Backpacking Boots Reviews

A backpacker on the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park.

5 Things to Know Before Buying Backpacking Gear

By Michael Lanza

Are you in the market for a new backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag or other backpacking gear or apparel? How do you find something that’s just right for you? What should you be looking for? How much should you spend? These are questions I’ve heard from many friends and readers over the years as they’ve waded through the myriad choices out there. This article lays out five simple but helpful tips to keep in mind when buying gear.

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Backpackers hiking past a tarn off the Highline Trail (CDT) in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

The Best Backpacking Gear of 2024

By Michael Lanza

Glacier National Park. The Wind River Range. The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. Iceland. The John Muir Trail, Wonderland Trail, and Teton Crest Trail. Yosemite. The Grand Canyon. Yellowstone. Southern Utah’s Escalante canyons. The North Cascades and Pasayten Wilderness. The High Uintas Wilderness. The Tour du Mont Blanc. These are just some of the numerous places where I’ve tested the backpacking gear and apparel reviewed at The Big Outside—so that I can give you honest and thorough, field-tested opinions that help you find the best gear for your adventures.

And that’s exactly how I came up with these picks for today’s best backpacking gear.

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A backpacker on the John Muir Trail in the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

Expert Tips For Buying the Right Hiking Boots

By Michael Lanza

Boots are the most important piece of hiking or backpacking gear you will buy. You can live with a mediocre pack or a cheap tent (as many of us have), but poorly fitting boots are often a trip killer. Trouble is, boots are also the most difficult piece of gear to get right. (First tip: Don’t settle for a mediocre fit—if they don’t feel good, they aren’t good. That said, feeling good doesn’t necessarily mean they are good.) This article will go beyond the usual boots-buying tips you’ll find at countless sources to help you figure out how to find the right hiking footwear for you.

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Salewa Alp Trainer 2 Mid GTX boots.

Review: Salewa Alp Trainer 2 Mid GTX Boots

Backpacking and Trekking Boots
Salewa Alp Trainer 2 Mid GTX
$230, 2 lbs. 5 oz./1.05 kg (men’s US 9/Euro 42)
Sizes: US men’s 7-14, women’s 6-10.5

Eight days of hiking in Iceland, including two dayhikes totaling nearly 10 miles of the peaks Blahnukur and Brennisteinsalda in the Fjallabak Nature Preserve and six days trekking nearly 49 miles on the world-class Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails, presented the full range of conditions that will test any boots: rain falling at times on most days, temperatures from the 30s to 50s Fahrenheit, and hiking on often-wet dirt, pebbles, rocks, mud, and slick, wet snow. I chose Salewa’s Alp Trainer 2 Mid GTX precisely for dealing with those conditions and they truly passed every test with flying colors.

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Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof boots.

Review: Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof Boots

Hiking and Backpacking Boots
Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof
$180, 1 lb. 13 oz./822g (US men’s size 9)
Sizes: US men’s 7-15, women’s 5-12

Designers of backpacking boots—driven by consumer demand—have brought that category through an evolution of sorts to where many popular models look very similar: reasonably lightweight, waterproof-breathable, increasingly flexible and comfortable while maintaining good stability and support, and moderately priced. But as I found while wearing them on a pair of three-day backpacking trips and dayhikes in the Canadian Rockies and a four-day backpacking trip in the Wind River Range, the Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof achieve all of those qualities while weighing significantly less than many boots in this category.

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