Tag Archives: ultralight backpacking gear reviews
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 →
I’m looking for a backpack for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. I am considering some Osprey packs and others. What to you recommend as the best thru-hiking backpack?
My husband and I have decided it’s time to invest in lighter backpacking gear to ease the impact on our bodies. Our kids are nine and 11, and backpacking as a family is an important part of our lives. Recently, we upgraded our mountain bikes so that we could still happily bike with our kids; it seems like we need to do the same with our backpacking equipment. Knowing that you are in touch with the latest gear compared to our old stuff, what would you recommend as the most important things to upgrade, with weight in mind?
Our gear is mostly 20+ years old (we got a great Big Agnes tent last year per your advice). With backpacking, there are so many elements, from stove to pack to sleeping bags. Do you think we can reduce our weight loads a reasonable/noticeable amount, and feel like our investment was worth it? Continue reading →
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 →
Breathable Insulated Jacket
Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody
$249, 12 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
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 →