Tag Archives: ultralight backpacking gear reviews

Gear Review: Westcomb Focus LT Hoody

October 7, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   8 Comments
Westcomb Focus LT Hoody

Westcomb Focus LT Hoody

Ultralight Rain Jacket
Westcomb Focus LT Hoody
$280, 9 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL

Here’s the thing about a rain jacket: Other than a first-aid kit, it’s often the least-used item in my pack, whether backpacking, climbing, or dayhiking. But when I need it, of course, I sure wouldn’t want to be without one. Like a lot of people, I have contradictory desires for a rain shell—I want it to be functional and protective when the weather turns foul, but also super lightweight and compressible. On backpacking trips in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park, California’s Sequoia National Park, and Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness, as well as a 28-mile dayhike in Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains, and a hut trek in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Focus LT was consistently my go-to shell. Why? It delivered protection when I needed it, and virtually disappeared inside my pack when unneeded. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp

September 30, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
Princeton Tec Vizz

Princeton Tec Vizz

Ultralight Headlamp
Princeton Tec Vizz
$50, 3 oz. (including three AAA batteries)
Max burn time: 160 hours (dimmable white LEDs), 150 hours (red LEDs), 110 hours (brightest mode)

With backcountry headlamps getting lighter yet brighter, choosing among the sub-4-oz. options out there gets a little overwhelming. The Vizz stands out for hiking, backpacking, trail running, and climbing not just for its low weight and impressive brightness, but for versatility and remarkable ease of use: You don’t need a Ph.D. in electronics to operate the Vizz. I used it numerous days this summer on backpacking trips in Sequoia National Park, Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness, and Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains—including hours of hiking in the dark—a hut trip in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, a pre-dawn start on a dayhike in Mount Rainier National Park, and camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Bosavi Headlamp

September 24, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Bosavi headlamp

Bosavi headlamp

Rechargeable Ultralight Headlamp
$70, 2 oz. (including rechargeable battery)
Max burn time: 65 hours at low power, six hours at high power

With an increasing number of headlamps weighing in under four ounces without compromising brightness, the name of the game these days is versatility and convenience. The Bosavi sets itself apart not just because it’s rechargeable (like some others), but with a design that makes it ideal for hiking or backpacking, trail running, climbing, skiing, bike commuting, and just about any activity you’ll do outside in the dark that doesn’t require a super bright light (and a massive, heavy battery pack). Plus, an ounce or two may seem like splitting hairs to some, but ultralight backpackers and hikers, climbers, and trail runners will appreciate that the Bosavi is lighter and more compact than most competitors. Continue reading →

Gear Review: REI Flash 45 Backpack

September 19, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
REI Flash 45

REI Flash 45

REI Flash 45
$129, 45L/2,745 c.i., 2 lbs. 3 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: medium (fits torsos 17-19 inches) and large (50L/3,051 c.i., 2 lbs. 4 oz., fits torsos 19-21 inches)

For most backpacking trips, when I’m not carrying gear and food for my family, I pack as light as possible and walk long days: I like to see as much wilderness as I can. For those trips, I prefer a backpack that’s light but still has decent support; I find that the virtually frameless ultralight packs with minimal support pull on my shoulders too much over the course of a 10- or 12-hour day of hiking. On a recent three-day, 65-mile hike in Yosemite, carrying a max of about 25 pounds, the Flash 45 hit that nice middle ground: lightweight, yet comfortable with the amount of weight I threw into it, and very functional. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Throttle Short

August 26, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Outdoor Research Throttle Short

Outdoor Research Throttle Short

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 →

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