Tag Archives: outdoor apparel reviews

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: Rab Alliance Gloves

February 4, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
Rab Alliance Gloves

Rab Alliance Gloves

Winter Gloves
Rab Alliance Gloves
$165, 8 oz. (medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
rab.uk.com

In winter activities like backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and snow or ice climbing, you’re out for many hours and can face a huge range of temperatures and weather conditions—and often have your hands right in the snow. To me, gloves that fend off all precipitation and wind—and are super warm when my fingers turn white but versatile enough for moderate cold—are worth every penny. Several days of backcountry and resort skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains convinced me that the Rab Alliance are some of the best gloves I’ve ever used. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket and Pants

January 27, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket

Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket

Winter Jacket and Pants
Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket
$379, 1 lb. 2 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s XS-L

Patagonia Knifeblade Pants
$299, 1 lb. 1 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s XS-L
patagonia.com

Is there an ultimate soft-shell fabric? That question could start a fight in some circles. But I think it’s easier to define it than agree on it. Soft shells excel for their combination of high breathability and resistance to wind and snow (they’re less resistant to rain), making them best for snow-based winter activities like backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and climbing. For me, Polartec’s Power Shield Pro sets the performance bar for soft-shell fabrics very high, and Patagonia’s Knifeblade Jacket and Pants exemplify what to look for in soft shells for winter. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell

January 21, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell

Winter Shell
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell
$349, 1 lb. 2 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
blackdiamondequipment.com

We expect more of jackets made for our winter outdoor pursuits because we spend more time in them than in a rain shell in summer (which may not even come out of your pack). Most of all, it has to fend off a wide range of nasty weather while breathing well enough that you don’t wind up creating a nasty storm of sweat on the inside. Black Diamond’s new Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell did just that for me over numerous days of skiing the backcountry of Idaho’s Boise Mountains, in temperatures ranging from single digits with a below-zero wind chill through the high 30s, in falling snow, light rain mixed with wet snow, wind, and just plain calm, sub-freezing air. Continue reading →

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