Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Hiking & Camping

Hiking and camping gear.

Oboz Sundog

87

2016

Oboz Sundog

The Oboz Sundog is a classic light hiker with exacting fit, great tread, unique look, and a traditional lacing system. 

Ridgemont Monty Lo

83

2016

Ridgemont Monty Lo

The Ridgemont Monty Lo is a versatile walking shoe that is inspired by skate but functions like a true light hiker for everyday adventures.

Scarpa Zen Pro Low

90

2016

Scarpa Zen Pro Low

The Scarpa Zen Pro is one of the classic light hikers—extremely well constructed and built for heavy duty trekking with light loads.

Garmont Dragontail LT

91

2016

Garmont Dragontail LT

The Garmont Dragontail is a light approach shoe that does everything well except run.

Exped Synmat Hyperlite M

87

2016

Exped Synmat Hyperlite M

The Exped Synmat Hyperlite M, is a tapered ultralight three season sleeping pad that has an impressive warmth to weight ratio. The Exped pad is the lightest of its category and compresses the smallest, but its narrow tapered foot and vertical baffles limited its comfort.    

Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated Mat

85

2016

Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated Mat

The Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated Mat is an ultralight three season sleeping pad that is extremely durable for its weight to warmth ratio.       

Nemo Astro Insulated Lite 20R

87

2016

Nemo Astro Insulated Lite 20R

The Nemo Astro Insulated 20R Sleeping Pad is an ultralight sleeping pad that is delivers a firm and comfortable sleeping surface.  

Therm-a-rest Neo Air XLite

90

2016

Therm-a-rest Neo Air XLite

The Therm-a-rest Neo Air XLite is the ultimate ultralight sleeping pad for weight to warmth to size ratio. However, this pad’s warmth comes from its use of reflective foil technology rather than fill insulation. 

Big Agnes Q-Core SL

93

2016

Big Agnes Q-Core SL

The Big Agnes Q-Core SL proved to be the best performing sleeping pad of its category. It is extremely durable, comfortable, and warm; however, is on the heavier end of the scale compared to the others in its category.

Stio Modis Hooded Jacket

84

2016

Stio Modis Hooded Jacket

The Stio Modis Hooded Jacket finds a nice balance between plenty of features and light weight. Using Pertex Shield as a membrane it performed well against the likes of Gore, Polartec and eVent.

REI Talusphere

83

2016

REI Talusphere

The best value in the test, the REI Talusphere is a sharp looking and durable 2.5-layer backpacking shell ready to take on the elements and subtle enough to wear around town.

Ortovox Civetta Jacket

84

2016

Ortovox Civetta Jacket

The Ortovox Civetta is an ultra-lightweight 2.5-layer backpacking shell ideal for quick summer excursions.

The North Face FuseForm Dot Matrix

88

2016

The North Face FuseForm Dot Matrix

Using high tech fabrication to full advantage the North Face FuseForm Dot Matrix is the most versatile jacket we tested in this category, ideal for everything from backcountry trips to walking the dog.

Black Diamond Liquid Point Shell

86

2016

Black Diamond Liquid Point Shell

Designed for alpine climbing and mountaineering adventures the Black Diamond Liquid Point Shell is a trim fitting, lightweight 2.5-layer shell that compresses small and has a minimalist feel.

Keen Targhee II WP Hiking Shoe

86

2016

Keen Targhee II WP Hiking Shoe

The Keen Targhee II is a low rise, leather and nylon mesh, waterproof hiking shoe, designed with a thick, dual density rubber sole and patented toe guards. Its durable construction provides excellent support, protection and traction over varied terrain. 

Sierra Designs Nightwatch 2

82

2016

Sierra Designs Nightwatch 2

The integrated fly and body design of the Nightwatch makes it a snap to erect into a roomy feeling tent even when sitting up. It’s compact when packed and it’s airy design is best kept to summer use.

MSR FreeLite 2

82

2016

MSR FreeLite 2

The MSR FreeLite 2 is made to pack small and is very light. The square footage is minimal, but efficient poles help make it feel roomier.

LL Bean Microlight UL 2

81

2016

LL Bean Microlight UL 2

Like the name says, the LL Bean Microlight UL 2 is a super lightweight tent, ideal for backpacking or bike packing expeditions. A great price makes up for the tight interior.

Hilleberg Niak 1.5

83

2016

Hilleberg Niak 1.5

The Hilleberg Niak is a rare marriage of lightweight and bomber construction. It’s not a roomy two person tent, but for high mountain trekking right into the shoulder season we’d pick this over just about any other tent for its dependability in uncertain weather.

Marmot Limelight 2

88

2016

Marmot Limelight 2

Marmot gave one of its best selling backpacking tents a makeover and made the Limelight 2 one of the most livable tents we’ve tried. Testers loved the interior room, easy set up and plenty of user-friendly touches. It’s a great one-quiver tent and ideal for anyone more interested in comfort than shaving down weight.

Vasque Talus Trek Low Ultradry Hiking Shoe

78

2016

Vasque Talus Trek Low Ultradry Hiking Shoe

The Vasque Talus Trek Low Ultradry is a low rise, leather and mesh, waterproof hiking shoe, designed with a thick, dual density rubber sole, athletic midsole and ventilated panels. Its Vibram outsole and deep lugs provide good quality traction across varied terrain.

Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry Hiking Shoe

85

2016

Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry Hiking Shoe

The Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry is a low rise, leather and textile, waterproof hiking shoe. It’s wide sole, deep lugs and molded heel provide excellent traction, stability and protection over varied terrain. 

The North Face Storm II Hiking Shoe

83

2016

The North Face Storm II Hiking Shoe

The North Face Storm II is a lightweight, low rise, leather and mesh, waterproof hiking shoe with a thick, protective Vibram sole and plush heel and tongue padding for extra comfort.

Columbia Grand Canyon Outdry Hiking Shoe

74

2016

Columbia Grand Canyon Outdry Hiking Shoe

The Columbia Grand Canyon Outdry is a lightweight, low rise, leather and mesh, waterproof hiking shoe, with a springy midsole, and shallow lugs. Best used on short hikes with dirt or gravel surfaces. 

Therm-a-rest Mira HD

87

2016

Therm-a-rest Mira HD

The Mira HD is a women-specific 3-season bag intended for ultralight three-season backcountry adventures.

Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800 15

86

2016

Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800 15

The Mobile Mummy 800 15 is what Sierra Designs calls a garment-style sleeping bag with arm-holes and the ability to stow the foot box, making it a wearable sleeping bag. 

Sea To Summit Talus Ts II

89

2016

Sea To Summit Talus Ts II

Sea to Summit’s Talus TS II is a lightweight, relaxed mummy unisex bag that is super comfortable and performed well in fairly cold winter climate and offers a variety of features and options. 

RAB Neutrino Endurance 600

90

2016

RAB Neutrino Endurance 600

The RAB Neutrino Endurance 600 women-specific sleeping bag is a very warm, super comfortable bag with many features tailored to a women’s body and needs—provided she is not taller than 5’7” (largest size).

The North Face Tephora 20

86

2016

The North Face Tephora 20

The North Face Tephora is a 3-season women-specific, generous-fit, mummy style sleeping bag.

Montbell Down Hugger 800 #1

88

2016

Montbell Down Hugger 800 #1

The Down Hugger 800 #1 is a unisex, 3-season sleeping bag that uses tailoring techniques to create a truly flexible and movable sleeping experience.

Big Agnes Roxy Ann 15

85

2016

Big Agnes Roxy Ann 15

The Roxy Ann 15 is a lightweight 3-season bag, part of Big Agnes’ Women’s Classic Down series.

Millet 7 Summits

91

2016

Millet 7 Summits

The Millet 7 Summits sleeping bag is a lightweight, 4-season sleeping bag.

Nemo Wagontop 4P

84

2016

Nemo Wagontop 4P

The Nemo Wagontop is sturdy and spacious. The 78-inch highpoint actually spans the length of the tent and the only place you need to duck is when entering. But, to be this sturdy and spacious the pole system is obnoxious to set up with two awkward and spidery pole sets.

Kelty AirLift 4

79

2016

Kelty AirLift 4

The Kelty Airlift series uses pressurized air tubes to form the structure of the tent where poles are usually used. This is great for families with rambunctious kids who won’t be able to break any poles but extra care must be taken to help the tubes stand up during inflation.

Coleman Longs Peak 6

74

2016

Coleman Longs Peak 6

Coleman provides fine tents for fair weather campers. The low price point starts to show when the wind starts to pick up as the walls of the tent bend in more so than with other tents in the test. Where the Longs Peak 6 excels is with a more durable floor fabric to prevent ground moisture from wetting through from the bottom.

Big Agnes Chimney Creek 4 mtnGLO

83

2016

Big Agnes Chimney Creek 4 mtnGLO

The Big Agnes Chimney Creek 4 is a standard extended dome style tent with a built in lighting system. 

Mountainsmith Conifer 5+

85

2016

Mountainsmith Conifer 5+

The Mountainsmith Conifer 5+ is an extended dome style tent with lots of headroom, a generous vestibule and lots of tie down points to ward off fierce winds. The tent does take a little extra time to set up and despite the color coding there is still some ambiguity on orienting the tent and getting the fly attached.

Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat

82

2016

Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat

The Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat is a waterproof, mid-cut leather and nylon winter hiking boot with 200 grams of insulation. 

The North Face Ultra Extreme II Gore-Tex

85

2016

The North Face Ultra Extreme II Gore-Tex

The North Face Ultra Extreme II Gore-tex is a low-cut leather and nylon winter hiking boot with 200 grams of insulation and a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane. 

Keen Revel III

82

2016

Keen Revel III

The Keen Revel III is a waterproof, mid-cut leather winter hiking boot with 200 grams of insulation. 

Vasque Snowblime UltraDry

84

2016

Vasque Snowblime UltraDry

The Vasque Snowblime UltraDry is a waterproof, mid-cut leather winter hiking boot with 200 grams of insulation. 

Ahnu Northridge

76

2016

Ahnu Northridge

The Ahnu Northridge is a waterproof, high-cut leather and suede winter hiking boot with 200 grams of insulation. 

Boker Plus Coye Ridgeback Fixed Blade

95

2016

Boker Plus Coye Ridgeback Fixed Blade

The Boker Plus Coye Ridgeback is a compact fixed blade knife designed for inconspicuous belt carry. It’s made from 440C and features a drop-point style blade and contoured G10 handle scales which makes the Ridgeback easy to use for almost any application. 

Camillus Soar

93

2016

Camillus Soar

The Camillus Soar is a full-tang fixed blade knife designed to see you through to your next adventure. Featuring a drop-point 440C stainless blade with a Titanium Bonded cutting edge, spine, and belly; the Soar is an affordable production knife that performs like an expensive custom one.

TOPS Knives Tom Brown Tracker #1

94

2016

TOPS Knives Tom Brown Tracker #1

Designed many moons ago by outdoorsman and tracker, Tom Brown, the Tops Tracker #1 is a multi-function knife designed to chop, carve, split, skin, saw, plane, and ultimately help you persevere.

Helle Utvaer

98

2016

Helle Utvaer

The Helle Utvaer is the first full-tang construction knife offered by Helle of Norway. A modern take on the classic puukko style of bushcraft knife, the Utvaer has a modern and aggressive look, features a curly birch handle and comes with a leather sheath.

Princeton Tec Sync

78

2015

Princeton Tec Sync

The Princeton Tec is the least expensive light in the set we tested; though it ranked lowest in brightness, it’s probably still burning on that first set of batteries.

Petzl Nao

83

2015

Petzl Nao

The Petzl Nao is the second brightest lamp we tested. It is like hiking with your high beams on and you’ll want to see the other functions of this futuristic headlamp.

Olympia EX 550

85

2015

Olympia EX 550

The Olympia EX 550 is extremely bright but burns through its two expensive and uncommon (CR123A) batteries quickly.

Mammut X-Shot

81

2015

Mammut X-Shot

The Mammut X-Shot is two lamps in one in a tough little package, you’ll be pleasantly surprised where the second lamp is.

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