Tag Archives: backpack reviews

December 18, 2017 A backpacker at Park Creek Pass, North Cascades National Park.

The Best New Hiking and Backpacking Gear of 2017

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By Michael Lanza

Every year, I field test a lot of new gear and clothing for three-season hiking, backpacking, climbing, and winter backcountry activities. Much of it’s pretty good. But to be honest, only a small number rise to the level of excellent, either for technical innovation or simply coming at a task from a new angle that makes their performance superior to others. On those rare occasions, gear can actually make the experiences we seek better in some small way. For this article, I’ve picked out the best pieces of new outdoors gear and apparel that came out in 2017. 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 →

November 22, 2017 On the Pacific Crest Trail at Glen Aulin, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: What’s the Best Thru-Hiking Backpack?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments

Hi Michael,

I’m looking for a backpack for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. I am considering some Osprey packs and others. What to you recommend as the best thru-hiking backpack?

Thanks.

Bruce

Continue reading →

Gear Review: Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Ultralight Backpack

October 3, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider backpack in the Wind River Range.

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider backpack in the Wind River Range.

Backpack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider
$340, 55L/3,400 c.i., 1 lb. 15 oz. (medium)
Sizes: S (fits torsos 15-17 ins.), M (17-19 ins.), L (19-21 ins.), Tall (21+ ins.)
backcountry.com

When the 3400 Windrider was delivered to my house, the box looked much too small to contain a backpack—if I’d had no idea, I might have guessed it contained a small tent. It’s not often that a backpack, or any piece of gear, leaves an impression on me before I even remove it from its packaging. Intrigued by its incredibly low weight—it’s by far one of the lightest packs made for lightweight backpacking and thru-hiking—I loaded it up with about 35 pounds of gear, clothing, and food and took it out on a three-day, 39-mile backpacking trip in mid-September in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. Having used other ultralight packs that simply did not have the support for more than 20 to 25 pounds, I entered this experiment with healthy skepticism. But the 3400 Windrider made me a believer. Here’s why. Continue reading →

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