If you've ever done any serious trekking with a heavy pack strapped to your back, you'll know that a sturdy frame can help better distribute the weight over your body. But it's a Catch-22 since the frame adds weight as well -- unless it's mostly made of air like Klymit's new inflatable Air Beam.
Made of a lightweight fabric, the miniature air mattress weighs just 68 grams, which is less than half of what a rigid plastic frame does. But when inflated using an included hand pump -- which can be left at home to further maximise your weight saving -- the $US50 pad helps transfer heavy loads on your back to your hips for increased comfort, prevents objects inside a lightweight pack from poking you, and can even serve as a minimalist air mattress in a pinch. Unlike a rigid frame, the Air Beam can flex along with the body, so it keeps providing support even when you're in an awkward position, such as bending over to tie your boots or pretending to be dead to fool a bear. [Klymit via The Gear Caster]