Gear Reviews

A backpacker at Evolution Lake on the John Muir Trail in Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon National Park.

The Best Backpacking Gear for the John Muir Trail

By Michael Lanza

So you’re planning to thru-hike the John Muir Trail and making all of the necessary preparations, and now you’re wondering: What’s the best gear for a JMT hike? Having thru-hiked the JMT as well as taken numerous other backpacking trips all over the High Sierra—mostly between late August and late September, which I consider that the best time to walk the Sierra, to avoid snow and the voracious mosquitoes and blazing hot afternoons of mid-summer—I offer the following picks for the best ultralight and lightweight backpacking gear and apparel for a JMT thru-hike.

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The Mystery Ranch Coulee 30.

The 10 Best Hiking Daypacks of 2024

By Michael Lanza

Choosing a daypack for hiking can seem overwhelming when you see the dozens of choices available today, which range all over the map in terms of volume, weight, carrying capacity, features, and cost—as well as fit and comfort. Look no further. This freshly updated review spotlights the best daypacks for hiking and offers expert buying tips that explain the subtle differences between packs to help you find the right one for your own adventures.

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A backpacker hiking the Highline Trail past Elbow Lake in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

25 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories of 2024

By Michael Lanza

Sure, your backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and other backpacking gear matter a lot, and you should put serious thought into your choices when buying any of them. But little things matter, too. Various necessary accessories, convenience items, and small comforts accompany me on backcountry trips. Nearly three decades of field-testing gear—including the 10 years I spent as the lead gear reviewer for Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog—has refined my sense of what I like on certain types of trips and what I will not do without anytime.

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The Gregory Zulu 24 LT daypack

Review: Gregory Zulu 24 LT and Jade 24 LT Daypacks

Daypack
Gregory Zulu 24 LT and Jade 24 LT
$150, 24L/1,465 c.i., 2 lbs. 5 oz./1.05kg (men’s Zulu 24 LT)
One size each for men and women, non-adjustable
Zulu 24 LT: backcountry.com
Jade 24 LT: backcountry.com

This first thing I noticed about carrying Gregory’s Zulu 24 LT on spring dayhikes of up to about 10 miles in southern Utah parks, with plenty of uphill and downhill and a bit of scrambling thrown in, was its exceptional comfort even when testing its maximum weight capacity: This daypack does not wilt under loads that push some daypacks beyond their “I’m still liking this pack” limit. But the more I used it—and actually interacted with the pack, pulling stuff out, stuffing stuff back in, using its various pockets—the more I liked how its design constantly rose to my demands.

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

The 10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

By Michael Lanza

A good backpacking tent not only makes your trips more comfortable by keeping you warm and dry in foul weather—it’s critical safety gear and one of the heaviest and most expensive items you’ll carry. Those facts alone are motivation enough to find the right tent for your style of backpacking. But how do you choose from the many models out there, which come in a huge range of designs, weights, and prices? Whether you’re shopping for your first backpacking shelter or looking to replace an old one, this review will help make that choice easy for you.

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