Tag Archives: ultralight backpacking gear reviews

June 20, 2018 Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress

Gear Review: Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress

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Insulated Air Mattress
Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress
$180, 20×72 inches rectangular, 13 oz. (including its stuff sack)
Sizes: 20×66, 20×72, 25×72, and 25×78 inches rectangular and 20×72 mummy
moosejaw.com

As air mattresses have continued getting lighter, more compact, and more comfortable, one would think a limit has been reached on how small they can get before sacrificing real comfort. But Big Agnes has raised that bar again—or lowered it, if you will—with the AXL Air. For four nights backpacking the Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop off the Grand Canyon’s North Rim in May, and several spring nights camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, I slept like a baby on this plush air mattress, while it all but disappeared inside my pack on the trail. I’ve tested and own many air mats, and I don’t think there’s another I’d now carry instead for three-season backpacking. Here’s why. Continue reading →

June 19, 2018 Backpackers in Titcomb Basin, in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

Ask Me: What’s the Best Ultralight Thru-Hiking Backpack?

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Hi Michael,

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?

Thanks.

Bruce

Continue reading →

June 12, 2018 Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody

Review: Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody

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Ultralight Insulated Jacket
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
$299, 9 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XXS-XL
moosejaw.com

The wind blew at a steady 30 mph or better and gusted over 40 mph—creating a wind chill around 40° F—on yet another Memorial Day weekend of “mixed” weather at Idaho’s City of Rocks. I zipped into my Micro Puffy Hoody, pulled the hood up under my helmet, and readied to belay for what would stretch into an hour as my partner led a long trad rock-climbing pitch. Fortunately, this featherweight insulated jacket kept me warm while standing idle for that long in those conditions. It did the same in similar temps and light rain later that weekend at the City, and in cool, strong wind while camping at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim and on the Esplanade during a four-day backpacking trip. One of the lightest insulated jackets on the market at a mere nine ounces, the Micro Puff is surprisingly warm. Here’s why. Continue reading →

June 5, 2018 Patagonia Capilene Midweight Zip-Neck.

Review: The Best Base Layers For Hiking, Running, and Training

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By Michael Lanza

Let’s admit it: We don’t always take our base layers as seriously and we do our outerwear and insulation—or packs, tents, boots and other gear, for that matter. But this under-appreciated first stage in a layering system for the outdoors really sets the table for how comfortable you’ll be. Base layers that don’t perform well probably won’t kill you, but misery isn’t a good companion. This is what we wear against our skin. It matters.

After much testing from the trails to the mountains and the gym year-round, the long-sleeve tops, T-shirts, shorts, underwear, and sun cap reviewed here are the best I’ve found for dayhiking, backpacking, trail running, climbing, skiing, cycling, and training. Continue reading →

May 31, 2018 The Sierra Designs Nitro 800 20-degree sleeping bag.

Gear Review: Sierra Designs Nitro 800 20-Degree Sleeping Bag

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Three-Season Sleeping Bag
Sierra Designs Nitro 800 20-Degree
$330, 1 lb. 13 oz. (regular)
Sizes: men’s regular and long, women’s regular
Moosejaw.com

Choosing between sleeping bags can sometimes feel like getting the names of identical twins right—they look an awful lot alike. With bags, you can compare certain key specs: temperature rating, type and amount of insulation (or fill), total weight, and, of course, the price. Using those metrics, the new Sierra Designs Nitro bags look like a pretty good value, so I slept in the 20-degree Nitro 800 while camping on some cool and windy May nights at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, and on a three-night, 39-mile backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range in mid-September, to see if its performance matches its impressive numbers. Continue reading →

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