Tag Archives: sleeping bag reviews

January 7, 2016 Dana Glacier from White Rock Lakes area, Ptarmigan Traverse, Glacier Peak Wilderness.

A Preview of This Year’s Best New Gear, Part 2

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By Michael Lanza

Thinking about buying a new tent, boots, or a shell jacket or insulation for the outdoors? Last August, I spent a couple of days exploring the Outdoor Retailer Show, checking out the best of the new products for hiking, backpacking, climbing, and other outdoor activities that will hit the market this winter and spring. In this story, I cover some of the most interesting new apparel, shoes, and boots, plus a sleeping bag and pad for this spring, many of which I’ll test and review later at The Big Outside. Continue reading →

December 16, 2015 Backpackers on the High Sierra Trail in Sequoia National Park.

Why and When to Spend More on Gear, Part 2: Rain Jackets, Boots, and Sleeping Bags

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By Michael Lanza

You need a new rain jacket, or a pair of boots, or a sleeping bag—or more than one of those major outdoor gear expenditures. You’ve read some reviews. You’ve winnowed your short list to a handful of possible choices—with a significant difference in prices. That’s when you struggle with the question that pushes the frugality button in all of us: Why should I spend more?

As I wrote in the first story in this two-part series, over the course of two decades of testing and reviewing gear, I’ve learned what qualities separate the expensive from the moderately priced from the cheap—and when it’s worth spending more, and when it’s not (and the answer depends on what type of gear or apparel you’re buying). Before you spend another dime, read on. Continue reading →

December 6, 2015 Boston Charlies Camp on the Catwalk, Olympic National Park.

10 Smarter Ways to Think About Your Layering System

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By Michael Lanza

Think of your layering system of clothing for outdoor activities as a musical instrument. When you’re first learning how to play, you practice one chord or note at a time. But you only begin to produce music once you can link chords in a way that sounds good—because they work together. Similarly, we tend to acquire the parts of a layering system piecemeal, regardless of how well they work together. In this article, I’ll give you 10 specific tips for thinking about your layering system in ways that make it work better for you—and ultimately help you spend your money more wisely. Continue reading →

November 25, 2015 Backpacking The Narrows, Zion National Park.

Buying Gear? Read This First

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By Michael Lanza

Are you in the market for a new pack or boots for hiking or backpacking, or a new tent or sleeping bag? How do you find something that’s just right for you? What should you be looking for? How much should you spend? These are questions I’ve heard from many friends and readers over the years as they’ve waded through the myriad choices that are out there. Here are my five top tips for buying gear that’s right for you, gleaned from lessons I’ve learned from two decades of testing and reviewing gear and helping people find gear they love. Continue reading →

November 21, 2015 Death Canyon Shelf, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Looking For Reviews of the Best Gear? Look Here

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By Michael Lanza

I take a bit of a different approach to testing and reviewing outdoor gear at The Big Outside. I don’t try to blanket my readers with reviews of every new piece of gear hitting the market—I can’t do it, but frankly, a lot of it is mediocre and not worth recommending. Instead, I find the best backpacks and daypacks, backcountry tents and footwear, bags, outdoor apparel, and other gear that I actually want to use and would recommend to friends. After two decades of testing and reviewing gear, including many years as a field editor and lead gear reviewer for Backpacker magazine, I think I have a pretty good eye for what outdoor gear and apparel performs well and what’s not worth your money.

That’s what you’ll find at my Gear Reviews page—only reviews of products I would recommend to my closest friends. Continue reading →

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