Gear Reviews

I have been posting gear reviews on Trailspace over the last couple of years. The links below take you to that great site with my reviews as well as others, and a wonderful community of knowledgeable folks who post in the forums. My early reviews are weak at best but have been improving steadily. I always have several more in the works and will post additional links as I complete testing.  See the footnote below for my approach to gear reviews and ethics policies.

Merrell Moab Ventilator Mids   3.5/5

Vargo Triad Multi-Fuel Stove     3.5/5

Humangear Gobites Duo     3.5/5

Vargo Titanium Folding Spork           4.5/5

Packit Gourmet Texas State Fair Chili    5/5

Sawyer Permethrin Premium Insect Repellent   5/5

Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent    4.5/5

Marmot Ether Driclime Jacket    5/5

GSI Outdoors 10 Ounce Flask  4.5/5

ULA Ohm 2.0 Backpack   4.5/5

UCO Sweetfire Strikeable Fire Starter (Review Corps) 4/5

Vargo Ultimate Fire Starter (Review Corps) 4/5

Good To-Go Thai Curry  4/5

Good To-Go Smoked Three Bean Chili   4.5/5

Bushnell Poweview 12x25mm Folding Binoculars   3.5/5

Packit Gourmet Santa Fe Breakfast Corn Pudding   5/5


Coghlan’s Fire Paste    3.5/5


Amphipod Swift-Clip Cap Light   4/5

REI Trail Chair   4/5

Smartwater Bottles   4.5/5

Rite in the Rain All-Weather Memo Book   5/5

Vargo 1.3 L Titanium Pot   4/5

Trail Designs Ultralight Glasses   4/5


Merrell Moab Mid Waterproof Boots   3.5/5


Sea to Summit Delta Insul-mug   3/5


Marmot Tungsten 3P Tent   4/5


NEMO Astro Insulated Lite   4.5/5

Princeton Tec Sync   4/5

REI AirRail 1.5 Self-Inflating Pad 2.5/5

A quick review of an item I returned after a couple of nights of testing.

REI Campware Cup   5/5

Feathered Friends Osprey UL30    5/5

Lightheart Gear Solong 6   4/5

Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti-Tri    5/5

Marmot Sawtooth  4/5

An early review with no photos of my older go-to sleeping bag (for temps between 0 and 20) that I still use on some winter trips.

Gregory Z55 Backpack 4/5

My first review of what is now my second favorite backpack.  I still use it in the winter when the Ohm 2.0 doesn’t quite hold everything.

Gear Review Approach

I try to test gear thoroughly, but within the realm of what I call the “average” backpacker, if there is such a person.  I won’t generally post a review (although there are exceptions) until I have thoroughly used the piece of gear for multiple seasons (unless the gear is winter or summer only etc.) and several trips.  Many of my go-to items were reviewed after years of use.  The exception to this is Trailspace Review Corps gear tests – many of them must be done within a prescribed time frame as part of the conditions arranged with the manufacturer.  However, I try to follow those with updates after more use.

The tests are my typical trips of 2-5 nights unless otherwise noted – nothing really extreme.  For wear and tear discussions, keep in mind that I treat my gear with respect and clean/store it properly, although often scramble through off-trail areas and put the outer gear through significant abuse including briers and rhododendron thickets.

I have no affiliations with any outdoor gear manufacturers or others in the industry.  Up until Fall 2016, I have purchased all the gear that has been reviewed.  However, at that time I was asked to join Trailspace’s Review Corps of independent volunteer testers, so a few of my reviews since 2016 will be of gear that was provided through them.  This will not influence my reviews, and will be noted up front in each review.  I did sign and commit to their ethics policy so if you are a gear manufacturer or distributor please contact Trailspace directly rather than me if you would like to have a piece of gear reviewed.

Backpacking reviews, trips, and random thoughts