outdoor apparel reviews

The Best Base Layers, Shorts and Socks for Hiking and Running

By Michael Lanza

Let’s admit it: We don’t always take our base layers as seriously and we do our outerwear and insulation—or packs, tents, boots and other gear, for that matter. But this under-appreciated first stage in a layering system for the outdoors really sets the table for how comfortable you’ll be. Base layers that don’t perform well probably won’t kill you, but misery isn’t a good companion. This is what we wear against our skin. It matters.

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A backpacker hiking the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

How You Can Tell How Warm a Down Jacket Is

By Michael Lanza

While sleeping bags have temperature ratings, with down jackets and other insulated jackets, there exists no easy way to determine how warm any specific garment will be without wearing it outside. But despite the absence of a precise metric for gauging the warmth of down and synthetic puffy jackets, there are ways to assess a specific jacket’s relative warmth before you even see it, using simple metrics. This article will explain how to do that.

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Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket.

The 10 Best Down Jackets of 2023

By Michael Lanza

Whatever you need an insulated jacket for, there’s a down or synthetic puffy for your needs, within your budget. And whether you want a puffy jacket for outdoor activities like backpacking, camping, skiing, climbing, and hut treks, or just to keep you warm around town or at outdoor sporting events, this review will help you figure out how to choose the right jacket for your purposes, and it spotlights the best down and synthetic insulated jackets available today.

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The Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody.

Review: Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody

Hybrid Insulated Jacket
Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody
$400, 12 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXXL, women’s XXS-XXL

Who expected the overnight temp would drop nearly to freezing and the wind would blow 30 mph through our campsite on our first morning in southern Arizona’s Aravaipa Canyon… in mid-April? Well, I didn’t when I reserved that permit months earlier—but we all did when we saw the forecast immediately before the trip. So I packed my new Cerium Hoody and it proved the perfect antidote to unseasonably cold mornings.

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A backpacker at Evolution Lake on the John Muir Trail in Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon National Park.

The Best Backpacking Gear of 2023

By Michael Lanza

The Wind River Range. The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. Iceland. The John Muir Trail, Wonderland Trail, and Teton Crest Trail. Yosemite. The Grand Canyon. Glacier National Park. Yellowstone. The North Cascades and Pasayten Wilderness. 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 and apparel reviewed at The Big Outside—so that I can give you honest and thorough, field-tested opinions that help you find the best gear for your adventures.

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

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