Tag Archives: backpacking gear reviews

September 20, 2018 Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket.

Review: Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket

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Down Jacket
Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket
$309, 11 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
featheredfriends.com

From lunch stops at mountain passes buffeted by cold, autumn’s-around-the-corner winds in Glacier National Park in September, to cool mornings and evenings in camp on that six-day Glacier backpacking trip and a four-day August trip in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, the Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket persuaded me that it’s hands-down one of the very best puffy jackets on the market—and an incredible value at its price. I don’t offer such praise casually or very often. But there are few pieces of outdoor apparel or gear on which your money would be more wisely spent. Read on to learn why. Continue reading →

September 19, 2018 Osprey Exos 58 backpack in Glacier National Park.

Gear Review: Osprey Exos 58 and Eja 58 Ultralight Backpacks

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Ultralight Backpack
Osprey Exos 58 and Eja 58
$220, 58L/3,539 c.i., 2 lbs. 11 oz. (men’s medium Exos)
Sizes: men’s Exos S-L, women’s Eja XS-M
Moosejaw.com

It’s difficult and sometimes dangerous to improve on a piece of gear that’s nearly perfect in its simplicity and functionality. So when Osprey rolled out the redesigned Exos for 2018, along with a women’s version, the Eja, with some changes to this popular model—which became an ultralight pack archetype when it was introduced in 2008—I immediately wanted to see whether the changes represent an improvement. Taking it on a six-day, roughly 90-mile hike on the Continental Divide Trail through Glacier National Park, I found definite improvements—including that it carries better than the previous iteration—and I think some backpackers may miss one convenient feature that’s absent from the updated pack. Continue reading →

September 16, 2018 Boston Charlies Camp on the Catwalk, Olympic National Park.

10 Tips For a Smarter Layering System

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Think of your layering system of clothing for outdoor activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, and skiing as a musical instrument. When you’re first learning how to play, you practice one chord or note at a time. But you only begin to produce music once you link chords in a way that sounds good. Similarly, only by treating your layering system as a dynamic, interconnected whole can you move more comfortably and safely in any weather. In this freshly updated article, I offer 10 specific tips for making your layering system work better—which ultimately helps you spend your money smartly. Continue reading →

September 5, 2018 The Sierra Designs Whitney DriDown Hoodie.

Review: Sierra Designs Whitney DriDown Hoodie and Sierra DriDown Jacket

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Down Jackets
Sierra Designs Whitney DriDown Hoodie
$169, 14 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
Moosejaw.com

Sierra Designs Sierra DriDown Jacket
$159, 12 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL

The best, three-season down and synthetic insulated jackets stand out for high-quality construction and materials—which translates to abundant warmth per ounce, low weight, and excellent packability. They also range from over $200 to nearly $400, and while worth every dollar, those prices put them out of reach for some consumers. What do you do? More-affordable puffy jackets generally have lower-quality insulation. That’s why the Sierra Designs Whitney Hoodie and Sierra Jacket, stuffed with 800-fill, water-resistant DriDown, look so enticing. My field testing found some flaws but still demonstrated why they’re a good value. Read on. Continue reading →

September 4, 2018 The North Face Ultra Fastpack III Mid GTX hiking boots.

Gear Review: The North Face Ultra Fastpack III Mid GTX Boots

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Hiking and Backpacking Boots
The North Face Ultra Fastpack III Mid GTX
$160, 1 lb. 15 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: men’s 7-14, women’s 5-11
Moosejaw.com

Supportive, durable, waterproof-breathable, mid-cut boots that weigh under two pounds are a rare breed, so I was intrigued by the specs on The North Face Ultra Fastpack III Mid GTX boots. But I’ve also worn enough lightweight boots to know that many do not measure up when it comes to delivering solid support and stability for dayhiking and backpacking mountain trails. So I took these boots on a four-day, roughly 30-mile family backpacking trip in August in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains—and they aced every test. Continue reading →

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