Tag Archives: backpacking gear reviews

January 12, 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: 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 →

December 18, 2016 Royal Arch Loop, Grand Canyon National Park.

Gear Review: 12 Essential Backpacking Accessories

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By Michael Lanza

Sure, your backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and other core gear matter a lot, and you should put serious thought into your choices when buying any of them. But little things matter, too. Various necessary accessories, convenience items, and small comforts accompany me on backcountry trips. Many years of field-testing gear have refined my sense of what I like on certain types of trips and what I will not do without anytime.

Here’s my list of essential backpacking accessories, ranging from basics like my favorite stuff sacks and water filters, to great values in a headlamp and knife, and what I lay my head down on every night I sleep in the ground. I think you may find some things in this list that you can’t go without. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Big Agnes Storm King 0 Sleeping Bag

December 14, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Big Agnes Storm King 0 sleeping bag.

Big Agnes Storm King 0 sleeping bag.

Winter Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes Storm King 0
$380, 3 lbs. 9 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular and long ($400)
backcountry.com

When is a mummy-style bag too constricting? I’ve used ultralight, three-season bags that felt a little too coffin-like. But in winter—or wintry conditions, such as you encounter when mountaineering in spring and summer—there are more practical reasons to use a bag with extra space, and you get it with the Storm King 0. Beyond its dimensions, the Storm King’s water-resistant down feathers, fairly unique “system” design that requires sliding an air mattress into a sleeve on the bag’s bottom side, and its relatively affordable price for this category of bags merits a close look. Continue reading →

December 11, 2016 Below the East Face of Mount Whitney, High Sierra, California.

The World’s Best Holiday Gift Guide: 40 Top Picks in Outdoor Gear and Apparel

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By Michael Lanza

If you’re shopping for someone who loves the outdoors this holiday season… or, ahem, for yourself… look no farther. I’ve compiled my annual list of the best outdoor gear and apparel that I’ve used over the past 12 months. Two decades of gear testing has given me a pretty good eye for quality, I think. This list includes super values in jackets, backpacks, a tent, a sleeping bag and air mattress, trekking poles, climbing harnesses, snowshoes, rechargeable lanterns, a headlamp, knives, kids’ gear and apparel, and a pile of other stuff, as well as some neat stocking stuffers, and a huge range of prices. Plus, many of them are available at sale prices right now (I’ve indicated those below). You just might get all of your holiday gift shopping done right here. Continue reading →

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