Tag Archives: The North Face product reviews

June 5, 2018 Patagonia Capilene Midweight Zip-Neck.

Review: The Best Base Layers For Hiking, Running, and Training

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By Michael Lanza

Let’s admit it: We don’t always take our base layers as seriously and we do our outerwear and insulation—or packs, tents, boots and other gear, for that matter. But this under-appreciated first stage in a layering system for the outdoors really sets the table for how comfortable you’ll be. Base layers that don’t perform well probably won’t kill you, but misery isn’t a good companion. This is what we wear against our skin. It matters.

After much testing from the trails to the mountains and the gym year-round, the long-sleeve tops, T-shirts, shorts, underwear, and sun cap reviewed here are the best I’ve found for dayhiking, backpacking, trail running, climbing, skiing, cycling, and training. 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 →

The Best Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking Jackets of 2018

March 12, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On along the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On along the Tour du Mont Blanc.

By Michael Lanza

You’re out on an all-day hike in the mountains, or a long climb or trail run, or backpacking. The weather forecast looked pretty good before you set out—but no one shared that memo with the wind that just started hammering your summit ridge, or the spitting rain and hail now pelting you as you contemplate the sudden drop in temperature and the miles between you and shelter. The question now is: What’s in your pack?

If you’re smart, it’s an ultralight jacket that takes up little space, but is about to gift you with just the right amount of weather protection right when you need it. Here’s how to choose the best ultralight shell for your needs, followed by my picks for the best models on the market today, based on real-life field testing and my 25 years of experience reviewing outdoor gear and apparel. Continue reading →

February 7, 2018 Boise Mountains, Idaho.

Review: The Best Gloves For Winter 2018

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By Michael Lanza

I love getting outdoors in winter, especially skiing in all of its varieties—climbing up and sliding down mountains in the backcountry, skate skiing, resort skiing with my family, and touring on gentler terrain in the forest. Problem is, I have the worst fingers for being outside in sub-freezing temperatures: My Raynaud’s disease is so bad that my fingers turn white and numb even when I’m chopping vegetables that are still cold from the fridge. That’s made me picky about gloves. I’ve tested many over the years, and I use different models depending on the activity and temperature. Here are the best gloves I’ve found for winter. Continue reading →

January 24, 2018 A backcountry skier in the High Sierra above Lake Tahoe.

Review: The Best Winter Hats of 2018

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By Michael Lanza

Do you love getting outdoors in winter? If so, then you know that, just like the rest of your body, your noggin needs protection from cold temperatures, wind, and precipitation at this time of year. But just as with your body core and extremities, how much insulation your head needs depends on ambient conditions like temperature and wind as well as your activity level—how much heat your body is producing. And it sometimes seems there are as many choices in head wear out there as there are heads.

Look no further. This review covers the best winter hats for all kinds of outdoor recreationists, including Nordic, backcountry, and downhill skiers, runners, snowshoers, fitness walkers, climbers, bike commuters, and others who stay active outdoors in the cold months. Continue reading →

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