Happy New Year! Yes, it’s still cold and possibly snowy outside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be thinking ahead to camping season. Or perhaps you have an adventure trip on the horizon, or an occasion to bring a lightweight, down sleeping bag on an eco-trip. We have you covered. Or rather, Sierra Designs does. Read on for my two favorite gear items tested at the end of 2018, and reviewed first thing in 2019.

Sierra Designs Skurka Series High Route:

With its non-freestanding pyramid design, the High Route looks delightedly old-school, but its lightweight design reminds you it’s definitely contemporary. Created for solo trips, this simple shelter works for three-season comfort, so feel free to get an early start on your camping season. It wicks moisture better than any other non-freestanding tent I’ve tried, with condensation barely accumulating. It weighs in at 2 lbs 5 oz for the fly and nest, making it perfect for lightweight backpackers who expect to find fairly mild conditions.

You get steep wall angles, making nice head room; there’s 36 square feet in total, which is larger than many 2-person ultralight tents. There are two side doors, both of which can be guyed out to add to your usable space, and there’s a tarp and bug nest that can be purchased separately. Best of all in my book, the vertical poles don’t block the doorways, and the tent is easy to pitch, without the head-scratching required by others I’ve set up.

Pick up the High Route on the Sierra Designs site for $299, a very competitive price for tents of this caliber and weight. Find it on Amazon and other outdoor recreation sites as well.

Sierra Designs Nitro 35 sleeping bag:

My new favorite sleeping bag is so lightweight, I barely realize I’m stuffed in it on warm summer nights and even cool autumn nights, yet I’m cozy as all get out. It comes in a mummy shape in regular and long, and is made of PFC-Free 800FP Dridown and 15d nylon fabrics. The patented self-sealing foot vent is my favorite feature: you can vent your feet in warmer weather, when it starts feeling stuffy in your sleeping bag. The ventilation is excellent. There’s also a draft-dodger collar for those cooler nights, which prevent drafts, and 5″ baffle to keep the down from shifting. This bag comes in 35 degree, 20 degree, and 0 degree, and all stuff down incredibly small. Pick up the Nitro at Sierra Designs for $299.

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