GoLite Gear

Inspired by Ray Jardine, this backpacking supplier makes commercial versions of his ultralight designs for tarps, backpacks, sleeping bags, etc. and now is prospering from equipping the various “Eco-challenge” type racers plus lazy people like me. Though I had no use for the Jardine approach to sleeping bags (top layer only; I’m happier with a North Face Cat’s Meow), all the other products I’ve tried (see below) have been exceptional.

[The only product Stewart recommended in 2003, which is still available, is the umbrella. Needless to say, GoLite stocks newer -- presumably improved -- versions. If you have any experience with other products from GoLite, please let us know. ]

Go Lite

Umbrella Jardine is right: for sun and for rain, nothing beats the convenience of a light, simple umbrella. I take it along for everything but night hiking. Dome Umbrella $32 * Stuff Sacks (no longer available) Also of silicone-impregnated nylon, they are light and slippery. I got the smallest for stashing my groundcloth (see below), and the largest works as a waterproof liner for the daypack.

Landlubber's Stow Sack (RAY-WAY) $21 * Tarp (model no longer available) Perhaps the most radical Jardine item, this little handful of silicone-impregnated ripstop nylon replaces everything but a winter tent. No poles---you tie to trees or to any-length sticks you find in the woods. It is dramatically more flexible than a tent, pegged tight to the ground for a storm or poised high overhead as I did once for the nicest night I've ever spent in a light rain. I found it worth replacing some of the dark tie-lines with bright yellow lines now available in outdoor stores, so you don't trip in the dark.
Cave 1 One-Two Person Tarp (RAY-WAY) Price: $125 * Daypack (model longer available*) It feels positively wispy empty, but reinforced with Spectra thread it's strong enough for all you'll need or want for a day, with particularly convenient mesh pockets on the back and sides.
Breeze Ultra-Lite Hiking Pack (RAY-WAY) $70 *Please see the more recently-reviewed Gossamer Whisper Uberlight Pack