camping gear reviews

A backpacker on the Fisher Creek Trail in North Cascades National Park.

Review: 24 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories of 2022

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. Nearly three decades of field-testing gear—including the 10 years I spent as the lead gear reviewer for Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog—has refined my sense of what I like on certain types of trips and what I will not do without anytime.

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Backpackers at night with headlamps in a campsite in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

The 5 Best Headlamps of 2022

By Michael Lanza

A headlamp is unquestionably essential gear for hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, ultra-running and ultra-hiking and other backcountry activities that sometimes push into darkness. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose which one to buy? Price? Brightness? Design and range of lighting modes? Go with a brand you know and trust? This review cuts through the information overload to help you pick the right headlamp for your adventures.

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The Therm-a-Rest Parsec 32 sleeping bag.

Review: Therm-a-Rest Parsec 32 Sleeping Bag

Ultralight Sleeping Bag
Therm-a-Rest Parsec 32
$400, 1 lb. 9 oz. (regular)
Sizes: unisex small, regular, and long
moosejaw.com

It was an amazing spot to sleep under the stars for our last night on an early-April backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon: perched on a plateau high above the Inner Gorge of the Colorado River, gazing across the canyon at the Tonto Plateau and South Rim. We waited until dusk had nearly faded to darkness to lay out our sleeping bags atop our completely exposed, flat cowboy-camping ledges, hoping the relentless, strong wind would abate with evening’s arrival and not threaten to launch our bags to New Mexico—but it didn’t. So I burrowed inside my Therm-a-Rest Parsec 32 for warmth—and only opened my eyes once or twice briefly during the night, enough to glimpse the brilliant glow of the Milky Way.

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The Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 30 sleeping bag.

Review: Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 30F Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Bag
Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 30F/-1C
$235, 1 lb. 12 oz. (regular, 72-inch)
Sizes: men’s and women’s regular and long
backcountry.com

On the second night of a four-day, roughly 50-mile backpacking trip in Yosemite in the last week of September, when nights dipped into the 40s Fahrenheit, I laid my bag and pad out under the stars, without a tent, in one of the neatest spots I’ve ever slept outside: on a dry granite slab between two braids of a creek, lulled by a tiny cascade just a few steps from my head. And all night, a strong, cool wind blew down that creek valley, prompting me to zip deeply inside the Bishop Pass 30F/-1C. Despite that wind chill, I stayed warm and slept like a baby.

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A campsite at night by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids in the Grand Canyon.

Ultralight Backpacking Tents: How to Choose One

By Michael Lanza

Switching from a standard backpacking tent to an ultralight tent can shave pounds from your total pack weight—which for many backpackers will be the biggest step they can take toward a lighter pack. But it can be confusing to sort through the various ultralight tents out there, and the specs on them can look like a big pot of numeral soup, leaving you wondering: How are they different? And ultimately, which one is best for you?

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