Tag Archives: backpacking gear reviews

Gear Review: The 10 Best Backpacking Packs of 2019

November 20, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   12 Comments
Osprey Exos 58 backpack in Glacier National Park.

Testing the Osprey Exos 58 backpack in Glacier National Park.

By Michael Lanza

Backpacks come in many sizes and flavors for a reason: so do backpackers. Some of us need a pack for moderate loads, others for heavy loads, while still others want a pack designed for lightweight or ultralight backpacking. Some prefer a minimalist design, others a range of features and access. Everyone wants the best fit and comfort they can find, and almost everyone has a budget.

From the many backpacks intended primarily (if not exclusively) for backpacking that I’ve tested and reviewed at The Big Outside, I’ve selected for this article 10 top performers that stand out for reasons that make each appeal uniquely to a certain type of backpacker. (In addition, I point out below two excellent packs for kids of all ages.) I think one of them will be perfect for you—possibly even more than one if, like me, you prefer different packs for different kinds of trips. Continue reading →

Review: The 10 Best Down Jackets of 2019

November 18, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews, Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments
Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket.

Testing the Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket in Glacier National Park.

By Michael Lanza

Whatever you need a down jacket for, the good news is that there’s a down or synthetic-insulation jacket for your needs, within your budget. And technology has blurred the traditional lines between down and synthetics, with water-resistant down that traps heat even when wet—all but eliminating the weakness that had long been the Achilles heel of down—and synthetic insulation materials that approach the warmth-to-weight ratio and compressibility of down.

Whether you want a puffy jacket for outdoor activities like backpacking, camping, and climbing, or just to keep you warm around town or at outdoor sporting events, this article will help you figure out how to choose the right jacket for your needs, and it reviews the best down and synthetic puffy jackets on the market today. Continue reading →

Gear Review: The 5 Best Backpacking Tents of 2019

November 14, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   9 Comments
Backpackers at a campsite in Titcomb Basin, Wind River Range, Wyoming.

Testing tents at a campsite in Titcomb Basin in Wyoming’s Wind River Range.

By Michael Lanza

Time for a new backpacking tent? There’s hardly been a better time to get one. Whether you prioritize weight, living space, performance in foul weather, or unique features, tents for backpacking have seen great innovation and variety. In the competitive outdoor industry, designers keep making shelters that are lighter, stronger, and in many ways more livable.

For this article, I’ve updated my picks for the five top-performing backpacking tents available today, with links to my original, complete review of each one. I think you’ll find at least one that’s perfect for you—plus you’ll find some at great sale prices now (and links to those online retailers below). Continue reading →

October 18, 2018 MSR DynaLock Ascent Trekking Poles.

Gear Review: MSR DynaLock Ascent Trekking Poles

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

Trekking Poles
MSR DynaLock Ascent Poles
$150, 1 lb. 1 oz. (small, 100-120cm, with trekking baskets)
Sizes: S (100-120cm), L (120-140cm)
rei.com

When you need trekking poles, you want them to stand up to the hardest use in any season. When you don’t need them, you want them to nestle unobtrusively under pack straps. From a 20-mile, mostly off-trail peaks traverse in Idaho’s Sawtooths to a rim-to-rim dayhike across the Grand Canyon and some of the hardest miles on the Appalachian Trail, MSR’s Dynalock Ascent Poles stood out for being tough, stable, and exceptionally packable. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Zamberlan 491 Trackmaster GTX RR Backpacking Boots

October 10, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Zamberlan 491 Trackmaster GTX RR boots.

Zamberlan 491 Trackmaster GTX RR backpacking boots.

Backpacking Boots
Zamberlan 491 Trackmaster GTX RR
$220, 2 lbs. 8 oz. (men’s US 9/Euro 43)
Sizes: men’s 8-13, women’s 6-11
rei.com

For some backpacking trips, lightweight, mid-cut boots or low-cut shoes don’t cut it. With plans for a six-day hike of over 90 miles on the Continental Divide Trail through Glacier National Park in September—where snow had fallen just a week before—I saw the trip as an opportunity to put Zamberlan’s premier leather backpacking boot, the 491 Trackmaster GTX RR, to a real test. On that hike, I found they measure up as a top boot in this category, although I had one minor complaint. Here’s why you should consider them. Continue reading →

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