backpacking gear reviews

Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 ultralight backpack.

Review: Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Ultralight Backpack

Ultralight Backpack
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60
$270, 60L/3,661 c.i., 1 lb. 14 oz. (medium pack with small hipbelt)
Sizes: unisex S-L for both pack and hipbelt
gossamergear.com

Certain items of gear rise to the status of “classic” based on their enduring popularity—especially with ultralight backpacking gear—and that rings true for the Mariposa 60. After hauling it on late-summer, multi-day hikes in Wyoming’s Wind River Range and Washington’s Pasayten Wilderness, I’ve come to understand why I’ve seen this pack on the backs of so many ultralighters: It sports much of what you’d want in an ultralight backpack with hardly a flaw.

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Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.

Review: Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket

Water-Resistant Down Jacket
Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket
$280, 15 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XXS-XXL, women’s XS-XXL
moosejaw.com

Although it wasn’t the weather we’d hoped for in the Wind River Range, the rain and chilly wind whipping through our campsites seemed like the perfect testing conditions for Rab’s Microlight Alpine Down Jacket. And it passed the test, thanks to features designed to fend off wet and raw conditions—giving this puffy jacket strong appeal to backpackers, climbers, and others with a knack for getting themselves into that kind of weather in any season.

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Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie.

Review: Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie

Breathable Insulated Jacket
Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie
$199, 11 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

On a late-September backpacking trip in Yosemite, this lightweight and packable puffy jacket kept me warm on evenings and mornings in the 40s Fahrenheit—including one morning when a steady, chilly breeze blew through our camp beside Yosemite Creek, even though I wore it over just one midweight, long-sleeve base layer. But the story only begins there. The Helium’s breathable synthetic insulation greatly expands its versatility to four seasons, wet weather, and wearing it while hiking, climbing, or pursuing backcountry snow sports in cool to cold temps. And it’s made from partly recycled materials.

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Backpackers at night with headlamps in a campsite in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

The 5 Best Headlamps of 2021

By Michael Lanza

A headlamp is unquestionably essential gear for hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, ultra-running and ultra-hiking and other backcountry activities that sometimes push into darkness. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose which one to buy? Price? Brightness? Design and range of lighting modes? Go with a brand you know and trust? This review cuts through the information overload to help you pick the right headlamp for your adventures.

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Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket.

The 10 Best Down Jackets of 2021

By Michael Lanza

Whatever you need an insulated jacket for, there’s a down or synthetic puffy for your needs, within your budget. And 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 review will help you figure out how to choose the right jacket for your needs, and it spotlights the best down and synthetic puffy jackets available today.

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