Tag Archives: headlamp reviews

December 18, 2016 Royal Arch Loop, Grand Canyon National Park.

Gear Review: 12 Essential Backpacking Accessories

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By Michael Lanza

Sure, your backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and other core 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 list of essential backpacking accessories, ranging from basics like my favorite stuff sacks and water filters, to great values in a headlamp and knife, and what I lay my head down on every night I sleep in the ground. I think you may find some things in this list that you can’t go without. Continue reading →

December 11, 2016 Below the East Face of Mount Whitney, High Sierra, California.

The World’s Best Holiday Gift Guide: 40 Top Picks in Outdoor Gear and Apparel

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By Michael Lanza

If you’re shopping for someone who loves the outdoors this holiday season… or, ahem, for yourself… look no farther. I’ve compiled my annual list of the best outdoor gear and apparel that I’ve used over the past 12 months. Two decades of gear testing has given me a pretty good eye for quality, I think. This list includes super values in jackets, backpacks, a tent, a sleeping bag and air mattress, trekking poles, climbing harnesses, snowshoes, rechargeable lanterns, a headlamp, knives, kids’ gear and apparel, and a pile of other stuff, as well as some neat stocking stuffers, and a huge range of prices. Plus, many of them are available at sale prices right now (I’ve indicated those below). You just might get all of your holiday gift shopping done right here. 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: The 5 Best Headlamps

September 7, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Clockwise from top: Black Diamond ReVolt, NiteRider Adventure Pro 180, Princeton Tec Sync, Princeton Tec Vizz, and Black Diamond Spot.

Clockwise from top: Black Diamond ReVolt, NiteRider Adventure Pro 180, Princeton Tec Sync, Princeton Tec Vizz, and Black Diamond Spot.

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? Having tested dozens of headlamps, I favor models that meet five simple criteria:

•    Lightweight (no hiker, runner, or climber needs a heavy, bulky light).
•    Versatile and bright enough for everything from reading in the tent and managing camp chores to hiking rugged trail or route-finding off-trail in complete darkness.
•    Intuitive and easy to use, so I don’t have to consult instructions more than once, take of my gloves to operate it, or use a tool to change batteries.
•    Projects a beam that’s focused and even, not blotchy and uneven.
•    Preferably rechargeable so I’m not throwing away batteries.

With the exception of being rechargeable—which costs more, and I review headlamps at a range of price points—I generally apply those standards when choosing which headlamps I’ll review at The Big Outside. So to help you find the right model for yourself or someone else, I’ve put together this list of the five best headlamps I’ve reviewed at this blog, listed in order of cost, along with a comparison chart. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Black Diamond Spot and Cosmo Headlamps

May 25, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments
Black Diamond Spot and Cosmo headlamps.

Black Diamond Spot and Cosmo headlamps.

Ultralight Headlamps
Black Diamond Spot
$40, 3 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)
Black Diamond Cosmo
$30, 3 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)
moosejaw.com

A headlamp doesn’t have to take a big bite out of your gear budget—in fact, as these two models demonstrate, you can score a multi-featured backcountry lamp for as little as 30 bucks, and a high-performance model for less than you’ll probably spend on food and gas for a weekend trip. From backpacking trips in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains last October, Utah’s Dirty Devil River canyon in late March, and the Panamint Range of Death Valley National Park in May, to a four-day climb of the Mountaineers Route on California’s 14,505-foot Mount Whitney in mid-April and dayhiking the 32-mile, 10,000-vertical-foot Pemi Loop in New Hampshire’s White Mountains in August, I put the Cosmo and Spot through many hours of use. Both shined at the usual tasks, like lighting the way when pitching a tent or hiking off-trail in the dark, but my testing also spotlighted their differences.

Continue reading →

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