Tag Archives: trail-running gear reviews

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

10 Smarter Ways to Think About Your Layering System

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

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 →

Gear Review: 5 Favorite Daypacks

November 20, 2015  |  In Uncategorized   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
Osprey Talon 18

Osprey Talon 18

By Michael Lanza

What do you need a daypack for? That’s really the critical question to consider when choosing from the dozens of widely varying choices out there today, which range all over the map in terms of volume, weight, carrying capacity, features—and cost. Some are very specialized, others built as all-purpose dayhiking sacks, but still designed with an eye toward making them stand out from a crowded field.

I’ve picked out five favorite daypacks I’ve tested and reviewed at The Big Outside—two of them specialized, and the other three all-around packs for dayhiking, but still different enough from one another to offer you clear choices. Continue reading →

Gear Review: The 5 Best Headlamps

November 6, 2015  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The 5 Best Headlamps

The 5 Best Headlamps

By Michael Lanza

How do you choose which headlamp to buy for hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, and other outdoor activities? Price? Design and range of lighting modes? Go with a brand you know and trust? Having tested dozens of headlamps, I favor models that meet five simple criteria:

•    Lightweight (no hiker, runner, or climber needs a heavy, bulky light).
•    Versatile and bright enough for everything from reading in the tent and managing camp chores to hiking rugged trail or route-finding off-trail in complete darkness.
•    Intuitive and easy to use, so I don’t have to consult instructions more than once, take of my gloves to operate it, or use a tool to change batteries.
•    Projects a beam that’s focused and even, not blotchy and uneven.
•    Preferably rechargeable so I’m not throwing away batteries.

With the exception of being rechargeable—which costs more, and I review headlamps at a range of price points—I generally apply those standards when choosing which headlamps I’ll review at The Big Outside. So to help you find the right model for yourself or someone else, I’ve put together this list of the five best headlamps I’ve reviewed at this blog, listed in order of cost, along with a comparison chart. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles

October 30, 2015  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles

Trekking Poles
Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles
$160, 10 oz./pair (110 cm)
Sizes: 110, 120, 130, and 140 cm
blackdiamondequipment.com

With gear, exceptionally low weight often means compromising functionality, durability, or both. With Black Diamond’s Distance Carbon Z Poles, though, there’s little compromise. On a mostly off-trail, two-day backpacking trip to Quiet Lake in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains; another mostly off-trail, roughly 14-mile and 5,000-foot dayhike of 10,470-foot Horstman Peak and traverse of the Monolith Valley in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains; and a 6.4-mile, 1,400-foot, on-trail hike up 10,243-foot Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park, I found the strengths of these poles far outweighed the one shortcoming that helps make them so light. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Vitchelo V800 Headlamp

October 2, 2015  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Vitchelo V800 headlamp

Vitchelo V800 headlamp

Ultralight Headlamp
Vitchelo V800
$50, 3 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)
store.vitchelo.com

On dark nights and early mornings from New Hampshire’s Presidential Range to Idaho’s Boise Mountains and New Zealand’s Kepler and Dusky tracks, and other trips, I needed a headlamp that was very light, reliable, versatile, and above all, bright. Vitchelo’s V800 met all of those standards, plus proved itself to be reliable and distinctly simple to use. Continue reading →

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