Tag Archives: sleeping bag reviews

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 6, 2018 Backpacking to Burro Pass above Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

5 Things to Know Before Buying Backpacking Gear

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By Michael Lanza

Are you in the market for a new backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag or other backpacking gear? How do you find something that’s just right for you? What should you be looking for? How much should you spend? These are questions I’ve heard from many friends and readers over the years as they’ve waded through the myriad choices out there. Here are five key factors to keep in mind when buying gear—reflecting the insights I’ve gleaned over more than two decades of testing and reviewing gear and helping people find gear they love. Continue reading →

10 Pro Tips For Staying Warm in a Sleeping Bag

April 12, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   12 Comments
REI Magma 10 sleeping bag.

Testing the REI Magma 10 sleeping bag in Wyoming’s Wind River Range.

By Michael Lanza

Head into the mountains in summer, or almost anywhere in fall or spring, and you can encounter nighttime and morning temperatures anywhere from the 40s Fahrenheit to below freezing. Hundreds (if not thousands) of frosty nights sleeping outside over the past three-plus decades have taught me a few things about how to stay warm. (My coldest night was -30° F, in winter in New Hampshire’s White Mountains; I don’t recommend it.)

No matter how cold you normally sleep outside, or whether you’re camping in the backcountry or at a campground, these 10 tips will keep you warmer in your sleeping bag.

Continue reading →

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

The Best Backpacking Gear of 2018

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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 →

December 18, 2017 A backpacker at Park Creek Pass, North Cascades National Park.

The Best New Hiking and Backpacking Gear of 2017

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By Michael Lanza

Every year, I field test a lot of new gear and clothing for three-season hiking, backpacking, climbing, and winter backcountry activities. Much of it’s pretty good. But to be honest, only a small number rise to the level of excellent, either for technical innovation or simply coming at a task from a new angle that makes their performance superior to others. On those rare occasions, gear can actually make the experiences we seek better in some small way. For this article, I’ve picked out the best pieces of new outdoors gear and apparel that came out in 2017. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker