Tag Archives: backpacking gear reviews

Review: Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant

October 12, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant.

Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant.

Soft-Shell Pants
Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant
$240, 11 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
moosejaw.com

With heads bowed against the steady rain and driving wind, we plodded uphill toward the Grand Col de Ferret, a mountain pass at 8,323-foot (2537m) marking the border between Italy and Switzerland on one of the world’s great multi-day treks, the Tour du Mont Blanc in the Alps. Throughout that July day when the weather ranged from light rain to a wind-driven tempest, I never wore rain pants, only the Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant. I also wore them at other times on that nine-day trek, in light rain, cool wind, and in milder temperatures and sunshine, and through heavy rain and thunderstorms and temps in the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit on a 39-mile, mid-September backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. All of those situations demonstrated how these three-season soft-shell pants excel when the weather turns foul. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX Backpacking Boots

October 11, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX boots.

Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX boots.

Backpacking Boots
Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX
$250, 2 lbs. 7 oz. (men’s Euro 42/US 9)
Sizes: men’s Euro 37-48/US 5-14, women’s Euro 37-42, US 6-10
backcountry.com

What are your expectations of your boots? That’s a good question to consider when shopping for a new pair. On a 39-mile backpacking trip in mid-September in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, I put Scarpa’s Zodiac Plus GTX through the gamut of mountain terrain and conditions. We hiked consecutive, 13-mile days on trails ranging from packed dirt to rock and mud—the kind of backpacking for which I might normally wear a lightweight, low-cut shoe for comfort and breathability. But we also traversed a five-mile stretch off-trail over snow, steep and loose scree, talus, and a 12,000-foot pass, including some dicey third-class scrambling. We walked through shallow streams, puddles, boggy ground, wet vegetation overhanging the path, thunderstorms and heavy rain. By all measures, the Zodiac Plus GTX passed every test. Here’s why. Continue reading →

Gear Review: The 5 Best Headlamps

October 5, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
Clockwise from bottom: Petzl Actik Core, Black Diamond ReVolt, Princeton Tec Sync, Black Diamond Spot, Princeton Tec Vizz.

Clockwise from bottom: Petzl Actik Core, Black Diamond ReVolt, Princeton Tec Sync, Black Diamond Spot, Princeton Tec Vizz.

By Michael Lanza

How do you choose which headlamp to buy for hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, and other outdoor activities? Price? Design and range of lighting modes? Go with a brand you know and trust? I’ve tested dozens of headlamps over the years. Here are, in my opinion, the five best models on the market today. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Ultralight Backpack

October 3, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider backpack in the Wind River Range.

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider backpack in the Wind River Range.

Backpack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider
$340, 55L/3,400 c.i., 1 lb. 15 oz. (medium)
Sizes: S (fits torsos 15-17 ins.), M (17-19 ins.), L (19-21 ins.), Tall (21+ ins.)
backcountry.com

When the 3400 Windrider was delivered to my house, the box looked much too small to contain a backpack—if I’d had no idea, I might have guessed it contained a small tent. It’s not often that a backpack, or any piece of gear, leaves an impression on me before I even remove it from its packaging. Intrigued by its incredibly low weight—it’s by far one of the lightest packs made for lightweight backpacking and thru-hiking—I loaded it up with about 35 pounds of gear, clothing, and food and took it out on a three-day, 39-mile backpacking trip in mid-September in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. Having used other ultralight packs that simply did not have the support for more than 20 to 25 pounds, I entered this experiment with healthy skepticism. But the 3400 Windrider made me a believer. Here’s why. Continue reading →

Review: Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody

September 27, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody in the Wind River Range.

Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody in the Wind River Range.

Hybrid Insulated Jacket
Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody
$379, 11 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

In the evening shade of a windblown campsite at around 10,500 feet in Titcomb Basin, an alpine valley in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, I pulled this jacket on and instantly felt warmth infuse my torso and arms. Popping the hood up mimicked the sensation of wearing the top half of a sleeping bag—if the bag had a hood that seemed designed around a sculpture of my head. Throughout that 39-mile, mid-September backpacking trip in the Winds, wearing this puffy jacket over just a couple light base layers kept me warm in evening and morning temperatures in the 40s Fahrenheit, while fitting like a glove. I had to keep reminding myself it weighs just a few ounces over a half-pound. Continue reading →

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