Tag Archives: backpacking apparel reviews

The Best Clothing Layers for Winter in the Backcountry

December 9, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
A backcountry skier in Idaho's Boise Mountains.

A backcountry skier in Idaho’s Boise Mountains.

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, snowboarding, 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 →

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 →

Review: The 10 Best Down Jackets of 2018

November 18, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews, Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments
Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket.

Testing the Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket in Glacier National Park.

By Michael Lanza

Whatever you need a down jacket for, the good news is that there’s a down or synthetic-insulation jacket for your needs, within your budget. And technology has blurred the traditional lines between down and synthetics, with water-resistant down that traps heat even when wet—all but eliminating the weakness that had long been the Achilles heel of down—and synthetic insulation materials that approach the warmth-to-weight ratio and compressibility of down.

Whether you want a puffy jacket for outdoor activities like backpacking, camping, and climbing, or just to keep you warm around town or at outdoor sporting events, this article will help you figure out how to choose the right jacket for your needs, and it reviews the best down and synthetic puffy jackets on the market today. Continue reading →

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

November 11, 2018  |  In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
Staying warm in camp on the Dome Glacier in the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

Staying warm in camp on the Dome Glacier in the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

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 →

The Best Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking Jackets of 2018

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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