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July 30, 2013
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Summit County Gear Guide: Lightweight, practical and from Colorado

This week, we’re looking at some gear for on the go, and we’re staying in state with two Colorado companies.

We took to the trail to put Boulder-based outdoor gear company GoLite and Denver’s MHM packs to the test. Both companies come with interesting side stories. MHM is one of the newer outdoor companies on the scene. It was founded in 2009 by three 20-something college grads who decided that rather than struggling to find jobs in a bad economy, they were going to make their own and created MHM packs.

The line of packs first went to market in 2011. GoLite has been in the outdoor market for a while now. The name says it all; it’s their approach to designing lightweight outdoor gear. In the past few years, they also decided to lighten the cost to the consumer by pulling out of big-box stores, such as REI, to sell exclusively from their own shops and online. It’s a move that GoLite marketing specialist Barbara Rod said makes it possible to cut costs and make their products more affordable than their competition. This week, we’re looking at GoLite’s ultra-light Malpais rain shell and MHM’s Salute daypack and Divide 55 backpack.

GoLite Malpais rain jacket

Seven ounces — that’s the biggest selling point on the Malpais rain shell. You can wrap it up and stuff it in the smallest of pockets. GoLite makes every effort to keep it light, including features such as little Velcro circles on the adjustable cuff closures, instead of full strips, and neoprene fasteners to tighten the hood. The three-layer DWR-finished material keeps it waterproof and still breathable.

The jacket does retain some body heat, but its inner layer is made of a material that isn’t rubbery and won’t stick to you like some other lower-end rain shells. The jacket also has taped seams to make sure that water stays out. While breathable, one potential downside is the lack of vents. But hey, you can always just take it off and stuff it in a pocket. GoLite’s two-layer Tumalo rain jacket is a cheaper, slightly heavier (12 ounces) alternative. GoLite’s full line of apparel and outdoor gear is available online at www.golite.com and at their store in the Outlets at Silverthorne.

Retail: Malpais $124.99 Tumalo $74.99

MHM Salute daypack

The Salute 32-liter daypack from MHM may have some features that border on genius. It starts with the “Snake-Loader” zipper system. The heavy-duty zipper wraps around the top of the pack and then down the front in an S pattern. And with three zippers on the same track, it really is possible to access any part of the pack, top to bottom, without opening the whole thing. It’s an innovative design, plain and simple. Stowable side straps are another slick feature. So if you need to tighten the pack or strap something, say a camera tripod, to the sides of it, you can. If not, the side straps tuck away into little Velcro pockets. Quick-release buckles on the shoulder straps are an added convenience for removing the pack or accessing gear with the pack on one shoulder.

The top of the pack has a good-sized externally accessible zippered pocket, perfect for a snack or quick access to a rain shell. An internal zippered pocket on the lid of the pack makes a great place for a map or guidebook. Open pouches on the back and sides offer quick-access stowing space for water bottles or extra gear. While a lot of the marketing shows the pack with climbing gear, this is a solid multipurpose pack. The only drawback is that it doesn’t have the same back ventilation system as some other packs in the MHM line. Expect a little back sweat; otherwise, two thumbs up. Find out more at www.mhmgear.com. MHM packs are also available locally at Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge and RMU (Rocky Mountain Underground) Skis.

Retail: $229

MHM Divide 55 hiking backpack

The innovations continue with the MHM Divide 55-liter pack. This pack is a solid choice for a few days of backpacking. Like the Salute, zipper design is this pack’s smartest feature. The Divide has two zippers that run parallel along the sides of the pack, making it possible to access the pack at any point without opening it all the way or completely unzipping it to have easy access to everything. The zipper system is also integrated with a roll-top closure that easily compresses or expands the size of the pack. Also noteworthy is the separate top-of-the-pack compartment, which can be removed and used as a small daypack.

The externally accessible built-in waterproof stuff sack at the bottom of the pack is also a nice feature. It can be used as a separate lower-pack compartment or tucked aside to give the main compartment more room. This pack also incorporates MHM’s padded sYnc-AC ventilation system between the pack and the user. Admittedly, we used it car camping and didn’t get to fully test this pack’s vent system. But in limited use, it seemed much more efficient than the Salute daypack’s system, which was thoroughly tested. Find out more at www.mhmgear.com. MHM packs are also available locally at Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge and RMU (Rocky Mountain Underground) Skis.

Retail: $339


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The Summit Daily Updated Oct 25, 2013 10:27AM Published Nov 14, 2013 05:20PM Copyright 2013 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.