Category Archives: Gear Reviews
Hope all is well with you. I’ve contacted you in the past, and you have given me great information. I ended up buying things that you recommended (Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR boots and the Gregory Targhee 45L winter backpack).
I have a couple of different questions for you. First, I was hoping you could recommend a good pair of goggles for winter hiking and climbing (mostly for above treeline in New Hampshire’s White Mountains). I know you are very familiar how hairy it can get up there, so they would have to have great ventilation so they would not fog.
My next question is could you recommend a good, lightweight but warm, breathable fleece to go over a base layer, also for winter hiking? I also saw your review of the Marmot Alpha Jacket—would this take the place of a soft shell/fleece? Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Looking for a gift idea for a hiker, backpacker, climber, skier… or maybe something special to suggest to someone shopping for you? I test a lot of adult and children’s outdoor gear and apparel every year for Backpacker Magazine and to review in this blog, and friends and readers ask me regularly for advice on buying gear.
So here’s my annual list of my top 25 favorite new pieces of outdoor gear and apparel—with links to my original reviews of these packs, boots, tents, jackets, and other gear—plus a new backcountry food my entire family loves, and a terrific book for traveling families. If you’re dreaming of big adventures in 2014, get busy prepping your gear for it.
Hybrid Cold-Weather Jacket
Marmot Alpha Pro Jacket
$225, 13 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
If you’re like me and cycle between being hot and cold when you’re active outdoors in cold temperatures, here’s a secret weapon for comfort. I wore this jacket frequently over the course of four days of wonderful backcountry skiing in the Baldy Knoll area of the Tetons last March, when daytime temps ranged from around zero Fahrenheit into the high 20s, often with strong winds and bright sunshine combined. I also wore it ski touring in Idaho’s Boise Mountains in temps typically just below freezing, at times in a cold wind and snow flurries. Both places presented challenging conditions in which to stay warm and dry. But the Alpha Pro shined, keeping me remarkably comfortable in rapidly shifting conditions where I would have otherwise been repeatedly taking a shell on and off—all while making my layering system lighter and simpler. Continue reading →
Big Agnes Hole in the Wall Jacket
$220, 14 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
When I unzipped my sleeping bag after a night spent under the stars at nearly 11,000 feet by Columbine Lake in Sequoia National Park in August, I wasn’t thinking about what’s inside the new Hole in the Wall Jacket. Cocooned warmly inside my bag, I had been hammered by strong gusts all night; and with that cold wind still blowing when I woke up, I didn’t want to get out of it. But I pulled on this fat puffy and all but forgot about the wind—reminding me that sometimes the characteristics that make for a good puffy jacket are what you can’t see. Continue reading →
Backcountry Skiing/Riding Pack
Gregory Targhee 45L
$199, 4 lbs. (medium)
Sizes: S-L in 45L/2,746 c.i. and 32L/1,953 c.i. versions (fit torsos from 16-22 inches); one size in 26L/1,587 c.i. and 18L/1,098 c.i. versions
For a multi-day backcountry skiing, riding, or snowshoeing trip to a hut or yurt, you need a pack with a split personality: It has to be big enough to fit all the food and gear you need for at least four days, yet morph into a smaller pack when you fill it only partially for day tours. The new Targhee 45L assumed both personalities convincingly on a four-day, backcountry skiing trip to the Baldy Knoll yurt in Wyoming’s Tetons, thanks to superior stability and a highly versatile design. Continue reading →