Gear and Reviews

As much time as I spend outdoors, it was inevitable that I would have something to say about my gear. I also do a lot of research before buying anything, so I really appreciate that others share their experiences online. Beginning about 10 years ago, I was looking for an outlet where I could write my own reviews and also read trustworthy reviews from others (the kind of people that actually take their gear outdoors to use, rather than just testing it in the backyard). I found an independent outdoor gear review website called

I published a few reviews (I’ll warn you, the first ones aren’t all that great!) and then in 2013, was honored to become part of the Review Corps. Now I receive products for testing through the Review Corps and have been featured as the Reviewer of the Month, twice! So far, I have tested close to 30 Review Corps products and published reviews on many more items that I purchased on my own. If you wish to see all my reviews, please go to my Member Page.

Or, you can click on the links to some of my favorite gear reviews below:

*If you like any of my reviews, please be sure to give them a “vote up” on the left side of the page…this improves my Trailspace reviewer reputation–Thanks!

The Solplex is the most functional and spacious tent at around 1 pound. It has been my #1 favorite piece of gear for several years and my treasured home for 2 thru-hikes, going on 3. If you are seeking a truly ultralight but full-protection shelter, this is it.

The 2400 Southwest internal frame, DCF backpack is a minimalist’s dream. It holds just enough for an overnight or for a multi-month journey, it just depends on the user. It also seems up for the challenge of lasting through multiple long thru-hikes. I considered a long list of packs for my thru-hikes and this one came out on top, for good reason.

The Enlightened Equipment Revelation offers a versatile and highly customizable quilt design at an economical price. My quilt has met my expectations for warmth, adaptability, and durability. Although, it does suffer some significant drawbacks from having under-filled baffles, which is why I give it a lower rating. Recently, EE has acknowledged this issue and has been adding more down to their baffles, so this may be a thing of the past.

The Suntactics sCharger-5 Portable Solar Charger is elegantly designed to be minimalistic and yet also effective at charging a wide variety of electronic devices (any that can be charged with a USB cable). In full sun, it delivers sufficient power to charge a cell phone and is also lightweight enough to serve as a viable power source during backcountry trips.

The Fjällräven Abisko Trekking Tights are the perfect solution for comfortable and durable trekking pants as well as a thermal baselayer, all wrapped up into one. They feature functional pockets and robust construction, providing so much utility that one may find that no other pants are ever needed.

The Purple Rain Adventure Skirt has become one of my all-time favorite pieces of clothing for its functionality, versatility, comfort, and durability. What sets it apart from all other hiking skirts are the functional cargo pockets and a stretchy yoga-style waist band. It is the kind of garment you can eat, sleep, bathe, swim and walk thousands of miles in, never once having needed to take it off. This versatility makes it an ideal candidate for long-distance hiking and other endurance activities.

A hiking umbrella may not be for everyone but it has certainly earned its place in my pack over the course of several long thru-hikes. The Swing Trek Liteflex is a multi-use piece of gear and has contributed greatly to my enjoyment of the outdoors. I recommend this particular umbrella for anyone seeking a durable, lightweight, and easily-deployed shelter from the sun, rain, hail, and wind. You’ll likely find that it has many other uses, too.

The Black Rock Gear Original is a simple, functional, quality down beanie, deserving a place on everyone’s head. It gets my highest honors by being a part of my ultralight equipment for multiple thru-hikes/section-hikes this year.

The Bot 700 is a well-designed, simple but multi-functional piece of equipment. The major changes from its predecessor, the 1L Bot, are a smaller capacity/size, lighter weight, and the addition of folding handles. I am impressed with the Bot 700’s ability to serve as a pre-soak/water container, pot, mug, and in a myriad of other functions and processes. With the exception of some difficulties with cleaning and cross-threading the lid, I find the Bot 700 to be a worthy addition to my ultralight thru-hike kit.

The Trew Superlight NuYarn Wool Pocket T is an exemplary garment for layering or as a stand-alone summer T-shirt. It is one of the most comfortable and functional garments that I have ever worn. I am impressed by its continuous-wear abilities, which meet merino wool class performance, and may even exceed certain standards given the shirt’s lightweight and quick drying properties. The only problem it suffers from is some pilling in high-abrasion areas, which is common to merino wool fabrics. On my short-list of clothes that I would bring along for extended travel and/or a thru-hike, this shirt makes the trip, and that is the best endorsement I can give.

A Zpacks Rain Kilt is a great way to shave weight and still protect your lower half from getting drenched. It is a very simple, compact, ultralight garment with multi-use functions.

This is a review of the 2 Liter Evernew Water Carry reservoir but also of my gravity filtering system, incorporating a Sawyer Squeeze filter, a Sawyer Blue Coupling, plastic water bottles, and some lightweight line. A key feature of the Evernew Water Reservoir is that the threads are compatible with Sawyer filters. I have also found it to be far more durable than the stock Sawyer reservoirs. This set-up is a simple, effective, reliable, inexpensive, lightweight and hands-free way of filtering water that has worked very well for me.

The Altra Superior 3.5 (and 3.0) are the best pair of shoes for thru-hiking that I have tried. With over 2,700 miles covered in them (four different pairs), I can confidently say that they meet my needs in being lightweight, durable, comfortable, responsive, and fast-drying.

Dirty Girl gaiters are a lightweight, simple, and affordable accessory designed to be worn with trail runners and low-top hiking shoes. They serve one basic function and that is to keep dirt and debris from getting inside your shoes. They are great for a variety of activities, from trail running to long-distance hiking. And how could you not like a product with a name like “Dirty Girl”!

My trusty Long Handle Titanium spoon is the only eating utensil that I need in the backcountry. It is simple and functional, and does a much better job than any spork.

This ultra-lightweight down jacket is a great mid-layer for backpacking and thru-hiking, filling the niche of a three-season camp “puffy”. It should be thought of more like a sweater or hooded sweatshirt rather than a jacket, as it trades off many typical jacket features for its svelte weight and compressibility.

The Smartwool PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket is an extremely lightweight, portable, and comfortable shell for chill and windy days that might also include a little rain. It is a great jacket to take along on a day hike or trail run for just-in-case scenarios or might just work as the sole jacket of a minimalist thru-hiker.