Tag Archives: trail-running gear reviews

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

October 26, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
Arc’teryx Satoro AR Zip Neck LS

Arc’teryx Satoro AR Zip Neck LS, at Mount Whitney, California.

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 →

Review: 6 Super Versatile Layering Pieces

October 18, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment


Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody

Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody

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 →

Gear Review: The 5 Best Headlamps

September 7, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Clockwise from top: Black Diamond ReVolt, NiteRider Adventure Pro 180, Princeton Tec Sync, Princeton Tec Vizz, and Black Diamond Spot.

Clockwise from top: Black Diamond ReVolt, NiteRider Adventure Pro 180, Princeton Tec Sync, Princeton Tec Vizz, and Black Diamond Spot.

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 →

Gear Review: Aku Mio Surround GTX Hiking Shoes

June 22, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Aku Mio Surround GTX hiking shoes.

Aku Mio Surround GTX

Hiking/Trail Running Shoes
Aku Mio Surround GTX
$200, 1 lb. 14 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: US men’s 7-13

The pivotal question you might ask yourself before buying trail footwear is: How much do I need? You’re probably thinking along the lines of how much support you need in a shoe or boot. But that question could also refer to the delicate balance between how much protection you need from wetness on the outside getting inside, versus breathability so moisture on the inside gets released. The new Gore-Tex Surround technology alters that equation, and Aku’s Mio Surround GTX leaps feet first into this debate as a lightweight, low-cut shoe that could serve the needs of a wide range of dayhikers and backpackers. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Black Diamond Spot and Cosmo Headlamps

May 25, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments
Black Diamond Spot and Cosmo headlamps.

Black Diamond Spot and Cosmo headlamps.

Ultralight Headlamps
Black Diamond Spot
$40, 3 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)
Black Diamond Cosmo
$30, 3 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)

A headlamp doesn’t have to take a big bite out of your gear budget—in fact, as these two models demonstrate, you can score a multi-featured backcountry lamp for as little as 30 bucks, and a high-performance model for less than you’ll probably spend on food and gas for a weekend trip. From backpacking trips in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains last October, Utah’s Dirty Devil River canyon in late March, and the Panamint Range of Death Valley National Park in May, to a four-day climb of the Mountaineers Route on California’s 14,505-foot Mount Whitney in mid-April and dayhiking the 32-mile, 10,000-vertical-foot Pemi Loop in New Hampshire’s White Mountains in August, I put the Cosmo and Spot through many hours of use. Both shined at the usual tasks, like lighting the way when pitching a tent or hiking off-trail in the dark, but my testing also spotlighted their differences.

Continue reading →

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