Tag Archives: The North Face gear reviews

Gear Review: The North Face Ultra Gore-Tex Surround Mid Hiking Boots

June 21, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
The North Face Ultra Gore-Tex Surround Mid boots.

The North Face Ultra Gore-Tex Surround Mid boots.

Hiking Boots
The North Face Ultra Gore-Tex Surround Mid
$190, 2 lbs. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: men’s 7-14, women’s 5-11
backcountry.com

The heat and humidity fell onto us like a wet blanket; I broke into a sweat just lacing up my boots for the dayhike of 3,740-foot Cerro Chato, a dormant volcano with close-up views of its larger and more-famous neighbor, Arenal Volcano, in Costa Rica’s tropical Northern Lowlands. And yet, I wanted waterproof-breathable boots for Costa Rican trails notorious for slick mud. The crazy-steep path up Cerro Chato would not only challenge us physically, it would challenge the breathability of The North Face Gore-Tex Surround Mid boots. It would also help me assess whether these very lightweight mid-cuts are the answer to chronically wet hikes in persistently hot, humid conditions—which you don’t have to go to Central America to find, as any hiker in the Eastern U.S. can confirm. Continue reading →

Review: The Best Gear Duffles and Luggage

April 26, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
The North Face, Patagonia, and Marmot gear duffels.

The North Face, Patagonia, and Marmot gear duffels.

By Michael Lanza

Whatever your outdoor sport—backpacking, climbing, whitewater rafting or kayaking, backcountry skiing, etc.—a sturdy duffle for organizing, hauling, and protecting your gear and clothing is invaluable. Not only does it eliminate the risk of damaging an expensive backpack by using it as your luggage, a good duffle has more capacity and is built to suffer the indignities of getting tossed into jet, train, and bus baggage compartments, being strapped onto a roof rack, sled, snowmobile, or pack animal, and exposed to rain and snow. Continue reading →

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April 5, 2017 Osprey Aura AG 65

Gear Review: The 10 Best Backpacking Packs

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   12 Comments

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, including 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 →

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March 26, 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 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 →

Review: The North Face Desolation ThermoBall Jacket

January 25, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The North Face Desolation ThermoBall Jacket.

The North Face Desolation ThermoBall Jacket.

Hybrid Insulated Jacket
The North Face Desolation ThermoBall Jacket
$199, 14 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
Men’s: moosejaw.com
Women’s: backcountry.com

Backcountry skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains in heavily falling snow, I pulled my Desolation ThermoBall Jacket on over my waterproof-breathable shell for extra warmth while digging a snow pit to assess avalanche conditions. Finishing that, with the Desolation ThermoBall’s shell damp from snow, I stuffed it inside my pack while we made a couple of downhill runs and climbs. Later, I pulled it on over my shell again for the ski down to our car, as snow continued dumping and temps were dropping fast. Although damp, the jacket kept me warm. It did the same on other ski tours in temps in the teens Fahrenheit, repelling light, falling snow and giving me the warmth I needed by simply wearing it over my shell—no getting blasted by cold wind to add a layer. That illustrates the versatility of The North Face Desolation ThermoBall Jacket, an insulation piece that won’t just sit in your pack. Continue reading →

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