Tag Archives: backpacking gear reviews

Review: Gregory Optic 58 and Octal 55 Ultralight Backpacks

May 17, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The Gregory Optic 58 ultralight backpack in the Grand Canyon.

The Gregory Optic 58 ultralight backpack in the Grand Canyon.

Ultralight Backpack
Gregory Optic 58 (men’s) and Octal 55 (women’s)
$210, 58L/3,539 c.i. (men’s medium), 2 lbs. 7 oz. (men’s small, without the included rain cover, 3 oz.)
Sizes: men’s S-L, women’s XS-M
Moosejaw.com

No one loves loading extra water into their pack—especially upwards of 13 pounds of it, as I did as we left our last water source on our final evening backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop. We needed to haul enough liquid sustenance to get us through the 2,600-foot climb we were embarking on at 5:30 p.m., plus another 2,000 feet uphill early the next morning. That pushed my total pack weight up toward the limit of the ultralight Optic 58—as good a test as any. And Gregory’s first foray into ultralight packs not only handled that assignment well, it shines for many other reasons, too. Continue reading →

Review: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Ultralight Backpacking Tent

May 16, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 in the Grand Canyon.

The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 in the Grand Canyon.

Ultralight Backpacking Tent
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2
$400, 2 lbs. 4 oz.
Moosejaw.com

I got a little worried when the wind in the Grand Canyon started gusting to about 30 mph one evening—which I assumed would test the limits of the ultralight Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 tent’s structural strength. When the gusts continued to increase—at times exceeding 40 mph—I seriously thought we might lose one or more of our shelters roughly halfway through our May backpacking trip on the 25-mile Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. But the Tiger Wall stood up to those gusts, giving me yet another reason to like this supremely featherweight backpacking tent. Continue reading →

May 13, 2018 A campsite by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids, Grand Canyon.

How to Choose the Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent for You

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Switching from a standard backpacking tent to an ultralight tent can shave pounds from your total pack weight—a huge step toward a lighter pack. But when comparing models, the specs on them can look like a big pot of numeral soup, leaving you wondering: What differentiates them from one another? Which one is best? I’ve tested and reviewed scores of tents of all sizes. I love the best ultralight tents, but I’ve used some that had flaws or shortcomings not immediately obvious. In this article, I’ll tell you how to find the three-season, ultralight tent that’s best for you. Continue reading →

May 6, 2018 Backpacking to Burro Pass above Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

5 Things to Know Before Buying Backpacking Gear

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

By Michael Lanza

Are you in the market for a new backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag or other backpacking gear? How do you find something that’s just right for you? What should you be looking for? How much should you spend? These are questions I’ve heard from many friends and readers over the years as they’ve waded through the myriad choices out there. Here are five key factors to keep in mind when buying gear—reflecting the insights I’ve gleaned over more than two decades of testing and reviewing gear and helping people find gear they love. Continue reading →

Review: The Best Gear Duffles and Luggage of 2018

April 19, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
The North Face, Patagonia, and Marmot gear duffels.

The North Face, Patagonia, and Marmot gear duffels.

By Michael Lanza

Whatever your outdoor sport—backpacking, climbing, whitewater rafting or kayaking, backcountry skiing, etc.—a sturdy duffle for organizing, hauling, and protecting your gear and clothing pays for itself many times over. Not only does it eliminate the risk of damaging an expensive backpack by using it as your luggage, a good duffle has more capacity and is built to suffer the indignities of getting tossed into jet, train, and bus baggage compartments, being strapped onto a roof rack, sled, snowmobile, or pack animal, and exposed to rain, snow, mud and other natural indignities. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker