Tag Archives: trail-running gear 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 →

Gear Review: The 5 Best Headlamps of 2018

December 12, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
Clockwise from bottom: Petzl Actik Core, Black Diamond ReVolt, Princeton Tec Sync, Black Diamond Spot, Princeton Tec Vizz.

Clockwise from bottom: Petzl Actik Core, Black Diamond ReVolt, Princeton Tec Sync, Black Diamond Spot, Princeton Tec Vizz.

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? I’ve tested dozens of headlamps over the years. Here are, in my opinion, the five best models on the market today. Continue reading →

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

October 26, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
Arc’teryx Satoro AR Zip Neck LS at California's Mount Whitney.

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

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.

After much testing from the trails to the gym and the mountains 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 →

Gear Review: Brooks Cascadia 12 Trail Running and Hiking Shoes

October 24, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Brooks Cascadia 12 trail-running shoes.

Brooks Cascadia 12 trail-running shoes.

Hiking/Trail Running Shoes
Brooks Cascadia 12
$130, 1 lb. 10 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: men’s 7-15, women’s 5-12
moosejaw.com

Lightweight, low-cut, trail-running shoes that cross over well to dayhiking and ultralight backpacking can look similar, but many share the same three shortcomings: inadequate support and cushioning for rugged trails; not enough toe space, especially for longer outings; and uppers that lack the durability for the abuse of rocky trails. Wearing the Brooks Cascadia 12 on fall trail runs of up to 10 miles, and on a 16-mile, roughly 5,000-vertical-foot dayhike of Utah’s 11,749-foot Mount Timpanogos, I found these shoes excel where other models fail at all three of those performance metrics—while still weighing in lighter than many competitors. Here’s why. Continue reading →

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