Of all the outdoor activities we cover here at Switchback Travel, hiking is dearest to our hearts. It is one the easiest ways to get outdoors for people of all experience levels, and simply put, any time spent on the trail has a way of soothing the soul. Below are our detailed hiking gear reviews for 2020, including round-ups, in-depth reviews, and informational articles covering everything from hiking footwear and clothing to daypacks and trekking poles. For overnight adventures, see our detailed backpacking gear reviews.

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 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 Trail-Running Shoes of 2020

Running on varied and challenging trails is a welcome break from the monotony of pounding pavement (or even worse, the belt of a treadmill). Better yet, trail running is an immensely easy sport to get into. Below are our top trail runners of 2020, from...

Best Daypacks for Hiking of 2020

A key piece of any gear closet is a go-to daypack. It’s what you grab for nearly any type of outdoor adventure, whether it’s a hike, bike ride, or day on the slopes. Generally, what most people look for…

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 Down Jackets of 2020

Nothing beats a great down jacket, whether it’s for causal use or tearing around the backcountry. Below we break down the best down jackets of 2019, including the top down sweaters, ultralights...

Best Synthetic Insulated Jackets of 2019-2020

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 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 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 Hiking Socks of 2019

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 Baby Carriers for Hiking of 2020

For hitting the trail with a little one in tow, it’s hard to beat a baby carrier pack. Their supportive designs allow for a comfortable and safe ride, and we’ve spent countless hours hiking with both a happy child...

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...

The North Face Ultra 110 GTX Review

The North Face has been making a strong push in the hiking market, and one of our favorite products has been their Ultra GTX shoe. We put the latest 110 version through three...

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 hiking shoe that comes in at just...

Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX Hiking Shoe Review

New for 2019, 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...

Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX Review

Salomon’s Quest 4D boot has headlined their backpacking lineup for years. Updated last year, they fine-tuned the design with a grippier outsole and reworked platform that offers a little more...

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...

Keen Targhee III WP Mid Review

Keen’s Targhee line has been a powerhouse in the day-hiking world for years. Released at the end of 2017, the Targhee III retains similar levels of comfort and build quality that people love, but hones in fit for slightly more of a performance feel...

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...

Asolo Falcon GV Review

In many ways, the Asolo Falcon GV represents where we think hiking footwear is headed: a little less weight and support than a traditional heavyweight boot, but with the technical chops to get the job done both on and off trail. We brought...

Marmot PreCip Eco Rain Jacket Review

Being from Seattle, we get asked for rain jacket recommendations a lot, and 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...

Marmot Minimalist Review

Marmot’s Minimalist jacket isn’t new, but its combination of price and performance keeps it among our favorite rain shells year after year. With proven Gore-Tex waterproofing, a thoughtful feature set, and premium build quality, the...

REI Co-op Drypoint GTX 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...

Arc’teryx Zeta SL 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 new-for-2019 Zeta SL is the “superlight” version...

Patagonia Torrentshell Review

Patagonia’s Torrentshell is a common sight on the streets and muddy trails of the Pacific Northwest. Its reliable weather protection, lightweight materials, and good looks make it an everyday staple. The jacket isn’t a standout in terms...

Best Cheap Down Jacket: REI Co-op 650 2.0

Here at Switchback Travel, we’re passionate about our down jackets. We’ve tested a huge range of models over the years from entry-level options from Outdoor Research and Columbia to premium alternatives...

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...

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...

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Hoody Review

Ultralight without feeling ultra-compromised, the updated-for-2019 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...

Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody Review

The Atom LT from Arc’teryx is a legend. It’s been one of the popular synthetic jackets on the market for years, so much so that it has received few updates even as the competition continues to increase. It’s true...

Patagonia Nano-Air Review

Patagonia’s Nano-Air took the active insulation market by storm, designed to be a synthetic jacket that truly can be worn all day through a variety of conditions and activities. After testing the past-generation hoody while ski touring, we took...

Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody Review

Patagonia’s Nano Puff is one of the most popular and recognizable insulated jackets on the market today. But with a fresh crop of new rivals, we felt it was time to take another look at this legendary...

Osprey Stratos 24 Review

Osprey is a leader in the pack market, and their Stratos line is an all-around favorite for day hiking. We’ve owned multiple variations over the years, and all have delivered nearly flawless performance through extended, rough use. We’ve been testing...

Osprey Talon 22 Review

Osprey’s Talon is the daypack we see on the trails more than any other. And there’s good reason for its popularity: it’s light, has a nice fit, is made in a wide range of sizes and bright colorways, and hits a desirable price point. We’ve used the...

prAna Halle Review

Perhaps no other women’s hiking pant is as ubiquitous and revered as the prAna Halle. In fact, when I bought my first pair, the two female sales associates spotted my purchase and began raving about their experiences wearing the Halle to work...

MSR Guardian Purifier Review

MSR has been a longstanding leader in the world of backpacking filters, so it’s no surprise their Guardian has become our go-to pump for trips abroad. We took this hybrid filter and purifier along to Peru’s...

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 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...

Down vs. Synthetic Insulation

As the weather cools down each year the insulation debate heats up. Goose and duck down fill are among the premier insulators on earth, trapping air and creating pockets of warmth around your body...

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...

Fall Hiking Gear Essentials

Fall is our favorite time of the year to hike: the temperatures have cooled off, the bugs are mostly gone, and the colors in the mountains are incredible. For this shoulder season, we always make some adjustments to our hiking gear...