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 2020

An in-depth look at the top backpacking tents on the market, from ultralight models to spacious all-rounders and leading budget options

Best Backpacking Packs of 2020

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 2020

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 2019

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 2020

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 2020

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 2020

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 2020

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 of 2020, we focus on taste, nutritional...

Best Trekking Poles of 2020

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 2020

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 2020

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 2020

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 2020

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 2020

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...

Best Hiking Pants of 2020

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 Hiking Socks of 2020

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 2020

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 jacket. The 2020 rain jackets for men and...

Best Hardshell Jackets of 2020-2021

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 2020

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 2020-2021

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 Baselayers of 2020-2021

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...

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 (2020) 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 for 2020, we tested the latest two-person model on a series of...

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 is undoubtedly expensive at $450, and it may not be worth...

Review: REI Half Dome 2

Well designed and constructed with quality materials that rival tents nearly twice its price, the REI Half Dome 2 is ideal for weekend backpackers and those on a budget. It’s quite spacious on this inside and REI shed...

REI Co-op Quarter Dome 2 Tent Review

In years past, REI’s Quarter Dome was on the cusp of breaking through in the lightweight tent market. It was a fantastic value for the weight, but the build quality was a step down from the competition...

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 AG 70 Review

Osprey has a strong reputation for building comfortable packs, and the Aether line is one of their best. To see how it performed, we loaded down the 70-liter model for a multi-day trip in Southern Utah. All in all, we were impressed by its performance...

Granite Gear Blaze 60 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...

Gregory Baltoro 75 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 3 Review

Salomon’s X Ultra line of hiking footwear is one of our long-time favorites for all types of uses from day hikes to lightweight backpacking trips. We’ve tested the latest low-top shoe version through everything from early winter conditions in the...

Merrell Moab 2 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...

Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX Review

=Salomon’s Quest 4D boot has headlined their backpacking lineup for years, and it remains a solid all-around performer in today’s market. I put the boot to the test while backpacking the rugged Huemul Circuit in Patagonia and found it to be the perfect...

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 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 3 Review

Salomon’s X Ultra line of hiking footwear is one of our long-time favorites for all types of uses from day hikes to lightweight backpacking trips. We’ve tested the latest low-top shoe version through everything from early winter conditions in the...

La Sportiva TX4 Review

La Sportiva’s popular TX lineup runs the gamut from the minimalist TX2 approach shoe to the mid-height TX5 hiking boot. Over the past few seasons, I’ve enjoyed my middle-of-the-pack TX3...

Salomon X Raise Hiking Shoe Review

Building on their excellent hiking footwear collection, Salomon has released the X Raise low-top for 2020. The all-new shoe is intended for fast-and-light day hiking and backpacking trips with a trimmed...

Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX 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. After taking it...

Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX Hiking Shoe Review

Released last year, the Aerios FL builds off Arc’teryx’s Norvan trail-running collection and marks the company’s continued foray into hiking footwear. Eager to test its performance, we took the low-top version of the fast-and-light shoe on a multi-day...

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 remains a favorite thanks to a premium...

Arc'teryx Alpha SV Jacket Review

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

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...

Zpacks Duplex Tent Review

Purpose-built for thru-hikers and serious 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...

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 (2020) 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 for 2020, we tested the latest two-person model on a series of...

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 best. Their leading two-person model is the Double Rainbow, which hits a competitive...

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...

Osprey Levity 60 Review

Released last year, the highly anticipated, sub-2-pound Osprey Levity is a formidable contender in the ultralight 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 2020

Whether you are a first-time backpacker or a seasoned veteran, everyone likes a good list. Our detailed backpacking checklist below covers everything from critical equipment (tent, pack, sleeping bag, etc.)...

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...

Does Your Backpacking Tent Need a Footprint?

This age-old question stymies both 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?

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...

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 tent weight, you’ve come to the right place. Below we’ve put together exhaustive tent weight comparison tables covering virtually all models available for summer 2020...