This is list of gear that has excelled in performance. Most of the gear is related to cycling or lightweight camping. If you’re looking for an ultralight backpacking list, click here.
I’ve had this stove for 22+ years, and on some trips, I’ve used it for months or years at a time on consecutive days. It is the oldest piece of gear that I own; hands down a real winner. It is definitely heavier than the alcohol stove option which we are using for our ultra light weight fastpacking trips – but it is our go-to stove for extended bicycle touring. In any country, you can get your hands on some type of fuel that will power it. It heats water faster than any other stove out there, and we often used it to make portable hot showers using an MSR Dromedary bag with the shower attachment.
When choosing a pack, comfort is a personal preference. However, after trying several packs over the years, the Deuter ACT series packs seem to have the greatest amount of comfort in my opinion. The side pockets cannot be reached while the pack is on your back. This means that you really need to use a bladder hydration system (for which it is designed). However, the bladder system does not work as well with the Sawyer Mini Filter that we are now using (you can use the sawyer mini filter in-line with the bladder). The issue with bladders is that they need to be removed to be refilled (unless you are using a pump system). Also, you do not know how much water you have remaining in the bladder. Otherwise, this pack is an excellent choice if you’re resigned to that type of system. The sleeping bag compartment is separate from the main compartment (though you can access it from the main compartment via a zipper. This means you can pack your down gear and keep it from getting dirty while the tent is still up (as opposed to waiting until the last minute to stuff your gear). Also, when stuffed, it gives the pack some “substance” so it can stand up on it’s own while you’re packing your other gear.
The Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 is a recent acquisition for me. Although it is definitely not as comfortable as the Deuter packs, it has an excellent arrangement of pockets, and is more oriented to modern backpacking. I think that this would be a superb multi day fast pack if only it came with a hip belt option. I now use bottles for hydration because I have abandoned my slow and heavy First Need Water Purification system in preference for the Sawyer Mini Filter. As such, the pockets make the bottles extremely user friendly. You always know how much water you have, and it actually balances out some of the weight of the pack front to rear. The side pockets work very well; they’re loose enough to be accessible, but tight enough to hold your gear. The pack uses two sternum straps which work fairly well, and reduce the pressure on your shoulders slightly.