Tag Archives: hiking clothing reviews
Winter Shell Jacket
Outdoor Research Skyward Jacket
$350, 1 lb. 7 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
From the moment we left our car, through several hours of backcountry skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains—uphill and downhill, in dumping snow and temperatures from the teens to the 20s Fahrenheit—until we got back to the car, this soft shell never left my back. Not once. The only layering change I made all day was to twice pull an insulated jacket on over the shell. The fact that I can’t remember the last time I wore any shell jacket all day, through a huge range of exertion levels in winter conditions, speaks to this shell’s superior breathability. But it proved superior by many performance measures as a shell for backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, mountaineering, and ice climbing. Continue reading →
Ultralight Wind Shell
The North Face Flight Series Fuse Jacket
$250, 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-L
Biting winds hit us on the 1,400-foot, third-class scramble up 10,651-foot Snowyside Peak, roughly halfway through an 8.5-hour, 20-mile, 4,500-foot, mid-September trail run-hike of the Alice-Toxaway Loop in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. So I zipped this ultralight shell up tight and yanked the hood over my head, and got what I needed from it right then: a shield from the wind, to keep me warm.
I also wore it in temperatures in the low 40s Fahrenheit for the first couple of hours that day, mostly running uphill, and for a long stretch on the downhill side of our loop that afternoon, when the temp topped out around 50. And it was equally ideal when I dayhiked to waterfalls along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the mountains of western North Carolina, on a mid-October day of light rain and temps in the 50s. Those situations spotlight the strengths of The North Face Flight Series Fuse Jacket, an ultralight shell made for runners that transitions over to long dayhikes when you’re trying to travel light. Continue reading →
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 →
Kids Down Jacket
Marmot Boy’s and Girl’s Guides Down Hoody
$140, 1 lb. 6 oz. (XL)
Sizes: boys XS-XXL, girls XS-XL
When the long shadow of dusk fell and the temperature plummeted at our successive campsites at over 10,000 feet and at 12,000 feet during a four-day climb of the Mountaineers Route on California’s 14,505-foot Mount Whitney in April, my 15-year-old son zipped up his Boy’s Guides Down Hoody and stayed perfectly warm. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Shop for a rain jacket for the backcountry and you’ll see shells for adults ranging in price from well under $150 to over $400, in weight from less than half a pound to over a pound—and just as huge and confusing a range of opinions on them from reviewers and consumers. I’m going to make the choice simple for you. I’ve tested dozens of rain shells over the past two decades, at all price points, from many brands you know and don’t know. Hiking through soaking rains all over the world has shaped what I look for in a jacket.
Here are my picks for the five best rain jackets available today, ranging in price from $275 to $425—with great deals available right now on some of these top-performing shells. I think you’ll find one of them is just right for you. Continue reading →