Tag Archives: Sierra Designs product reviews
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 →
By Michael Lanza
Every year, I field test and review at this blog dozens of pieces of new outdoor gear and clothing—backpacks, shoes and boots, tents, shell and insulated jackets, sleeping bags and pads, daypacks, headlamps, trekking poles, water filters, backcountry cooking gear, and various other stuff that help us get out and enjoy wild spaces. (It’s a fun gig.) I only review what I’d strongly recommend and want to use myself, and 20 years of doing that has helped me develop a pretty good eye for identifying the best, most innovative and functional gear.
I give you here my picks for the 10 best of the best new products I’ve reviewed this year, a list that includes a backpack, two tents, a rain jacket, two daypacks, a sleeping bag, shoes, one high-performance and affordable headlamp, an air mattress, and a very cool water bottle with a built-in filter. Each capsule review below links to my full review of that product. I guarantee your dollars will be well spent on any of them. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
The best backpacking tents on the market today only superficially resemble the tents most of us pitched in the backcountry just five or 10 years ago. Designers have thrown out ingrained notions of what a backpacking tent is, thinking outside the box to make shelters that are more livable, lighter, stronger, and include features like (of all things) built-in lights. Tents continue evolving and improving because the goal of making gear lighter long ago crossed a threshold from “the new thing” to how everyone thinks. That attitude has transformed the world of backcountry gear, especially tents.
You’ll see that trend in each of the five singularly outstanding tents reviewed below. Continue reading →
Sierra Designs Flash 2 FL
$400, 3 lbs. 10 oz. (not including stuff sacks and stakes)
The rain started as we searched for a campsite by Utah’s Dirty Devil River. Then the wind kicked up. My son and I quickly pitched this tent and stashed our gear inside without anything getting wet. And as we lounged inside, the Flash 2 FL withstood gusts of 30 to 40 mph—even when the swirling winds hit the tent broadside. But its stability is just part of the strong story of the Flash 2 FL, whose features and performance will appeal to many backpackers who want a lighter shelter, but can’t abide the cramped quarters of many ultralight tents. Continue reading →
Thanks for the great stories and tips for family trips. I came across your blog as I was scoping out a family backpacking trip in the Sierra for this summer. We are taking another family out backpacking that has done a number of dayhikes, but has not been backpacking before, along with a 20-year-old, foreign-exchange student who, while fit, has also not been backpacking. The boys on the trip will both be eight—they will carry no more than eight to 10 pounds in a decent daypack (our son has an Osprey Jet that has worked well for the past couple of years). Bottom line is that I expect that I will carry some extra weight. Our tent is a Black Diamond Vista—a great tent but heavy for the Sierra in August. Any thoughts on three-person, three-season tents that are relatively durable and lighter than the Vista? I was looking at the Big Agnes Copper Spur as a potential option but figured I would ask you, with all of your experience. Continue reading →