Tag Archives: hiking gear reviews
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.
Black Diamond Coefficient Jacket
$139, 11 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
Keeping your body from overheating or getting cold while active is a challenge in shoulder seasons, or anytime you encounter fast-changing weather and temperatures from the 20s to the 50s Fahrenheit. The key is clothing that provides just enough warmth without making you perspire too much, and that moves moisture out quickly when sweating becomes unavoidable. On numerous spring and fall days of hiking and rock climbing in Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rocks State Park, and dayhiking in July in Mount Rainier National Park, the Coefficient Jacket hit that ideal balance that kept me from cycling between hot and chilled. Continue reading →
Patagonia Black Hole
$149, 2 lbs. 4 oz.
If I decide to become a big-city bike messenger when I grow up, this will be the pack I carry. But that’s just a statement about its indestructibility; however, it’s way more versatile than that. I used it for everything from a carry-on when flying and an around-town pack when biking errands, to hauling quickdraws and personal climbing gear for sport climbing at Idaho’s Castle Rocks State Park, and on a five-pitch route on Steinfeld’s Dome in the City of Rocks National Reserve. I could toss it onto rocks and the pack showed not a scratch. Continue reading →
Hiking and Running Shorts
Outdoor Research Throttle Short
$59, 6 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
With the variety of shorts for trail running and hiking out there, what distinguishes one from another? When I’m going fast or far on warm days, I want shorts that keep me cool and comfortable—like the Throttle Short, which I wore this summer on dayhikes in Idaho’s Sawtooths with my family, trail runs of up to seven miles in the Boise Foothills, a two-hour hike-run (6.4 miles and almost 3,000 feet up and down) on the Eagle Peak Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park, a 28-mile, nearly 8,000-vertical-foot dayhike in Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains, and numerous, sweaty gym workouts. Continue reading →
Black Diamond Sonar
$140, 2 lbs. 1 oz. (S/M)
Sizes: S/M (24L/1,464 c.i.), M/L (26L/1,587 c.i.)
What causes your body to get tired and achy on a dayhike? Well, aside from the obvious factors—how far you walk, the terrain’s ruggedness, and your pack’s weight (we’ll leave your physical condition aside for now)—don’t overlook the importance of how your pack fits and behaves on your back. When we walk, our bodies move a lot, arms, hips, and torso included. On several dayhikes, including a climb up Mt. St. Helens (10 miles, 4,500 feet), starting out with about 20 pounds (including food, water, and clothes for my family), and a 28-mile, 8,000-vertical-foot loop through Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains in just over 10 hours, I found the Sonar’s fit and suspension noticeably reduced the level of fatigue and soreness I felt at the end of each day. Continue reading →