Category Archives: Gear Reviews
I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker magazine for two decades and counting. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel.
Outdoor Research Superlayer Jacket
$225, 15 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL
What would you think if I told you that I went for a backcountry ski tour that involved climbing uphill for an hour, sweating enough to get both my base layer top and my hat wet, then skied for a while along rolling terrain, and finally turned around and descended fast to my car—all without making any layering change? That was just my first outing wearing OR’s new Superlayer Jacket. Over the course of several winter days field-testing it, in temperatures ranging from the low single digits to the 30s Fahrenheit, I found it so remarkably breathable that it often never left my body. Continue reading →
Sea to Summit Flow 35L Dry Pack
$200, 2 lbs. 4 oz.
We reached the first, deep pool of water that we had to swim across in the narrow canyon called the Subway, in the backcountry of Utah’s Zion National Park. I tucked my expensive camera gear inside my new Sea to Summit Flow 35L Dry Pack, with my food and extra clothing—and hoped this pack would prove true to the company’s claim of being infallibly watertight. (I did put my camera gear inside another dry bag first, of course.) Then I dropped into the frigid pool—wearing a dry suit—and kicked across it, floating the Flow. And yes, it did keep its contents completely dry—thankfully. But more than just a glorified dry bag with shoulder straps, it proved itself to be a solid and comfortable pack for hiking all day, too. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Thinking about buying a new backpack, tent, boots, or other outdoor gear or apparel? Last August, I spent a couple of days wandering the floor of The Salt Palace in Salt Lake City—a convention center you could fit a few Wal-Marts inside—at the Outdoor Retailer Show, ogling the best of the new products for hiking and backpacking that will hit stores this winter and spring.
I’ll test and review many of these, but here’s an early peek at the most interesting items I saw (in other words, the stuff I’m most coveting).
I was just getting ready to get the Osprey Atmos 65 backpack for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Osprey and REI say a large is 3 lbs. 10 oz. Your review of the 2015 Atmos 65 said a medium would be 4 lbs. 6 oz. Really? Why the significant extra weight?
Bruce Continue reading →
With sleeping bags we have temperature ratings. But with down/insulated/puffy jackets, what is best way to determine if a jacket will be warm or warmer or hot? Is it the amount of fill? Some but not all jackets indicate the amount of fill.