Tag Archives: backpacking gear reviews
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 →
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 →
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 →
MSR DynaLock Ascent Poles
$150, 1 lb. 1 oz. (small, 100-120cm, with trekking baskets)
Sizes: S (100-120cm), L (120-140cm)
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 →
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
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 →