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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The Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie.

Review: Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie

Ultralight Wind Shell
Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie
$119, 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

If, besides very low weight, versatility counts for everything in an ultralight wind shell, the variety of places, weather, and seasons I’ve worn OR’s wafer-thin Helium Wind Hoodie speaks volumes about its value. From hiking up and sometimes running down crazy-steep trails in fall and the earliest days of spring in Utah’s Wasatch, New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and Idaho’s Boise Foothills, to the breezy heights of Hawaii’s high point, 13,803-foot Mauna Kea, and the windblown depths of the Grand Canyon, this shell fended off cool wind while taking up no more space in my daypack than my long-sleeve jersey.

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The Black Diamond Helio Active Shell.

The 5 Best Rain Jackets for Hiking and Backpacking

By Michael Lanza

Shop for a rain jacket for dayhiking, backpacking, trail running, or climbing in the backcountry and you’ll see shells for adults ranging in price from under $100 to over $500 and in weight from less than half a pound to over a pound—with just as huge and confusing a range of opinions on them from reviewers and consumers. Look no further. This review spotlights the five best rain jackets for the backcountry and provides expert tips on how to select the right one for your adventures.

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Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Pants.

Review: Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Pants

Ski Touring Pants
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Pants
$300, 19.5 oz./553g (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

We all know the challenge of finding pants that keep you dry, warm, and comfortable when ski touring or riding in the backcountry: You need them to release heat and moisture when you sweat hard going uphill and repel snow and wind when moving through exposed terrain in stormy weather or charging hard downhill. On days of ski touring in Utah’s Wasatch Range that displayed all of winter’s multiple personalities—from temperatures in the teens with dumping snow and the wind blowing hard to warm March sunshine with the temps in the 20s, BD’s Dawn Patrol Hybrid Pants demonstrated why they’ve remained enduringly popular among backcountry users.

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A backpacker hiking in rain on the Dusky Track in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

5 Expert Tips For Buying a Rain Jacket For Hiking

By Michael Lanza Choosing a waterproof-breathable rain shell for hiking, backpacking, climbing, or other outdoor activities can seem daunting. Prices range from under $100 to over $500, and weights from less than half a pound to 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 …

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