Tag Archives: trail-running apparel reviews

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 →

Review: Smartwool Ultra Light Sport Jacket

February 14, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Smartwool Men’s PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket.

Smartwool Men’s PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket.

Ultralight Jacket
Smartwool Men’s PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket
$115, 4.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: S-XL
backcountry.com
Smartwool Women’s PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket (hooded)
$120, 5 oz.
Sizes: XS-XL
moosejaw.com

Whether hiking, trail running, or mountain biking, when I need a jacket to manage variability in my exertion levels and/or the inevitable wind, temperature swings, and maybe light precipitation, I look for a couple of qualities in that shell: high breathability and reeeally low weight. From a chilly and very windy October dayhike of 11,749-foot Mount Timpanogos in Utah’s Wasatch Range, to numerous fall and winter trail runs and rides in the Boise Foothills near my home, in cool temps and conditions all over the meteorological map, Smartwool’s PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket has had my back. Here’s why its breathability distinguishes this ultralight shell from the competition. Continue reading →

February 5, 2018 Backcountry skiing in Idaho's Boise Mountains.

The Best Clothing Layers for Winter in the Backcountry

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

There’s one certainty about the clothing layers we use in winter: We get our money’s worth out of them. While a rain shell or puffy jacket may rarely (or even never) come out of our pack on a summer hike or climb, we almost invariably wear every article of clothing we carry when backcountry, Nordic, or downhill skiing, snowshoeing, climbing, or trail running in winter. That’s money spent wisely to make us more comfortable and safer.

Every winter, I test out new clothing layers doing all of those activities frequently. Here are the best shell and insulated jackets, base layers, and pants I’ve found for high-exertion and moderate-exertion activities in winter. Continue reading →

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

The Best New Hiking and Backpacking Gear of 2017

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

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 →

December 6, 2017 A backcountry skier at Baldy Knoll, in Wyoming's Teton Range.

How to Dress in Layers for Winter in the Backcountry

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, International Adventures, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

If hiking, backpacking, and climbing from spring through fall teaches us the fundamentals of layering our clothing for comfort in variable mountain weather, heading into the backcountry in winter confers a graduate degree in layering systems. In mild temperatures, getting wet with perspiration or precipitation merely risks discomfort. In freezing temps, it can quickly lead to getting really cold and actually become life-threatening. Three decades of Nordic and backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, camping, and trail running in winter have informed my layering strategy, which goes beyond the usual advice, customizing clothing systems according to activity and body type. Continue reading →

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