backpacking gear reviews

The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell.

The Best Ultralight Hiking and Running Jackets of 2024

By Michael Lanza

You’re out on an all-day hike or a long climb or trail run or ride in the mountains. The weather forecast looked pretty good before you set out—but no one shared that memo with the wind that just started hammering your summit ridge, or the spitting rain and hail now pelting you as you contemplate the sudden drop in temperature and the miles between you and shelter. The question now is: What’s in your pack?

If you’re smart, it’s an ultralight jacket that takes up little space, but is about to gift you with just the right amount of weather protection when you need it.

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The Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio.

Review: Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio

Two-Way Radio
Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio
$110 each/$220 per pair
6.1 oz./172.9g (one radio only), 7.9 oz./224g (including carabiners and leash)
rockytalkie.com

Over more than 30 years of climbing and skiing in the backcountry, I’ve had a few close calls, some directly due to the inability of my partner and I to hear or see one another. One of my most trusted partners—a longtime friend who once saved me from a potentially long lead-climbing fall by leaping down a steep hill at the route’s base to reel in many feet of rope—also once took me off belay before I reached the top of a pitch and anchored myself; fortunately, I didn’t fall. After relying on the sketchy low tech of shouting and rope signals for much too long, I’ve found a vastly more reliable, light, and inexpensive solution: the Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio.

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Backpackers camped in the backcountry of Wyoming's Wind River Range.

The 10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

By Michael Lanza

A good backpacking tent not only makes your trips more comfortable by keeping you warm and dry in foul weather—it’s critical safety gear and one of the heaviest and most expensive items you’ll carry. Those facts alone are motivation enough to find the right tent for your style of backpacking. But how do you choose from the many models out there, which come in a huge range of designs, weights, and prices? Whether you’re shopping for your first backpacking shelter or looking to replace an old one, this review will help make that choice easy for you.

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A campsite at night by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids in the Grand Canyon.

Ultralight Backpacking Tents: How to Choose One

By Michael Lanza

Switching from a standard backpacking tent to an ultralight tent can shave pounds from your total pack weight—which for many backpackers will be the biggest step they can take toward a lighter pack. But it can be confusing to sort through the various ultralight tents out there, and the specs on them can look like a big pot of numeral soup, leaving you wondering: How are they different? And ultimately, which one is best for you?

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A campsite at Precipice Lake in Sequoia National Park.

5 Expert Tips For Buying a Backpacking Tent

By Michael Lanza

The choices in tents for backpacking seem to get better every year, with lightweight models continually getting lighter and other advances that make tents sturdier and more livable without adding weight. But with all the options out there, how do you choose? The answer is simpler than you might think: It comes down to understanding the key differences that distinguish tents from one another—which will help you understand what you need.

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