Welcome to The Big Outside’s Gear Reviews page
I tested and reviewed gear for Backpacker magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel—which helps you spend your money more smartly.
Scroll down to find links to all of my reviews of backpacking, hiking, and other gear, organized by categories, as well as lists of my top picks. You will also find links to my expert tips on how to buy the best gear for your needs.
My policy on reviewing gear is simple: I request gear from companies when I have a sense it will perform well; I’ve been doing this for about 25 years, so I have a good eye. Gear companies send me product without any promise of what I’ll write in a review. I put it through rigorous field testing on many trips; some of it doesn’t make the cut. I strive to point out strengths and weaknesses of gear in my reviews. I don’t bother reviewing gear that I wouldn’t recommend—I won’t waste my time or my readers’ time.
Got any suggestions or questions for me? Drop me a note at email@example.com.
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See my Custom Trip Planning page to learn how I can help you plan any trip you’ve read about at this blog, including advice on the right gear for it.
Scroll down to begin your gear journey toward your next adventure.
And thanks for reading The Big Outside.
Want to find great deals on gear and support my blog at no cost to you? Buy gear through the links in my reviews or these affiliate links at backcountry.com or moosejaw.com.
Best in Class Gear
Don’t have time to read through multiple reviews? It’s okay, I’ve done the hard work for you. See my reviews of the best backpacking packs and tents, jackets, and other gear.
The 9 (Very) Best Backpacking Tents
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The 5 Best Rain Jackets for Hiking and Backpacking
24 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories
Make your next trip better with “The Top 5 Ultralight Backpacking Tips.”
The Best Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking Jackets
The Best Base Layers for Hiking, Running, and Training
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How Much Should You Spend?
Many of us have to live within a budget. All of us want to get the best value. Experience has taught me when to find gear at the lowest prices and when it makes sense to spend less or spend more on gear. Read these three articles for insights that will save you money and make you happy about what you buy.
5 Things to Know Before Buying Backpacking Gear
5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear
Why and When to Spend More on Outdoor Gear
Plan your next great backpacking adventure using my downloadable, expert e-guides.
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Reviews by Gear Category
The numerous links below will give you menus of my reviews in each category, listed in order of the most-recently posted.
All Ultralight Backpacking Gear Reviews
Puffy & Insulated Jacket Reviews
Backpacking Cooking System Reviews
Air Mattress & Sleeping Pad Reviews
All Trail-Running Gear and Apparel Reviews
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How to Buy Gear
How do you choose the right pack, tent, boots, sleeping bag, and other gear for your needs? That depends on the type of hiking and backpacking you do. The stories linked below will help you make the best choices when buying gear.
A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking
5 Smart Steps to Lighten Your Backpacking Gear
The Top 5 Tips for Better Ultralight Backpacking
5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack
5 Tips For Buying a Backpacking Tent
How to Choose the Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent for You
Planning your next big adventure? See “America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips”
and “Tent Flap With a View: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites.”
Pro Tips For Buying the Right Boots
5 Pro Tips For Buying the Right Rain Jacket For the Backcountry
Pro Tips: How to Choose a Sleeping Bag
An Essentials-Only Backpacking Gear Checklist