A national park/wilderness hiker that grew up spending time in the outdoors of NC. Have had experience with most types of climates and conditions the US has to offer but try to avoid deep-winter camping. Currently beginning my dive into the ultralight gear realm.
Have been an outdoors/music/fitness fan for as long as I can remember and would be happy to chat about any product reviewed.
Zpacks Arc Haul Zip 64L Backpack
All product descriptions are true!
This is a great pack for anyone that knows they can keep their weight below 30 pounds. I've found it to be pretty durable and VERY waterproof. One issue I have had is with the bottom straps, on the outside of the pack (where you might carry your tent). While hiking in the rain, my tent got water-logged and started to tear the strap from the pack due to weight/stress. Zpacks is great and is able to repair this - but you shouldn't plan on using this pack if you have "heavy" gear or if you like pockets. Also - make sure you pick up varying sizes stuff sacks as organization can get challenging due to the lack of compartments. I love this pack and upgraded from the osprey Atmos 65L.
Cotopaxi Fuego Jacket - Men's
This jacket rocks!
Responsibly sourced down, company gives back to fair trade, high-quality materials, and a stuff sack included. These are really all you need in a jacket! I have the hooded version and the only thing I could ask for is that, on future versions, they cut the hood more like Patagonia - to give better peripheral vision Big fan of everything this jacket stands for
Hyke & Byke Quandary 15 Degree Mummy Down Sleeping Bag
Love this bag and the company
This thing may be the best value for a full down, responsibly sourced, bag and they even have payment plans if needed. Still a small operation but they are producing quality gear for reasonable prices. I have the black/orange version and it is exactly what the description says. It also dries out pretty quickly if you get it wet. There aren't any negatives I have ran into here and I'm getting all my hiking partners to convert. Highly recommended
Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpack
Probably the most common pack I see on the trail and there is good reason. Plenty of pockets for organizing, has a "brain" that can be removed, solid suspension system that is adjustable, and isn't terribly heavy. The things I wasn't a fan of - and why I upgraded - not waterproof, easy to overpack, hip pockets are hard to access when they are packed, and I kept finding small holes around the top and bottom of the pack. I recommend this one to start with if you are going on long trips with few camp migrations. If you are going on a thru hike, or trying to cover serious ground, you don't need 65L.
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System
Slow but reliable
If you don't like spending 20 minutes filtering water, upgrade to a gravity filter system. I personally am fine with the Sawyer's pace of filtration but will be honest when I say it isn't fast. It's helped to grab a couple CNOC filter bags to fill up and bring to camp rather than hanging out by a river for half an hour every time you need a full refill. These things will last you years of hiking and can screw on to any, normal, bottle that uses a cap.
prAna Stretch Zion Pant
Best hiking pants I have found
These are incredible. Super comfy, great brand, dry quickly, and have their own belt. They also go on sale every now and then so check Amazon. These fit on the first try (I just ordered my waist size in normal pants) and boom - ready to go. Once you feel the stretch, nothing will compare in terms of comfort. One thing to note is that the belt can sometimes bunch up on a long hike and start to dig in your hips. Doesn't happen often but will definitely be noticeable when it does.
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots
I've put about 200 miles on my pair and they are just starting to show signs of wear (some of the side tread is beginning to crack). They are a great value for the price, provide a good amount of ankle support, and are waterproof up to right above the ankle. The only issues I have had is that they take a solid day to dry out (if you get wet) and the laces tend to come untied .. unless you double-knot them which is a little bit of a pain in cold/wet weather. I would rank them 8.5/10 for any weather.