hiking apparel reviews

Ibex Wool Aire Vest

Review: Ibex Wool Aire Vest

Insulated Vest
Ibex Wool Aire Vest
$235, 7.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
ibex.com

How useful—and valuable—is your insulation layer? Consider this: I wore the Ibex Wool Aire Vest as my only outer layer over the same two base layers (a lightweight, wicking long-sleeve and a warm fleece hoody) on days of vigorous Nordic skiing in radically different conditions in Idaho’s Boise Mountains: from sunny, calm, and mid-30s Fahrenheit to cloudy and below freezing with strong winds that made it feel much colder. And I did not overheat in the first circumstance or get cold in the second. I also stayed comfortable wearing it as my sole middle layer under a winter shell in temps from around freezing to the mid-teens, with a low overcast and frigid wind, on days of snowshoeing and backcountry skiing downhill, and as my outer layer when skinning uphill (without wind).

That degree of versatility speaks volumes about the value of any layer, especially insulation.

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Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants.

Review: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants

Soft-Shell Hiking Pants
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants
$99, 11.5 oz. (men’s 30×30)
Sizes: men’s 28-42, women’s 0-18
backcountry.com

I lived in the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants on three multi-day hikes that put them through quite possibly the widest range of three-season weather most backcountry wanderers might ever see: trekking hut-to-hut for a week on Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails and several dayhikes around the country, where cold wind and periods of light rain accompanied us almost every day; on a nine-day, nearly 130-mile hike through the High Sierra in August, mostly on the John Muir Trail, in temps ranging from the 40s to high 60s Fahrenheit, strong wind at times, and one hour-long rainstorm; and on a five-day, 43-mile backpacking trip in the Wind River Range in the week before Labor Day, where we had dry, sunny days ranging from the 40s to the 60s F with moderate wind some days.

And over those two dozen or so days, these pants were the only bottom layer I needed about 98 percent of the time.

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A young boy in a sleeping bag while backpacking in Sequoia National Park.

Pro Tips For Buying a Backpacking Sleeping Bag

By Michael Lanza

Finding a sleeping bag that’s right for you may be the most confusing gear-buying task. Getting the right one is critical to sleeping comfortably in the backcountry—and in an emergency, your bag could save your life. But with the myriad choices out there, how do you tell them apart, beyond temperature rating and price? This article will explain how to evaluate the key differences between bags to make your choice much more simple.

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Mammut Kento Light HS Hooded Jacket.

Review: Mammut Kento Light HS Hooded Jacket

Ultralight Rain Jacket Mammut Kento Light HS Hooded Jacket $219, 5.5 oz. (men’s medium) Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s S-XL moosejaw.com When the sky darkened with foreboding, black and gray clouds that suddenly obliterated the sharply angled peaks flanking the John Muir Trail in the Evolution Basin of Kings Canyon National Park, I pulled on the ultralight Mammut Kento Light HS …

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A backcountry skier at Baldy Knoll in Wyoming's Tetons Range.

How to Dress in Layers for Winter in the Backcountry

By Michael Lanza

If hiking, backpacking, and climbing from spring through fall teaches us the fundamentals of layering our clothing for comfort in variable weather, the backcountry in winter confers a graduate degree in layering. In mild temperatures, getting wet with perspiration or precipitation merely risks discomfort. In freezing temps, it can quickly lead to hypothermia and actually become life-threatening.

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