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The Gear File, vol 8

The new range of Marmot bags have an expandable footbox.

Wilderness gear editor Mark Watson provides a round-up of the new and interesting products he’s discovered lately.

Sleep better in a Marmot

We’ve been looking at many new sleeping bags over the past few months and just when you thought bags had reached their evolutionary apex, we’ve discovered many manufacturers are innovating, or including interesting new features. 

Marmot recently sent us their new Sawtooth sleeping bag ($699), which is a -9℃  mummy bag with a difference. The company claims it to be ‘your new go-to for camping nights well into the cold season’. It has half-length dual side zippers as well as a gusseted footbox which can be zipped open for extra foot room, or closed for more warmth. 

The Sawtooth looks cosy.

Double-sided zip.

Insulation is water-resistant 650 fill-power down, and the bag uses recycled fabrics throughout. Along with some bright colours, this is a great-looking product. 

There are also the Never Summer -18℃  and Never Winter -1℃  versions with the same features. We’ll be doing an in-depth review of the Sawtooth soon.  

Kelty: smart features for a sharp price

Kelty is a long-established brand in the USA, but is less well known here. There are packs and sleeping bags at competitive prices and we’ve taken note of a couple of packs that are feature-rich for the price. 

In the 65-litre packs, the Coyote 65 ($269) stands out for having an adjustable back length, air-flow harness, loads of pockets, including on the hip belt, and a sleeping bag compartment. It’s a respectable weight, at 2100g, for its strength and feature range.

The old-school Trekker 65 is a load-bearing pack.

The Trekker 65 ($329), which looks old school, has a practical side. This pack is an external frame classic and is a legacy product for Kelty, and while the frame might get in the way bashing through West Coast scrub, it comes into its own when loads get really heavy. People who work in the bush might find this pack comfortable, and it has ample space to lash on a chainsaw or animal trap.

Apparently, Kelty child carriers are very popular in the USA. The Journey PerfectFIT ($299) is track-ready, with ample adjustability and plenty of pockets, while the Signature version ($429) has a sun shade, extra grab handles and hip belt pockets.

The Ditch Rider 32 will take poles, tools and drink bottles.

Big Agnes launches pack range 

Noted for their innovative, award-winning tents, Colorado brand Big Agnes has added backpacks to its range and some packs will be available in New Zealand from September. 

Roll-top closure and a front pouch pocket.

Access through the back panel.

I’ve been using the curiously-named Ditch Rider 32 (Price TBC) for a few months, for both tramping and climbing and can attest to its quality and features. This comfortable, lightweight pack has a roll-top closure, back panel entry, lots of external storage and ice axe/pole attachments. 

Gearshop will be exclusively stocking several models from 20l through to 60l. We’ll be doing a full review of the Ditch Rider soon.