Backcountry Gear 2010

BOOTS
Muck Boot Arctic Pro

This is the only 8mm neoprene boot we could find (most are 5mm), and it has enough room for heavy socks. These boots are more designed for the swamp than high elevations. Quick to pull on and easy to kick off, these boots stay comfortable even on days that require long periods of standing. ($169; muckbootcompany.com)
Columbia Bugathermo
At 10 inches tall, this stout waterproof boot doesn't look or feel insulated. But hit the power button and your feet will bask for four to six hours in temperate warmth. Plug in the boots for a recharge back at camp. This boot is a game changer for hunters with perpetually cold toes. ($270; columbia.com)
L.L. Bean Technical Upland
Neither thorns nor creek waters will penetrate this boot's waterproof, nylon-armored skin. Slip them on, turn the dial and ratchet up the steel laces to encase your ankles in a custom fit. Grouse- or pheasant-ready, these boots tip the scale at just a single pound each in size 9. ($179; llbean.com)
LaCrosse Hunt Pac Extreme
Stuffed with 2,000 grams of Thinsulate, this boot is mounted to a sticky sole that resists ice and snow. Walking long distances to your blind or stand is easier than with most heavily insulated boots, thanks to great lateral support. The speed laces are gloved-hand-friendly. ($114; lacrossefootwear.com)
Danner Pronghorn GTX
Light enough for the plains, yet supportive enough for elk country, the updated Pronghorn keeps its classic athletic fit and sewn cement-down construction. The outsole grips large rocks, while the toe and heel caps keep rocks from cutting the leather. Cool down or heat up with 200 to 1,000 grams of Thinsulate. ($180; danner.com)
Schnees's Granite 131
If you're heading straight up the mountain, this 11-inch boot will keep you standing tall. A thick tongue, a large padded collar and key flex points are welcome features in nasty terrain. An underside poly midsole reduces shock, and a rubber rand protects the lower leather. ($379; schnees.com)
Lowa Ranger GXT
This shorter-cut mountain boot offers light-weight support. A soft, out-of-the-way collar, ample toe room, tongue flex points and a lace fastener all improve break-in. Heels stay in place, regardless of the angle of the terrain, and the bottoms sport a sticky Vibram MVS sole. ($325; lowaboots.com)
Dream Season Wooly Mammoth
This boot is built for the treestand hunter. Antimicrobial fabric, along with a carbon gator, trap odor to keep your scent in check. The 13mm removable wool liner reflects heat and rests on a springy cork footbed. Small nubs on the instep keep your feet planted as you're climbing tree stand steps. ($230; robinsonoutdoors.com)
SOCKS
Lorpen 712 Primaloft Heavyweight
These cushiony socks take washing like a champ, displace moisture and won't shrink. ($19; lorpen.com).
Point6 Boot Tech
Available in crew, mid-calf and over-calf styles, these socks are made of burly yet comfortable merino wool. ($20; point6.com)
Dahlgren Expedition
This ultra-padded over-calf sock features zones of alpaca/merino to absorb moisture, and zones of Eco-Dri (a 100 percent post-consumer recycled poly) to transfer moisture away from the foot. ($21; dahlgrenfootwear.com)
Darn Tough 1461 Over the Calf
Made in Vermont, this 70 percent merino wool sock offers lots of cushion and generous sizing around the ankle. So tough they come with a lifetime guarantee. ($22; darntough.com)
Smart Wool PHD Medium Crew 10-333
In medium weight for early season, these 79 percent merino wool socks have a four-point fit to keep them in place. ($22; smartwool.com)
Russell Big Game Sock
With 60 percent extra-heavy merino wool fibers and generous padding at the toe and bottom, these socks are thick and comfy. ($19; russellmoccasin.com)
STOVES
You've had a long day, chasing an uncooperative bull over hill and dale, seemingly two steps behind the herd ever since you followed the first bugle just after sun-up. Now the evening's last light is quickly fading, and it's time for a hot meal. After all, just because the bull isn't on the ground doesn't mean you should be denied proper sustenance. Eat well tonight, over one of these five great stoves.
MSR Reactor
The Reactor's radiant burner head (shown aflame, opposite) is enclosed by a unique heat exchanger, which keeps the stove lit in even the windiest conditions. An 8-ounce canister of fuel lasts about 80 minutes, and the stove boils a liter of water in about 3 minutes. The stove is packaged with a 1.7-liter pot, which stows both the fuel canister and the stove. ($160; cascadedesigns.com)
Primus EtaSolo
This stable, lightweight (13.8 ounces) stove and .9-liter pot combo (pot not shown) is easy to assemble, thanks to a quick-click locking mechanism. Once the pot is affixed, hit the electric igniter to boil a half-liter of water in just over two minutes. The pot comes with a removable heat-resistant wrap and a lid that can be used for sipping warm liquids. ($100; primuscamping.com)
Soto OD-1R
If you want to go ultra-lightweight, look no further than the 2.6-ounce OD-1R. When not in use, this diminutive stove folds down to just 5.2x5.2x8.1 cm. Thanks to a micro regulator, the stove maintains a consistent output regardless of the temperature, and will boil 1 liter of water in about 4 minutes, whether the outdoor temp is in the high 60s or low 20s. ($70; sotooutdoors.com)
JetBoil Flash
The Flash contains everything you need to enjoy a hot meal inside its 1-liter cup (not shown). A neoprene cup cozy has a color-changing panel that lets you know when your food is warm. With a push of the electric igniter, the Flash lives up to its name by boiling 2 cups of water in under two minutes. One 100-gram fuel canister can boil 12 liters of water. ($100; jetboil.com)
Snow Peak Crab LI
It might look like a complex system of stainless steel and brass legs and trivets here, but the Crab LI folds up neatly into a 3.5x3-inch package when not in use, and stows in its own carry pouch. Weighing just over 10 ounces, it puts out 10,000 BTUs and can get a liter of water to a rolling boil in just over 5 minutes. ($160; snowpeak.com)
DAY PACKS
A few years ago, a hunting guide in British Columbia was charged by a big, angry sow grizzly. The guide dove to the ground to play dead, and in doing so his day pack slid up over his head and neck and knocked off his cowboy hat. The bear stomped on the hat and chewed it for a while, expecting to find the man's head underneath. When she didn't, she walked off, leaving the guide mostly unscathed. The moral of the story? Choose your day pack carefully--it could save your life. Photo: Chascar
Blackhawk Ultra Light Phoenix
Capacity: 2,175 cubic inches
Blackhawk specializes in tactical gear, but the company's rugged and extremely light (2.65 pounds) Phoenix day pack makes a good choice for hunters. It offers an easy-access front pocket, features a map pocket and is covered with webbing for add-ons. The Ultra Light Phoenix is compatible with Blackhawk's Hydration reservoir system. ($216; blackhawk.com)
Badlands Sacrifice
Capacity: 3,500 cubic inches
This is a larger day pack, with a heat-treated steel frame, but for its size, it's incredibly lightweight, at just over 3 pounds. The Sacrifice can carry a bow or rifle and features the brand's Hypervent system, which puts 1,000 cubic inches of air space between the pack and your back, and is designed to keep you comfortable on long hikes.
($270; badlandspack.com)
Blacks Creek Bone Collector 1.5
Capacity: 2,100 cubic inches
This is a hefty day pack, with an internal aluminum frame. Even with the frame, though, it weighs just 4 pounds. The Bone Collector 1.5 has five pockets, is hydration-system-compatible and comes with a rainfly. It's also capable of carrying a bow.
($150; blacks-creek.com)
Camelbak Ranger XT
Capacity: 1,648 cubic inches
After blazing the way in hydration-system packs, Camelbak is focusing some of its attention on hunters. The Ranger XT is designed for big-game hunters, and its most interesting feature is the Therminator Harness. The pack allows you to keep the hose and nozzle of the hydration system from freezing by zipping them into the harness and insulating them from the elements.
($100; camelbak.com)
Cabela's Jim Shockey Series 2.2
Capacity: 2,200 cubic inches
This lightweight pack has plenty of pockets, including an interior clear pocket for licenses and maps. Trampoline mesh on the back panel will keep air circulating as you hike. Compression straps keep everything sitting nicely, and the adjustable sternum strap and waistbelt (with two additional pockets) allow for a customizable fit. ($150; cabelas.com)
Arc'teryx Axios 35
Capacity: 2,135 to 2,500 cubic inches
Lightweight and loaded with features, the Axios 35 is a top-loading hiker with a convenient side zipper to allow for easy access to buried gear without having to strew the pack's content all over the mountainside. Four compression straps keep your load contained and riding well during extended hikes. ($175; arcteryx.com)

From boots, to socks, to stoves, to day packs, we've put together the newest gear that will get you into the backcountry (and back home again).