Tag Archives: backpacking apparel reviews

Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Quasar Hybrid Pullover

July 29, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Mountain Hardwear Quasar Hybrid Pullover

Mountain Hardwear Quasar Hybrid Pullover

Ultralight Rain Shell
Mountain Hardwear Quasar Hybrid Pullover
$375, 9 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL
mountainhardwear.com

There was a time when we thought of a waterproof-breathable jacket as a security blanket: It had to protect us against anything, so we wanted it to look like it could. Now that we know more about their strengths and weaknesses, we smartly look at three-season rain shells more in terms of the question: How minimal a jacket can we get away with? On several trips using the Quasar Hybrid Pullover, from the Grand Canyon in November to Arches and Canyonlands national parks in March and Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains in June, and on a weeklong, hut-to-hut trek in Italy’s Dolomites, I was surprised by how much protection this nine-ounce shell delivers. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants

July 24, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants

Soft-Shell Pants
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants
$89, 11 oz. (men’s 32)
Sizes: men’s 32-38, women’s 2-14
outdoorresearch.com

For most summer and fall backpacking trips, unless I expect really wet conditions, I wear zip-off, nylon trail pants because they’re lightweight, dry fairly quickly, durable, and inexpensive. But when I’m heading to a place where I could face a wide range of weather, including wet and cold, I want pants that repel water better and dry faster than run-of-the-mill nylon pants. And waterproof-breathable rain pants are so hot to hike in that I rarely wear them. For me, the solution is a zip-off, soft-shell pant that’s light enough for summer. On a seven-day, hut-to-hut trek through Italy’s Dolomites this month, where almost daily we encountered on-and-off rain, wind, even some hail and wet snow, and temperatures ranging from the high 30s to around 60° F., the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants shined. Continue reading →

May 20, 2014 High Divide Trail in fog, Olympic National Park.

How I Decide What Touches My Skin: 5 Features to Look For In a Hiking Base Layer

In Gear Reviews, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

What’s your body type when you’re hiking, backpacking, or otherwise active outdoors? Do you run hot or cold—or both? Over many years of dayhiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, cycling, skiing in its various forms, and other activities, I’ve discovered this about myself: I run very warm when I’m moving, but I cool off in a flash when I stop. To some degree, many people are like that. And those that aren’t—who just plain run consistently hot or cold—still have to tackle the same question I do: How do you pick the best base layer top for you? Continue reading →

Gear Review: L.L. Bean Puff-n-Stuff Jacket

April 7, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
L.L. Bean Puff-n-Stuff Jacket

L.L. Bean Puff-n-Stuff Jacket.

Kids Puffy Jacket
L.L. Bean Puff-n-Stuff Jacket
$59, 13.5 oz. (boys large/14-16)
Sizes: boys’ and girls’ S-XL (8-18), little boys’ and girls’ S-L (4-7)
llbean.com

From wearing it as a layering piece under a shell when skiing, to backpacking in late March in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park when the temperature dropped below freezing, to innumerable school days, my son has worn this hooded, insulated jacket so much it has hardly seen a hanger (partly because he doesn’t appear to know how to use a hanger). When buying outdoor apparel for kids, you sometimes have to choose between high quality and affordability. I’m a believer that, like adults, kids enjoy the outdoors more when they’re comfortable—but it’s hard pulling the trigger on an expensive item, given how few seasons a kid wears something before outgrowing it. At 59 bucks, the Puff-n-Stuff Jacket is a steal. Continue reading →

Gear Review: The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket

January 6, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket

The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket

Fleece Jacket
The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket
$170, 15 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
thenorthface.com

Given all the modern choices in outdoor apparel for the backcountry, is the classic fleece jacket obsolete? Not hardly. An insulating layer that’s highly breathable remains indispensable when you’re active in cold temperatures; I always have some kind of fleece layer when out backcountry skiing, cross-country ski touring, hiking, or snowshoeing in winter or any time of year in temps in the 30s or colder. The good news is that advancements in fabrics have transformed your father’s fleece into a more versatile outer or middle layer—like The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket. Wearing it quite a lot while cross-country skiing on a four-day, December yurt trip in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, and as a middle layer while resort skiing as well as around town, I found it impressively warm, comfortable, and functional. Continue reading →

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