trail-running gear reviews

The Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie.

Review: Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie

Ultralight Wind Shell
Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie
$119, 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL

If, besides very low weight, versatility counts for everything in an ultralight wind shell, the variety of places, weather, and seasons I’ve worn OR’s wafer-thin Helium Wind Hoodie speaks volumes about its value. From hiking up and sometimes running down crazy-steep trails in fall and the earliest days of spring in Utah’s Wasatch, New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and Idaho’s Boise Foothills, to the breezy heights of Hawaii’s high point, 13,803-foot Mauna Kea, and the windblown depths of the Grand Canyon, this shell fended off cool wind while taking up no more space in my daypack than my long-sleeve jersey.

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Princeton Tec Vizz headlamp

Review: Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp

Ultralight Headlamp
Princeton Tec Vizz
$50, 3.2 oz. (with three AAA batteries, included)

As headlamps for the backcountry have continuously improved in terms of brightness, versatility, and low weight, some have acquired a level of complexity that demands spending a little time learning how to use it. Not so with the latest version of this longtime top-performer. Still among the brightest ultralight headlamps, Princeton Tec’s Vizz 420 stands out for many reasons that others do—plus simplicity: You don’t need a degree in electrical engineering to operate it—almost anyone who’s ever used a headlamp will intuitively understand how to use it. But many will most appreciate not having to study a user manual.

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Black Diamond Spot350 headlamp

Review: Black Diamond Spot350 Headlamp

Black Diamond Spot350
$40, 3 oz. (with three AAA batteries, included)

BD’s latest update to its Spot line of headlamps, while incremental, maintains this light’s high functionality for backpackers, climbers, trail runners, backcountry skiers, and other users. The Spot350 illuminated moonless nights for me on a six-day rafting and kayaking trip down the Green River through Desolation and Gray canyons, demonstrating the reliability and versatility that its lineage has on many past adventures, such as rising before dawn to beat the heat on a 74-mile backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon in May and predawn mornings and dark evenings on a 94-mile traverse of the CDT in Glacier National Park and a 45-mile hike in the Pasayten Wilderness, both in September.

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Leki MC 12 Vario trekking and running poles.

Review: Leki MC 12 Vario Trekking and Running Poles

Trekking and Running Poles
Leki MC 12 Vario
$250, 15 oz./pair (men’s 110-130cm pair, without stuff sack)
Sizes: men’s 110-130cm, women’s 100-120cm

If you think that nerding out on the “performance” aspect of trekking and trail-running poles just goes too over the top for you, don’t bother reading any further. But if you’re a serious hiker, trail runner, or backpacker who likes the idea of light, strong, adjustable, and very packable poles designed to help you conserve energy and possibly even move faster and go farther, you need to know about Leki’s innovative MC 12 Vario.

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Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 trail-running shoes.

Review: Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 and Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX

Trail Running/Hiking Shoes Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 $145, 1 lb. 4 oz. (US men’s 9) Sizes: US men’s 7-15, women’s 5-11 Hoka One One Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX $170, 1 lb. 10 oz. (US men’s 9) Sizes: US men’s 7-15, women’s 5-11 Comfort can prove an elusive quarry with footwear, especially for dayhikers and trail runners who …

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