Tag Archives: ultralight backpacking gear reviews

May 27, 2017 Royal Arch Loop, Grand Canyon National Park.

Review: 19 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories

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By Michael Lanza

Sure, your backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and other backpacking gear matter a lot, and you should put serious thought into your choices when buying any of them. But little things matter, too. Various necessary accessories, convenience items, and small comforts accompany me on backcountry trips. Many years of field-testing gear have refined my sense of what I like on certain types of trips and what I will not do without anytime.

Here’s my list of essential backpacking accessories, ranging from basics like my favorite stuff sacks and water filters, to great values in a headlamp and knife, and what I lay my head down on every night I sleep on the ground. You’ll find many of them available at sale prices right now. Continue reading →

May 23, 2017 Backpacking to Burro Pass above Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

5 Things to Know Before Buying Backpacking Gear

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By Michael Lanza

Are you in the market for a new backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag or other backpacking gear? How do you find something that’s just right for you? What should you be looking for? How much should you spend? These are questions I’ve heard from many friends and readers over the years as they’ve waded through the myriad choices out there. Here are my five top tips for buying gear that’s right for you—the insights I’ve learned over two decades of testing and reviewing gear and helping people find gear they love. Continue reading →

May 9, 2017 Backpacking the Gunsight Pass Trail, Glacier National Park.

Why and When to Spend More on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

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By Michael Lanza

You need a new backpack, backpacking tent, rain jacket, boots, or a sleeping bag. You’ve read some reviews. You’ve winnowed your short list to a handful of possible choices—with a significant difference in prices. That’s when you struggle with the question that pushes the frugality button in all of us: Why should I spend more?

Over the course of more than two decades testing and reviewing gear for this blog and Backpacker magazine, I’ve learned what qualities separate the expensive from the moderately priced from the cheap—and when it’s worth spending more, and when it’s not. Before you spend (or waste) another dime, read on. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Scarpa Epic Lite Shoes

May 3, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Scarpa Epic Lite shoes.

Scarpa Epic Lite shoes.

Hiking/Approach Shoes
Scarpa Epic Lite
$135, 1 lb. 14 oz. (men’s Euro 42/US 9)
Sizes: men’s Euro 39-47/US 6-13, women’s Euro 36-42/US 5-10
rei.com

The hardest footpath to the top of the highest peak east of the Mississippi, North Carolina’s 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell, runs you through a gauntlet of character-building trail conditions lurking in those rough Appalachian Mountains. Hiking the Black Mountain Crest Trail entails climbing a cumulative 3,500 vertical feet over 12 miles on an earthen rollercoaster that traverses 13 summits above 6,000 feet, over ground littered with wet, slick leaves, while hopping the occasional small pond of mud and carefully treading over slippery roots and granite slabs. I could hardly have thought up a better place to try out Scarpa’s new Epic Lites. And I’ve worn very few models of shoes over the years that handle all kinds of terrain as nimbly as these. Continue reading →

Gear Review: The 5 Best Backpacking Tents

April 19, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
The Exped Mira II Hyperlite tent in Idaho's White Cloud Mountains.

The Exped Mira II Hyperlite tent in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains.

By Michael Lanza

The best backpacking tents on the market today only superficially resemble the tents most of us pitched in the backcountry just five or 10 years ago. Designers have thrown out ingrained notions of what a backpacking tent is, thinking outside the box to make shelters that are more livable, lighter, stronger, and include features like (of all things) built-in lights. Tents continue evolving and improving because the goal of making gear lighter long ago crossed a threshold from “the new thing” to how everyone thinks. That attitude has transformed the world of backcountry gear, especially tents.

You’ll see that trend in each of the five singularly outstanding tents reviewed below. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker