testing zpacks triplex tent for a featured gear review

Featured Gear Reviews

November 15, 2023 – The Adventure Alan Featured Gear Reviews are comprised of deep dive write ups on a selection of recent and/or highly relevant hiking gear and apparel, with a focus on ultralight models. All of these products come highly recommended. As we publish new in-depth single product content, we will add it to the featured gear reviews section.

For even more gear, including a wide array of micro-reviews, jump over to the All Reviews section.

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Enlightened Equipment Visp Rain Jacket

Enlightened Equipment Visp Rain Jacket

6.4 oz | $250

Choose the Visp Rain Jacket because it is the most breathable ultralight rain shell with an unprecedented MVTR rating of 83,000. The three layer Visp weighs just 6.4 ounces in a unisex size medium, and comes with most of the bells and whistles including pit zips for even more breathability. This is Alan’s preferred rain jacket and we know you’ll love it too! Shop now.

Arcteryx Alpha Jacket

Arc’teryx Alpha Jacket

13.1 oz | $700

The Arc’teryx Alpha Jacket is what we would choose if our lives depended on staying completely dry in the backcountry. Alpha, previously referred to as Alpha AR, is reasonably lightweight, supremely durable, fully-featured, and completely weather-proof. Shop now.

paka performance 3/4 crew socks

Paka Performance Socks

1.7 oz | $24

For the ultimate blend of comfort and functionality, pull on a pair of these alpaca wool socks in 3/4 crew height, our editor’s choice award winning model for hiking socks. They have all of the right features, and are made with a dreamy blend of alpaca, Tencel, recycled nylon, and spandex that keep your feet comfortable, thermo-regulated, dry, blister-free, and less smelly, all day long. We’re even prepared to say that alpaca wool is superior to merino wool. Shop now.

Zpacks Offset Trio

Zpacks Offset Trio

22.8 oz | $869

This is a top-tier 3P ultralight tent with unmatched stats and good backcountry performance, despite the unusual and somewhat wonky looking geometry. It has a jaw dropping interior-size-to-weight ratio, an impressive feature set, and good DNA based on our extensive experience its forebears. Shop now.

Decathalon Forclaz MT100 Down Puffer

Decathalon Forclaz MT100 Down Puffer

10.5 oz | $100

The Decathalon Forclaz Mt100 Down Puffer is unquestionably the best way to spend $100 on an insulated jacket for hiking and backpacking. Truly, nothing else even comes close! This puffy offers a lightweight package, quality materials, and minimalist design without any major flaws or drawbacks. It may not be the most technologically advanced, but it bats well above its price point in terms of performance, and value shoppers will be over the moon. Shop now.

SlingFin Portal 3 tent

SlingFin Portal 3

3 lbs, 12 oz | $600

This tent is large, livable, relatively lightweight, well-featured, and slots into a category we refer to as “all-season” or “3+ season.” That is, thanks to SlingFin’s impeccable engineering, it is far sturdier and more storm-worthy than your average 3-season tent, but not specifically designed as a winter/4-season model. And within that genre, it is our preferred 3p tent for backpacking. Shop now.

feathered friends helios

Feathered Friends Helios

18.0 oz | $469

The Feathered Friends Helios is a truly top tier, finely crafted, premium midweight puffy, perfect for winter-use. Its performance is thanks to an impressive stat line, and confirmed by our field testing. With 7.8 ounces of 900 fil power, Helios simply has higher quality down, and more of it than its peers, all while maintaining a below average weight and reasonable price tag, given the quality. AKA all up side, no down side. Shop now.

Terragon Pioneer Stake 3D Printed

Teragon Pioneer 3D-Printed Titanium Stake

0.18 oz | $25

Early test results are in, and so far the Teragon Gear Pioneer Stake, made of 3D printed titanium, has been an outright terrific piece of ultralight gear. These Norwegian tent stakes represent overdue innovation in a category that has, until recently, been stagnant. They are likely the best ultralight performance option on the market, and they are almost certainly the most expensive. This could be the G.O.A.T. of stakes. Shop now.

Salomon Thundercross trail running shoe

Salomon Thundercross

11.1 oz | $140

Enjoy exceptional traction and comfort in this fully cushioned trail running shoe with aggressive 5mm rubber lugs (shop now).  With zero break-in required, Thundercross’s outsole delivers best-in-class grip to hikers and runners alike on steep and/or slippery terrain. You may or may not love the QuickLace system, but it’s an overall excellent trail shoe nonetheless.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Elevate 22 Backpack

HMG Elevate 22 Daypack

17.9 oz | $245

New this summer, the HMG Elevate 22 takes everything we love about their new Unbound backpacking packs, and shrinks it down to a 22L main compartment size daypack. It is made with waterproof, durable Dyneema, and features the full suite of side pockets and a stretch mesh front pocket, albeit, much smaller than on a backpacking pack. This our top pick performance day pack for challenging day hikes, and backpackers will feel right at home transitioning from a larger version of the same chassis.  Shop now.

Outdoor Vitals Skyline Fastpack

Outdoor Vitals Skyline Fastpack

20.6 oz | $200

The Skyline Fastpack is a killer design for multi-day running with a minimalist load of fair-weather gear, and with that purpose in mind, we recommend it highly as a top pick for a great price. Thanks to the secure running-vest harness and low volume, the pack almost completely minimizes bounce and sway. However, the flip side of that coin means you may have to play gear-Tetris to fit everything in, ditch the stove and pot, or grab a different pack entirely whenever voluminous puffy gear is required for cold weather camping. Shop now.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid 1 tent

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid 1 Tent

16.8 oz | $599

New for 2023, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid 1 Tent is a fully enclosed, ultralight, single-wall, pyramid shelter intended for thru-hiking and/or high-mileage solo endeavors. HMG loyalists will love this tent as the brand’s best yet for trail-based applications, and gram counters will be glad to see another great option enter the marketplace. Mid-1 is a killer solo shelter for ultralight backpackers and immediately joins a small and elite group of options in consideration for best-in-class solo shelters. Shop now.

stio exploit jacket

Stio Exploit Jacket

8.8 oz | $399

The Stio Exploit Jacket is a phenomenal blend of minimalist design and premium fabric technology. Few jackets can boast a superior combination of waterproofness, breathability, and lightness of weight. The end result is a seriously excellent Gore-Tex Active ultralight rain shell for a high-but-worthwhile asking price. Nice work, Stio! This rain jacket is truly exceptional. Shop now.

Zpacks Offset Duo Tent

Zpacks Offset Duo

19.7 oz | $769

The Zpacks Offset Duo Tent is the best and most spacious 2P Zpacks brand tent to-date, and one of the very best trekking pole supported tents on the entire market. OD builds on the success of Zpacks’ flagship Duplex design by increasing its length, width, and headroom, adding vents, zippered storm doors, L-shaped inner doors, magnetic roll-ups, a 32″ end strut, and ingeniously offsetting its trekking pole placement towards the head-end to maximize ceiling space directly above where users sit up. (shop now)

Nashville Packs Cutaway

Nashville Packs Cutaway

15.3 oz | $342

Based on our research, Nashville Packs Cutaway with Hybrid Vest Straps is one of, if not the, lightest weight fastpacks with a running vest harness (shop now). What’s more, it’s waterproof and has voluminous external storage thanks to the massive, continuous hybrid-paneled outer pocket and shoulder strap pockets. The Cutaway is an exceptionally sweet backpack.

REI Swiftland H20 Jacket

REI Swiftland H2O Running Jacket

10.1 oz | $150

Running in rain gear is a famously sweaty affair. But the Co-op’s new REI Swiftland H2O Running Jacket partially solves for this by adding massive back vents to increase airflow and reduce, but not eliminate, overheating. Beyond that, it’s a fairly typical 2.5L waterproof shell with standard rain jacket features and fabric breathability, so don’t expect to feel cool and dry inside if you’re moving any faster than a jog. Nonetheless, it’s a seriously great value. Shop Now.

SlingFIn NFT Tarp

SlingFin NFT Tarp

15.8 oz | $220

Sized at 9.5′ x 10′ the SlingFin NFT Tarp  protects a massive swath of your campsite from the elements for the low, low weight penalty of less than one pound. Through the combination of trekking poles, tree branches, and clever guy-lining, the NFT is infinitely customizable. What sets this NFT (nice flat tarp) apart are the unique catenary cut edges which deliver a beautiful, secure, taut pitch. It’s perfect for sheltering the whole group from a squall, or setting up over the camp kitchen. Shop now.

REI Magma 850 Down Hoodie

REI Co-op Magma 850 Down Hoodie

12.3 oz | $249

The Fall 2023 version of the REI Magma 850 Down Hoodie exemplifies the notion of premium-basics-done-well. This is a durable workhorse puffy with good quality, ethically sourced materials for a fair price. Similar models from most mainstream outdoor brands cost $50-100 more. Our hands-on testing indicates that Magma is a bit warmer than average. (shop now)

COROS APEX 2 Pro Watch

COROS APEX 2 Pro Watch

1.9 oz | $450

If you are serious about your outdoor adventuring and/or serious about training, then the COROS APEX 2 Pro  is the right watch for you. Over the past two years we’ve run this watch through the wringer, guiding in Alaska, mountaineering, nordic skiing, ocean kayak racing, trail running, mountain biking, etc. The verdict? This an exceptional performer in the field and our favorite outdoor smartwatch. In particular, its battery life blows the competition away with 200 hours of in-field GPS tracking. As such, it’s a perfect choice for those who play and train hard in the backcountry, especially for multiple days at a time. Shop now

ULA Equipment Ultra Circuit

ULA Ultra Circuit Backpack

33.8 oz | $380

The ULA Ultra Circuit is an absolutely top tier, comfy, indestructible, ultralight-yet-voluminous backpacking pack. Designed for thru-hiking, but perfect for all multi-day excursions, this internal frame workhorse is built with best-in-class Challenge Ultra fabric, its namesake upgrade to the original Robic Nylon version. Shop now.

Outdoor Vitals CS40 Ultra Backpack

Outdoor Vitals CS40 Ultra Backpack

27.0 oz | $368

If you want a top tier, fully-featured, lighter-than-average ultralight pack, the Outdoor Vitals CS40 Ultra Backpack is well-worth considering. It’s durable and waterproof thanks to UltraWeave, and has great comfort and load transfer thanks to the carbon fiber fram. Despite a few minor quibbles with their pockets, we give this pack a very strong seal of approval. Shop now.

gnara go there pants

Gnara Go There Pants

16 oz | $168

We nod to Gnara Go There Pants for what might be one of the best innovations in contemporary hiking legwear, the GoFly™ zipper technology. This allows wearers with female genitalia to pee without taking their pants off. Beyond that, they are comfortable, rugged, flattering, and have pockets large enough to store your phone. Shop now.

Saucony Peregrine 13

Saucony Peregrine 13

9 oz | $140

We find that Saucony Peregrine 13 is the best option if you dislike the cushiness of HOKA or the zero drop of Altra. This trail runner builds on a legacy of excellence, is simple, effective, and straight down the middle in terms of fit, cushion, drop, and toe box. Shop now.

osprey eja pro ultralight backpack

Osprey Exos Pro 55 & Eja Pro 55

33 oz | $290

New and exciting for 2023, the Osprey Exos Pro 55 & Osprey Eja Pro 55  & ultralight backpacks are slimmed down versions of their forebears.  They are the best ultralight backpacks from a mainstream outdoor brand, with comfy, breathable high tech frames and trampoline style back panels. This is a big upgrade in weight savings (nearly one pound) from Osprey for a small increase in price ($30). And if you liked the original, you’re sure to love the pro models which is strictly better on paper! That said, the rear and side pocket designs are mediocre and the on the whole, the pack just feels bulky. Shop M’s Exos Pro 55, Shop W’s Eja Pro 55.

hyperlite mountain gear unbound 40

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 40 & 55

31.0 oz | $399

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound Backpack is waterproof, incredibly durable, and similar to HMG’s 3400 series packs in volume, weight, and price. But it delivers an improved suite of pockets and bonus features that make for a nice little upgrade to their top of the line DCF backpacks. Shop now.

therm-a-rest neoair xlite nxt sleeping pad

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT

12.5 oz | $210

New for 2023, the Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite NXT is currently the undisputed best performance sleeping pad for backpacking that money can buy, and it has no equal. It is statistically superior in almost every way and across all measurements when compared to all other sleeping pads. Shop now.

Adventure Alan Featured Gear Reviews Conclusion

We hope you’ve found something you like in our featured gear reviews. Stay tuned and check back often as we’ll be adding more content to this section. Happy hiking!