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.
Osprey Ace 38
$140, 38L/2,319 c.i., 2 lbs. 4 oz. (my scale, not including the 3-oz. rain cover that comes with the pack)
One size, adjustable, fits torsos 28-38cm/11-15 ins., for ages 6 to 11 (approx.)
Osprey Ace 50
$160, 50L/3,051 c.i., 3 lbs. (my scale, not including the 3-oz. rain cover)
One size, adjustable, fits torsos 33-46cm/13-18 ins., for ages 8 to 14 (approx.)
Osprey Ace 75
$180, 75L/4,577 c.i., 3 lbs. 9 oz. (weight stated by Osprey)
One size, adjustable, fits torsos 35.5-48cm/14-19 ins., for ages 11 to 18 (approx.)
If backpacking is sometimes hard on an adult, it presents a particular set of challenges to a kid who weighs under 100 pounds. One rule I followed when my kids were young was to not ask them to carry a backpack; instead, I waited for them to say they wanted to carry their own pack. (See my popular “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids.”) And then, I made sure my kids had good-quality gear, to help ensure they’d want to go backpacking again. With the Ace series of backpacks built for a huge range of children’s body sizes—from the youngest you’d want to put a pack on to bigger teenagers—Osprey has just made it a little easier to turn your child into a backpacker. Continue reading →
Gregory Baltoro 75 and Deva 70
$319, 6 lbs. (medium)
Men’s Baltoro 75 sizes: S-L
S 73L/4,455 c.i., fits torsos 41-46cm/16-18 ins.
M 75L/4,577 c.i., fits torsos 46-51cm/18-20 ins.
L 78L/4,760 c.i., fits torsos 51-56cm/20-22 ins.
Women’s Deva 70 sizes: XS-M
XS 66L/4,028 c.i., fits torsos 36-41cm/14-16 ins.
S 70L/4,272 c.i., fits torsos 41-46cm/16-18 ins.
M 74L/4,516 c.i., fits torsos 46-51cm/18-20 ins.
Whether backpacking with my young kids or heading out on a multi-day climbing trip in the backcountry, I’ve carried 50 pounds or more on my back enough times with a mediocre pack to know that I don’t yearn to do that again. For a big load, I want a pack that’s supportive, comfortable, and more tricked out than I prefer for much lighter trips—and I know that means it will also be heavier. Having reviewed and liked the Baltoro 75 in the past, I wanted to try out the new, updated version. So I carried it with, at times, more than 50 pounds inside on a five-day, family backpacking trip down Paria Canyon, in Utah and Arizona, in late March. Without question, it remains among very few packs in this class that I’d want for backpacking with loads that heavy. Continue reading →
Asolo Triumph Gv GTX and Tacoma Gv
$230, 2 lbs. 6 oz. (men’s Euro 42/US 9)
Sizes: men’s Euro 39-47/US 6.5-13, women’s Euro 36-43/US 5-11
You want to test boots, take them on a trek in New Zealand. You want to really test boots, take them on the Dusky Track in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, quite possibly the wettest, muddiest, most arduous footpath in a country known for its wet, rugged mountain tracks. I wore the Triumph Gv GTX in March on a four-day, hut-to-hut hike on the Dusky, from Lake Roe to Wilmot Pass Road, in a typical mix of Fiordland conditions—rain, wind, impressively deep mud, and occasional, brief flirtations with sunshine—and the boots shined much more brightly than the meteorological conditions. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
If you’re super fit and strong, young, hike with a pack of any weight 50 or 100 days a year, and have never known any sort of injury or ache in your body, then don’t bother reading this article. But for everyone else, knowing how to find the right backpack for your activities and your body will make a world of difference in your enjoyment when carrying that pack for hours a day on a trail or up and down a mountain. The following tips reflect what I’ve learned about finding the right pack from hundreds of days testing all manner of daypacks, backpacks, climbing packs, and ski packs for the past two decades. Continue reading →
Camp Cooking System
Jetboil Joule Group Cooking System
$200, 1 lb. 12 oz. (not including soft stuff sack for storing burner unit inside the pot)
When I’m backpacking with my family, I look for several important qualities in my backcountry stove: speed, versatility, simplicity, fuel efficiency (so I carry less, not to mention burning less carbon), and modest weight and bulk. Too much to ask? I don’t think so, and apparently Jetboil agrees with me. My family used the Joule GCS to boil water for our breakfasts and cook our dinners on a five-day backpacking trip down Paria Canyon in Utah and Arizona in late March, and the Joule met all of my demands. Continue reading →