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.Looking for a hiking gift? Check out my gift guide for hikers.
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.
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.
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 use and 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.
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…
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.