5 Things Tested In the Sangre di Cristo Mountains

The gear that exceeded our expectations during 10 days in New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

This summer, my son and I spent eleven days hiking in the backcountry of New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo Mountains. As part of a high adventure with the Philmont Scout Ranch, we covered over 70 miles, and summited an 11,700-foot peak, all while carrying 50-lbs. backpacks.

There was hail. There was lightning. There were blisters. There were mountain lions screaming at night. I've done a lot of overnight backpacking trips. But 11 days was a record for me. And I saw some gear really put to the test. Some failed (we had more than a couple duct-taped trekking poles in our group). And some gear simply rocked. Hence, this list of Five Things That Held Their Own In the Backcountry.

PLATY BOTTLE

These two-liter collapsible bottles were an excellent way to pack water when we weren't sure when and where it would be available. They're a bit deceptive because they look like oddly shaped Ziploc bags. But they're a rugged material that can be stuffed into a pack without getting punctured. And their design makes them more malleable and manageable than a regular two-liter bottle. Camelbacks are the darlings of long hikes, but those sipping tubes can make it too convenient to over-hydrate  Throw a Platy Bottle in your pack and you're as hydrated as you need to be anywhere on the trail. Click here for info.


KELTY TN2 TENT

Kelty knows how to make a tent. The TN is lightweight (4 lbs. 13oz.), and so easy to set up my 8-year-old figured it out the first time before I'd finished reading the directions. Two conjoined poles form an arched cross that the tent roof simply snaps to. There are zip openings on each side of the tent and Kelty's Stargazing Fly is designed to fold back partway so you can view the cosmos on a clear night. And, if you all asleep stargazing and wak up to a rainstorm (this happened more than once) you can pull back and secure the full rain fly without even getting out of your sleeping bag. Click here for info.


ASOLO SHIRAZ GV BOOTS

Most boots are water-resistant. These are virtually water proof. Before taking these to the Sagre de Cristo Mountains, I tested them by standing on the top step of our swimming pool for five minutes. When I stepped out, my socks were dry. Not a drop. When I was hiking in the mountains through streams and marshlands and rain and hail, it was nice to have these Asolos on my feet. Click here for info.


PEREGRINE SAKER 20° SLEEPING BAG

This isn't the lightest weight sleeping bag I own (54 oz at 92.5 inches), but it kept me warm when we were camping above 10,000 feet. It was extremely water-resistant, as I found out after a couple of rainstorms. It's also available 35° as well as a 0°, but for such a big, warm bag, it mashed down nicely. Click here for info.


KELTY NOAH'S TARP SHELTER

We didn't know we'd be caught in a rainstorm at 9,000 feet one night, and a hailstorm at 10,000 feet the next. But when it happened, we were very happy we had a dining fly this large and this sturdy. It was super easy to set up and it wasn't a hassle to pack away. Click here for info.


Note: None of these are paid endorsements. They're simply fantastic pieces of gear that made 10 days in the backcountry a little easier and deserve praise. We also had duct tape with us, which could have easily made the list. But that's a gimme.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!