Tag Archives: hiking gear reviews

March 26, 2017 Boston Charlies Camp on the Catwalk, Olympic National Park.

10 Smarter Ways to Think About Your Layering System

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Think of your layering system of clothing for outdoor activities as a musical instrument. When you’re first learning how to play, you practice one chord or note at a time. But you only begin to produce music once you can link chords in a way that sounds good—because they work together. Similarly, we tend to acquire the parts of a layering system piecemeal, regardless of how well they work together. In this article, I’ll give you 10 specific tips for thinking about your layering system in ways that make it work better for you—and ultimately help you spend your money more wisely. Continue reading →

March 19, 2017 Trekking the Dusky Track, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

5 Pro Tips For Buying the Right Rain Jacket For the Backcountry

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Choosing a waterproof-breathable rain shell for hiking, backpacking, climbing, or other outdoor activities can be daunting. Prices range from under $100 to over $600, and weights from less than half a pound to well over a pound. Some are loaded with features, others so minimalist they seem like a glorified trash bag. You’ll also find the full gamut of opinions on them from reviewers and consumers.

Consequently, many hikers, backpackers, climbers, and others buy a rain jacket based on price, brand, or the recommendation of a trusted reviewer. That’s not a bad strategy, and it’s sometimes successful; but it’s really an incomplete strategy. The truth is, the right backcountry rain shell for you depends more on you than on any jacket—and our needs as backcountry users vary as much as our budgets. Follow these tips to find the perfect rain jacket for your adventures. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Black Diamond Iota Headlamp

March 15, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Black Diamond Iota headlamp

Black Diamond Iota headlamp

Ultralight Rechargeable Headlamp
Black Diamond Iota
$40, 2 oz.
backcountry.com

Even as backcountry headlamps continually shrink without compromising brightness—indeed, today’s ultralight models keep getting more powerful—my first impression of Black Diamond’s Iota is how darn tiny it is. Smaller than a golf ball, it’s nearly unnoticeable on your head: After turning it off, you could forget you’re wearing it. This two-ounce beacon also represents a leap forward in the affordability of rechargeable headlamps. While the Iota’s relatively short burn time on a full charge limits its versatility, it will appeal to people who want an affordable, ultralight, rechargeable headlamp for outings of up to two or three hours. Continue reading →

Review: Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket

March 9, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket.

Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket.

Down Jacket
Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket
$250, 1 lb. 2 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

From backcountry skiing in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains in a below-zero wind chill, to resort skiing on a sunny but frosty day with temperatures in the teens Fahrenheit, this puffy jacket stood out for three reasons. First and foremost, it kept me warm whether as my only insulating layer over one base layer and under a shell (while resort skiing) or when I simply pulled it on over other layers in the backcountry. Second, it felt noticeably more comfortable than some bulky, stiff puffy jackets, because both the fabric and the down-filled chambers actually stretch. And third, after I got its lining wet with sweat or its shell damp from falling snow, it still kept me warm. Continue reading →

Review: Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket

February 22, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket.

Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket.

Hybrid, Breathable Insulated Jacket
Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket
$199, 10 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XXS-XL
backcountry.com

Throughout four straight days of backcountry skiing in the mountains above Lake Tahoe in early February, winds gusting at 40 to 50 mph buffeted us—the pockets of protected terrain seemed rare—and snow fell for three of those days, heavily at times. A few days later, I was Nordic skate skiing and snowshoeing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, on days ranging from overcast and windy to breezy with warm sunshine. On all of those days, temperatures were cold enough—from the low 20s to the mid-30s Fahrenheit—to quickly chill me if I either under-dressed for the wind or sweated from overdressing. And for hours at a time on those days of widely ranging conditions and exertion levels, I wore Patagonia’s new Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket. Continue reading →

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