Tag Archives: camping gear reviews

April 25, 2017

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 →

Gear Review: Black Diamond Iota Headlamp

March 15, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Black Diamond Iota headlamp

Black Diamond Iota headlamp

Ultralight Rechargeable Headlamp
Black Diamond Iota
$40, 2 oz.
backcountry.com

Even as backcountry headlamps continually shrink without compromising brightness—indeed, today’s ultralight models keep getting more powerful—my first impression of Black Diamond’s Iota is how darn tiny it is. Smaller than a golf ball, it’s nearly unnoticeable on your head: After turning it off, you could forget you’re wearing it. This two-ounce beacon also represents a leap forward in the affordability of rechargeable headlamps. While the Iota’s relatively short burn time on a full charge limits its versatility, it will appeal to people who want an affordable, ultralight, rechargeable headlamp for outings of up to two or three hours. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Big Agnes Storm King 0 Sleeping Bag

December 14, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Big Agnes Storm King 0 sleeping bag.

Big Agnes Storm King 0 sleeping bag.

Winter Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes Storm King 0
$380, 3 lbs. 9 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular and long ($400)
backcountry.com

When is a mummy-style bag too constricting? I’ve used ultralight, three-season bags that felt a little too coffin-like. But in winter—or wintry conditions, such as you encounter when mountaineering in spring and summer—there are more practical reasons to use a bag with extra space, and you get it with the Storm King 0. Beyond its dimensions, the Storm King’s water-resistant down feathers, fairly unique “system” design that requires sliding an air mattress into a sleeve on the bag’s bottom side, and its relatively affordable price for this category of bags merits a close look. 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)
backcountry.com

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 →

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