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.

December 14, 2014 Cas9-127 Camp, Dome Glacier, day 4, Ptarmigan Traverse, North Cascades

5 Tips For Buying a Backpacking Tent

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

There are a lot of tents out there. How do you choose between them? Backpackers come in different sizes and have different needs and preferences in a tent. In testing scores of backcountry tents over the past two decades, for reviews in Backpacker Magazine and this blog, I’ve seen the best and the worst—and gotten a sense of what to look for in a tent and how to help people pick out one they like. Here are my five simple tips for finding a tent you’ll love. Continue reading →

My 10 Most-Read Gear Reviews

December 10, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket

By Michael Lanza

Other than my home page, the page viewed most often at The Big Outside is my Gear Reviews category—and individual gear reviews consistently rank among the most-viewed pages at my blog. This made me wonder: Which reviews are the most popular with you, The Big Outside’s readers? After going through my blog’s analytics data, I produced this top 10 list of the most-read gear reviews at this website, listed in ascending order (with the product name linked to my original review). I think you’ll find this list helpful whether you’re shopping for a gift for someone, or just looking for specific items and wondering what’s popular with your fellow outdoor enthusiasts and fans of The Big Outside.

  Continue reading →

December 7, 2014 Trekking in the Dolomite Mountains, Italy.

Gift Guide: My Top 25 Picks In New Outdoor Gear and Apparel

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By Michael Lanza

It’s that time of year again, when you’re shopping for the right something for a special someone… or you want to give a special someone the right suggestions for a gift for you. Either way, check out my annual list of top 25 favorite new pieces of outdoor gear and apparel, with links to my original reviews of these jackets, packs, boots, tents, and other gear. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket and Pants

December 6, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket

Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket

Winter Jacket and Pants
Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket
$379, 1 lb. 2 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s XS-L

Patagonia Knifeblade Pants
$299, 1 lb. 1 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s XS-L
patagonia.com

Skiing up Pilot Peak in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, on a day of clouds, light snow and wind, and temperatures just below freezing, I kept my jacket on—something I almost never do when skiing uphill (unless it’s much colder), because I invariably work up a good sweat. And I did it repeatedly, because of the breathability of my Knifeblade Jacket, which moves moisture so efficiently that it never got more than slightly damp inside. I’m updating this review because the Knifeblade once again impressed me so much on that recent day of backcountry skiing. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Kelty PK 50 Backpack

November 25, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , ,   |   1 Comment
Kelty PK 50

Kelty PK 50

Backpack
Kelty PK 50
$200, 50L/3,050 c.i., 3 lbs. 8 oz. (S/M)
Sizes: men’s S/M (fits torsos 14.5-18.5 ins.) and M/L (fits torsos 17.5-21 ins.), women’s S/M (fits torsos 14.5-18.5 ins.)
kelty.com

A cursory glance at the PK 50 tells you this may be the most unusual backpack you’ve ever seen, with its zipper-less design that’s laser-focused on how the user accesses its contents. It’s certainly one of the most unique packs I’ve ever tested and reviewed, so I felt intrigued enough to take it out on a three-day, 41-mile backpacking trip on the Timberline Trail around Oregon’s Mount Hood—to see whether hyper organization would persuade me to recommend a backpack. Continue reading →

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