Tag Archives: hiking clothing reviews
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 →
Hybrid Insulated Jacket
L.L. Bean PrimaLoft Mountain Pro Hoodie
$129, 1 lb. 6 oz. (medium regular)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
Frigid blasts of wind hit us periodically as we climbed in hot alpine sunshine in a snow-filled couloir on the Mountaineers Route on 14,505-foot Mount Whitney, in California’s High Sierra in mid-April. Those are challenging conditions in which to stay warm without rapidly overheating—a common challenge in a variety of weather circumstances when you’re outside in winter or in the mountains in shoulder seasons. Fortunately for me, Bean’s hybrid-insulation PrimaLoft Mountain Pro Hoodie handles wide-ranging conditions with aplomb, so I never got cold or sweated much. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Whether climbing peaks, taking an ultra-dayhike or trail run, Nordic or backcountry skiing, or backpacking, the more time I spend in the backcountry, the more I value and wear lightweight jackets and vests that pull double duty as middle and outer layers. Unlike with heavier, warmer, and less-breathable jackets, you can often wear this type of garment while on the move—while your body is producing heat, but you still need some warmth. That makes you more comfortable and, ultimately, safer in widely ranging mountain weather. Plus, you get more bang for your buck from versatile layers like these because you use them more.
Here are six of the very best. Continue reading →