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Gear Picks of the Year: Forest

1. The Tent
That the two-person Mountain Hardwear Helion 2 tent weighs just 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) is astounding, but it's the innovation behind it that's truly amazing. The nylon fly uses hollow fibers, which weigh 25 percent less, and the poles are thinner in the middle than on the ends, like bike tubes. MH even trimmed three ounces by subbing plastic clips for traditional pole grommets. The economies allow enough space so that spooning is optional, not mandatory ($395; mountainhardwear.com).

2. The Backcountry Computer
Finally, a women's wrist-top computer that doesn't look like a castaway from a geek convention: The Suunto Lumi is stylish and loaded with functions essential in the backcountry. Highlights include a barometer, an altimeter, a compass, sunrise/sunset time for 400 locations, and a particularly cool storm alert, which signals a pressure drop serious enough to make you search for cover ($399; suunto.com).

3. The Hiking Boot
Though it's tempting to use lightweight trail runners for backpacking, doing so is not without risks—notably hike-ending sprains. The Inov-8 Roclite 370 solves that dilemma. The first ankle-supporting boot to approach the feathery lightness of a shoe (just 13 ounces [369 grams]), it provides more cushioning than skeletal trail runners and even has a "five-fingered" shank for greater shock protection ($120; inov-8.com).

4. The Trail-Ready GPS
Imagine never futzing with paper maps again. That's the goal of the Magellan Triton 1500. With a bright, sharp color display that operates as a highly intuitive touch screen (a first among handhelds), the 1500 already tops this year's field units. Add to that Magellan's partnership with National Geographic TOPO! (also a first) and you've got a GPS loaded with the most detailed and sophisticated topographic maps ever viewed in the palm of your hand ($399; magellangps.com).

5. The Weekend Pack
While most companies pour their cutting-edge technology into huge, expedition-size rucksacks, The North Face has been focusing on its smaller, weekend-friendly packs. Best in show: TNF's Ligero 50 is fitted with the clever X-Frame suspension, which uses simple, crossed aluminum stays linked at a central pivot; it allows the pack to flex with your body while still isolating the load ($160; thenorthface.com).

6. The Sleeping Bag
It's hard to get much greener than the Big Agnes Skinny Fish. The 20-degree, three-season sleeping bag is built from 96 percent recycled materials (mostly soda bottles), including synthetic Climashield HL Green insulation. Only the zipper is nonrecycled. And it can be paired with the Diversion Insulated Air Core ($90), a 100 percent recycled sleeping pad that slips into a pouch on the underside of the Skinny Fish. No more rolling off in the middle of the night ($180; bigagnes.com).

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