Tag Archives: rain jacket reviews

10 Tips For a Smarter Layering System

September 16, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
A backpacker on a rainy and windy day high in the Olympic Mountains.

A backpacker on a rainy and windy day high in the Olympic Mountains.

By Michael Lanza

Think of your layering system of clothing for outdoor activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, and skiing as a musical instrument. When you’re first learning how to play, you practice one chord or note at a time. But you only begin to produce music once you link chords in a way that sounds good. Similarly, only by treating your layering system as a dynamic, interconnected whole can you move more comfortably and safely in any weather. In this freshly updated article, I offer 10 specific tips for making your layering system work better—which ultimately helps you spend your money smartly. Continue reading →

June 28, 2018 Timberline Trail, Mount Hood, Oregon.

Are You Still Wasting Money on Outdoor Gear?

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

What if every time you laid down money for hiking, backpacking, or other outdoors gear, you always knew exactly what you needed and were invariably satisfied with your purchase for years afterward? What if you knew every time whether it was smarter to spring for the pricier piece of gear or go for the cheaper model? What if you always knew when and where to find the best gear at rock-bottom sale prices?

Read on to learn how you can become that expert gear buyer—just in time for ongoing gear sales at many online retailers. Continue reading →

April 8, 2018 A backpacker and a rainbow in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

The Best Backpacking Gear of 2018

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Yosemite. The Grand Canyon. The Tetons. Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park. The Wind River Range. The North Cascades. The Tour du Mont Blanc. New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The Canadian Rockies. Paria Canyon. 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 mountains and canyons that are notoriously hard on outdoor gear and apparel so that I can give you 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 select picks for today’s best backpacking gear. Continue reading →

The 5 Best Rain Jackets for Hiking and Backpacking

March 27, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Patagonia Pluma Jacket.

Wearing the Patagonia Pluma Jacket on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

By Michael Lanza

Shop for a rain jacket for dayhiking, backpacking, or climbing in the backcountry and you’ll see shells for adults ranging from under $100 to over $600, and 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. I’m going to make the choice easy for you.

I’ve tested dozens of rain shells while hiking through soaking rains all over the world over the past two decades, writing reviews for this blog and previously for Backpacker magazine; I’ve learned how to distinguish the mediocre from the excellent. Here are my picks for the five best rain jackets for backcountry adventures that you can buy today. Continue reading →

Review: Montane Ajax Jacket

March 20, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Montane Ajax Jacket

Montane Ajax Jacket

All-Season Shell Jacket
Montane Ajax Jacket
$380, 16 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: US men’s S-XXL, women’s 6-14
rei.com

As the wind-driven snow came down heavily while a partner and I backcountry skied in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, I cinched the hood of my Montane Ajax Jacket closely over my head, looked around, and thought: “beautiful day.” We were skiing untracked, light powder, and despite wind chills around zero Fahrenheit or below hammering us for hours, I felt dry, warm, and almost completely sealed off from the inclement conditions in this all-season shell. If your usual mountain playgrounds often turn meteorologically unfriendly, the Ajax’s performance and price warrant a close look. Here’s why. Continue reading →

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