Outdoor Research product reviews

A backcountry skier in Idaho's Boise Mountains.

The Best Clothing Layers for Winter in the Backcountry

By Michael Lanza

There’s one certainty about the clothing layers we use in winter: We get our money’s worth out of them. While a rain shell or puffy jacket may rarely (or even never) come out of our pack on a summer hike or climb, we almost invariably wear every article of clothing we carry when backcountry, Nordic, or downhill skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, climbing, or trail running in winter. That’s money spent wisely to make us more comfortable and safer.

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Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket.

The 10 Best Down Jackets of 2022

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 needs, and it spotlights the best down and synthetic insulated jackets available today.

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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 2022

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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A skier on Pilot Peak in Idaho's Boise Mountains.

The Best Mittens for Winter 2022

By Michael Lanza

Let’s start with two truths about mittens: 1. We know they’re warmer than gloves. 2. We often choose gloves over mittens, anyway, for some reasons that make sense and some reasons that, well, don’t make as much sense. Whether you need them for resort or backcountry skiing or snowboarding, hiking, walking, snowshoeing, bike commuting, trail running, clearing snow, or something else, this review covers the best mittens for a wide range of temperatures and cold-weather activities.

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A backcountry skier in Idaho's Boise Mountains.

The Best Gloves For Winter 2022

By Michael Lanza

Looking for winter gloves that keep your hands warm and dry and are made to last for years? As a professional gear reviewer who gets cold hands easily and spends many days outside in winter, from downhill, backcountry, and Nordic skiing to trail running, biking around town, and working outside, I’ve used many types of gloves and learned a lot over the years about how to select the right gloves for a variety of uses.

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