Tag Archives: camping gear reviews

Gear Review: The 5 Best Headlamps

October 5, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
Clockwise from bottom: Petzl Actik Core, Black Diamond ReVolt, Princeton Tec Sync, Black Diamond Spot, Princeton Tec Vizz.

Clockwise from bottom: Petzl Actik Core, Black Diamond ReVolt, Princeton Tec Sync, Black Diamond Spot, Princeton Tec Vizz.

By Michael Lanza

How do you choose which headlamp to buy for hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, and other outdoor activities? Price? Design and range of lighting modes? Go with a brand you know and trust? I’ve tested dozens of headlamps over the years. Here are, in my opinion, the five best models on the market today. Continue reading →

Gear Review: REI Magma 10 and Magma 17 Sleeping Bags

September 26, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
REI Magma 10 sleeping bag.

REI Magma 10 sleeping bag.

Three-Season Sleeping Bag
REI Magma 10 and Magma 17
$349, 1 lb. 13 oz. (regular) 10° F
Sizes: men’s and women’s regular and long
rei.com

On the last night of a 40-mile May backpacking trip in Utah’s Dark Canyon, a friend and I slept out under the stars and a heavy dew fell during the night. But I didn’t notice it until after waking up, seeing the droplets covering everything around me, and sticking a hand outside to feel my bag’s wet shell. Inside my REI Magma 10—which appeared to lose none of its loft, despite its shell getting soaked—I stayed warm and dry. That was a clincher moment in convincing me of what a super value REI’s men’s and women’s Magma sleeping bags represent in high-quality, water-resistant down bags. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

September 20, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments
Petzl Actik Core headlamp.

Petzl Actik Core headlamp.

Rechargeable Headlamp
Petzl Actik Core
$60, 3 oz. (with Core rechargeable battery)
backcountry.com

If you agree that a rechargeable headlamp is the way to go—and I’d recommend one to any backpacker, dayhiker, climber, or trail runner willing to foot the added up-front cost, because it eventually pays for itself through what you save not buying (and throwing away) batteries—then the question boils down to which rechargeable headlamp is the best for most backcountry recreationists. Taking Petzl’s compact, rechargeable Actik Core on a three-night, mid-September backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range convinced me that there’s an argument for this one. Continue reading →

Gear Review: REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress

July 12, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress.

REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress.

Insulated Air Mattress
REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress
$100, 15 oz. (regular, 72x20x2 inches)
Sizes: regular, regular wide, long, long wide
rei.com

Spending significantly less money on gear usually means getting significantly less performance, but that’s not the case with REI’s newly updated for 2017 Flash Insulated Air Mattress, I decided after sleeping on it for several nights, on a 40-mile May backpacking trip in Utah’s Dark Canyon Wilderness and camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve in June. While it doesn’t rank number one for any usual measure of air mats (like most comfortable or lightest), it just may deliver the best value, dollar for dollar, of any air mat designed for backpacking. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp

June 6, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
Black Diamond ReVolt

Black Diamond ReVolt

Rechargeable Headlamp
Black Diamond ReVolt
$60, 3.5 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)
backcountry.com

Newly updated for 2017, Black Diamond’s ReVolt rechargeable headlamp quickly became the one I grabbed from a drawer full of headlamps, for trips ranging from backpacking 40 miles in May through Utah’s Dark Canyon Wilderness, to backcountry skiing for four days in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains and camping in Idaho’s Sawtooth Valley. Beyond the convenience of running on either its USB-rechargeable NiMH batteries or standard AAA alkaline batteries, it offers a variety of modes and features not found in other headlamps—including BD’s PowerTap technology to instantly cycle between brightness settings, plus being waterproof—at a competitive price. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker