Tag Archives: MSR gear reviews
By Michael Lanza
The best backpacking tents on the market today only superficially resemble the tents most of us pitched in the backcountry just five or 10 years ago. Designers have thrown out ingrained notions of what a backpacking tent is, thinking outside the box to make shelters that are more livable, lighter, stronger, and include features like (of all things) built-in lights. Tents continue evolving and improving because the goal of making gear lighter long ago crossed a threshold from “the new thing” to how everyone thinks. That attitude has transformed the world of backcountry gear, especially tents.
You’ll see that trend in each of the five singularly outstanding tents reviewed below. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Sure, your backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and other core gear matter a lot, and you should put serious thought into your choices when buying any of them. But little things matter, too. Various necessary accessories, convenience items, and small comforts accompany me on backcountry trips. Many years of field-testing gear have refined my sense of what I like on certain types of trips and what I will not do without anytime.
Here’s my list of essential backpacking accessories, ranging from basics like my favorite stuff sacks and water filters, to great values in a headlamp and knife, and what I lay my head down on every night I sleep in the ground. I think you may find some things in this list that you can’t go without. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
If you’re shopping for someone who loves the outdoors this holiday season… or, ahem, for yourself… look no farther. I’ve compiled my annual list of the best outdoor gear and apparel that I’ve used over the past 12 months. Two decades of gear testing has given me a pretty good eye for quality, I think. This list includes super values in jackets, backpacks, a tent, a sleeping bag and air mattress, trekking poles, climbing harnesses, snowshoes, rechargeable lanterns, a headlamp, knives, kids’ gear and apparel, and a pile of other stuff, as well as some neat stocking stuffers, and a huge range of prices. Plus, many of them are available at sale prices right now (I’ve indicated those below). You just might get all of your holiday gift shopping done right here. Continue reading →
Ultralight Backpacking Tent
MSR Freelite 2
$440, 2 lbs. 7 oz. (not including stuff sacks and stakes)
How important is low gear weight to you—and what are you willing to sacrifice to hike with a light pack? Your choice of backcountry shelter can achieve the most significant weight savings and entail the greatest compromises. As someone who generally chooses lightweight gear, with its pros and cons, I took MSR’s lightest freestanding tent on a pair of backcountry trips for which tents like this seem well suited: I shared it with my wife on a mid-July rafting and kayaking trip on the Green River through Lodore Canyon in Dinosaur National Monument; and used it by myself for two nights on a mid-August backpacking trip in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. I found the Freelite 2 has distinct advantages for a tent so light, while making relatively small compromises on space and strength. Continue reading →
Thanks for the great stories and tips for family trips. I came across your blog as I was scoping out a family backpacking trip in the Sierra for this summer. We are taking another family out backpacking that has done a number of dayhikes, but has not been backpacking before, along with a 20-year-old, foreign-exchange student who, while fit, has also not been backpacking. The boys on the trip will both be eight—they will carry no more than eight to 10 pounds in a decent daypack (our son has an Osprey Jet that has worked well for the past couple of years). Bottom line is that I expect that I will carry some extra weight. Our tent is a Black Diamond Vista—a great tent but heavy for the Sierra in August. Any thoughts on three-person, three-season tents that are relatively durable and lighter than the Vista? I was looking at the Big Agnes Copper Spur as a potential option but figured I would ask you, with all of your experience. Continue reading →