21 of Our Most Useful, Informative, Popular Gear Articles

Over the years, we have amassed quite a collection of gear reviews, roundups, Best-Ofs, tech breakdowns, updates from season to season, and advice articles. We’ve compiled some of our most popular and useful pieces into one large-ish list for your perusal, whether you’re looking to update your gear system, understand what R-value actually means, or finally try making your own Tyvek tent footprint.

Something major we’re missing? Anything you’ve always been curious about? We’re always looking to expand our own knowledge base as well, so feel free to yell at us in the comments.

Maggie Slepian
Managing Editor

Thru-Hiking Gear Lists, Tips, and Tricks

1. How to Pack a Backpack

One of the key elements to backpacking is actually knowing how to pack your bag. Here, we talk to several hikers with distinct styles about what they carry and how they organize their pack list.

2. Clothing for an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike

No, you don’t need technical hiking pants. Yes, you’ll definitely want a rain jacket. This article breaks down myth vs fact about the clothing and apparel systems for an AT thru-hike, with suggested splurge / save items.

3. Pacific Crest Trail Gear: Getting Back to the Basics

An overview on the Big Three, clothes, and smaller items most people will need for a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike. We go into more detail in other PCT-gear related posts, but this is a good one to get you started.

4. Gear, Budgets, and Trends of AT Thru-Hikers

We collected five years of our Appalachian Trail thru-hiker survey data and looked at how hikers’ gear, food, hiking style, and clothing choices have changed since we started polling thru-hikers at the end of each season.

5. My Appalachian Trail Vs. Pacific Crest Trail Gear

Jess carried a hefty pack on the entire Appalachian Trail, start to finish. When she headed out on the PCT a few years later, she’d pared down her gear list significantly. Here’s her analysis of what she left behind for her second thru-hike.

6. How to Choose the Best Camera Gear for Your Thru-Hike

If a thru-hike is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you want to record it as such, right? More and more hikers are carrying nice camera gear on the trail, and here’s our breakdown of the best out there for top-quality photos while not buckling under the weight.

7. Thru-Hikers’ Favorite Essential Items

These are the gear items experienced thru-hikers don’t leave home without. From a long spork to a more comfortable sleeping pad, these are the things they swear by.

8. Your Guide to Plus-Size Gear and Clothing

Diversifying the outdoors means a  place for all people and all body types. Ashley put together a collection of her favorite gear and clothing items for plus-size hikers, and why each item works for her.

Saving Money and Weight

9. Tips to Reduce Weight in Your Pack

This CDT hiker saved weight with easy tips and tricks, allowing him to hike longer miles faster and more comfortably. Here’s how he did it.

10. Easy DIY Projects to Save Money

Have some downtime between backpacking trips? Or maybe your entire thru-hike got cancelled. Who knows! Instead of reorganizing your gear closet for the fourth time, try making your own pot cozy or Tyvek tent footprint.

11. Gear to Save on and Gear to Splurge On

What’s worth the money and what can you save on? This thru-hiker gives an honest rundown of the items you can save money on with a less expensive model, and what’s definitely worth the splurge.

When You Can’t Decide Between Gear Items

12. Quilts Vs Sleeping Bags

Can’t decide between the security and warmth of a mummy bag over the light weight and flexibility of a quilt? Our sleeping bag fan goes head to head with a quilt user to help you decide.

13. Boots Vs Trail Runners

Trail runners are by far the most popular footwear choice for long-distance backpackers, but we definitely have some boot wearers out there. They discuss the pros and cons in this Gear Wars.

14. Somewear Global Hotspot Vs Garmin inReach Mini

There’s a new hotspot / GPS unit on the market, and our testers discuss the merits of both after extensive testing.

15. BearVault 450 vs 500

Do you really need the bigger size bear canister? Which one carries more? These are hefty items, so you want to make sure you make the right choice.

Dogs, Day Hiking, and Car Camping

16. The Essential Day Hiking Gear List

2020 is the year of not thru-hiking. If you’re sticking closer to home and exploring the day-hiking trails in your area, we have a comprehensive list of what to carry for short outings, half-day hikes, and full-day adventures.

17. Car Camping Gear for Every Budget

Heading out to sleep in the back of the truck? Here’s a checklist of items to take with you, the best ways to pack and organize, and our suggested items. Plus, unbiased information on what you should save on (camp chairs) and what you should splurge on (the cooler).

18. My Dog’s Gear List

Taking your furry friend on a thru-hike? Our experienced dog hikers share what they carry for their hiking companions, and what the dogs carry along the trail themselves.

All About Technology

19. Understanding R-Value

We’ve seen some updated testing and rating standards over the past few years. Our writer chatted with the folks at Therm-a-Rest to get the info on how to choose a sleeping pad, and what the updated standards actually mean.

20. Everything You Need to Know About Waterproof Fabrics

What’s the difference between ePTFE and a PU membrane? What about water-resistant vs waterproof? Here’s our in-depth discussion about what you need to know about waterproof technology for backpacking.

21. High Drop Vs Zero Drop Shoes

Zero-drop shoe models are all the rage, but are they right for you? Our writer goes into the weeds on models of zero-drop shoes, what it actually means, and if you should swap out your traditional trail runners and give this style a try.


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