Tag Archives: camping gear reviews

June 26, 2018 Backpacking the Fisher Creek Trail, North Cascades National Park.

Review: 22 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories of 2018

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By Michael Lanza

Sure, your backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and other backpacking 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 freshly updated list of essential backpacking accessories, ranging from basics like my favorite stuff sacks, camp kitchen gear, water filters, and bear canister, to great values in a headlamp and knife, and what I sit on in camp and lay my head down on every night I sleep on the ground. You’ll find many of them available at discounted prices right now. Continue reading →

June 20, 2018 Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress

Gear Review: Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress

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Insulated Air Mattress
Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress
$180, 20×72 inches rectangular, 13 oz. (including its stuff sack)
Sizes: 20×66, 20×72, 25×72, and 25×78 inches rectangular and 20×72 mummy
moosejaw.com

As air mattresses have continued getting lighter, more compact, and more comfortable, one would think a limit has been reached on how small they can get before sacrificing real comfort. But Big Agnes has raised that bar again—or lowered it, if you will—with the AXL Air. For four nights backpacking the Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop off the Grand Canyon’s North Rim in May, and several spring nights camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, I slept like a baby on this plush air mattress, while it all but disappeared inside my pack on the trail. I’ve tested and own many air mats, and I don’t think there’s another I’d now carry instead for three-season backpacking. Here’s why. Continue reading →

May 31, 2018 The Sierra Designs Nitro 800 20-degree sleeping bag.

Gear Review: Sierra Designs Nitro 800 20-Degree Sleeping Bag

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Three-Season Sleeping Bag
Sierra Designs Nitro 800 20-Degree
$330, 1 lb. 13 oz. (regular)
Sizes: men’s regular and long, women’s regular
Moosejaw.com

Choosing between sleeping bags can sometimes feel like getting the names of identical twins right—they look an awful lot alike. With bags, you can compare certain key specs: temperature rating, type and amount of insulation (or fill), total weight, and, of course, the price. Using those metrics, the new Sierra Designs Nitro bags look like a pretty good value, so I slept in the 20-degree Nitro 800 while camping on some cool and windy May nights at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, and on a three-night, 39-mile backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range in mid-September, to see if its performance matches its impressive numbers. Continue reading →

May 13, 2018 A campsite by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids, Grand Canyon.

How to Choose the Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent for You

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By Michael Lanza

Switching from a standard backpacking tent to an ultralight tent can shave pounds from your total pack weight—a huge step toward a lighter pack. But when comparing models, the specs on them can look like a big pot of numeral soup, leaving you wondering: What differentiates them from one another? Which one is best? I’ve tested and reviewed scores of tents of all sizes. I love the best ultralight tents, but I’ve used some that had flaws or shortcomings not immediately obvious. In this article, I’ll tell you how to find the three-season, ultralight tent that’s best for you. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL Air Mattress

April 5, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL air mattress.

Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL air mattress.

Insulated Air Mattress
Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL
$120, 1 lb.
One size
klymit.com

Air mattresses for backpacking vary significantly in a few ways: comfort, price, weight, and packed bulk—and you often pay more for better comfort or low weight and bulk. But the Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL bends that rule. So I took this relatively affordable air mat on a three-night, 39-mile backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range in mid-September, and camping in Idaho’s City of Rocks in spring, to see whether sleeping on it proves as sweet as its price. Continue reading →

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