How To Articles


OutdoorGearLab's articles cover how to topics for selecting gear, useful advice for outdoor activities, how to use layered clothing to keep warm, and more.
1 - 100 of total 204 Articles found. [ Most Recent  | Most Popular ]
Pairing your backpacking kit down to feather light weights can make rambles in the mountains much more enjoyable. Brandon on a fun overnight up near the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park  Colorado.
 Dream Backpacking Gear List
Here we aim to synthesize OutdoorGearLab's backpacking related product testing efforts and present an up-to-date dream list of the best available backpacking gear. There are many different ways to b...

by Chris McNamara, Max Neale, and Briana Valorosi

Light enough to pose for photos  the ACT Lite offers a simple backpack that securely encloses all of your gear. As seen here  an arching suspension creates space between the back and the frame  allowing adequate airflow.
 Backpacking Checklist
This page includes all the gear you need for a backpacking trip. It may intimidate you (and your wallet) but don't worry: you likely need less than half the things on this page depending on where you ...

by Chris McNamara

Veronica Long  Austin Palmer  and Gregory Beauregard wet but still happy while wearing insulating and water resistant layers to manage their temperatures on a break from their long-distance hike.
 Introduction to Layered Clothing Systems
Overview Enjoying the mountains to the fullest extent requires knowing how to dress. With the right clothes, an afternoon alpine thunderstorm can make for a surreal and magical experience in the backc...

by McKenzie Long & RJ Spurrier

Dan Sandberg  Tom Wright  and Will Dean using poles to assist with steep off trail terrain on a backcountry ski trip. Mt. Cashmere  Washington.
 Ten Reasons for Trekking Poles
Trekking poles are an essential tool for hiking and mountaineering. Here we give ten reasons to use trekking poles and discusses how to overcome their limitations. 1. Trekking poles, like ski poles, ...

by Chris McNamara and Max Neale

The wide selection of packs at the Boulder  Colorado REI.
 How to Choose the Best Backpack
The styles, shapes, and sizes of backpacks are virtually limitless, not to mention overwhelming. You can find a pack specific to just about every outdoor activity and in just about any capacity. So ho...

by McKenzie Long and Ian Nicholson

Wearing a technical shell layer in the rain during a multi-day backpacking trip. Bringing protective layers is essential for safety and enjoyment while spending time in the outdoors.
 How to Layer Clothing for Each Season
Layering Systems In the last part of our three-part series on layering clothing we explain how to layer for winter and different outdoor conditions. We provide details and examples on common layer co...

by McKenzie Long & RJ Spurrier

 The Best Camping Food
Whether you're roughing it for a week in Yosemite Valley or in the Great Smokey Mountains, hiking in Zion National Park or climbing at Joshua Tree, car camping allows for you to eat, sleep, and live l...

by Jessica Lempe

OutdoorGearlab testing puts a priority on field testing -- comparing products side-by-side -- in real use conditions that vary from rain and snowstorm to blistering heat.
 About OutdoorGearLab
Have you ever wanted to buy an outdoor product and been stumped about which product is best? Or, worse, bought a product only to learn later that you didn't buy the right one for your needs? I have, a...

by Chris McNamara

Trekking poles add a lot of stability  something that becomes even more apparent the rougher the trail or the more arduous the terrain becomes. Here  Dan Whitmore gets a feel for the Black Diamond Trail Back while hiking into the North Fork of Bridge Creek.
 How to Choose the Best Trekking Pole
Ten years ago hardly anyone used trekking poles. Now it's rare to see someone on an overnight adventure without them and many day trippers use them as well. Trekking poles help improve balance on unev...

by Ian Nicholson

The hydration pack showdown contenders.
 How to Choose a Hydration Pack
Below we give buying advice on how to select the best hydration pack. We start by asking the most basic question: "Do you even need one or would you be better off with a water bottle and backpack?" Af...

by Chris McNamara

When the weather is truly atrocious  something super-warm like the thick down insulation of The North Face McMurdo is in order.
 How to Choose the Best Winter Jacket
What is a Winter Jacket? This is a garment that can help you withstand the cold, wind, and snow or rain. It should contain thick insulation so that your body stays warm even when not in motion, unlike...

by Jed Porter

Miles deep in the backcountry during winter. Bacon and eggs anyone?
 The Best Backpacking Food
Extended time in the backcountry often equates to a very dry diet. Learning how to cook well in the wilderness is an art that doesn't come easily but can enhance your overall outdoor experience. We ar...

by Briana Valorosi

A selection of low quality free stuff sacks and very high quality optional stuff sacks. Investing in a good stuff sack can keep a sleeping bag drier  help it last longer  and reduce weight.
 The Best Sleeping Bag Stuff Sacks
Most Free Sleeping Bag Stuff Sacks are Terrible Sleeping bag stuff sacks are critical piece of gear. They serve two important roles: (1) to minimized the packed size of your sleeping bag --thereby fr...

by Chris McNamara and Max Neale

 How to Choose a Personal Locator Beacon or Satellite Messenger
What device should you buy and for what application? Below we break it down. Once finished, however, do read our complete Personal Locator Beacon Review to find out how each device scored in our tests...

by Chris McNamara and Matt Gerdes

Choosing the right roof box can be a bit perplexing. What size do I need? What is the most aerodynamic shape? L to R: Thule Sonic L  Yakima Rocket Box Pro 14  Inno Racks Shadow 16  Yakima Skybox Pro 16 and Rhino Racks Master Fit 550.
 How to Choose a Cargo Box for Your Vehicle
Choosing the right roof box can be a bit perplexing and there are a lot of questions on a buyer's mind like "what size do I need?" or "what is the most aerodynamic shape?" In this article we will try ...

by Jessica Haist

Types of 3-season sleeping bags  left to right: traditional (hood + zipper)  hood-less  zipper-less  quilt style  hooded wearable  and wearable quilt. This review primarily compares traditional bags. Other types are found in the Ultralight Bag Review.
 How to Choose the Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bags are one of the most important components of an overnight gear kit. A warm and comfortable bag can make or break a good night's sleep, and a good night's sleep will allow you to perform b...

by Ian Nicholson, Mike Phillips, Max Neale

 How to Choose the Best Solar Charger
The modern outdoor enthusiast is a very different beast from the climbers, backpackers, kayakers, hunters, and anglers (etc.) of half a century ago. Even 10 years is plenty to have completely revoluti...

by Lyra Pierotti

Luke Lydiard climbing Stairway to Heaven in Provo Canyon in the La Sportiva Trango Prime. These light and stiff boots front-point extremely well.
 How to Choose a Mountaineering Boot
Mountaineering boots are possibly the single most important piece of gear you will bring into the mountains. Boots not only connect your feet to the terrain but keep you protected from the elements. T...

by Luke Lydiard

Wearing lightweight down jackets to fend off the cold and wind on a mountaineering expedition in Argentina.
 How to Choose the Best Down Jacket
There are a lot of variables to consider when choosing a down jacket. In our detailed Best Down Jackets for Men review of the top nine down jackets available on the market today, we assessed each jack...

by Andy Wellman

A comparison photo of several of the contenders in this review  during one of our side-by-side testing days.
 How to Choose the Best Ice Axe
How do you choose and ice axe? Here are some key factors to consider when buying an ice axe for mountaineering. Length I often see people with ice axes that are too big for them. Somehow the mantra ...

by Ian Nicholson

Four-season tents. From front to back: Black Diamond Awhahnee  Eldorado  Fitzroy  Firstlight  Marmot  Alpinist (right)  and Mountain Hardwear EV2 (left). Seven double wall tents lie in the rear.
 How to Choose the Best 4 Season Tent
We reviewed both single and double walled tents. Single walled shelters have one layer of wind and water resistant or waterproof fabric and are supported by poles either inside or outside of the fabri...

by Chris McNamara, Ian Nicholson, and Max Neale

Victorious Dromedary chugging atop the final peak (Mt. Huxley  13 086 ft) of the Evolution Traverse  High Sierra. The first third of the traverse is the background ridgeline in the photo.
 The Best Water Storage Solution for Backpacking
In Search for the Ultimate Outdoor Water Storage Solution Carrying water is a terribly dreadful chore that we outdoorsy people would be better off without. This necessary-for-survival substance weighs...

by Chris McNamara and Max Neale

New York City
 Living in a Hotel - How much does it cost and how do you do it?
Can You Live in a Hotel? Living in hotel used to only be for the rich and eccentric on the luxury end of the spectrum and the poor and eccentric on the budget end. On one side were Howard Hughes and M...

by Chris McNamara

The 2011 version of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm below northern Maine's Mt. Katahdin. Tom is 6'3" and slept on snow with the XTherm at -10 degrees F.
 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What is the purpose of OutdoorGearLab? Why did you start it? A: The OutdoorGearLab mission is to create world's best outdoor gear reviews. We strive to help our readers make smarter and more infor...

by Chris McNamara

Nine of the top rain jackets  ready for our testing. There are three distinct types of jackets here  and one will meet your needs best.
 How to Choose the Best Rain Jacket
A rain jacket that keeps you dry when the skies let loose may be the first piece of performance outdoor clothing you ever purchase; as a result, a waterproof shell is among the most important pieces o...

by Ian Nicholson and Brandon Lampley

storage sacks from left to right: Valandre Shocking Blue  Western Mountaineering Antelope MF  Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0  Marmot Lithium Membrain  and Feathered Friends Snowbunting.
 How to Choose the Best Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bags are one of the most important components of an overnight gear kit. A warm and comfortable bag can make or break a good night's sleep, and a good night's sleep will allow you to perform b...

by Chris McNamara and Max Neale

Testing climbing shoes on granite multi-pitch climbs in the Needles  CA.
 How to Choose the Best Rock Climbing Shoe
As a first time buyer, purchasing climbing shoes can be a daunting task. Even to a veteran, the prospect can be prohibitive. Unlike your street shoes, an approximate sizing won't be good enough. Virtu...

by Thomas Greene

Some testers preferred the single burner stove option add it added versatility to their cooking setups.
 The Ultimate Camp Kitchen
When you head out for a deluxe car camping trip, there is nothing worse than setting up your stove to cook that gourmet dinner, only to find that you forgot your silverware, or you don't have a scrubb...

by David Allfrey

The Granite Gear Blaze was well suited for our hike on the John Muir Trail  although it doesn't provide enough suspension support to carry mid to heavy-weight loads. The stretch fabric along the kangaroo pocket and side pockets allow for expansion when st
 How to Choose a Women's Backpacking Backpack
Choosing the backpack that is most suitable for your needs can be challenging, but we have broken down the most important aspects of the top rated women's specific backpacking packs to consider. Side ...

by Briana Valorosi

The new Sterling Nano IX (green) and the old Sterling Nano (blue). In hand the smaller diameter of the Nano IX is hard to notice (9.0 mm vs 9.2 mm).
 How to Choose the Best Climbing Rope
The foundation of the basic rock climbing belay system is the climbing rope, yet shopping for one can be a bewildering task. There are so many manufacturers with so many models; plus various lengths, ...

by Jack Cramer and McKenzie Long

Chris Henn coiling his rope while wearing the Tilley T5MO Organic Cotton airflo Hat
 How to Choose a Sun Hat
How do you buy a sun hat? We took the five most important things to consider when buying a sun hat, and listed them in order of importance. Protection Sun hats are great for protecting your skin fro...

by Devin Chance

The full-size  utilitarian blade of the SwissChamp will slice through food  rope  textiles  wood. Whatever you ask of it. This slender cutter does far more than you can imagine it would.
 How to Choose the Best Pocket Knife
How do you narrow down a dizzyingly complex field of pocket knives to make your choice? A pocket knife is one tool that even the least "handy" person may use every day. Choosing one that fits seamless...

by Jediah Porter

 How to Heal a Blister and other Foot Care Essentials
Blisters are the dreaded enemy of hikers, runners, and athletes alike. Want to know how to treat them or, even better, how to prevent them? There's nothing worse than getting into the groove and rhyth...

by Rhiannon Williams

Solar Powered Electric Bike with Goal Zero Boulder 30  Sherpa 120 and inverter.
 How To Make A Solar Powered Electric Bike
Is it possible to make a solar powered electric bike? Yes. Is it easy and practical? That's the question we set out to answer. Why bother making one at all? In a word: Range Most electric vehicle...

by Chris McNamara

Post-climb lazy fall morning in Zion National park  perfect for the Arc'teryx Cerium SL.
 How to Choose the Best Down Jacket for Women
Hiding under the surface of the flashiest, fanciest, latest model down jacket is a technology arguably as old as the dinosaurs. No, seriously. (Whether or not they had feathers is a question we will l...

by Lyra Pierotti

A headlamp is a vital piece of equipment for most outdoor adventurers. Let us help you choose the best one.
 How to Choose the Best Headlamp
How do you determine the right headlamp for you? After putting 28 top headlamps through a detailed side-by-side review over multiple years, we developed a clear picture of the competing product capabi...

by Jediah Porter and RJ Spurrier

The Dakine Boundary provides nearly as much protection as heavier downhill oriented shorts but the leg openings are slightly too small to accommodate thick knee pads.
 How to Choose the Best Mountain Bike Shorts
What is the best mountain bike short out there? We tested several different shorts from the top brands in our Best Mountain Bike Short Review and discovered some important things you should consider b...

by Luke Lydiard

Ian Nicholson and Graham Zimmerman unloading bags onto the Cul De Sac (AKA Cool Sack) Glacier in the Kichatna Spires  Western Alaska Range.
 How to Choose the Best Duffle Bag (aka Duffel Bag)
Here are five key things to consider when buying a burly travel Duffle Bag (or more accurately called, "Duffel Bag" for the town of Duffel in Belgium where the classic bags was first manufactured). ...

by Ian Nicholson

The Garmin GPS Map 64s (left) and the Garmin eTrex 20x (right) are both award winners in this updated review. Take these units on your next big adventure.
 How to Choose the Best Handheld GPS
Handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) units are intended to log and store spatial data while you adventure in the back country. They are built to withstand all weather conditions and come with many...

by Amber King

The Targhee  with impressive foot support  great traction in wet conditions  and good waterproofing  is a great choice for backpacking as well as dayhiking.
 How to Choose the Best Hiking Shoes
Shoes are the most important piece of gear for enjoying hiking. A comfortable, well-fitting pair that is well matched to terrain and conditions is essential. Blisters or achy feet can ruin an otherwis...

by Brandon Lampley

Jason Kuo readjusting his layers in order to keep warm on the summit of Peak 11 300 in the Alaska Range.
 Why You Get Cold in the Mountains
The human body has a narrow safe temperature range, needing to stay within eight degrees of 98.6 degrees to function properly. Whether hiking, skiing, or climbing, when you are out there battling cold...

by McKenzie Long & RJ Spurrier

This photo demonstrates how rocks can poke through a hinge-designed pad. This shows a Metolius with an "angled hinge" that does a lot better job at keeping objects from protruding through the hinge from underneath than the basic non angled hinge style.
 How to Choose the Best Bouldering Crash Pad
More than a decade after bouldering pads became popular, the bouldering pad industry is still going through big changes. Even big manufacturers are changing their designs every year while small upstar...

by Chris McNamara, Chris Summit

A climber turned skier. Choosing the right boot can make or break your experience. The Tecnica Cochise  seen here  is a backcountry spirited boot with a bias toward lift served skiing  which is why it wins our Top Pick award.
 How to Choose All-Mountain Ski Boots
Buying a pair of ski boots can be an overwhelming process. There are many reputable brands on the market, each selling several different models that suit different needs. Some boots have more features...

by Mike Phillips

This year's lineup includes everything from highly breathable models to heavy jackets for extreme weather. Each jacket uses synthetic insulation that retains its loft when wet.
 How to Choose the Best Insulated Jacket
Which insulated jacket should I buy? This is a complicated question we hope to simplify for you. The many models and styles available are both a blessing for folks seeking a warm jacket for a specific...

by Matt Bento

The Saucony Sonic has reflective material lining the zipper  on the logo on the breast  the back vent flap  and on the arms  for added safety for those runs in dim light.
 How to Choose the Best Running Jacket
Running jackets today are a huge improvement over their non-breathable nylon counterparts from the 1990s. As time progressed and designs improved, high-performance ventilating panels and wicking fabri...

by Jared Dean

Eight contenders queued up for the waterfall test.
 How to Choose the Best Softshell Jacket
In this buying advice guide, we'll walk you through the ins and outs of purchasing the best softshell jacket to meet your specific needs. We find these jackets to be excellent layers for aerobic activ...

by Jeremy Bauman

Justin Lawrence on the Pitch 3 arete.
 The Best Rock Climbing Rack and Gear List
Below is our choice for Ultimate Rock Climbing Rack. We feel this is the most versatile rack that will perform the best in the most number of locations. That said, every climbing area is different and...

by Chris McNamara

Hitcase Pro with Iphone 5 and MotionX GPS
 Cheap Motorcycle GPS - How to Make One Using an iPhone for Under $150
Below is how to make an effective GPS for your bike or motorcycle for under $100. First, a little Q and A: Q: Why do I need a GPS? A: You don't need one. Folks have been riding trails for decades wi...

by Chris McNamara

The full fleet of sandals  in their state-of-the-art organizational storage device.
 How to Choose The Best Sandals
"What's the best sandal for me," should always be your question. Not, "What's the best shoe, period." Here at OutdoorGearLab we threw eight of the industry's top competitors through a rigorous series ...

by Tommy Penick

Comparing the head width of the Metolius Master Cam (left) and Metolius Ultralight TCU (right). As you can see  the master cam has a narrower head that makes it more secure in shallow pin scars.
 How to Choose the Best Climbing Cams
A camming device is often referred to as a "camming unit" or often just a "cam." Very few people refer to them by their complete name: Spring Loaded Camming Device or SLCD. The name comes from the fac...

by Chris McNamara

Which one will fit you and your needs best? We tested eight different models to help you find the best one.
 How To Choose The Best Fleece Jacket
The outdoor industry is continually trying to improve and expand their fleece jacket lines. With so many different manufacturers selling multiple types of fleece (The North Face alone makes 36 differe...

by Kenny Barker & Eric Schnepel

 How to Choose the Best Sleeping Pad
As camping and backpacking continue to grow in popularity, more and more people are realizing that a good pad to sleep on is key to snoozing well in the backcountry. Sleeping pads make the difference ...

by Jeremy Bauman

This review features 11 of the most popular and highest ranked shoes for CrossFit workouts.
 How to Choose the Best Women's Shoe for CrossFit Training
As CrossFit continues to grow in popularity, people are coming to the sport from different athletic backgrounds and with different injury histories, flexibility issues and weaknesses. Most gyms pride ...

by Audrey Hammond

Petzl Micro Traxion
 The Best Progress Capture Pulley or Ascender for Solo Self Belay Toproping
We put three options to the test in the Solo toprope world and pitted them against each other to see which device would be the best for your Solo TR adventures. We used the same rigging for each devi...

by Robert Beno and Chris McNamara

All three components of the Echo II shelter system together  tarp  insert  and beak (with the beak and insert doors tied back). While modular in theory  we find all components necessary to provide great weather protection.
 Modular Accessories for Floorless Tents
Though a tent or shelter found in our Ultralight Tent Review is the centerpiece of a floorless shelter system, modular components can significantly increase function and versatility. We recommend star...

by Chris McNamara and Max Neale

You want to buy a quickdraw that makes you happy. Cam McKenzie Ring smiles every time she clips our Top Pick winning Wild Country Helium.
 How to Choose the Best Quickdraw for Climbing
Almost every piece of climbing gear you purchase is part of an important safety chain, and the quickdraws you use are no less important than your rope or harness. A set of draws will last anywhere fro...

by Cam McKenzie Ring

The hand pockets are deep and comfortable  like everything else about this pant. Notice that there are also cargo pockets on each side  as opposed to only on one side on the Stretch Zion. Whether thats a good thing or not depends on how much you like cargo pockets.
 How to Choose the Best Hiking Pants
There are many things to consider when trying to choose what is the best hiking pant for you. This article is meant to explain some of the features and considerations that make each pant unique, and h...

by Andy Wellman

The huge and prominent tie-in points on the Sama make tying in a second or two quicker than other harnesses. This is even more important when you re-tie before lowering.
 How to Choose the Best Climbing Harness
A climbing harness, chalk bag, belay device, and shoes are the four most important things in your personal climbing kit. Shoes quickly wear out in a season or two, chalk bags are easily forgotten or r...

by Jeremy Bauman

The Best Buy winner WTB Speed out on the trail in South Lake Tahoe  CA.
 How to Choose a Bicycle Saddle
With hundreds of saddles on the market to choose from, and no shortage of marketing hype, selecting a saddle can be a daunting task. Here we have a few tips for how to find the best match for you. Ri...

by Curtis Smith

Cooking an elaborate meal with the versatile MSR Dragonfly backpacking stove  our Top Pick for basecamp cooking.
 How to Choose the Best Backpacking Stove
Buying the right backpacking stove can make your life in the backcountry easier, simpler, and more enjoyable. These stoves make our coffee, melt snow, boil our water, and keep us warm when all else is...

by Jessica Haist

The HT X1 is a full platform clipless pedal for downhill mountain biking. It is best paired with a pair of soft  flexible bike shoes like this model  the Hellcat  from Five Ten. Note the Velcro strap which protects the laces from tangling with your chain.
 How to Choose the Best Clipless Shoes for Mountain Biking
Trying to decide what mountain bike shoes are right for you? After months of testing seven of the best mountain bike shoes available, we have the answers you are looking for. There are several things ...

by Curtis Smith

All three cone-style droppers during one of our head to head taste tests.
 Advice on Buying Coffee Makers for Camping
Considerations for purchasing a coffee maker for camping are not as technical and involved as other outdoor purchases, but it may just be the most important. If you are reading this you are probably o...

by McKenzie Long

The very cute Joules WellyPrint is a good choice for traipsing across campus on a rainy day  except that it's not all that comfortable.
 How to Choose the Best Rain Boots for Women
If you live in an area with rainy spring or fall seasons, a pair of rain boots can be an indispensable part of your wardrobe. Whether you're a college student who has to walk across a puddle-filled ca...

by Amanda Fenn

Wether you push or ride up the hills  a good helmet is a critical piece of safety gear.
 How to Choose a Mountain Bike Helmet
Types of Cycling Helmets How do you choose a helmet? Just like there are many types of bicycles designed for the many different disciplines of cycling, there are many types of bicycle helmets to cover...

by Luke Lydiard

Maneuvering the two-wheeled REI Wheely Beast through the airport was a total breeze.
 How to Pack Luggage Like a Pro
How to Pack a Suitcase and Travel Bags Regardless of if you are packing a suitcase for a week long adventure, a business trip, or a quick weekend getaway, packing a bag is not rocket science. But let...

by David Allfrey

The rounded handles of the Leatherman Wingman allow the user to crank down on the effective plier jaws.
 How to Choose the Best Multi-Tool
Why a Multi-Tool? Mashing multiple tools together into a single package is not a new idea. Craftsmen and odd-jobbers throughout history have streamlined their lives by combining often-used tools in va...

by Jediah Porter

Reef Fanning's don't climb splitters  but I know they want to
 Flip Flop Buying Advice
The best advice we can offer in your search for a pair of flip flops that meet your lifestyle needs is to take a moment and reflect (maybe grab a pen and paper and write it down) on the pairs of flip ...

by Brian Blum

How binoculars work: Galilean Optics.
 How To Choose Binoculars
Binoculars are probably the world's most used optical instrument. That's not to say that telescopes don't have their place, but binoculars are king. Binoculars are optimized for a lot of different use...

by Michael Payne

Here are the contenders in our review to find the best overhead canopy. Bookending the group on the left is the REI Travel  with the totes Blue Line on the opposite end.
 How to Choose the Best Rain Umbrella
After months of testing, we have discovered that there are a few things to consider when deciding on an umbrella that's right for you. First, it's important to consider the general weather conditions ...

by Ross Robinson and Jared Dean

Our complete testing line up  in all its glory.
 How to Choose a Cooler
Buying Advice How do you determine the right cooler for you? To answer that question we put 8 of the most popular, top rated coolers through a brutal insulation test, lugged them through sand and over...

by Max Mutter

Ben taking the New York Standard U-Lock for a ride to the store to get groceries. He opted to carry it around the seatpost  but we recommend clipping to a bracket on your frame.
 How to Choose the Best Bike Lock
Chances are, you've got a bike and now are looking for the best way to keep it yours with just the right bike lock. Maybe you've just gotten into biking and finding out how invaluable that age-old tec...

by Rylee Sweeney

Eight goggles to keep your eyes from watering. Front row:Oakley Airbrake  Oakley Splice  Oakley A-frame  Spy Targa III. Back row: Julbo Orbitor  POC Lobes  Smith I/O  Smith scope.
 How to Choose Ski Goggles
Selecting the Right Goggle When you are recreating in the snow, it is important to protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun's UV rays. While skiing, snowboarding, or mountaineering some ...

by Aaron Zanto

Crazy Creek backpacking chairs from left to right: Original  Hex 2.0  Hex 2.0 PowerLounger
 How to Choose the Best Backpacking Chair
What should you consider when buying a lightweight portable camp chair? Below we break it down. We will have buying advice for larger, heavier camp chairs later in the year. Do You Even Need a Backp...

by Chris McNamara

(L to R) PI In-R-Cool  Louis Garneau Equipe  Pearl Izumi Quest  Castelli Due  Craft Performance  Giordana Laser.
 How to Choose the Best Bike Shorts
Are you looking to find the best cycling bib or short for your needs? We tested six of the most popular shorts/bibs on the market, over a range of criteria and in all kinds of conditions, to find what...

by David Mackey

 Why Headlamp Claims are Deceptive
Not all the specs on headlamp packaging are a straight-out lie, but after extensively testing more than 70 headlamps we feel confident declaring the combination of maximum beam distance and battery ru...

by RJ Spurrier

OutdoorGearLab Review Editors
 About OutdoorGearLab Review Editors
Our testers are avid climbers, skiers, bikers, surfers, hikers, trail runners, and backpackers. Each of them has an eye for detail and an obsession to find the best. Many of our testers are profession...

by Chris McNamara

The G4Free set wins our Top Pick for Backpacking. It's lightweight and comes with useful pieces that can be easily pared down to suit your needs.
 How To Choose the Best Camping Cookware
We all need to eat, right? Whether you're preparing your food in a campground or in the backcountry, we all have a need for pots and pans. With so many options out there, how do you decide if you want...

by Gentrye Houghton

All of the contenders in our test group side by side. The two in the middle will be hard to access on a mid-height vehicle such as the Subaru Forester.
 How to Choose a Bike Rack
The purchase of a bike rack is a big decision. We tested 18 of the best ones on the market to help you make the best decision based on your needs. The type of vehicle, number of bikes, and type of bik...

by Curtis Smith

Robbie Brown enjoys a stroll on a stormy spring day in Yosemite.
 How to Choose the Best Slackline
How do you know which slackline kit is right for you? We took a variety of the most popular and highest rated lines available and put them through two months of scrupulous testing to determine which o...

by Libby Sauter

For summer nights in the alpine a bivy sack can provide plenty of protection at a fraction of the weight of a tent.
 How To Choose the Best Bivy Sack
How to choose the best bivy sack? While the idea of zipping yourself up inside a nylon sack for the night might seem daunting or uncomfortable, the opposite can actually be true - a bivy sack can be a...

by Sarah Hegg and Greg Davis

The MSR Lightning Ascent earn our Editors' Choice Award. They are lightweight and offer all of the technical features you expect in a solid backcountry pair.
 How to Choose the Best Snowshoes
Snowshoeing has been a way of traveling on snow for thousands of years. These contraptions were designed to enable people to hunt, travel, and haul loads across snow. The designs mimic the footprints ...

by Briana Valorosi

 Mobile Office - Best Laptop Travel Set Up With External USB Monitor, Mouse and Keyboard
I can't stare at a laptop all day in a coffee shop or my back seizes. And even if I could, staring down at a laptop and using a track pad is not that productive. So began a quest to find a mobile offi...

by Chris McNamara

These aiders are all about the same length even though their names imply otherwise. From left to right: 7 Step Petzl Wallstep Etrier  Metolius 8 Step Ladder  Metolius 5 Step Aider.
 How to Choose the Best Aider and Etrier for Big Wall Climbing
Aiders are webbing ladders that are also sometimes called Etriers. This is the piece of gear mentioned first they are the most frequently used piece of gear when aid climbing. On a big wall, except in...

by Chris McNamara

A few tested skis ready for use at the Addie S ski cabin in Colorado. From left to right: Fischer Hannibal  Dynafit Grand Teton  La Sportiva Vapor Nano
 How to Choose the Best Skis for Backcountry Touring
Every single person, whether brand new to the backcountry or an old hat, can stand to learn something about choosing skis for their pursuits. In reviewing dozens of the best products on the market, we...

by Jediah Porter

Another round of side-by-side testing and beacon comparisons.
 How To Choose The Best Avalanche Beacon
How to Buy The Best Avalanche Beacon How do you choose the best avalanche beacon and how do they work? Below we look at some fundamentals, the current technology, key features and point out important ...

by Ian Nicholson

Because the Variant 52 has well padded shoulder straps  our testers' shoulders don't get sore when they use the pack on long approaches without the hip belt.
 How to Choose a Mountaineering and Alpine Climbing Backpack
The pack is an iconic gear item in alpine climbing, second only to the ice axe in symbolism. Your pack will carry all your precious gear, and might accompany you on every trip you take for years. For ...

by Ian McEleney and Chris Simrell

 How to Choose the Best Ultralight Tent Shelter
Choosing the best ultralight tent or shelter for you is an important decision, and our goal is to make that choice easier. Whether you've been pushing it light and fast for years, are seeking to make ...

by Brandon Lampley

All twelve hiker models  shown here under indirect sunlight after a thorough soaking to time their drying times. The St. Elias dried out first  while the Salomon dried out last by almost 20 hours.
 How to Choose the Best Hiking Boots
Do I need a hiking boot? Will a hiking shoe work for me? I hear all those Appalachian Trail thru-hikers are wearing trail running shoes these days, should I? (Thru-hikers hike long-distance trails fro...

by Ross Robinson

A variety of pocket knives.
 How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife
In this article we dive into how to sharpen a pocket knife. Knives are an essential tool we use every day, and pocket knives are not only handy to have on your person, but also indispensable to any ou...

by Gentrye Houghton

This photo is used to show the sizes and the usability of the Rope bags we tested. On the bottom is a Metolius Rope Ranger (Same tarp as a Rope Master) then a Black Diamond Super Chute then a Black Diamond Super Slacker on top of that and a Metolius Porta
 How to Choose the Right Climbing Rope Bag
Why do you need a rope bag, you might ask, why does it matter if your rope gets dirty? Well, whether you are going to Smith, the Cookie or the Red River Gorge, keeping your rope clean is more importan...

by Ian Nicholson

Black Diamond Apollo
 How to Choose the Best Lantern
Buying Advice What are you going to use the lantern for? Why buy one instead of a headlamp? It turns out that most lanterns are made specifically one type of use. For example, you are not going to use...

by Valentine Cullen

A comparison of backpacking water filter water treatment systems unpacked.
 How to Select a Backpacking Water Filter and Treatment System
Selecting a water treatment system is even more overwhelming than selecting proper footwear to hike in, which is a much talked about topic. There are numerous factors to consider, from the basic categ...

by Jessica Haist

We tested some of the best messenger bags around to find out which ones stand out and which ones are best left at home.
 How to Choose the Best Messenger Bag
Do you need a messenger bag? What should you look for and think about when choosing one? If you're wondering about these questions, keep reading. Our testers used seven different models around town ev...

by Jeremy Bauman

Sarah Heck and Anthony Larson get their bearings in Aniakchak Crater  Alaska.
 Backcountry Trip Planning
Introduction Backpacking equipment is generally the same whether a trip is for 3 or 30 days. Longer trips require more food and fuel, more injury prevention, and more attention to logistics. This arti...

by Luc Mehl

Cruising down the trail in the Merrell Bare Access 3 with Mammoth Mountain  CA in the background. The training grounds for the elite Mammoth Track Club.
 How to Choose Minimal and Barefoot Shoes
So, you want the lowdown on which type of running shoe is best for you, minimal, traditional, or barefoot? Save yourself the time of going into the local running shop to talk with the retail associate...

by Jimmy Elam

Three distinct types of bicycle helmets. From left to right: Full Face Mountain  Half Shell Mountain and Road Bike.
 How to Choose the Best Full-Face Helmet for Downhill Mountain Biking
Bike helmets come in nearly as many styles as there are styles of bikes. You probably already know that you would want a different bike for shredding the bike park than for grinding out a road century...

by Luke Lydiard

OGL Review Editors
 OutdoorGearLab Checklists and How To Guides
Welcome to the OutdoorGearLab Travel and Adventure Learning Page! Here are our favorite checklists and how to guides: Checklists: Backpacking Checklists: - Backpacking Checklist - Dream Backpacking ...

by Chris McNamara

Who says the desert is colorless? Checking out the amazing spring blooms  and testing hiking pants.
 How to Choose Hiking Pants for Women
With seemingly hundreds of different kinds of hiking pants available on the market today, and many different kinds of hiking trips that you might take, it can be hard to know which one is the best for...

by Cam McKenzie Ring & Briana Valorosi

The Outdoor Research Aspire women's rain jacket repelling water like a champ.
 How to Choose the Best Rain Jacket for Women
A rain jacket is a rain jacket, right? Not so fast. In our review of this year's top rain shells, we gathered some of the most hyped, most liked, and most trusted rain shells on the shelves. We bruise...

by Lyra Pierotti

Wondering what to do with your old retired climbing helmet? Here's a suggestion.
 How to Choose a Climbing Helmet
The climbing helmet market is rapidly evolving. Fifteen years ago the gold standard was the heavy Petzl Ecrin Rock, which you tend to see now only on tele skiers and school groups. Luckily for us, hel...

by Luke Lydiard

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