This page has a ton of reviews for great gear that I've tested and use. I don't do reviews on gear that doesn't make the cut, so everything you see here is essentially recommended by me. You can also see a specific list of everything I use here. Just remember, you don't need to spend a ton of money to enjoy the outdoors. I get all my gear at REI, and here's why.I Looking for a hiking gift? Check out my gift guide for hikers.I
Bearvault came out with two new sizes, the BV425 Sprint and the BV475 Trek. In this video, I’ll show you how many common backpacking food packets and bars fit into the BV425 and BV475 and the existing BV450 and BV500. I’ll also show you how the bear canisters fit into 55L and 30L backpacks.
I’ve been using the Garmin inReach Mini 2 on every hike I’ve done for several months, and overall, it’s a great unit that I trust my life with. But in relation to the family of Garmin inReach devices, it’s just a small step forward. In this guide, I’ll share my observations on how the Mini 2 performed on the trail, make recommendations on whether it (or another) satellite communicator is the best choice for you, and give you some tips on using it.
I love my Altra Lone Peak 6 shoes while hiking, but they don’t offer much protection and sometimes suffer from durablity issues. Hiking friends recommended trying the Topo Athletic Terraventure 3, so I got a pair and put about 120 miles on them. In this video, I’ll walk through the similarities and differences. I’ll also make recommendations on whether the Lone Peak or Terraventure will be right for you.
For map lovers, CalTopo / SARTopo has added new high-resolution LiDAR elevation data to some of their map coverage. This quick video will show you why the new LiDAR data is excellent, how the elevation data (DEM) has evolved, and what we can expect moving forward with digital maps.
I’ve been using the Gregory Zulu 30 (and the women’s version is the Jade 28) for about six months, and I think it’s an excellent fit for most hikers who want one daypack for all seasons. The comfort and fit are superior; the pack can hold lots of gear and is well thought out; it’s durable and reasonably priced.
I spent 100 miles testing the popular Oboz Sawtooth hiking shoes, and while they were good, they didn’t even compare to the comfort that my Altra Lone Peak 6 trail runners provided. In this video, I’ll briefly cover the differences between a hiking shoe and the Altra Lone Peak so that if you are trying to make a decision, you’ll have some insight from actual experience.
If you’re shopping for a bear canister or bear storage bag, knowing how much food fits into one is tough to find out. This video will test the BearVault BV450, BearVault BV500, Ursack AllMitey 10 Liter, and Grubcan to see how much food actually fits in the container and then find out how much room the containers take up in a backpack.
The 9.60 firmware update brings course functionality to the Garmin GPSMAP 66 series. Courses are a bit of a hybrid between tracks and routes. In this video, I’ll show you how to create a course and then navigate it using your GPSMAP 66 series device.
Now that the Chinese satellite positioning system, Beidou, is supported on more GPS and wearables, I’ve been getting asked if it’s safe to use. In this short video, I’ll explain the issues so you can make an educated decision on whether to use Beidou or not.
In this short video I’ll walk you through the tools I use to navigate on the trail, including planning, on-trail dashboards and nav check-ins, workout recording, and then post-hike sharing.
In this video I’ll walk you through the Osprey Talon 6 (similar to the women’s Tempest 6), share my experience of hiking 100 miles with it, and make some recommendations on whether the Talon 6 is right for you.
In this quick video I’ll explain what Return Link Service (RLS) is for PLBs and tell you why you’d want to consider it for a new PLB purchase.
I’ve been hiking with my Altra Lone Peak 6 trail runners for over 200 miles now, and they’ve been great. In this video I’ll show what makes them great and how they compare to the Altra Lone Peak 5.
Is REI Membership worth It? It will save you 10%+ on your purchases and also has a lot of other benefits that not everyone knows about. Here’s how an REI Membership can work for you…
For hikers and outdoors enthusiasts, the Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix (Gen 2) offer a ton of functionality and tools, all packed into a small piece of metal on your wrist. But does the benefit of having one of these watches justify the steep cost? In this review and guide, I’ll take a look at the Fenix 7 and Epix from an outdoors and hikers’ perspective and make some recommendations on whether this watch is something you should invest in. I won’t cover the 2 billion non-outdoor things that this watch can do because this guide would take 100 days to read. My recommendations are based on my actual usage over hundreds of miles of hiking.
I just got my Garmin Fenix 7x Solar Sapphire yesterday and I was excited to test out the multi-band accuracy, so I went for a quick hike at the local slot canyon. In this video I’ll show you how the Fenix 7x multi-band positioning stacks up against the Fenix 6x Pro Solar, the GPSMAP 66i, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
There’s a new technology on the horizon and it will change how we communicate and navigate in the backcountry. In this video I’ll show you what it is, how it works, and what the potential is.
If you want peace of mind in the backcountry in an emergency, the ACR / Ocean rescueME PLB1 is what you need. It’s the smallest and most compact personal locator beacon (PLB) that you can get. If you get into trouble in an area where you can’t get a cellphone signal to dial 911, hit the red button on the PLB1, and help is on the way. The rescueME PLB1 doesn’t offer two-way satellite communications like a Garmin inReach or ZOLEO, but it doesn’t have any subscription costs. You pay for the unit, and that’s it. I’ll show you how it works, compare it to a satellite communicator, and give you my recommendations.
I get a fair amount of emails and comments asking me what the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator (like inReach and ZOLEO) is. In this short video I’ll explain the difference in plain English, and address the grey area where the two crossover.
In this video I’ll clear up any confusion about how long inReach messages take to send and receive so that you can set your expectations accordingly.
After spending days hiking in a cold and rainy PNW, I share my cold and wet gear setup for hiking. I had honed this earlier and my recent trip confirmed that it works great.
I spent a lot of time with the Hikelite 18 and it’s a winner – the Hikelite has become my go to short day hike pack, especially for the summer. It has everything that you need, and nothing that you don’t, and is designed for hot environments.
I tried out the Mystery Ranch Scree 32 backpack after having several people recommend it. Overall, it’s a solid and durable pack, but there are some deal-breakers that don’t make it the right pack for me. In this video I’ll show you the highs and lows of the Mystery Ranch Scree 32 and make some recommendations about who it would be a good fit for.
In this short video I’ll show you around the CalTopo mapping software. We’ll create a hike, send it to our phone, navigate with the CalTopo mobile app, and then review our hike on the computer afterward.
For those who are new to hiking using the Gaia GPS app (for iPhone or Android), this quick video will walk you through the basics of creating or loading a hike, using the hike to navigate, and then viewing your saved hike when you’re done on the trail.
In this video I’ll walk through the diffeent map layers that I find useful when planning nad going on a hike using Gaia GPS. I’ll show you which specific maps make sense and why, and also show you how I check for rain, snow, wildfires, cell reception, and overgrown trails.
After using the HOKA Stinson ATR 6 for about 400 miles, I decided to give the HOKA Speedgoat 4 a try after having it reocmmended by other hikers. In this short video I’ll cover the differences I found between them and my recommendations on which is a better hiking shoe.
Word on the Macrumors street is that the new iPhone (coming out Sep?) will have capabilities to communicate with LEO satellites, just like inReach units do. Having this built into the iPhone would eliminate the need for a separate device like an inReach. In this video I’ll go over the possibilities, and if the iPhone 13 does indeed have this, I’ll review it as soon as possible.
The new COROS VERTIX 2 is an exciting watch for hikers – the multi-band GNSS receiver is really exciting, as is the long battery life. But the shortcomings in maps and navigation, which I think can be addressed by future firmware updates, make it a bit of a non-starter for me as a hiking watch.
I’ve used the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR 6 Trail-Running Shoes for about 300 miles of hiking, in all conditions, and while comfortable, they’re starting to deterioriate (but are still usable). In this video I’ll show you what’s good and what’s not so good for the Stinson ATR 6s.
I’ve spent some weeks hiking with the REI Flash 22 pack as an ultralight day pack option, and it’s been great. The pack is minimal, and just has everything you need for a day hike. In this video I’ll walk you through the Flash 22 and do a quick haul out of my day hike gear.
If you primarily use your smartphone as your outdoor navigation device, and are looking for satellite messaging and SOS when out of cell phone service (like with InReach), the ZOLEO is a great option. It’s a small box that you pair with your phone to send and receive messages over the Iridium satellite network. And the ZOLEO will automatically send over your phone’s data networks if they are available, saving you the cost of a satellite message. If your phone (or Bluetooth connection) dies, the ZOLEO will still function (SOS, check-ins, location sharing) by using buttons on the unit. It’s well thought out, rugged, and an effective tool.
In this video I’ll show you how to create a local copy of your Garmin TopoActive on your hard drive so that you can use the (free) Basecamp program without having to wait for the (slow) maps to load from your GPS device when you plug it in.
In this video I’ll try out the WX2inReach service where you can request a NWS/NOAA weather report for your location and have it sent to your InReach device via satellite. I’ll also discuss the future of inReach weather briefly.
In this video I’ll show you how to use waypoints, tracks, and routes on your Garmin handheld GPS and (watch) wearable units. I’ll cover planning out and creating waypoints, routes, and tracks on your computer using Garmin Basecamp, and then using those things in the field on your GPS unit. In the end I’ll give you some practical tips on when to use each entity on your outdoor adventure.
Just a quick video showing the gym bag that I use to keep my gear organized between my house and the trail.
The Garmin GPSMAP 66sr is the best consumer GPS out there. There, I said it. When I say “best,” I mean it has a very accurate GPS receiver, long battery life, a big and easy-to-read screen, and it’s all packaged in a MIL-SPEC case that you can thrash outdoors. I spent several weeks using the GPSMAP 66sr on the hiking trails, and in this review, I’ll tell you what my experience has been. I’ve even tested the 66sr in one of the most demanding environments to get a good positioning fix, within the walls of the Grand Canyon, and I’ll share my results in this review. At the end of the review, I’ll recommend whether the 66sr or another GPS model is the right fit for your needs.
In this quick video I’ll share some tips and tricks on how to use your hydration pack / water bladder, including tips on finding the best model, use in the field, and how to easily keep them dry and clean.
Here are my thoughts on hiking with the Altra Lone Peak 5 shoes after 150 miles on the trail. Overall the shoe is very comfortable and is going to be my main choice for a hiking shoe. I also compare the features on the Altra Lone Peak 5 with the Altra Lone Peak 4.5, another favorite of mine.
After using the Osprey Talon 33 for many years, I spent a few months testing out the new Osprey Talon Pro 30 backpack, and it’s great. I’ve tested it on winter hikes, desert hikes, and short overnighters, and it works well for all of them. And like the other Talon models, it’s light, has an external hydration bladder pocket, and is pretty bomb-proof. In this video I’ll go over the various features, how it compares to the regular Osprey Talon 33, and who the Talon Pro is for.
One of the questions I get asked the most is, “is the Apple Watch good for hiking?” I review many hiking watches and GPS units, but not everyone wants to invest in another piece of gear, especially if they have an Apple Watch already. So to cut to the chase, the Apple Watch is suitable for hiking for most casual hikers, and in this guide, I’ll tell you the who’s and the why’s. I’ll also show you how to use it for hiking and go through some apps that are good for hiking with your Apple Watch.
Even though the Garmin GPSMAP 65s is not the most feature-packed handheld GPS out there, it’s the one that I’ve been excited about testing out. It’s the first Garmin to offer multi-band GNSS (more on that later) and the ability to utilize the QZSS and IRNSS positioning systems (in addition to GPS, Galileo, and GLONASS). If that geek talk just went above your head, it means that the unit can receive more positioning signals than other units and should (theoretically) be more accurate. I’ve been using it on the trail since the day it was released, and in this guide, I’ll give you my impressions and show you how to navigate with it.
I’ve been using and testing the Garmin Montana 750i extensively for a few months, and to sum it up in a few words, it’s a mixed bag that will be great for some folks and not so great for others. The Montana 7×0 series is unlike any other Garmin handheld GPS out there. It’s big, beefy, has a bright touchscreen, more onboard maps than usual, and that elusive beast for Garmin handhelds, the QUERTY keyboard. In this guide I’ll walk you through the Montana, show you what works and what doesn’t, and then give you some recommendations. The good news is, if the Garmin Montana 750i, 700i, or 700 is not for you, there are other great options (like the GPSMAP 66i, but more on that later).
The Garmin eTrex 32x (and 22x) is a mixed bag. Most importantly, it’s a solid, rugged and reliable handheld GPS that simply works well. There’s not a ton of bells and whistles, and there are some downsides to consider, but if you’re looking for a purpose-built GPS that can keep you on the trail or help you navigate, the eTrex 32x might be for you.
Okay, spoiler alert, the Fenix 6 is a great, if not the greatest, outdoors watch so far. In this review and how-to guide I’m going to focus on the hiking and outdoors applications of the Fenix 6. I’ll be specifically using the Fenix 6x Pro Solar, which I’ve had on my wrist 24/7 since the day it came out. I’ve owned every Fenix model since the 3, and the 6 Pro Solar doesn’t disappoint.
The GPSMAP 66i is Garmin’s top-of-the-line handheld GPS unit with InReach satellite communications built-in. It’s a solid device built for outdoor use and navigation. I’ve logged months of testing and use for this Garmin GPSMAP 66i review, and while it’s a solid unit, it’s also probably not for everyone. In this review I’ll give you my thoughts on what works and what doesn’t, I’ll compare it to devices like the InReach Explorer, I’ll give you my recommendations for the 66i, and I’ll show you how to use the device.
If you need to call for a rescue in the backcountry, the ACR ResQLink View offers a solid, professional-level method to trigger a distress signal using the government-run SARSAT network (more on that later). For those of you familiar with the Garmin InReach, the ACR uses a different set of satellites and frequencies to trigger a search and rescue. It’s the same network used by aviators, military, and other professionals. The ACR ResQLink View doesn’t offer two-way communications like an InReach, but it also doesn’t require a subscription. There are pros and cons to both which I’ll cover in this review.
The Garmin inReach Mini packs some powerful features into s small and reasonably priced package. You can send and receive your GPS location to anyone with a text or email (or another inReach Mini) in the backcountry where your cell phone doesn’t work. You can also receive messages, allowing you to communicate with family, friends, and emergency services. Additional features on the inReach Mini allow you to get weather reports, track your trip and share with friends, and perform navigation. There are some limitations, and I’ll cover that later, but all-in-all, the inReach Mini is a solid device that I highly recommend.
The REI Trail 40 is my go-to backpack for day hikes and weekend overnights. Finding the right daypack was tough; there were a lot of options to check out. In the end, the REI Trail 40’s many positives outweighed a few minor downsides. The REI Trail 40 is as light as packs half its size, has plenty of room to store gear and is well thought out with tons of practical features for anyone hitting the trail. Oh, and it works great as a carry-on bag for travel too. Here’s why I love the REI Trail 40 after months of testing.
I’ve been testing the Garmin Fenix 5x for over 6 months now, and it’s a great watch, but it might not be worth the money for some folks. Having a topo and trail map on your wrist is incredible. And the Fenix 5x is also a very powerful tool for anyone who loves the outdoors and/or fitness, with hundreds of features. But it comes at a price, a high price that is. This review shows you all the ins-and-outs of the watch, how to use it, and how to decide whether it’s right for you.
The Garmin InReach Explorer (formerly Delorme InReach) is a must-have in your pack. Outside of owning a satellite phone, it’s one of the only ways to have two-way communications with friends, family, and emergency services outside of cell service. Its navigation functions have some flaws, but don’t get the InReach for that; it’s worth the cost just for the messaging and weather features. For a few hundred bucks, the Garmin InReach could save your life. It’s a no-brainer.
The good news is that if you own a Garmin GPS device, there’s a way to get free Garmin GPS maps. And in most cases, the free maps are much better than the expensive Garmin maps. I’m a big fan of Garmin GPS devices, but I always found it disappointing that they charged extra for maps. Garmin doesn’t publicize it, but most of their GPS units are setup to take any maps in the correct format. Here’s how to get and install these free hiking maps in an easy, step-by-step process.
The Garmin eTrex 20x is your best bet for an inexpensive, dedicated, outdoor ready hiking GPS. There are more expensive models, and smartphone alternatives, but for a lot of hikers, the eTrex 20x will give you the best bang for the buck. Here’s why I recommend it.
The ten essentials are the ten pieces of gear that every hiker should bring out when them on the trail, whether on a short hike or multi-month through hike. The ten essentials were invented in the 1930s to help people enjoy the outdoors safely. It was an era before helicopter evacuations and satellite beacons; the ten essentials were designed to help folks stay alive outside. Today the ten essentials still hold true at their core, but can be improved upon with the help of new gear and technology. Here’s my take on the hiking essentials; this is what I take on every hike and what you should too.
The Garmin Fenix 3 is my favorite piece of hiking gear, bar none. It’s like having an outdoors smartphone on my wrist, 24/7. The Fenix 3 has hundreds of features. Here’s what’s good, what’s not, and why you should get this awesome hiking watch.
After using these for over 2 years, I can easily say that the La Sportiva Synthesis is the best hiking shoe or hiking boot that I’ve owned. This hiking shoe is lightweight, rugged, and has a great trail feel. I use it for everything now. Here’s why it’s so great.
Some other daypacks might have more bells and whistles, but the Camelbak Mule NV comes out ahead. This great hiking daypack is my goto pack for everything outdoors. Some of my buddies have other daypacks, but everyone ends up complimenting me on this great hiking daypack.
The Asolo Fugitive GTX hiking boot is one of the toughest and most comfortable. I’ve used them in all conditions, from desert, to mud, to snow, and they are bomb-proof. Here’s why you should get a pair.
The ACR ResQLink is the most important piece of gear you should own. The ACR ResQLink allows you, at the push of a button, to be rescued from anywhere in the world. If you don’t have it in your pack, you need to get it.