backpacking apparel reviews

The Black Diamond Helio Active Shell.

The 6 Best Rain Jackets for Hiking and Backpacking

By Michael Lanza

Shop for a rain jacket for dayhiking, backpacking, trail running, or climbing in the backcountry and you’ll see shells for adults ranging in price from under $100 to over $500 and in weight 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. Look no further. This review spotlights the best rain jackets for the backcountry and provides expert tips on how to select the right one for your adventures.

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The Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell.

Review: Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell

Rain Jacket
Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell
$140, 10 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL

High-performance rain jackets for the backcountry cost real money. Cheap rain shells often compromise on quality. Through a rainy, three-day, August backpacking trip in the Wind River Range, including hiking nine miles in wind-driven rain and temps in the 40s Fahrenheit on our last day, this lightweight jacket kept my 20-year-old son dry. If you want a rain shell that delivers good quality at a price that leaves you gas money to reach the trailhead, the Treeline warrants a close look.

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Arc’teryx Remige Hoody.

The Best Sun Shirts of 2022

By Michael Lanza

Whether backpacking, dayhiking, climbing, trail running, fishing, paddling, or active outdoors in myriad other ways, sun protection becomes critical not only for preventing skin cancer, but also because the hot sun can wear you down and exacerbate the effects of heat, elevation, and dehydration—especially in the mountains and desert.

While there are a variety of styles of sun shirts, for active pursuits in warm to hot temperatures, nothing really beats a lightweight, breathable hoody for maximum protection and keeping you cool—while adding minimal weight and bulk to your kit. This review spotlights the best sun shirt hoodies.

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A backpacker hiking the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

How You Can Tell How Warm a Down Jacket Is

By Michael Lanza

While sleeping bags have temperature ratings, with down jackets and other insulated jackets, there exists no easy way to determine how warm any specific garment will be without wearing it outside. But despite the absence of a precise metric for gauging the warmth of down and synthetic puffy jackets, there are ways to assess a specific jacket’s relative warmth before you even see it, using simple metrics. This article will explain how to do that.

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The Gregory Focal 58 backpack in the Grand Canyon.

Review: Gregory Focal 58 and Facet 55 Ultralight Backpacks

Ultralight Backpack
Gregory Focal 58 and Facet 55
$240, 58L/3,539 c.i., 2 lbs. 11 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-L, women’s XS-M

Starting my six-day backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon with more than the recommended max weight in my Gregory Focal 58 and planning some strenuous days of hiking up to 12 miles with over 7,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain and loss—including seven very steep off-trail miles—I knew I’d put this pack to a serious test. Not a problem for the Focal 58, though, which proved not only comfortable but has a nice feature set, too.

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