Tag Archives: ultralight backpacking gear reviews

Review: Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody

January 31, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Wearing the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody while backcountry skiing.

Wearing the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody while backcountry skiing.

Breathable Insulated Jacket
Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody
$249, 12 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

The range of activities, conditions, and seasons in which you wear a jacket arguably says more than anything else about its value, so I’ll tell you what I’ve done (so far) in my Ascendant Hoody: On a 39-mile, mid-September backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, I wore it in camp on cool, windy mornings and evenings. I’ve worn it as a middle layer on days of skiing downhill at resorts, and as an outer or middle layer skiing up and downhill in the backcountry. And I’ve regularly pulled it on to ride my bike on errands around town this winter. Its versatility derives from having just the right amount of breathable insulation to make it the insulated jacket you grab more than any other all year. Continue reading →

December 18, 2017 A backpacker at Park Creek Pass, North Cascades National Park.

The Best New Hiking and Backpacking Gear of 2017

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Every year, I field test a lot of new gear and clothing for three-season hiking, backpacking, climbing, and winter backcountry activities. Much of it’s pretty good. But to be honest, only a small number rise to the level of excellent, either for technical innovation or simply coming at a task from a new angle that makes their performance superior to others. On those rare occasions, gear can actually make the experiences we seek better in some small way. For this article, I’ve picked out the best pieces of new outdoors gear and apparel that came out in 2017. Continue reading →

Review: The 10 Best Down Jackets of 2018

December 14, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews, Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments
The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

Testing the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody in Wyoming’s Wind River Range.

By Michael Lanza

There’s a certain irony in looking for an insulated jacket for outdoor activities these days. While many of us use the term “down jacket” generically, some of the best puffy jackets out there have synthetic insulation or combine synthetics with down feathers. And technology has blurred the traditional lines between down and synthetics, with water-resistant down that traps heat even when wet—all but eliminating the weakness that had long been the Achilles heel of down—and synthetic insulation materials that rival the warmth-to-weight ratio and compressibility of down.

In this article, I’ll help you figure out what type of jacket you need, and then offer you my recommendations for the best down and synthetic puffy jackets on the market today. 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 →

December 12, 2017 Trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Holiday Gift Guide 2017: 35 Great Outdoors Gifts

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

If you’re shopping for a gift for someone who loves the outdoors—or even for yourself—look no further. This list covers the top-performing products and best values I’ve found among the outdoor gear and apparel I’ve field tested over the past 12 months, including jackets, backpacks, a tent, a sleeping bag and air mattress, headlamps, trekking poles, climbing harnesses, and a pile of other stuff in a wide range of prices. Plus, many of them are available at deeply discounted sale prices right now, and you’ll find links to those sales below.

You just may finish all of your holiday shopping right here. Continue reading →

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