Gear Reviews

Salomon ADV Skin 12 running hydration vest.

The Best Running Hydration Vests of 2022

By Michael Lanza

Some ideas are so obviously better than everything that came before that the new thing just takes off: Many serious runners now recognize that the smartest way to carry water on a run—plus clothing layers and food on longer trail runs—is in a lightweight, streamlined, torso-hugging hydration vest. This review spotlights the best vests for trail running—how they differ in fit, comfort, capacity, and details—and offers expert advice on choosing the right one for your runs and dayhikes.

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Knog Bandicoot 250 ultralight headlamp.

Review: Knog Bandicoot 250 Ultralight Headlamp

Rechargeable Ultralight Headlamp
Knog Bandicoot 250
$45, 2.1 oz.
knog.com

When I reviewed this headlamp’s predecessor, the Bandicoot, I thought it was the kind of new product that had the potential to upend an entire category. After using the more powerful and comfortable Knog Bandicoot 250 on a nine-day hike of nearly 130 miles through the High Sierra in August, mostly on the John Muir Trail, I still think this technology is a game changer.

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The Therm-a-Rest Vesper 32 Quilt ultralight backpacking quilt.

Review: Therm-a-Rest Vesper 32 Ultralight Backpacking Quilt

Ultralight Backpacking Quilt
Therm-a-Rest Vesper 32 Quilt
$380, 16 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular and long
backcountry.com

For seven nights in huts on Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails in July—and to fit all of my clothing layers, food for a week, and other stuff inside my 40-liter pack while keeping it as light as possible—I decided to take the Therm-a-Rest Vesper 32 Quilt for its minimalist weight and excellent packability. And it turned out, that hut trek mimicked sleeping outside on mild nights, presenting ideal circumstances for weighing an ultralight backpacking quilt’s strengths and shortcomings.

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Backpackers camped in the backcountry of Wyoming's Wind River Range.

Review: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye Ultralight Tent

Ultralight Backpacking Tent
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye
$450, 2 lbs. 3 oz. (men’s medium)
backcountry.com

If you’re shopping for an ultralight tent with two doors that doesn’t require an engineering degree to pitch, the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 has long had much to recommend it—including a weight of 18 ounces per occupant. Now, B.A. has made the latest update of this laudable shelter even more appealing to weight-conscious backpackers, with fabric that’s highly resistant to UV degradation and comes with substantial green cred, thanks to a production process that uses radically less water, energy, and chemicals.

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The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell.

The Best Ultralight Hiking and Running Jackets of 2022

By Michael Lanza

You’re out on an all-day hike in the mountains, or a long climb or trail run, or backpacking. The weather forecast looked pretty good before you set out—but no one shared that memo with the wind that just started hammering your summit ridge, or the spitting rain and hail now pelting you as you contemplate the sudden drop in temperature and the miles between you and shelter. The question now is: What’s in your pack?

If you’re smart, it’s an ultralight jacket that takes up little space, but is about to gift you with just the right amount of weather protection when you need it.

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