Tag Archives: backpacking apparel reviews

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 →

Review: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket

September 22, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket

Ultralight Down Jacket
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket
$320, 7 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
mountainhardwear.com

When trying to lighten a backpacking load, besides focusing on the heaviest items you carry (tent, bag, pack), your clothing offers potential for shaving ounces and bulk. Rather than assuming I need the same clothing for every trip, I choose layers based on the forecast and likely range of weather and temperatures—and I don’t pack more than I need. So I’m a big believer in ultralight insulation when the temperature will remain well above freezing. Hardwear’s Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket proved perfect on a recent four-day, 86-mile backpacking trip in northern Yosemite National Park in early September: It kept me warm on the coldest morning, around 40° F, while weighing barely more than the wool hat and light gloves I brought. Continue reading →

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 →

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