Tag Archives: sleeping pad reviews

Best New Gear of the Year: My Top 10 Favorites

December 8, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The North Face Fovero 70

The North Face Fovero 70 backpack in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains.

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 →

Gear Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Air Mattress

December 1, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm

Insulated Air Mattress
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
$200, 15 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular (20x72x2.5 ins., tapered), large (25x77x2.5 ins., tapered), Max (25×77.2.5 ins., rectangular)
backcountry.com

When sleeping outdoors at any time of year, you have two simple objectives: comfort and warmth. We tend to associate the former with our choice of air mattress or pad and the latter with our choice of sleeping bag. But the air mat is actually the key to both goals, because dollar for dollar, your money achieves more warmth from an air mat or pad that adequately insulates your body from the cold ground (which can rapidly drain heat from you) than from your bag. In the NeoAir XTherm—which I tested on numerous trips, including several nights sleeping on snow—you get an all-season air mat with more insulation, pound for pound, than any competitor. Continue reading →

Shopping For Gear? Here Are the Best Deals on the Web Right Now

November 27, 2016  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Gear Reviews, Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Osprey Atmos AG 65

Click on this photo for a great price now on the Osprey Atmos AG 65 backpack.

By Michael Lanza

Readers often ask me for suggestions on good-quality gear for hiking and backpacking that’s affordable. They want to get outdoors, and they’re on a budget, but they don’t want gear or clothing that will fall apart on their second day using it. Right now’s your chance to score great deals, because many online retailers are holding holiday sales, with some of the best backpacks, tents, jackets, sleeping bags, boots, and other gear (much of which I’ve reviewed) available at big savings. Frankly, it’s arguably the best time of year to buy quality gear that rarely goes on sale. You’d be crazy not to take advantage of it.

I’ve scoured the websites I like and assembled below links to my recommendations for the gear I’d buy and suggest to friends. My advice: Grab it now, while it’s available at these prices. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Exped SynMat Hyperlite Duo Air Mattress

November 16, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
My wife, Penny, inflating the Exped SynMat Hyperlite Duo air mattress.

My wife, Penny, inflating the Exped SynMat Hyperlite Duo air mattress.

Insulated Air Mattress
Exped SynMat Hyperlite Duo
$279, 1 lb. 12 oz. (with stuff sack)
One size
campsaver.com

Let’s face it: Side-by-side air mats in a tent have a way of taking the love out of camping, because when curled up with your partner, one or both of you tend to slip into the gap between the mats. Not any more with the SynMat Hyperlite Duo. My wife and I shared it happily for three nights on a mid-July rafting and kayaking trip on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument, and were surprised at how much more comfortable it is even than we expected. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra Air Mattress

August 3, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra air mattress.

Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra air mattress.

Insulated Air Mattress
Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra
$100, 1 lb. 6 oz. (regular, with stuff sack)
Sizes: petite ($90, 66x20x3.5 ins.), regular (72x20x3.5 ins.), long ($110, 78x20x3.5 ins.), wide regular ($130, 72x25x3.5 ins.)
backcountry.com

The ultimate measure of an air mattress comes at the moment when my family discovers it—and when my wife and kids saw the new Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra, they all wanted to sleep on it. I used this air mat for two nights backpacking in the Panamint Range of Death Valley National Park in May, and I (reluctantly) shared it with my family while camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve and on a mid-July rafting and kayaking trip on the Green River through Lodore Canyon in Dinosaur National Monument, and I haven’t found an air mat for backpacking that’s more comfortable and this compact. Continue reading →

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