Gear I've Used

Campstove: Coleman Peak 1 Propane Stove
Recommendation: Don't buy
Source: Sierra Trading Post
Comments: I've had this stove for 10 years so I don't mean to disparage it based on durability (it's a rugged little stove), nor it's low, low price.  But the reliance on propane fuel tanks is a bit of a hassle.  Because you're never quite sure if the current tank you're using is going to last the rest of a camping trip, you always have to lug along a spare, taking up a big chunk of backpack space.  As well, they're a pain to dispose of; most parks don't accept these in any of their waste streams and they're considered hazardous waste so you have to drop them off at the appropriate depot in your city.  Other than that, the flame control is great, it's a zero maintenance stove and there's no priming.  It couldn't be any easier to use.  If only you could use refillable tanks...

Campstove: Biolite Campstove
Recommendation: Conditional Buy (see review)
Source: Biolite

Comments: I recently purchased this stove during its first production run and was slightly disappointed with what it delivered.  While it might not be immediately apparent, the stove requires constant fueling to maintain a decent flame.  In addition, the boil time stated by the stove's developer (4.5 minutes) seems very optimistic.   However, finding fuel for the stove is very easy in shield country, and the stove itself is low maintenance.  I'm not sure how useful the charging port is as I haven't had the occasion to use it, but I imagine it would be a last resort as you'll be feeding the stove for as long as it takes to charge your device, which would be a bit of a time waster.   All things considered, if you don't mind spending the money, the stove works well and it's a pretty good purchase.  

Source: MEC
Campstove: Primus Himalaya Omnifuel
Recommendation: Buy
Comments: Given that this can be a $150 purchase, many will be turned off right away.  Sure it's multifuel, but if you're doing most of your camping in North America, the likelihood of you needing a versatile stove is small (white gas and compressed fuel canisters are pretty commonplace).  However, if you can plan on venturing off to places that may not have the same convenience, you will definitely want to consider the Primus Himalaya Omnifuel; the simmer control is what turned me away from the other more popular multi-fuel stove (MSR XGK), and the relative ease of use is the other.  The lighting process can be tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, you're cooking with gas (literally! sorry...).  This thing boils like lightening, my 1 litre pot takes about 3-4 minutes with white gas.  Two warnings - address water drips from the base of your pot before putting on the stove and be diligent when lighting.  The reason for both of these warnings is that you have to wait for the stove to cool before relighting, which can be frustrating when you're very hungry.  A carelessly lit stove that goes out or a drip of water on the jet can result in you needing to restart the stove.  The other great thing about this stove is that you can refill the fuel bottle prior to each trip, so you're never uncertain about how much fuel you have. 

Tent: Jack Wolfskin Yellowstone II
Recommendation: Buy
Source: Jack Wolfskin
Comments: My preferred backpacking tent, this is a lightweight, easy to setup, durable tent.  It has aluminium poles, which are indestructible (as far as I can tell) and very light when packed.  The tarp has a great vestibule at both entrances and its truly is roomy enough for two.  The seams have been taped and its got a pretty deep ground sheet which keeps water out.  My older version does not include the vents found in newer models, so I imagine air flow and moisture control has improved greatly.  The only issue I have with this tent is that the zippers can be troublesome and require repeated attempts to achieve a closure at times (definitely need two hands to close).  I paid $300 CAD for this tent in 2001 and it has proven to be worth every penny.

Sleeping Bag: Woods - Northern Lite 450
Recommendation: Marginal buy, if you can find it
Comments: Cheap, good for summer camping, light and compressible.  About all you need to know.  If you can find one, get it. I purchased one from the company outlet store.  Unfortunately, they're tough to find since the company changed hands and closed their store.  It should be important to note that while this bag is rated to be for 0 to -4 C, I've felt chilly on nights at 8 C, and I generally prefer a colder temperature at night.

Source: Cascade Designs
Water Filter:  Platypus Gravityworks
Recommendation: Buy
Comments: I can't believe I used to have a hand-pump filter.  So much wasted energy.  This is the only way to filter water, from my perspective.  It's low maintenance, easy to operate and an overall good design.  Silt and organics generally settle before they can make their way into the "dirty" outlet and the filter  seems to last forever (do not leave it outside for the winter).   As well, the "clean" reservoir means that you have that is filtered before you need it, rather than a filter-on-demand system such as the Katadyn "Base Camp" filter.  My only complaint is that sometimes it inexplicably ceases to operate, even with a full "dirty" reservoir and open valve.  After some back-flow, fiddling with the positioning of the "clean" reservoir, and/or relentless pinching of the tubes, filtering usually starts back up.

Water Filter:  MSR SweetWater Microfilter
Source: Cascade Designs
Recommendation: Don't Buy
Comments: I had this filter for about 5 years, and it served me reasonably well, judging by the fact that I never contracted a water-borne illness.  Though that can be attributable to fact that I drink from relatively clean Canadian lakes.  First, the filters are expensive, can clog quickly and need constant maintenance (scrubbing) to keep a steady flow.  Secondly, hand pump filters are a lot of work.  When there's no hurry, the gravity-fed filters are a better alternative.  Finally, the handle sheared clean off during a trip, which could have made for some fire-blackened pots if I wasn't camping with friends who had filters or if I didn't have loads of extra fuel.