Tag Archives: REI gear reviews
By Michael Lanza
Backpacks come in many sizes and flavors for a reason: so do backpackers. Some of us need a pack for moderate loads, others for heavy loads, while still others want a pack designed for lightweight or ultralight backpacking. Some prefer a minimalist design, others a range of features and access. Everyone wants the best fit and comfort they can find, and almost everyone has a budget.
From the many backpacks intended primarily (if not exclusively) for backpacking that I’ve tested and reviewed at The Big Outside, I’ve selected for this article 10 top performers that stand out for reasons that make each appeal uniquely to a certain type of backpacker. (In addition, I point out below two excellent packs for kids of all ages.) I think one of them will be perfect for you—possibly even more than one if, like me, you prefer different packs for different kinds of trips. Continue reading →
I read your article about ultra-backpacking and how you did the John Muir Trail in seven days. I am planning on doing it, but would like to know, for an ultralight backpacker, what do you suggest for a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, etc.? Any feedback or thoughts that you have would be much appreciated.
Covina, CA Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
If you’re shopping for a gift for someone who loves the outdoors—or even for yourself—look no further. This list covers the top-performing products and best values I’ve found among the outdoor gear and apparel I’ve field tested over the past 12 months, including jackets, backpacks, a tent, a sleeping bag and air mattress, headlamps, trekking poles, climbing harnesses, and a pile of other stuff in a wide range of prices. Plus, many of them are available at deeply discounted sale prices right now, and you’ll find links to those sales below.
You just may finish all of your holiday shopping right here. Continue reading →
Three-Season Sleeping Bag
REI Magma 10 and Magma 17
$349, 1 lb. 13 oz. (regular) 10° F
Sizes: men’s and women’s regular and long
On the last night of a 40-mile May backpacking trip in Utah’s Dark Canyon, a friend and I slept out under the stars and a heavy dew fell during the night. But I didn’t notice it until after waking up, seeing the droplets covering everything around me, and sticking a hand outside to feel my bag’s wet shell. Inside my REI Magma 10—which appeared to lose none of its loft, despite its shell getting soaked—I stayed warm and dry. That was a clincher moment in convincing me of what a super value REI’s men’s and women’s Magma sleeping bags represent in high-quality, water-resistant down bags. Continue reading →
REI Talusphere Jacket
$149, 15 oz. (women’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XXL
When trying to outfit themselves for backpacking and other backcountry adventures, many people may prioritize dollars for a better backpack or tent, and settle for a bargain waterproof-breathable rain jacket—especially if they intend to mostly avoid hiking in the worst weather. Parents trying to outfit a growing kid for the backcountry may feel similarly inclined toward frugality. To test that gear-buying strategy, I got my 14-year-old daughter a sub-$150 rain jacket that many consumers will undoubtedly consider, the REI Talusphere Jacket, for our eight-day trek on the Tour du Mont Blanc in July. Mixed weather—including wind on most days, and a day of hiking through wind-driven rain and cool temperatures over the 8,323-foot (2537m) Grand Col Ferret—spotlighted this jacket’s strengths and weaknesses. Continue reading →