Tag Archives: backpacking apparel reviews

February 5, 2018 Backcountry skiing in Idaho's Boise Mountains.

The Best Clothing Layers for Winter in the Backcountry

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

There’s one certainty about the clothing layers we use in winter: We get our money’s worth out of them. While a rain shell or puffy jacket may rarely (or even never) come out of our pack on a summer hike or climb, we almost invariably wear every article of clothing we carry when backcountry, Nordic, or downhill skiing, snowshoeing, climbing, or trail running in winter. That’s money spent wisely to make us more comfortable and safer.

Every winter, I test out new clothing layers doing all of those activities frequently. Here are the best shell and insulated jackets, base layers, and pants I’ve found for high-exertion and moderate-exertion activities in winter. Continue reading →

Review: Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody

January 31, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Wearing the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody while backcountry skiing.

Wearing the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody while backcountry skiing.

Breathable Insulated Jacket
Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody
$249, 12 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

The range of activities, conditions, and seasons in which you wear a jacket arguably says more than anything else about its value, so I’ll tell you what I’ve done (so far) in my Ascendant Hoody: On a 39-mile, mid-September backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, I wore it in camp on cool, windy mornings and evenings. I’ve worn it as a middle layer on days of skiing downhill at resorts, and as an outer or middle layer skiing up and downhill in the backcountry. And I’ve regularly pulled it on to ride my bike on errands around town this winter. Its versatility derives from having just the right amount of breathable insulation to make it the insulated jacket you grab more than any other all year. Continue reading →

Review: The North Face ThermoBall Active Jacket

January 18, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The North Face ThermoBall Active Jacket.

The North Face ThermoBall Active Jacket.

Hybrid Insulated Jacket
The North Face ThermoBall Active Jacket
$150, 14.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
ems.com

The December sun was about to drop over the horizon, and the air temperature was dropping even faster—but I was enjoying the skate-skiing around Bear Basin, in the quiet ponderosa pine forest outside McCall, Idaho, too much to head for the car just yet. It didn’t matter. I knew I could wring out the last minutes of daylight and stay warm, despite my base layer being quite sweaty, thanks to the hybrid design and unique insulation in the ThermoBall Active Jacket. Continue reading →

January 3, 2018 Campsite, Dome Glacier, Ptarmigan Traverse, Glacier Peak Wilderness, North Cascades.

Ask Me: How Can You Tell How Warm a Down Jacket Is?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

Michael,

With sleeping bags, we have temperature ratings. But with down/insulated/puffy jackets, what is best way to determine if a jacket will be warm or warmer or hot? Is it the amount of fill? Some but not all jackets indicate the amount of fill.

Thanks.

Bruce
Virginia

Continue reading →

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

The Best New Hiking and Backpacking Gear of 2017

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

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 →

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