Tag Archives: camping gear reviews

December 9, 2016 Cas9-127 Camp, Dome Glacier, day 4, Ptarmigan Traverse, North Cascades

5 Tips For Buying a Backpacking Tent

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   5 Comments

By Michael Lanza

There are a lot of tents out there. How do you choose between them? Backpackers come in different sizes and have different needs and preferences in a tent. In testing scores of backcountry tents over the past two decades, for reviews in Backpacker Magazine and this blog, I’ve seen the best and the worst—and gotten a sense of what to look for in a tent and how to help people pick out one they like. Here are my five simple tips for finding a tent you’ll love. Continue reading →

Best New Gear of the Year: My Top 10 Favorites

December 8, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The North Face Fovero 70

The North Face Fovero 70 backpack in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains.

By Michael Lanza

Every year, I field test and review at this blog dozens of pieces of new outdoor gear and clothing—backpacks, shoes and boots, tents, shell and insulated jackets, sleeping bags and pads, daypacks, headlamps, trekking poles, water filters, backcountry cooking gear, and various other stuff that help us get out and enjoy wild spaces. (It’s a fun gig.) I only review what I’d strongly recommend and want to use myself, and 20 years of doing that has helped me develop a pretty good eye for identifying the best, most innovative and functional gear.

I give you here my picks for the 10 best of the best new products I’ve reviewed this year, a list that includes a backpack, two tents, a rain jacket, two daypacks, a sleeping bag, shoes, one high-performance and affordable headlamp, an air mattress, and a very cool water bottle with a built-in filter. Each capsule review below links to my full review of that product. I guarantee your dollars will be well spent on any of them. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Air Mattress

December 1, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm

Insulated Air Mattress
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
$200, 15 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular (20x72x2.5 ins., tapered), large (25x77x2.5 ins., tapered), Max (25×77.2.5 ins., rectangular)

When sleeping outdoors at any time of year, you have two simple objectives: comfort and warmth. We tend to associate the former with our choice of air mattress or pad and the latter with our choice of sleeping bag. But the air mat is actually the key to both goals, because dollar for dollar, your money achieves more warmth from an air mat or pad that adequately insulates your body from the cold ground (which can rapidly drain heat from you) than from your bag. In the NeoAir XTherm—which I tested on numerous trips, including several nights sleeping on snow—you get an all-season air mat with more insulation, pound for pound, than any competitor. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0 Sleeping Bag

November 23, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0 sleeping bag

Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0 sleeping bag

Winter Sleeping Bag
Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0
$599, 2 lbs. 12 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular and long ($624)

On chilly nights of camping, nothing’s more popular than a fat sleeping bag. When my 15-year-old son and I took turns testing out this bag and another winter bag for three nights on a climb of the Mountaineers Route on California’s 14,505-foot Mount Whitney in mid-April, and for three nights in February sleeping under the stars outside a backcountry yurt in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, he was always eager to relieve me of the Snowbunting EX 0. Little wonder: It’s super warm. And it’s also an excellent value in a winter bag that crosses over to three-season camping in temps around or just below freezing. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Exped SynMat Hyperlite Duo Air Mattress

November 16, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
My wife, Penny, inflating the Exped SynMat Hyperlite Duo air mattress.

My wife, Penny, inflating the Exped SynMat Hyperlite Duo air mattress.

Insulated Air Mattress
Exped SynMat Hyperlite Duo
$279, 1 lb. 12 oz. (with stuff sack)
One size

Let’s face it: Side-by-side air mats in a tent have a way of taking the love out of camping, because when curled up with your partner, one or both of you tend to slip into the gap between the mats. Not any more with the SynMat Hyperlite Duo. My wife and I shared it happily for three nights on a mid-July rafting and kayaking trip on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument, and were surprised at how much more comfortable it is even than we expected. Continue reading →

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