Sea to Summit product reviews

A backpacker on the Fisher Creek Trail in North Cascades National Park.

25 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories of 2022

By Michael Lanza

Sure, your backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and other backpacking gear matter a lot, and you should put serious thought into your choices when buying any of them. But little things matter, too. Various necessary accessories, convenience items, and small comforts accompany me on backcountry trips. Nearly three decades of field-testing gear—including the 10 years I spent as the lead gear reviewer for Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog—has refined my sense of what I like on certain types of trips and what I will not do without anytime.

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Backpackers camped in the backcountry of Wyoming's Wind River Range.

The 10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2022

By Michael Lanza

A good backpacking tent not only makes your trips more comfortable by keeping you warm and dry in foul weather—it’s critical safety gear and one of the heaviest and most expensive items you’ll carry. Those facts alone are motivation enough to find the right tent for your style of backpacking. But how do you choose from the many models out there, which come in a huge range of designs, weights, and prices? Whether you’re shopping for your first backpacking shelter or looking to replace an old one, this article will help make that choice easy for you.

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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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The Sea to Summit Ether Light Extreme Insulated Air Mattress.

Review: Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme Insulated Air Mattress

Insulated Air Mattress
Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme Insulated Air Mattress
$199, 1 lb. 9 oz. (unisex regular)
Sizes: four unisex and two women’s sizes
backcountry.com

For the three nights in early winter, as temperatures slipped into the teens and single digits Fahrenheit outside my tent on the snow in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, I zipped up snugly inside my sleeping bag and lay on this fat, well-insulated air mattress, briefly considering that I might feel cold before morning. And every morning, I awoke after sleeping longer and later than I normally do in my bed at home, feeling incredibly well rested and realizing my bag and air mat could have handled even colder temps.

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Sea to Summit Alto TR2 ultralight backpacking tent.

Review: Sea to Summit Alto TR2 Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Ultralight Backpacking Tent
Sea to Summit Alto TR2
$499, 2 lbs. 9 oz. (rainfly, tent, and poles)
backcountry.com

Backpacking five days in September through some of the northernmost mountains in the Lower 48 in Washington’s Pasayten Wilderness—sharing the trails with Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers finishing up their 2,650-mile walk as well as backpackers on shorter journeys—we wanted a shelter that could protect us from the wildest, late-season weather possible. It would also be nice if it wasn’t too heavy, given the rugged terrain there. Sea to Summit’s Alto TR2 fit the bill and demonstrated its cred as an outstanding ultralight tent.

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