hiking gear reviews

Salomon ADV Skin 12 running hydration vest.

The Best Running Hydration Vests of 2021

By Michael Lanza Some ideas are so obviously better than everything that came before that the new thing just takes off: Many serious runners now recognize that the smartest way to carry water on a run—plus clothing layers and food on longer trail runs—is in a lightweight, streamlined, torso-hugging hydration vest. This review spotlights the best vests for trail running—how …

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Danner Trail 2650 Mesh hiking shoes.

Review: Danner Trail 2650 Hiking Shoes

Hiking Shoes
Danner Trail 2650 Mesh
$150, 1 lb. 7.5 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

Want one pair of hiking shoes that do it all? Join the club. And maybe also check out Danner’s Trail 2650. Having knocked off some trail miles in the mesh version of these very light hikers, including in brutal desert heat (which can do terrible things to feet), I’m convinced that many dayhikers and lightweight backpackers would find quite a lot to admire about these shoes.

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Princeton Tec Vizz headlamp

Review: Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp

Ultralight Headlamp
Princeton Tec Vizz
$50, 3.2 oz. (with three AAA batteries, included)
outdoorplay.com

As headlamps for the backcountry have continuously improved in terms of brightness, versatility, and low weight, some have acquired a level of complexity that demands spending a little time learning how to use it. Not so with the latest version of this longtime top-performer. Still among the brightest ultralight headlamps, Princeton Tec’s Vizz 420 stands out for many reasons that others do—plus simplicity: You don’t need a degree in electrical engineering to operate it—almost anyone who’s ever used a headlamp will intuitively understand how to use it. But many will most appreciate not having to study a user manual.

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Backpackers on the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon.

The Best Backpacking Gear of 2021

By Michael Lanza

The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. The Wonderland Trail. The Teton Crest Trail. Yosemite. The Grand Canyon. Glacier National Park. The Ruby Crest Trail. Yellowstone. The Wind River Range. The North Cascades. Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. The High Uintas Wilderness. The Tour du Mont Blanc. These are just some of the numerous places where I’ve tested the backpacking gear you see reviewed at The Big Outside. I treat gear roughly in places that are hard on outdoor gear and apparel so that I can give you brutally honest and thorough, field-tested opinions that help you make the best gear choices for your adventures.

And that’s exactly how I came up with these picks for today’s best backpacking gear.

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Backpackers hiking the Titcomb Basin Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming.

The Best Trekking Poles of 2021

By Michael Lanza One of the most immutable truisms about hiking is this: Backpackers, dayhikers, climbers, mountain runners, and others who start using trekking poles almost never hit the trail without them again. No matter how much weight you’re carrying—from an ultralight daypack to a godawful heavy monster backpack—using poles will lessen your chances of an accidental fall and your …

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