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.
Gregory Stout 45 and Amber 44
$169, 3 lbs. 9 oz. (medium)
Men’s Stout 45 sizes: S-L
M 45L/2,746 c.i., fits torsos 46-51cm/18-20 ins.
L 48L/2,929 c.i., fits torsos 51-56cm/20-22 ins.
Women’s Amber 44 sizes: S-M
S 44L/2,685 c.i., fits torsos 41-46cm/16-18 ins.
M 46L/2,807 c.i., fits torsos 46-51cm/18-20 ins.
A weekend backpack that costs just $169—and is made by Gregory? How could I not put it to the test? Backpacking the Grand Canyon’s remote and very rugged, 34-mile Royal Arch Route—considered the hardest established, multi-day route on the canyon’s South Rim—we hiked many miles off-trail, scrambled over and around boulders and up and down sketchy, exposed ledges, made one big descent and a monster uphill slog in brutal desert heat, carried up to seven liters of water each, and even lowered our packs over a 20-foot cliff (that we had to rappel). Through all of that, I have to say, the Stout 45 carried comfortably and stably and tolerated a lot of abuse with no damage. Continue reading →
Hope all is well. I’m looking for your opinion on a 30-liter pack. I am going to Nepal in October on a 15-day trek. I think this would be the perfect size for me, because also I like a little bigger daypack for my hikes in the White Mountains. I have an older Gregory Z30, and I just tried on the new one and like the new details, plus I sweat really badly on hikes. As always thank you in advance, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Everett, MA Continue reading →
Hybrid Insulation Jacket
Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody
$185, 10 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
On cool mornings in May while backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Royal Arch Loop, and in late March on a five-day, family backpacking trip down Paria Canyon on the Utah-Arizona border, I did something unusual: I started the day’s hiking wearing the same jacket I had worn while in camp, OR’s new Deviator Hoody. From cool-weather hiking to skate-skiing in winter, I liked the Deviator as a next-generation, hybrid insulation piece whose versatility is limited only by your creativity in thinking about your layering system. Continue reading →
L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket
$159, 13 oz. (men’s medium regular)
Sizes: men’s regular S-XXL, men’s tall M-XXl, women’s misses XXS-XL, petite XS-XL
Someday, outdoor enthusiasts of a certain age may reflect back on the dark ages of the early 21st century by saying, “Remember when an insulated jacket was something you only wore when you weren’t moving?” Well, given the growing profusion of jackets with breathable insulation, those “ancient” shells that are essentially half a sleeping bag with sleeves are already obsolete. I wore the most affordable piece of active insulation I’ve yet seen, Bean’s PrimaLoft Packaway Fuse Jacket, at times on wet, chilly, windy days trekking the Dusky Track and Kepler Track in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park in early March, and in camp on cool evenings and mornings (days were quite warm) on a five-day, family-backpacking trip down Paria Canyon on the Utah-Arizona border in late March. It’s as versatile as some pricier competitors and will fit more people than other jackets in this category. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Ever since I launched this blog almost five years ago, readers have emailed me with their questions about trips they’re planning, gear, taking kids on outdoor adventures, or some kind of outdoor skill. I always respond, and because my readers ask good questions, I share most of them, and my responses, in the feature I call Ask Me. I’ve now amassed enough Ask Me blog posts that it seemed to make sense to organize them onto a page, listed in several categories. Now, if you have a question for me, or are researching gear or a national park or any topic I write about at The Big Outside, go to my Ask Me page for a complete menu of all existing blog posts in which I’ve answered questions from other readers. Continue reading →