backpacking tent reviews

A backpacker above Toxaway Lake, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

The Best Backpacking Gear of 2022

By Michael Lanza

The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. The Wonderland Trail. The Teton Crest Trail. Yosemite. The Grand Canyon. Glacier National Park. The Ruby Crest Trail. The Pasayten Wilderness. Yellowstone. The Wind River Range. The North Cascades. Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. The High Uintas Wilderness. The Tour du Mont Blanc. These are just some of the numerous places where I’ve tested the backpacking gear and apparel reviewed at The Big Outside—so that I can give you honest and thorough, field-tested opinions that help you find the best gear for your adventures.

And that’s exactly how I came up with these picks for today’s best backpacking gear.

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The Slingfin SplitWing Shelter Bundle.

Review: Slingfin SplitWing Ultralight Backpacking Shelter

Ultralight Backpacking Shelter
Slingfin SplitWing Shelter Bundle
$335, 1 lb. 5 oz. (entire bundle, including six DAC stakes weighing 2.4 oz.)
slingfin.com

Over nearly three decades of testing and reviewing backpacking gear, I’d say the category that has seen the most technological advances is backpacking tents. Still, a radically different tent comes along only rarely—and the latest is Slingfin’s SplitWing Shelter Bundle, a package of three modular ultralight shelter components that constitutes one of the lightest and most versatile, three-season backpacking shelters available today.

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A backpacker on the John Muir Trail overlooking the Cathedral Range in Yosemite National Park.

The Best Backpacking Gear for the John Muir Trail

By Michael Lanza

So you’re planning to thru-hike the John Muir Trail and making all of the necessary preparations, and now you’re wondering: What’s the best gear for a JMT hike? Having thru-hiked the JMT as well as taken numerous other backpacking trips all over the High Sierra—mostly between late August and late September, which I consider that the best time to walk the Sierra, to avoid snow and the voracious mosquitoes and blazing hot afternoons of mid-summer—I offer the following picks for the best lightweight backpacking gear and apparel for a JMT thru-hike.

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A backpacker descending the trail off Maze Overlook in the Maze District, Canyonlands National Park.

Why and When to Spend More on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

By Michael Lanza

You need a new backpack, backpacking tent, rain jacket, boots, or a sleeping bag. You’ve read reviews. You’ve winnowed your short list to a handful of possible choices—with a significant difference in prices. That’s when you struggle with the question that pushes the frugality button in all of us: Why should I spend more?

This story will explain why some gear is more expensive and give you specific advice on buying five big-ticket items: packs, tents, rain jackets, shoes and boots, and sleeping bags.

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A backpacker on the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park.

5 Things to Know Before Buying Backpacking Gear

By Michael Lanza

Are you in the market for a new backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag or other backpacking gear or apparel? How do you find something that’s just right for you? What should you be looking for? How much should you spend? These are questions I’ve heard from many friends and readers over the years as they’ve waded through the myriad choices out there. This article lays out five simple but helpful tips to keep in mind when buying gear.

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