ultralight backpacking gear reviews

A backpacker hiking to Spider Gap in Washington's Glacier Peak Wilderness.

An Essentials-Only Backpacking Gear Checklist

By Michael Lanza

What do you need to pack for a three-season backpacking trip? While the specific items depend in part on factors like the precise time of year, your companions and backpacking style, and the trip’s length and weather forecast, this story provides a core checklist of essential gear to help you organize and efficiently pack—and avoid overpacking—for virtually any backpacking trip.

Read on

Princeton Tec Vizz headlamp

Review: Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp

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

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.

Read on

Backpackers on the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon.

The Best Backpacking Gear of 2021

By Michael Lanza

The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. The Wonderland Trail. The Teton Crest Trail. Yosemite. The Grand Canyon. Glacier National Park. The Ruby Crest Trail. Yellowstone. The Wind River Range. The North Cascades. Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. The High Uintas Wilderness. The Tour du Mont Blanc. These are just some of the numerous places where I’ve tested the backpacking gear you see reviewed at The Big Outside. I treat gear roughly in places that are hard on outdoor gear and apparel so that I can give you brutally honest and thorough, field-tested opinions that help you make the best gear choices for your adventures.

And that’s exactly how I came up with these picks for today’s best backpacking gear.

Read on

Backpackers hiking the Titcomb Basin Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming.

The Best Trekking Poles of 2021

By Michael Lanza One of the most immutable truisms about hiking is this: Backpackers, dayhikers, climbers, mountain runners, and others who start using trekking poles almost never hit the trail without them again. No matter how much weight you’re carrying—from an ultralight daypack to a godawful heavy monster backpack—using poles will lessen your chances of an accidental fall and your …

Read on

Black Diamond Spot350 headlamp

Review: Black Diamond Spot350 Headlamp

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

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 in September.

Read on