Tag Archives: Arc’teryx product reviews

February 7, 2018 Boise Mountains, Idaho.

Review: The Best Gloves For Winter 2018

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By Michael Lanza

I love getting outdoors in winter, especially skiing in all of its varieties—climbing up and sliding down mountains in the backcountry, skate skiing, resort skiing with my family, and touring on gentler terrain in the forest. Problem is, I have the worst fingers for being outside in sub-freezing temperatures: My Raynaud’s disease is so bad that my fingers turn white and numb even when I’m chopping vegetables that are still cold from the fridge. That’s made me picky about gloves. I’ve tested many over the years, and I use different models depending on the activity and temperature. Here are the best gloves I’ve found for winter. Continue reading →

January 24, 2018 A backcountry skier in the High Sierra above Lake Tahoe.

Review: The Best Winter Hats of 2018

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By Michael Lanza

Do you love getting outdoors in winter? If so, then you know that, just like the rest of your body, your noggin needs protection from cold temperatures, wind, and precipitation at this time of year. But just as with your body core and extremities, how much insulation your head needs depends on ambient conditions like temperature and wind as well as your activity level—how much heat your body is producing. And it sometimes seems there are as many choices in head wear out there as there are heads.

Look no further. This review covers the best winter hats for all kinds of outdoor recreationists, including Nordic, backcountry, and downhill skiers, runners, snowshoers, fitness walkers, climbers, bike commuters, and others who stay active outdoors in the cold months. Continue reading →

December 12, 2017 Trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Holiday Gift Guide 2017: 35 Great Outdoors Gifts

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By Michael Lanza

If you’re shopping for a gift for someone who loves the outdoors—or even for yourself—look no further. This list covers the top-performing products and best values I’ve found among the outdoor gear and apparel I’ve field tested over the past 12 months, including jackets, backpacks, a tent, a sleeping bag and air mattress, headlamps, trekking poles, climbing harnesses, and a pile of other stuff in a wide range of prices. Plus, many of them are available at deeply discounted sale prices right now, and you’ll find links to those sales below.

You just may finish all of your holiday shopping right here. Continue reading →

November 29, 2017 Osprey Aura AG 65

Gear Review: The 10 Best Backpacking Packs of 2018

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By Michael Lanza

Backpacks come in many sizes and flavors for a reason: so do backpackers. Some of us need a pack for moderate loads, others for heavy loads, while still others want a pack designed for lightweight or ultralight backpacking. Some prefer a minimalist design, others a range of features and access. Everyone wants the best fit and comfort they can find, and almost everyone has a budget.

I looked at all the backpacks intended primarily (if not exclusively) for backpacking that I’ve tested and reviewed at The Big Outside, and selected for this article 10 top performers that stand out for reasons that make each appeal uniquely to a certain type of backpacker. (In addition, I point out below two excellent packs for kids of all ages.) I think one of them will be perfect for you—possibly even more than one if, like me, you prefer different packs for different kinds of trips. Continue reading →

The 5 Best Rain Jackets for the Backcountry

November 24, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Patagonia Pluma Jacket.

Wearing the Patagonia Pluma Jacket on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

By Michael Lanza

Shop for a rain jacket for the backcountry and you’ll see shells for adults ranging from under $100 to over $600, and from less than half a pound to over a pound—with just as huge and confusing a range of opinions on them from reviewers and consumers. I’m going to make the choice simple for you.

I’ve tested dozens of rain shells while hiking through soaking rains all over the world over the past two decades; I’ve learned how to distinguish the mediocre from the excellent. Here are my picks for the five best rain jackets for backcountry adventures.

These top-performing shells range in price from $275 to $549, with great deals available right now on some of them (see the links below). I think you’ll find one of them is just right for your dayhikes, backpacking trips, and climbing and other outdoor adventures.

I’d love to read your thoughts on them or other jackets you like in the comments section at the bottom of this story. Continue reading →

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