Gear Review: Nemo, Neo and Platypus

When my initial plans for a recent weekend were thrown out the window, I immediately began calling friends to see who was available for an overnighter in Tahoe National Forest. After getting a couple on the trip roster, I began asking Dave (TMS owner) for demo gear. “Toys, I need all the toys you’ve got!” I ended up taking four pieces of gear (Nemo Losi tent, Therm-a-Rest Neo Air sleeping pad, Platypus Cleanstream Gravity Water Filter and Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 backpack) out to one of my favorite lakes, Downey Lake near Emigrant Gap, to get the lowdown on how they worked, take some photos and have some fun. All tasks accomplished:

NEMO LOSI: The staff at Nemo Equipment must have been thinking of me when they came up with the Losi. This tent has won acclaim from Backpacker, Outside and Men’s Journal. As soon as you unroll the storage sack, you are going to think, “oh, I like this already.” I know I did. Finally someone did something innovative about the traditional tent storage sacks; Nemo decided to create a roll-up sack — not unlike a roll-up climbing gear bag — with pockets for the poles, stakes, tent and fly. Unroll it and it keeps the parts out of the mud and sand…

The setup of this tent may require instructions for the first time, but after one try, I had it down. The walls are nearly vertical, meaning at 6’1” I was able to sit upright and read, without putting my head into the ceiling mesh. This tent includes two side-entry doors and vestibules, which helps to manage the traffic of hiking partners and gear in the tent.

THERM-a-REST NEO AIR: This was another award-winner on my test list. I must admit I feared a sloppy, noisy air mattress. I filled it to a pretty firm feel, and I slept like a baby. With a thickness of 2.5 inches this is simply one of the coolest ultralight sleep systems out there. I was testing the regular length (72 inches); it rolled up to a size smaller than my Nalgene! No worries about sliding around on your pad anymore, either; they now include a semi-tacky undersurface to keep the pad from migrating underneath your sleeping bag.

PLATYPUS CLEANSTREAM: The show-stealer on this trip though, for me, was the Platypus Cleanstream Gravity Water Filter. Using this water-treatment system is as easy as dunking the 4-liter “Dirty” reservoir to fill it with water (which is clearly labeled as such), attaching it to the filter cartridge and hanging it above the “Clean” reservoir. Two and a half minutes later, you have a camp water source complete with a hose for dispensing! The parts were so simple to use, so well labeled, and so self-explanatory, that I had to wonder why pump-style filtration systems have dominated water treatment for so long. I kept reading the instructions, fearing that I was missing a step. I was not. This thing is as easy to use as it sounds. Plus, all of the parts roll up to a size no larger than a standard pump filter. The Platypus Cleanstream is simply an awesome product.

After the reviewing was done we got down to business with some cliff jumping and sunbathing (see below). It was an excellent trip, which was much-needed. Stay tuned. There will be more to come in a later post, on the fourth piece of gear: the Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 pack.

Kevin is Tahoe Mountain Sports‘ hard goods manager. He’s often the first face you see in our shop, and one of the friendly voices on our customer service line.




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