Tag Archives: backpacking gear reviews

Gear Review: Vasque Breeze III Mid GTX Boots

August 16, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Vasque Breeze III Mid GTX boots.

Vasque Breeze III Mid GTX boots.

Backpacking Boots
Vasque Breeze III Mid GTX
$180, 2 lbs. 8 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: men’s 7-15 plus wide sizes, women’s 6-12 plus narrow and wide sizes
backcountry.com

There’s an almost mind-boggling array of choices out there in shoes and boots for the trail. But many dayhikers and backpackers really only need one solidly built, mid-cut pair of boots that strike a balance between support and out-of-the-box comfort—and basically aren’t too heavy or too light. On a nine-day, mid-July trek on the 105-mile Tour du Mont Blanc in the Alps of France, Italy, and Switzerland, I hiked these boots through wind-driven rain, slick mud, and warm, sunny days, over talus boulders and loose scree, and on trails, dirt roads, and town streets—and they performed well, although I do have one caution about them. Read on. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 Backpack

August 3, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 backpack.

Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 backpack.

Backpack
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60
$200, 2 lbs. 9 oz. (men’s S/M pack with S/M hipbelt)
Sizes: men’s S/M (fits torsos 16-19 inches) and M/L (fits torsos 18-21 inches), plus four hipbelt sizes (XS/S to L/XL)
moosejaw.com

Many avid backpackers eventually find themselves facing an expensive quandary: the need for a second or even third pack to better handle the range of trips they take. Sierra Designs confronts that challenge with the Flex Capacitor, which changes size to cover a range of trips from weekends to a week or even a thru-hike. Curious about how it performs, I took it on a trip where a pack with that capacity range would come in handy: on a nine-day hike of the 105-mile Tour du Mont Blanc, where on some days I’d be carrying two people’s stuff, and on other days only my own (when that second person didn’t hike). Continue reading →

Gear Review: Komperdell C3 Carbon Power Lock Trekking Poles

August 2, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Komperdell C3 Carbon Power Lock trekking poles.

Komperdell C3 Carbon Power Lock trekking poles.

Trekking Poles
Komperdell C3 Carbon Power Lock
$150, 1 lb./pair
backcountry.com

I know: Choosing trekking poles can feel a little like picking out the best straw from a dispenser in a restaurant—they all kind of look the same. But poles are not straws, of course; they differ, and finding a pair you like does depend on how you’ll use them. Taking the C3 Carbon Power Lock poles on a five-day, 80-mile backpacking trip in the North Cascades National Park Complex and a three-day, 40-mile hike in Utah’s Dark Canyon Wilderness (and my wife used them on a nine-day trek of the 105-mile Tour du Mont Blanc) convinced me that they compare favorably against more-expensive, top-performing, all-around trekking poles for dayhikers, backpackers, and climbers. Here’s why. Continue reading →

July 26, 2017 Backpackers, Pacific Crest Trail near Cloudy Pass, Glacier Peak Wilderness.

Ask Me: Should I Buy a Larger Backpack If It’s Not Much Heavier?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Michael,

I stumbled upon your blog and have enjoyed reading your advice. I am currently deciding between the Gregory Baltoro 75 and 65. I have always had a 65L pack and was looking to upgrade to a new pack this year. When I compared the two packs I found that there was only four ounces difference in weight from the 65L to the 75L. So I am thinking about going to the 75 even though my gear fits in a 65L pack fine. Is there any reason not to go to the larger pack?

Thanks,
Michael
Idaho Falls, ID Continue reading →

Gear Review: REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress

July 12, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress.

REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress.

Insulated Air Mattress
REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress
$100, 15 oz. (regular, 72x20x2 inches)
Sizes: regular, regular wide, long, long wide
rei.com

Spending significantly less money on gear usually means getting significantly less performance, but that’s not the case with REI’s newly updated for 2017 Flash Insulated Air Mattress, I decided after sleeping on it for several nights, on a 40-mile May backpacking trip in Utah’s Dark Canyon Wilderness and camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve in June. While it doesn’t rank number one for any usual measure of air mats (like most comfortable or lightest), it just may deliver the best value, dollar for dollar, of any air mat designed for backpacking. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker