Tag Archives: ultralight backpacking gear reviews

January 14, 2016 Campsite, Squaw Canyon, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park.

Ask Me: What Are the Best Tents For Backpacking With Kids?

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Michael,

Thanks for the great stories and tips for family trips. I came across your blog as I was scoping out a family backpacking trip in the Sierra for this summer. We are taking another family out backpacking that has done a number of dayhikes, but has not been backpacking before, along with a 20-year-old, foreign-exchange student who, while fit, has also not been backpacking. The boys on the trip will both be eight—they will carry no more than eight to 10 pounds in a decent daypack (our son has an Osprey Jet that has worked well for the past couple of years). Bottom line is that I expect that I will carry some extra weight. Our tent is a Black Diamond Vista—a great tent but heavy for the Sierra in August. Any thoughts on three-person, three-season tents that are relatively durable and lighter than the Vista? I was looking at the Big Agnes Copper Spur as a potential option but figured I would ask you, with all of your experience. Continue reading →

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 →

January 6, 2016 Bailey Range and Mount Olympus, Olympic National Park.

A Preview of This Year’s Best New Gear, Part 1

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By Michael Lanza

Thinking about buying a new backpack, daypack, tent, or other outdoor gear? Last August, I spent a couple of days wandering the floor of The Salt Palace in Salt Lake City—a convention center you could fit a few Wal-Marts inside—at the Outdoor Retailer Show, ogling the best of the new products for hiking, backpacking, climbing, and other outdoor activities that will hit the market this winter and spring. Continue reading →

December 20, 2015 Osprey Aura AG 65

Gear Review: The 8 Best Packs For Backpacking

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By Michael Lanza

Backpacks come in many sizes and flavors for a reason: so do backpackers. Some of us need a pack for moderate loads, others for heavy loads, while still others want a pack designed for lightweight or ultralight backpacking. Some prefer a minimalist design, others a range of features and access. Everyone wants the best fit and comfort they can find, and almost everyone has a budget.

I looked at all the backpacks intended primarily (if not exclusively) for backpacking that I’ve tested and reviewed at The Big Outside, and selected for this article eight top performers that stand out for reasons that make each appeal uniquely to a certain type of backpacker. I think one of them will be perfect for you—possibly even more than one if, like me, you prefer different packs for different kinds of trips. 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 →

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