backpacking boots reviews

A backpacker at Evolution Lake on the John Muir Trail in Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon National Park.

The Best Backpacking Gear of 2023

By Michael Lanza

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. Glacier National Park. Yellowstone. The North Cascades and Pasayten Wilderness. Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. 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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Scarpa Rush Mid GTX boots.

Review: Scarpa Rush Mid GTX Boots

Hiking and Backpacking Boots
Scarpa Rush Mid GTX
$199, 2 lbs./907g (pair Euro men’s 42/US 9)
Sizes: men’s Euro 40-48/US 7.5-14, women’s Euro 36-42/US 4-9
moosejaw.com

Having backpacked numerous times through the Wind River Range on summer’s tail—and more than once been greeted with buckets of cold rain and wind for days or finding out that over a foot of snow fell the day after we got out—for my latest trip, I wanted to stick my feet in boots that can handle any unpleasant surprises. Still, I also didn’t want to feel like I was lifting a cement block with each step or like my feet spent each day in a hot yoga studio. Our five-day hike showed me the Scarpa Rush Mid GTX were a smart choice for what we encountered as well as what we might have encountered—and an all-around superior hiking boot.

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Oboz Sawtooth X Mid Waterproof boots.

Review: Oboz Sawtooth X Mid Waterproof Boots

Hiking and Backpacking Boots
Oboz Sawtooth X Mid Waterproof
$165, 2 lbs. 7 oz. (US men’s size 9)
Sizes: men’s 7-15, women’s 5-12
moosejaw.com

Between the days of backpacking 11 to 12 miles with up to about 7,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain and loss, the seven miles of steep and loose off-trail hiking, the need to carry eight pounds or more of water weight at times, and of course, the heat, one might speculate that our six-day backpacking trip to Utah Flats and Clear Creek in the Grand Canyon was no more than an elaborate ruse to put hiking boots to a severe test. (Some of my companions went so far as to suggest a plot to inflict physical suffering on them. Yea, whatever.) But after all was said and done, the Oboz Sawtooth X Mid Waterproof shined through all the canyon (and I) hurled at them. Here’s why.

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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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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.) 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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