trail-running gear reviews

The Black Diamond Spot 400.

Review: Black Diamond Spot 400 Headlamp

Ultralight Headlamp
Black Diamond Spot 400
$50, 2.5 oz.
backcountry.com

How do you choose a headlamp for the backcountry? If you’re looking for a range of modes that’s both basic and versatile, good brightness and dimming capability, and smart features that make it more useful while maintaining a design simplicity that doesn’t require an advanced science degree to operate it, Black Diamond’s Spot 400 is hard to beat. On evenings in camp on a five-day, late-summer hike in the Wind River Range, I found this latest update sustains and improves on the legacy of BD’s popular Spot line as an excellent value in an ultralight headlamp.

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Black Diamond Spot 400-R headlamp.

Review: Black Diamond Spot 400-R Headlamp

Rechargeable Ultralight Headlamp
Black Diamond Spot 400-R
$65, 2.6 oz.
backcountry.com

Using Black Diamond’s Spot 400-R on nights in camp on a nine-day hike of nearly 130 miles through the High Sierra in August, mostly on the John Muir Trail, I found this latest update continues the legacy of functionality and versatility that has made BD’s long-popular Spot line arguably the best value in an ultralight headlamp—while also demonstrating the strong value proposition of choosing this rechargeable model over a battery-powered headlamp.

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Backpackers at night with headlamps in a campsite in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

The 8 Best Headlamps of 2022

By Michael Lanza

A headlamp is unquestionably essential gear for hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, ultra-running and ultra-hiking and other backcountry activities that sometimes push into darkness (whether intentionally or not). But with so many to pick from, how do you choose which one to buy? Price? Brightness? Weight? Design and range of lighting modes? Go with a brand you know and trust? This review cuts through the information overload to help you pick the right headlamp for your adventures.

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Arc’teryx Remige Hoody.

The Best Sun Shirts of 2022

By Michael Lanza

Whether backpacking, dayhiking, climbing, trail running, fishing, paddling, or active outdoors in myriad other ways, sun protection becomes critical not only for preventing skin cancer, but also because the hot sun can wear you down and exacerbate the effects of heat, elevation, and dehydration—especially in the mountains and desert.

While there are a variety of styles of sun shirts, for active pursuits in warm to hot temperatures, nothing really beats a lightweight, breathable hoody for maximum protection and keeping you cool—while adding minimal weight and bulk to your kit. This review spotlights the best sun shirt hoodies.

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The Petzl IKO Core rechargeable headlamp.

Review: Petzl IKO Core Headlamp

Ultralight Rechargeable Headlamp
Petzl IKO Core
$100, 2.8 oz. (men’s medium)
backcountry.com

As we skied back to our backcountry yurt through falling snow on a dark night at the end of a full day of touring in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, my IKO Core brightly illuminated our route through meadows and conifer and aspen forest. But brightness and low weight are just two of the measurable ways in which few ultralight headlamps match Petzl’s rechargeable IKO Core, which has unique design features that would appeal to backpackers, dayhikers, climbers, trail runners, and backcountry skiers.

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