MSR gear reviews

A backpacker on the Fisher Creek Trail in North Cascades National Park.

Review: 24 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories of 2021

By Michael Lanza Sure, your backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and other backpacking 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. A quarter-century of field-testing gear—including the 10 years I …

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Backpackers watching sunset at a campsite in Titcomb Basin, Wind River Range, Wyoming.

The 9 (Very) Best Backpacking Tents of 2021

By Michael Lanza

A good backpacking tent not only makes your trips more comfortable by keeping you warm and dry in foul weather—it’s critical safety gear and one of the heaviest and most expensive items you’ll carry. But how do you choose from the many models out there, which come in a huge range of designs, weights, and prices? Whether you’re shopping for your first backpacking shelter or looking to replace an old one, I’m going to make that choice easy for you.

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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. The Pasayten Wilderness. 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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The MSR WindBurner Group Stove System.

Review: MSR Windburner Group Stove System

Backpacking Stove
MSR WindBurner Group Stove System
$200, 1 lb. 5 oz.
moosejaw.com

When cooking for more than two hungry people in the backcountry—especially if that includes kids—having a large pot and powerful stove keeps the team from waiting so long that they threaten revolt. But the stove’s performance in wind matters, too. On family backpacking trips of three days in Hells Canyon, four days on Nevada’s Ruby Crest Trail, and six days in Utah’s High Uintas Wilderness, plus a five-day hike with three friends in The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park, MSR’s WindBurner Group Stove System not only staved off rebellion, it boiled and cooked quickly in a range of temps and even surprised with its fuel efficiency.

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