior does look quite roomy, but the Anaris will also come with a pretty steep price tag.
We’re always on the hunt for a stylish and comfortable lightweight rain jacket that won’t weigh us down on the trail, and Marmot’s new Bantamweight Rain Jacket looks like an awesome fit. The material feels very comfortable, a tad stretchy, and the full jacket weighs less than 5 ounces! And even with the weight that light, it still comes with two front pockets, which we really like. The material will definitely be less durable than a heavier rain jacket, but we love using jackets like the Bantamweight for trips where we expect to encounter minimal rain, but still want a fully waterproof jacket for wind and water protection. This truly ultralight jacket is definitely on the expensive side, but we tend to be willing to pay a bit more for stylish, comfortable, lightweight rain jackets that fit well. The best part? You don’t have to wait until 2020 - it’s on the market now!
Marmot’s most popular jacket, the Pre-Cip, will now be made in a more eco-friendly manner. Marmot is calling the jacket the Pre-Cip Eco and we love the fact that most of the outdoor industry is starting to walk the walk more when it comes to environmentally conscious practices. Marmot will also be deploying a new sustainability hangtag system that will allow buyers to know how sustainable each product is, allowing for more transparency in its environmental impact.
Marmot Superalloy Tent
Launching in spring 2020, Marmot will be producing a new ultralight 2P tent called the Superalloy and we’ll be excited to get one out on the trail. At 2 lbs. 4 oz., this tent will definitely be among the lightest double-wall, semi-freestanding tents on the market. It’s semi-freestanding design is a little bit different than other tents in this category as the head of the tent needs to be staked down in order to be fully functional. Our biggest concern is that semi-freestanding tents can sometimes fare poorly in windy and wet conditions, so we’ll have to put it to the test and see how it shakes out.
Altra Lone Peak 4.5
Starting in November of this year, Altra will be making some tweaks to their legendarily popular Lone Peak Trail Running Shoes. The new Lone Peak 4.5 model will have slight upgrades to their uppers to make them more flexible, they’ll have a more durable midsole, and slightly stickier tread’s for increased traction. They’ll also have new stylish colors and a new eyelet lacing system that is easier to use and less bulky. Also, Altra will now be making the Lone Peak in a kid’s model.
Altra Tusher Mid Boots/Hiking Shoes
It’s fairly well documented in our popular Five Reasons To Ditch Your Hiking Boots article, but we tend to be much bigger fans of trail running shoes than boots for hiking. That said, we do pay attention to reader feedback and we also know that some people need/desire the added ankle stability provided by hiking boots. Well, Altra has realized that too and will be offering their first ever proper hiking boot and shoe this upcoming year. But unlike other hiking boots, expect the Tusher to have an emphasis on flexible souls and a comfortable, lightweight fit that will hopefully feel much better than a heavy traditional hiking boot, and will result in less blisters too.
New Altra Timp 2
Altra is also making some exciting new adjustments to their Timp line with the Timp 2. These shoes will weigh about an ounce lighter than previous models and will have more of a focus on cushion and comfort with slightly less aggressive lugs. They’ll also have a slightly more durable upper than the previous models. The Timp 2 could be an excellent fit for hikers who love the feel of the Lone Peaks but want a bit more cushion.
Osprey is coming out with a new Archeon backpack line, and we’re interested in testing them out. The most exciting model of the line to us is the 25L size, which looks very stylish, versatile, and could be used under a range of circumstances from around town to day hikes. The materials on these packs feel tough and dependable, has a rugged clean look, and is far more stylish look than the average day pack. We wouldn’t be surprised to find the Archeon on our list of the Best Daypacks in 2020.
The new Osprey Arcane backpack line looks highly stylish and functional for use around town or under a wide variety of circumstances. We’ve been looking for more functional and stylish daypack for a long time now, so we will be excited to check out the variety of new Arcane packs, which range from smaller tote bags to larger sized daypacks, all of which have a convenient variety of carrying methods, strap storage, and convenient pockets. Also, their materials feel very durable, look stylish, and come in a range of good looking colors.
New Ursack Designs
Not totally new - but new to us - we were excited to check out some of Ursack’s newest food protection bags. The Almighty Ursack comes in a slick-looking black color and gives full protection from bears and critters, but still weighs far less than a bear canister. The Major XL and Major Ursacks are still great for bear protection, but they can be susceptible to small critters. The Minor is fantastic for areas where you don’t plan to encounter any bears because it’s the lightest of the four models and provides excellent critter protection, which tends to be the biggest annoyance on the trail. Though it’s the heaviest of the group, the full protection of the Almighty Ursack will probably be our new go-to food storage system when we’re not required to carry bear canisters.
New JetBoil Java Press French Press Coffee System
Jetboil will be coming out with new coffee press plungers this spring that seem like they’ll function much better than their previous models. The new plunger will have a rubber seal that will hopefully do a much better job of keeping grounds out of your coffee. The new plungers will come in both sizes, so they will fit wide stoves like the MiniMo and narrow stoves like the Flash. We love having great coffee in the wilderness and we’re excited to test out this new system that seem very promising.
New Mountain House Meals
We were lucky enough to sample a bunch of different freeze dried backpacking meals while walking around Outdoor Retailer and two of our favorite new offerings are coming from Mountain House. Their new Fusilli Pasta with Italian Sausage and Thai Style Curry with Rice and Chicken are both excellent. We are most excited about Thai Curry, which tasted great and even had a little kick to it. And that’s coming from a couple of people who lived in Thailand for a year! Learn more about our favorite backpacking food by visiting our Best Freeze-Dried Meals list and Backpacking Food Guide.
Big Agnes Sleeping Pad Updates
Starting in spring 2020, Big Agnes’ backpacking sleeping pads will all be given some very nice upgrades. They’ll all come with included pump sacks, Primaloft insulation to boost their R-values (which will also be listed starting 2020), and they’ll even be receiving a price drop. All these features should definitely help the Big Agnes sleeping pads stay competitive on our list of the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads.
Big Agnes Salt Creek SL2
Weighing in at 3 lbs. 14 oz., the new Salt Creek SL2 won’t be a top recommendation for ultralight backpacking tents, but it does come at a very nice price point and has some awesome features for entry level backpackers and campers. Most exciting among them is a third door at the head of the tent that can be deployed as a canopy with the use of two trekking poles. With all three rainfly doors pulled back, this tent will provide awesome ventilation and views. It also has a spacious and functional gear loft at the foot of the tent. For those who want even more space, the Salt Creek will also come in a 3-person model.
Granite Gear Scurry 24L
This upcoming spring, Granite Gear will be introducing the Scurry 24, among several other new daypacks, and we’ll be excited to test it out. This ultralight daypack is stylish, rides high on the back, and has a bunch of gear storage functions that look nice. We’re a tad concerned about how the water bottle access will be from the side pockets, but hopefully they function well. Also, we were very excited to learn more about Granite Gear’s Grounds Keepers program, which was inspired by the Packing It Out crew, and is helping clean up trails and waterways all over the United States. Kudos to them!
Sierra Designs Taquito Sleeping Bag
Sierra Design’s new Taquito sleeping bag seems like it will be a great option for backpackers on a budget. The 20° 550 down fill, half-zip Taquito will retail for $250 and weighs just over 2 pounds. Our one complaint is that the Taquito will only have a half-length zipper, which limits its versatility to be opened up like a blanket on warm nights.
Sierra Designs First Sleeping Pad
Sierra Designs will also be introducing their first ever sleeping pad this upcoming spring and it looks like a solid budget buy at $100. The specs of the sleeping pad still leave something to be desired with an R-value of 2.1 for the insulated version and a weight at 1 lb. 4 oz. That said, very few air pads come in under $100, so we’ll be interested to test it out.
Sea to Summit Watercell X and ST
Sea to Summit’s new Watercell X and ST storage bags look sleek and useful. They come in 4, 6, and 10 liter sizes. The X will have nice carrying loops with adjustable webbing straps that will allow it to hang from a tree limb. It feels light, but durable and will have a flow adjustable pouring system and a shower nozzle attachment that will be great for the backcountry. In general, they look like nice new water storage bags with some pretty cool features.
Mountain Hardwear Mineral King Tent
Mountain Hardware will be releasing a new entry-level tent in 2020 called the Mineral King. It’ll come at a very fair price point and looks quite large and spacious. Its weight will make it more of a camping tent than a backpacking tent, but we do really like the look of the new Mineral King. We also like Mountain Hardware’s new focus on environmentally-conscious materials and practices.
Biolite Headlamp 200
Although BioLite would not allow us to photograph their new headlamp, we’re very excited to try out their new offering in 2020. Their new 200 lumen headlamp was very light (1.6 ounces), has enough power to cover almost any task you would need for backpacking, is fully rechargeable, and feels very comfortable against the forehead. What sets it apart from their popular Biolite 330 lamp, besides the lumens, is the lack of a battery pack on the back of the headband. It also has a very competitive retail price and we expect that it will be a good fit for our Best Headlamps List.
We're super stoked for the new innovations in backpacking gear hitting the market in 2020 and hope you are too! If you found this helpful, please share on social media and click the little heart button below to give us a digital high five!
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