Tag Archives: trail-running gear reviews
Ultralight Rechargeable Headlamp
Black Diamond Iota
$40, 2 oz.
Even as backcountry headlamps continually shrink without compromising brightness—indeed, today’s ultralight models keep getting more powerful—my first impression of Black Diamond’s Iota is how darn tiny it is. Smaller than a golf ball, it’s nearly unnoticeable on your head: After turning it off, you could forget you’re wearing it. This two-ounce beacon also represents a leap forward in the affordability of rechargeable headlamps. While the Iota’s relatively short burn time on a full charge limits its versatility, it will appeal to people who want an affordable, ultralight, rechargeable headlamp for outings of up to two or three hours. Continue reading →
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 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. Continue reading →
Ultralight Wind Shell
The North Face Flight Series Fuse Jacket
$250, 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-L
Biting winds hit us on the 1,400-foot, third-class scramble up 10,651-foot Snowyside Peak, roughly halfway through an 8.5-hour, 20-mile, 4,500-foot, mid-September trail run-hike of the Alice-Toxaway Loop in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. So I zipped this ultralight shell up tight and yanked the hood over my head, and got what I needed from it right then: a shield from the wind, to keep me warm.
I also wore it in temperatures in the low 40s Fahrenheit for the first couple of hours that day, mostly running uphill, and for a long stretch on the downhill side of our loop that afternoon, when the temp topped out around 50. And it was equally ideal when I dayhiked to waterfalls along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the mountains of western North Carolina, on a mid-October day of light rain and temps in the 50s. Those situations spotlight the strengths of The North Face Flight Series Fuse Jacket, an ultralight shell made for runners that transitions over to long dayhikes when you’re trying to travel light. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Whether climbing peaks, taking an ultra-dayhike or trail run, Nordic or backcountry skiing, or backpacking, the more time I spend in the backcountry, the more I value and wear lightweight jackets and vests that pull double duty as middle and outer layers. Unlike with heavier, warmer, and less-breathable jackets, you can often wear this type of garment while on the move—while your body is producing heat, but you still need some warmth. That makes you more comfortable and, ultimately, safer in widely ranging mountain weather. Plus, you get more bang for your buck from versatile layers like these because you use them more.
Here are six of the very best. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
How do you choose which headlamp to buy for hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, and other outdoor activities? Price? Design and range of lighting modes? Go with a brand you know and trust? Having tested dozens of headlamps, I favor models that meet five simple criteria:
• Lightweight (no hiker, runner, or climber needs a heavy, bulky light).
• Versatile and bright enough for everything from reading in the tent and managing camp chores to hiking rugged trail or route-finding off-trail in complete darkness.
• Intuitive and easy to use, so I don’t have to consult instructions more than once, take of my gloves to operate it, or use a tool to change batteries.
• Projects a beam that’s focused and even, not blotchy and uneven.
• Preferably rechargeable so I’m not throwing away batteries.
With the exception of being rechargeable—which costs more, and I review headlamps at a range of price points—I generally apply those standards when choosing which headlamps I’ll review at The Big Outside. So to help you find the right model for yourself or someone else, I’ve put together this list of the five best headlamps I’ve reviewed at this blog, listed in order of cost, along with a comparison chart. Continue reading →