Tag Archives: Arc’teryx product reviews

January 9, 2019 A backcountry skier in the High Sierra above Lake Tahoe.

Review: The Best Winter Hats of 2019

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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. And if you’re simply looking for a warm hat at a good price, you’ll find those in this article, too. Continue reading →

The 5 Best Rain Jackets for Hiking and Backpacking

December 5, 2018  |  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 dayhiking, backpacking, or climbing in 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 easy for you.

I’ve tested dozens of rain shells while hiking through soaking rains all over the world over the past two decades, writing reviews for this blog and previously for Backpacker magazine; I’ve learned how to distinguish the mediocre from the excellent. Here are my picks for the five best rain jackets for backcountry adventures that you can buy today. Continue reading →

November 28, 2018 Boise Mountains, Idaho.

Review: The Best Gloves For Winter 2019

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By Michael Lanza

Looking for winter gloves that keep your hands warm and dry and are made with quality to last for years? As a professional gear reviewer who gets cold hands easily and spends many days outside in winter, from skiing in all of its forms to bike commuting, trail running, and working outside, I’ve used many types of gloves. I’ve learned a lot over the years about how to select gloves and which models perform best for specific uses. This review covers the best gloves I’ve found for winter, in several styles and degrees of warmth, for outdoor recreation as well as doing any kind of work outside. I’m confident you’ll find a pair here that meet your needs. Continue reading →

Gear Review: The 10 Best Backpacking Packs of 2019

November 20, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   12 Comments
Osprey Exos 58 backpack in Glacier National Park.

Testing the Osprey Exos 58 backpack in Glacier National Park.

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.

From the many backpacks intended primarily (if not exclusively) for backpacking that I’ve tested and reviewed at The Big Outside, I’ve 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 Best Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking Jackets of 2019

November 7, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on.

Testing the Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on hiking rim to rim in the Grand Canyon.

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. Here’s how to choose the best ultralight shell for your needs, followed by my freshly updated picks for the best models on the market today, based on real-life field testing and my 25 years of experience reviewing outdoor gear and apparel. Continue reading →

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