Tag Archives: backpacking gear reviews
Synthetic Insulated Jacket
Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody
$249, 13 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XXS-XL
A lot of people wore this jacket before I did—or, more accurately, a lot of people wore most of this jacket—before I zipped it up at my campsite on a rocky ledge high above Baron Lake in Idaho’s magnificent Sawtooth Mountains. But I wouldn’t know that by simply looking at or wearing my Nano Puff Hoody. I’m speaking only partly metaphorically: Besides having excellent performance qualities, this jacket now contains cutting-edge, synthetic insulation that comes mostly from recycled polyester—which means that it’s not only good for me in the backcountry, but it’s good for the planet my kids are inheriting. Continue reading →
Leki Micro Vario Carbon Antishock Folding Trekking Poles
$220, 1 lb. 1 oz. (110-130 cm).
Sizes: regular/unisex 110-130 cm, Lady 100-120cm
How much does a good pair of trekking poles matter? I used these three-section, folding poles on a dayhike in August that I wasn’t certain I could finish: the 32-mile, 10,000-vertical-foot, nine-summit Pemi Loop in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. For the last few miles, the poles may have been the only thing holding me up. Whether or not you intend to take absurdly long hikes, this one did help me identify the many strengths of Leki’s Micro Vario Carbon Antishock Folding Trekking Poles, and evaluate the usefulness of the antishock mechanism. Continue reading →
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? Having tested dozens of headlamps, I favor models that meet five simple criteria:
• Lightweight (no hiker, runner, or climber needs a heavy, bulky light).
• Versatile and bright enough for everything from reading in the tent and managing camp chores to hiking rugged trail or route-finding off-trail in complete darkness.
• Intuitive and easy to use, so I don’t have to consult instructions more than once, take of my gloves to operate it, or use a tool to change batteries.
• Projects a beam that’s focused and even, not blotchy and uneven.
• Preferably rechargeable so I’m not throwing away batteries.
With the exception of being rechargeable—which costs more, and I review headlamps at a range of price points—I generally apply those standards when choosing which headlamps I’ll review at The Big Outside. So to help you find the right model for yourself or someone else, I’ve put together this list of the five best headlamps I’ve reviewed at this blog, listed in order of cost, along with a comparison chart. Continue reading →
Three-Season Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes Boot Jack 25
$190, 2 lbs. 6 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular and long ($200)
Backpackers and campers shopping for a sleeping bag often focus on just a few specs: temperature rating, length, insulation type, and of course, price. They might not give consideration to construction, design, or how the bag fits—as in how much space you have to move around. They might not even bother to crawl inside to try it on. Sleeping in the Boot Jack 25 from Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains and City of Rocks National Reserve to the Panamint Range of Death Valley National Park, I found it nearly true to its 25-degree temp rating, very competitively priced for its quality—and, just as importantly, it has fairly spacious dimensions, so I slept like a baby. Continue reading →
The North Face Fovero 70
$290, 70L/4,272 c.i., 5 lbs. 7 oz. (men’s S/M)
Sizes: men’s S/M (fits torsos 15-20 ins.) & L/XL (torsos 17-22 ins.), women’s XS/S (torsos 13-18 ins.) & M/L (torsos 15-20 ins.)
Backpacking for three days in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains with my 15-year-old son and two of his buddies who were taking their first backpacking trip, I hauled up to about 40 pounds, including much of our team gear and food. For that kind of backpacking, I want a pack that’s built for heavy loads and has a high degree of organization. The Fovero 70 rose to the challenge in comfort and has exceptional access for backpackers who like to compartmentalize. Continue reading →