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 my many trips; some of it doesn’t make the cut. I honestly don’t bother reviewing gear that I wouldn’t recommend—I won’t waste my time or my readers’ time. But I do strive to point out strengths and weaknesses of gear.
Got any suggestions or questions for me? Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Best in Class Gear
Don’t have time to read through multiple reviews? No worries, I’ve done the hard work for you. Here are my reviews of the best backpacking packs and tents, jackets, and other gear.
Make your next backpacking trip better with my “Top 5 Tips for Better Ultralight Backpacking.”
Are my gear reviews helpful? If so, would you like to support my work by clicking here to leave a tip for The Big Outside? Thank you.
How Much Should You Spend?
Lots 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.
What do you really need for backpacking? See my “Essentials-Only Backpacking Gear Checklist.”
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.
Get the right pack for you. See my “Gear Review: The 10 Best Packs For Backpacking”
and my “5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack.”
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.