Tag Archives: Sierra Designs gear reviews

July 20, 2018 A John Muir Trail view overlooking the Cathedral Range in Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: The Best Backpacking Gear for the John Muir Trail

In Ask Me, Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Hello Michael,

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.

Thank you.

Joei
Covina, CA Continue reading →

July 3, 2018 A campsite in Titcomb Basin, in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

Gear Review: The 5 Best Backpacking Tents of 2018

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By Michael Lanza

Time for a new backpacking tent? There’s hardly been a better time to get one. Whether you prioritize weight, living space, performance in foul weather, or unique features, tents for backpacking have seen great innovation and variety. In the competitive outdoor industry, designers keep making shelters that are lighter, stronger, and in many ways more livable.

For this article, I’ve picked out the five top-performing backpacking tents I’ve field tested and reviewed at this blog. I think you’ll find at least one that’s perfect for you—plus you’ll find some at great sale prices now (and links to those online retailers below). Continue reading →

May 31, 2018 The Sierra Designs Nitro 800 20-degree sleeping bag.

Gear Review: Sierra Designs Nitro 800 20-Degree Sleeping Bag

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Three-Season Sleeping Bag
Sierra Designs Nitro 800 20-Degree
$330, 1 lb. 13 oz. (regular)
Sizes: men’s regular and long, women’s regular
Moosejaw.com

Choosing between sleeping bags can sometimes feel like getting the names of identical twins right—they look an awful lot alike. With bags, you can compare certain key specs: temperature rating, type and amount of insulation (or fill), total weight, and, of course, the price. Using those metrics, the new Sierra Designs Nitro bags look like a pretty good value, so I slept in the 20-degree Nitro 800 while camping on some cool and windy May nights at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, and on a three-night, 39-mile backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range in mid-September, to see if its performance matches its impressive numbers. Continue reading →

May 24, 2018 Osprey Aura AG 65

Gear Review: The 10 Best Backpacking Packs of 2018

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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.

I looked at all the backpacks intended primarily (if not exclusively) for backpacking that I’ve tested and reviewed at The Big Outside, and 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 →

September 14, 2017 Boston Charlies Camp on the Catwalk, Olympic National Park.

10 Smarter Ways to Think About Your Layering System

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   5 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Think of your layering system of clothing for outdoor activities 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 can link chords in a way that sounds good—because they work together. Similarly, we tend to acquire the parts of a layering system piecemeal, regardless of how well they work together. In this article, I’ll give you 10 specific tips for thinking about your layering system in ways that make it work better for you—and ultimately help you spend your money more wisely. Continue reading →

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