From short overnights to multi-day trips into the backcountry, every backpacker wants the right tools for the job. Below we cover all the gear you need for your backpacking adventures, including detailed round-ups, reviews, and informational articles on everything from tents and packs to footwear and clothing. Our picks come from years of backpacking experience and run the gamut from leading budget options to some the best ultralight gear on the market. For shorter day hikes, see our hiking gear reviews

Best Backpacking Tents of 2021

In choosing the right backpacking tent, you have a wide range of options from minimalist ultralight shelters to inexpensive and heavier entry-level models. But uses and budgets vary, and the ideal...

Best Tent Brands of 2021

Whether you’re car camping at your local state park for the week or venturing deep into the backcountry, you’ll need a quality shelter that’s spacious enough for your group, reasonably weather-worthy...

Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2021

Gone are the days when backpacking consisted of strapping on a huge external frame and lumbering through the forest with an aching body. Trends in backpacks these days err towards minimalism...

Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2021

Cozying into your sleeping bag at the end of a long day on the trail is one of the simple pleasures of backpacking. Today’s backpacking sleeping bags offer not only exceptional warmth for their weight...

Best Ultralight Sleeping Bags and Quilts of 2021

For all the minimalist backpackers and bikepackers, thru-hikers, and ounce-counters out there, the lightweight gear world is full of options to complete your sleep system. Below we break down the best...

Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads of 2021

A good night’s sleep on a backpacking trip used to be a rarity, but today’s sleeping pads are much improved over their predecessors. Comfort is better than ever with advanced baffling and cell designs, weight and packed size continue to drop, and you...

Best Backpacking Water Filters of 2021

Everyone exploring the backcountry needs water, but staying hydrated is not as simple as drinking straight from streams and lakes. To protect against protozoa, bacteria, and even viruses, there is a wide range of water filtration and purification...

Best Backpacking Stoves of 2021

Backpackers need a stove that is lightweight, dependable, and will get the job done quickly after a long day on the trail. Thankfully, the market is full of both time-tested models and newer...

Best Backpacking Meals of 2021

It almost goes without saying: dinnertime is one of the best parts of any backpacking trip. There’s just nothing quite like warm, filling food after a long day on the trail. In choosing the best backpacking meals, we focus on taste, nutritional...

Best Trekking Poles of 2021

Serious hikers have known the great benefits of trekking poles for decades. Aside from providing stability while hauling a heavy load or moving over technical terrain, trekking poles have distinct advantages even on easy trails. They’re great for...

Best Headlamps of 2021

If you've ever gone camping, hiking, backpacking, climbing, mountain biking, trail running, or nearly anything else in the outdoors, chances are you've used a headlamp. While this handy piece of technology requires little introduction...

Best Handheld GPS of 2021

Whether deep in the backcountry or on open water, proper navigation is a must. And for route finding, recording tracks or finding a geocache, there’s no more durable and long-lasting navigator than a handheld GPS...

Best Altimeter (ABC) Watches of 2021

For hikers and mountaineers alike, a quality altimeter watch is a worthy addition to your gear collection. Popularly referred to by the acronym ABC (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass)...

Best Hiking Boots of 2021

Hiking boots are critical to your comfort and performance on the trail, but this no longer means a stiff and burly model that will weigh you down. The trend is toward lighter materials that still offer decent support, and waterproof boots...

Best Hiking Shoes of 2021

The momentum in hiking footwear is moving away from bulky boots toward lightweight shoes and even trail runners that are faster and more comfortable. You do lose some ankle support when carrying...

The Best Hiking Footwear Brands of 2021

Ask any hiker or backpacker on the trail and they’ll likely tell you that the key to success—i.e., staying comfortable mile after mile—is a good pair of hiking footwear. From well-established brands like...

Best Hiking Pants of 2021

A great pair of hiking pants provides comfort, freedom of movement, the versatility to perform well in a range of environments, and durability over the long haul. Many of today’s top hiking pants are made from lightweight nylon...

Best Women’s Hiking Pants of 2021

Women know the struggles when it comes to choosing hiking pants: ill fit, lack of storage, and general discomfort. But the market has improved significantly of late, with a healthy number of leggings, joggers...

Best Hiking Socks of 2021

You just can’t overvalue a great pair of hiking socks: they keep your feet comfortable and dry while helping to prevent blisters and hotspots. We tested the full array of hiking socks from the heat of Utah’s...

Best Rain Jackets of 2021

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we know a thing or two about rain. From months of daily drizzle to heavy downpour in the mountains, we’re acutely aware of the benefits of a quality waterproof and breathable shell. Below we break down the best rain...

Best Hardshell Jackets of 2021

Hardshell jackets are designed for the alpine: they’re highly windproof, waterproof, breathable, and durable. This is the outer layer you turn to for ultimate protection while backcountry and resort...

Best Windbreaker Jackets of 2021

Let’s get right to the point: we love windbreaker jackets. In our opinion, a good windbreaker is the most versatile outdoor jacket money can buy. These small but mighty outerlayers pack a punch...

Best Down Jackets of 2021

It's tough to beat a great down jacket, whether it’s for casual use or tearing around the backcountry. This cozy insulation type offers the best warmth-to-weight ratio on the market and packs down smaller than synthetics for easy storage. Below are the...

Best Women’s Down Jackets of 2021

As impressively warm and cozy insulators, down jackets are one of our favorite pieces of outdoor gear. Whether you’re looking for an uber-light alpine piece for the mountains, a casual fur-brimmed parka...

Best Synthetic Insulated Jackets of 2021

If you’re looking for a jacket that offers solid warmth at a good value, synthetic insulation is the way to go. You don’t get quite as high of a warmth-to-weight ratio as down, but synthetic jackets resist moisture, can breathe better, and are more...

Best Baselayers of 2021

As your next-to-skin article of clothing, a baselayer plays a fundamental role in pulling moisture away from the body and regulating core temperature. It’s far easier to justify purchasing a nice down jacket or waterproof shell, but a baselayer can be...

Best Outdoor Clothing Brands of 2021

The outdoor clothing market is vast, with everything from budget-focused brands to sustainability leaders and high-end backcountry specialists. With years of experience testing a wide range of hiking...

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent Review

First introduced in 2008, the Copper Spur series by Big Agnes has been a consistent frontrunner in the ultralight tent category. Lightly updated last year, we tested the latest two-person model on a series of backpacking trips in Patagonia. All told...

MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent Review

Discerning backpackers look for a high-quality, lightweight, and durable tent. And from our experience with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX, it checks all of those boxes emphatically. Its high-end build undoubtedly is expensive at $450, and it may not be worth...

REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent Review

Beloved by backpackers for years, REI Co-op’s Half Dome has been updated for 2021 with a significant drop in weight. But despite using thinner fabrics (they’re still tough by modern standards), the...

Sea to Summit Alto TR2 Tent Review

Well-known in the backpacking realm for their sleeping mats, Australia-based Sea to Summit jumped into the tent market this year with the introduction of their freestanding Telos TR and semi-freestanding...

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 Tent Review

Maine-based Hyperlite Mountain Gear helped bring Dyneema to the backpacking mainstream —or at least the fringes of it. And new for 2019, the trekking pole-supported Dirigo 2 tent now carries the torch...

Osprey Aether 65 Backpack Review

Osprey has a reputation for building comfortable packs, and the Aether line is one of their best. The brand retooled the collection towards the end of last year, splitting their core offerings in two: a standard...

Granite Gear Blaze 60 Backpack Review

Effectively balancing weight, carrying comfort, and features is a tall order, but Granite Gear’s Blaze 60 pack manages to do so with very few compromises. We took the women’s Blaze on a 35-mile backpacking trip along the Grand Canyon’s challenging...

Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Backpack Review

I typically purchase gear with an eye toward fastpacking and previously thought of high-capacity packs as being useful only for slower thru-hikes or long trips into the backcountry. The Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 backpack has changed my mind. Though...

Gregory Baltoro 75 Backpack Review

Gregory’s flagship men’s Baltoro and women’s Deva packs are long-time favorites for those carrying serious weight. We took the 75-liter version on the demanding Huemul Circuit in Patagonia and were pleased with its stable feel and premium construction...

REI Co-op Traverse 70 Review

REI Co-op continues to improve its in-house line. The versatile Traverse is the company’s leading backpacking pack and features high levels of comfort, thoughtful organization, and a quality build that can compete with any brand on the market. We...

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX Hiking Boot Review

Salomon’s X Ultra lineup is legendary in the world of hiking footwear, and they've overhauled the collection for 2021. We brought the mid-height version of the X Ultra 4 into Washington’s Hoh Rainforest...

Merrell Moab 2 Hiking Shoe Review

Merrell’s original Moab reached legendary status, and the current “2” carries on the tradition. To cut right to the chase, after taking the Moab 2 Ventilator to Utah’s Canyon Country and subsequent testing in Washington’s Cascade Mountains, the shoe...

Salomon Quest 4 GTX Hiking Boot Review

Salomon’s Quest has garnered serious popularity over the years as a highly capable backpacking boot, and the latest Quest 4 carries the torch. We put the recently retooled boot through its paces...

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot Review

Nearly every major hiking boot brand has its signature model, and for Lowa, it’s the Renegade GTX. We took the popular mid-height boot out backpacking and day hiking...

Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX Hiking Boot Review

Scarpa’s Zodiac Plus GTX is a fully supportive yet exceptionally lightweight boot ideal for handling high-mileage days with a heavy load. This midweight hiker is designed to shine in environments when a mountaineering boot is overkill but a low-top...

Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX Hiking Shoe Review

Every few years, Salomon revamps their best-selling X Ultra line, and they’ve launched the new “4” for spring 2021. Building on the success of the prior generation, the latest shoe features a modernized and sleeker...

La Sportiva TX4 Review

La Sportiva’s popular TX lineup runs the gamut from the minimalist TX2 approach shoe to the mid-height TXS hiking boot. Over the past few seasons, I’ve enjoyed my middle-of-the-pack TX3: an approach shoe with a great combination of breathability...

Salomon X Raise Hiking Shoe Review

Building on their excellent hiking footwear collection, Salomon released the X Raise low-top last year. The shoe is intended for fast-and-light day hiking and backpacking trips with a trimmed-down, flexible, and well-cushioned build. We tested out the...

Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX Hiking Shoe Review

Adidas has come on strong in the world of hiking footwear, and its Terrex Swift series is a notable standout among the competition. The R2 GTX is a low-cut waterproof hiking shoe that weighs a reasonable 1 pound 8.6 ounces for the pair but offers...

Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX Hiking Shoe Review

Building off of Arc’teryx’s trail running collection, the Aerios FL slots in as a light but tough option for hikers who like to move quickly. Eager to test its performance, we took the low-top version of the shoe on a multi-day backpacking trip in the...

REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket Review

Backed by a Gore license, REI Co-op now has top-of-the-line waterproofing technology to replace their old eVent line. Combine this with REI’s increased focus on design and performance of their in-house products, and you have some very competitive...

Marmot PreCip Eco Rain Jacket Review

Being from Seattle, we get asked for rain jacket recommendations a lot, and we often steer people to the Marmot PreCip. The reasons for this are fairly simple: the jacket punches well above its $100 price with quality waterproofing, a versatile feature...

Arc’teryx Zeta SL Rain Jacket Review

Arc’teryx’s Zeta line of rain jackets is designed for lightweight trekking and runs the gamut from the fully featured and pricey Zeta AR (“all round”) to the feathery Zeta FL (“fast and light”). The Zeta SL is the “superlight” version and puts a big...

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Rain Jacket Review

Patagonia’s popular Torrentshell got a notable upgrade for 2020, shifting from a 2.5-layer design to a more hardwearing and weather-ready 3-layer construction. We brought the retooled Torrentshell...

Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket Review

From Arc’teryx’s formidable hardshell lineup, the Beta AR slots in as the all-around workhorse. The jacket has been a flagship piece since its release back in 2000, and it’s a favorite for everything...

Arc'teryx Alpha SV Jacket Review

Arc’teryx is no stranger to hardshell jackets and long has been a go-to option for protection in harsh mountain environments. At the very top of their lineup is the Alpha SV ("severe weather"), which is designed for use in the most serious of...

Patagonia Galvanized Jacket Review

Alpine pursuits demand a balance of weather protection, breathability, and mobility that few jackets are able to achieve. Enter the Patagonia Galvanized. Combining the waterproofing of a hardshell with...

Arc'teryx Alpha FL Jacket Review

Arc’teryx's Alpha series is designed for top-notch climbing and alpine performance, and their “FL” represents fast and light. True to its name, the Alpha FL jacket is minimalist and lightweight, yet meticulously designed and highly protective. We took...

Patagonia Down Sweater Review

Climbers, hikers, and outdoor adventurers of all types have enjoyed Patagonia’s Down Sweater for years. It’s a go-to piece that has defined a jacket category, as any new down sweater is compared to this legendary...

Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket Review

Feathered Friends is a boutique down specialist birthed out of Seattle’s climbing scene in the 1970s, and they still lead the pack in down outerwear construction and design. The company is known for making high-quality, unflashy products for people who...

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Hoody Review

Ultralight without feeling ultra-compromised, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 is one of the lightest fully featured down jackets on the market. Despite hitting a sub-9-ounce weight (for the men’s hoody model), Mountain Hardwear managed to...

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody Review

Always designed with a specific purpose in mind, Arc’teryx offers a wide range of insulated jackets, and the Cerium LT is one of its most popular. With premium 850-fill down and Coreloft synthetic in areas prone to moisture, it’s a great option for...

Arc’teryx Cerium SL Hoody Review

The ultralight Arc’teryx Cerium SL Hoody combines 850-fill down with synthetic insulation, and it was an obvious choice for our recent bikepacking trip to Mongolia’s Khangai Mountains and trek...

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 Tent Review

Maine-based Hyperlite Mountain Gear helped bring Dyneema to the backpacking mainstream —or at least the fringes of it. And new for 2019, the trekking pole-supported Dirigo 2 tent now carries the torch...

Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Backpack Review

I typically purchase gear with an eye toward fastpacking and previously thought of high-capacity packs as being useful only for slower thru-hikes or long trips into the backcountry. The Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 backpack has changed my mind. Though...

Zpacks Duplex Tent Review

Purpose-built for thru-hikers and other ounce-counting backpackers, the Zpacks Duplex is one of the lightest and most well-built tents on the market. To test its limits, we took the Duplex Flex—a fully freestanding upgrade to the base model—backpacking...

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent Review

First introduced in 2008, the Copper Spur series by Big Agnes has been a consistent frontrunner in the ultralight tent category. Lightly updated last year, we tested the latest two-person model on a series of backpacking trips in Patagonia. All told...

Big Agnes Copper Spur 3 Platinum Tent Review

The Copper Spur line has been revered for years, and for those who want to cut even more weight, Big Agnes launched high-end Platinum versions. We took the three-person model on a bikepacking adventure...

Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent Review

The backpacking tent cottage industry is alive and well, and California-based Tarptent is one of the top brands among dedicated ULers. Their leading two-person model is the Double Rainbow, which hits a competitive balance of usability, weight, and...

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Tent Review

Big Agnes’ Tiger Wall blends two of their best backpacking designs—the popular Copper Spur and Fly Creek—into one intriguing ultralight package. We took the UL2 model backpacking in Utah’s Canyon Country and found that the mixture worked: the two-door...

Osprey Levity 60 Backpack Review

In an ever-growing field of lightweight gear, the sub-2-pound Osprey Levity is a formidable contender in the UL backpacking pack market. Coming in 11 ounces lighter than their popular Exos, the design targets thru-hikers and minimalists. We took the...

How to Choose a Backpacking Tent

Tents are one of the most exciting pieces of your backpacking kit—it’s your home away from home in the backcountry—but selecting the right one requires a healthy amount of research and thought. Designs...

Backpacking Checklist for 2021

Whether you’re a first-time backpacker or a seasoned veteran, everyone could use a good list to make sure they’re prepared when they head out on the trail. Our detailed checklist below covers everything from critical backpacking equipment (tent, pack...

How to Pack a Backpack

One of the first steps to enjoying a backpacking trip is learning how to load your pack properly. There are a lot of considerations that go into a well-packed backpack, from nailing the capacity and balancing your pack's contents to keeping critical...

Freestanding vs. Non-Freestanding Backpacking Tents

If you’re in the market for a backpacking tent, you’ll probably notice that designs are categorized as “freestanding” or “non-freestanding.” But what do these designations mean, and how do you know which style is right for you? Below we break down the...

Does Your Backpacking Tent Need a Footprint?

This age-old question challenges newbie backpackers and veterans alike. You've already spent a substantial amount on a tent, but should you tack on the extra purchase of a footprint? Is it really necessary? Below we break down the key components of the...

How to Choose a Down Jacket

For the best in cozy and lofty warmth, down jackets are in a class of their own. That said, the category covers a wide range of options, from lightweight and packable designs for backcountry use to stylish...

Backpack Fit and Sizing Guide

Your pack is arguably the most important piece of gear in your backpacking kit, and a proper (or improper) fit can make or break your time spent in the backcountry. It all starts with nailing the size, which can then be...

Do You Need Waterproof Hiking Shoes?

We get this question a lot: Do your hiking shoes or boots need to be waterproof, or can you do without? Hikers and backpackers fall on both ends of the spectrum: some prefer the unparalleled breathability of non-waterproof footwear, while others...

How to Choose Baselayers

A baselayer’s primary job is to keep you comfortable while wicking moisture as you sweat. Whether you’re climbing steep skin tracks in the backcountry, skiing lift-accessed terrain at the resort, or climbing and hiking in cool shoulder-season weather...

Merino Wool: Is It Worth It?

Merino wool, the ultra soft fabric most commonly found in performance baselayers and socks, is one of the most sought-after materials in the outdoor gear world. But is it worth the hype? Below we...

Backpacking Tent Weight Comparison Chart

If you’re researching backpacking tent weight, you’ve come to the right place. Below we’ve put together detailed tent weight comparison tables covering most models available for summer of 2021. If we’ve missed anything important, feel free to comment...

Sleeping Bag Weight Comparison Chart

It’s amazing to think that a sleeping bag can weigh only 1 pound and keep you warm through the night. To pull this off, manufacturers utilize light and lofty down insulation, thin shell and lining fabrics, and a pared-down, narrow shape. For 2021...