Tag Archives: backpacking gear reviews

February 16, 2017 Boise Mountains, Idaho.

Review: The Best Gloves For Winter

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By Michael Lanza

I love getting outdoors in winter, especially skiing in all of its varieties—climbing up and sliding down mountains in the backcountry, skate skiing, resort skiing with my family, and touring on gentler terrain in the forest. Problem is, I have the worst fingers for being outside in sub-freezing temperatures: My Raynaud’s disease is so bad that my fingers turn white and numb even when I’m chopping vegetables that are still cold from the fridge. That’s made me picky about gloves. I’ve tested many over the years, and I use different models depending on the activity and temperature. Here are the best gloves I’ve found for winter. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

February 1, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles.

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles.

Trekking & Snow Poles
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
$170, 1 lb. 2 oz. (with trekking baskets)
One size, adjustable
backcountry.com

If you make the mountains your playground in all seasons and find your budget tapped by a variety of boots, packs, and other gear for your sports, the notion of purchasing more than one pair of poles may create some financial hardship (and it cuts into your beer budget). You need one pair of sticks that do it all. From six mid-October days of hiking in the western North Carolina mountains, including a 34-mile backpacking trip in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, to days of backcountry skiing in the Idaho mountains, I leaned on BD’s Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles and they stood up to every task. Continue reading →

Review: The North Face Desolation ThermoBall Jacket

January 25, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The North Face Desolation ThermoBall Jacket.

The North Face Desolation ThermoBall Jacket.

Hybrid Insulated Jacket
The North Face Desolation ThermoBall Jacket
$199, 14 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
Men’s: moosejaw.com
Women’s: backcountry.com

Backcountry skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains in heavily falling snow, I pulled my Desolation ThermoBall Jacket on over my waterproof-breathable shell for extra warmth while digging a snow pit to assess avalanche conditions. Finishing that, with the Desolation ThermoBall’s shell damp from snow, I stuffed it inside my pack while we made a couple of downhill runs and climbs. Later, I pulled it on over my shell again for the ski down to our car, as snow continued dumping and temps were dropping fast. Although damp, the jacket kept me warm. It did the same on other ski tours in temps in the teens Fahrenheit, repelling light, falling snow and giving me the warmth I needed by simply wearing it over my shell—no getting blasted by cold wind to add a layer. That illustrates the versatility of The North Face Desolation ThermoBall Jacket, an insulation piece that won’t just sit in your pack. Continue reading →

Review: The North Face Novelty Denali Jacket

January 18, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The North Face Novelty Denali Jacket.

The North Face Novelty Denali Jacket.

Fleece Jacket
The North Face Novelty Denali Jacket
$179, 1 lb. 6 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL
backcountry.com

What can you say about a fleece jacket? Its simplicity of design belies its versatility in all seasons, especially for on-the-move activities in cool and sub-freezing temperatures of fall, winter, and spring. Consider The North Face Novelty Denali Jacket, which kept my teenage son warm through several hours of backcountry skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, on a day when it snowed hard for hours and temperatures sat in the teens Fahrenheit (he wore it mostly under a soft-shell jacket). There isn’t much to this jacket, and yet, it could be the piece of outerwear you slip into more than any other. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Big Agnes Battle Mountain 2 Mountaineering Tent

December 28, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
First campsite at 10,300 feet below California's Mount Whitney.

First campsite at 10,300 feet below California’s Mount Whitney.

Mountaineering Tent
Big Agnes Battle Mountain 2
$700, 7 lbs.
moosejaw.com

On a four-day, April climb of the Mountaineers Route on California’s Mount Whitney, strong winds raked our campsites—especially for two nights at our high camp at 12,000 feet, below Whitney’s dramatic East Face. But my teenage son and I hardly noticed the wind, sleeping like babies. On a trip where we needed a sturdy tent, but didn’t want to haul something heavy and bulky, the Battle Mountain 2 gave us a very livable shelter that’s significantly lighter and more compact than many competitors. Continue reading →

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