SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.
GEAR CHICK - KRISTIN HOSTETTER - ASK THE EXPERT
Submit Your Question

Is Gore-Tex the Best?

Q.} Is Gore-Tex still the #1 all-time best waterproof material you can buy? Or are other brands' waterproofing just the same with a different name? Just wondering if it's worth paying the extra money for the Gore-Tex brand? Thanks!
Submitted by: Robin - Oshkosh, WI
A.} This is a big question with a long-winded answer. We just finished a pretty exhaustive test of the latest and greatest shell technologies (check it out in our online September 2011 issue) and yes, the new Gore-Tex Active Shell was awesome. So were the other four candidates: Polartec Neoshell, Mountain Hardwear Dry.Q Elite, and Columbia Omni-Dry. These 4 fabrics are also mighty spendy ($350-$480, and Gore-Tex is NOT the most expensive), so, let’s face it: they’re not for everyone.

Here’s my honest opinion: There are tons of jackets out there—some really well priced “house fabrics”—that will keep you dry, if that is your primary goal. But if you need a jacket that’s really breathable as well, that’s when it pays to fork out some extra money.

Waterproof/breathable shells fall into two general categories, each with pros and cons:

Membranes: These are very thin microporous films with holes too small to let water in, but large enough to let sweat vapor out. Membranes are laminated between a face fabric (often nylon) and a liner (to protect the membrane from wear and dirt). Pros: Membranes are more breathable and more durable. Con: They’re also considerably more expensive.

Coatings: This is when the inside face of a fabric is treated with a microporous coating that also blocks water from entering but let’s out a degree of sweat vapor. Pros: Coated shells are very light, packable, and affordable (often under $100). Cons: They are not as durable (coatings eventually wear off) or breathable as membranes.

Bottom line, Robin: Gore-Tex is great, but there are lots of other great membranes, too. Determine your budget and your needs, then decide which category of raingear you need. Check out all these shell reviews we’ve done in recent years.
Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Reader Rating: -
 

READERS COMMENTS

chanelview
Nov 03, 2012

<br /><a href="http://www.jordanshoesll.com">cheap jordans</a> eve that over time that will change"It's light, easy to handle, and I'll use it to read booksSchmitt, the district's director of human resources, also didn't help Vijayendran's case much, though the jury may wind up sympathizing with the former principal"Spelman is unusually well-suited for such a move as it will likely face little uproar from alumniBeijing is tightening security as its all-important Communist Party congress approaches, and some of the measures seem downright bizarreOther employees and/or customers were in the store during the robberies, but no one was hurt in either incidentThe economics of college athletics vary widely from big-time programs to Division III schools where intercollegiate athletics are little more than another extracurricular activitys rules seem extraordinary, perhaps in an effort to smooth a once-a-decade transition that has already been bumpyThis has all been really bad timing for Joshua Suzanne, who owns a vintage store called Rags-A-GoGo in the West VillageA smaller tablet is the first device to be added to Apple's compact portfolio under Cook, who took over from Jobs just before his death a year ago It's just more practical to have the mini because I found it a bit too big As GetJar Founder and Executive Chairman Ilja Laurs explains, the SDK works like a billing platform<br /><a href="http://www.coachoutletstorell.com">coach outlet store</a> Founder and Executive Chairman Ilja Laurs explains, the SDK works like a billing platform7-inch display as the previous version but with a faster A6X processor and better Wi-Fis sad that it has to come to Xbox Live bans just to get people to act civil toward one another, but thatCheckout"We have been investigating since the first robbery and are devoting many resources so we can quickly resolve the issue and locate the suspect," Lockhart saidFor Tatum, there is also an element of social responsibilityThe airline's four-minute safety video featuring the character Gollum and film director Peter Jackson got more than 2 million hits on YouTube within a day of its posting"Pontoon" was something of a departure for Little Big Town, whose members include Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet"Reviewers have applauded Apple for squeezing most of the iPad's features into a smaller package that can be comfortably manipulated with one handbusiness apps Yet, while you may know it as an app store (after all, thatm<br /><a href="http://www.jordanshoesll.com">retro jordans</a> l never forget the tragedym And about how this town pulled together He told her that he called the girl into the classroom to prepare a lesson on Helen Keller, which he had been using for years GetJar The image is really good and it's got the fast A5 chip too," Vohradsky saidA smaller tablet is the first device to be added to Apple's compact portfolio under Cook, who took over from Jobs just before his death a year ago The 35-year-old teacher, in jail pending his trial, faces a maximum sentence of 75 years to life if he is convicted It gets to the point where you have no idea how many rubber bands you used, and you can't see the first one "Students who really want to be at Spelman will still come to Spelman Whaley Elementary struggled to convey why she accepted teacher Craig Chandler's explanation for his disturbing behavior -- that it was part of a lesson plan about Helen Keller""Because Willie," Underwood said, "it appears there's been some doping charges<br /><a href="http://www.jordanshoesll.com">www.jordanshoesll.com</a> an old saying, most commonly associated with Watergate, that the cover-up is worse than the crimeThe airline's four-minute safety video featuring the character Gollum and film director Peter Jackson got more than 2 million hits on YouTube within a day of its postingeThe government has blocked searches for the phrase "18th Party Congress" on websites including China like upgrades, new levels, virtual, goods and so on Prosecutors must prove the perjurer knowingly lied about something important"They also poked a little fun at the night's honored guest, Willie Nelson, who was due to receive a lifetime achievement award and perform with Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Lady Antebellum and Blake Shelton One of the most beloved figures in not just country music, but American popular culture, Nelson was stopped several times for hugsA Deloitte spokesman said 420 staff will lose their jobs as a result of the administration and 32 stores will close" She said in e-mails, Curley was "seemingly using words to try to mask the true topic of the e-mail"Investigators are still searching for clues in a daring smash and grab robbery of jewelry at a store earlier this week"It's a great honor and I'm glad I achieved something," he said<br /><a href="http://www.coachoutletstorell.com">coach outlet</a> n the taxi windows"It's light, easy to handle, and I'll use it to read books "For Tatum, there is also an element of social responsibility9-inch slateThe founder tells us that developers who have integrated its currency into their apps have doubled their revenue and, in territories where Google Checkout isns rules seem extraordinary, perhaps in an effort to smooth a once-a-decade transition that has already been bumpy They look intolerant without looking impatient model, which allows third-party app makers to distribute apps for most of the major mobile platforms By the time all the repairs are done, Nicaj thinks he'll be out a few hundred thousand dollars<br /><a href="http://www.coachoutletstorell.com">www.coachoutletstorell.com</a> was launched in 2010 by Steve Jobs and since then it has taken a big chunk out of PC sales, upending the industry and reinventing mobile computing with its apps-based ecosystemre found to be making sexist comments, donR Wear a little wider shoe," he says with a shrug She says she needed the money from this week to keep her in business during January and February, when things get slowSo much of what the attorney general said Thursday is old news -- extremely relevant, but well-knownre similar (duh), but that 500 of my friends or colleagues or people who are exactly like me happen to be using and loving the appChina always tightens security for high-profile events, like much of the rest of the world4 million annually A similar robbery occurred at the store shortly after 8 p

Coach Outlet
Oct 22, 2012

<a href="http://www.outletcoach2012.biz">Coach Outlet Online</a> New Style.
call a coach today.
Genuine <a href="http://www.outletcoach2012.biz">Coach Outlet</a>.
because coach shops are quite hard to find.
<a href="http://www.outletcoach2012.biz">http://www.outletcoach2012.biz</a>.
<a href="http://www.outletcoach2012.biz">coach outlet 2012 store online</a>.
and life coaching is just a business.
<a href="http://www.outletcoach2012.biz">Coach Outlet</a>.
<a href="http://www.outletcoach2012.biz">outletcoach2012.biz</a>.
The content is from Helenshi 2012-10-23

roger
Sep 19, 2012

I have buy and tested Arcterix with Active shield from Goretex. I do use it with a Quad.On a rainy day after a full day out, no water in. My inside clothes weren't dry nor wet because of my perspiration, I agree that it could be more breathable but it did the job and I give it a rating of 9/10. breath-ability:7 lightness:10 waterproof:10 comfort: 10 No umbrella for me and it is a full activity cloth, I would buy it again anytime and I do trust Gore Tex because they check all the phase of the production so you don't have any less than what you pay for. Still any other product like Event should be look case by case. My opinion.

roger
Sep 19, 2012

I have buy and tested Arcterix with Active shield from Goretex. I do use it with a Quad.On a rainy day after a full day out, no water in. My inside clothes weren't dry nor wet because of my perspiration, I agree that it could be more breathable but it did the job and I give it a rating of 9/10. breath-ability:7 lightness:10 waterproof:10 comfort: 10 No umbrella for me and it is a full activity cloth, I would buy it again anytime and I do trust Gore Tex because they check all the phase of the production so you don't have any less than what you pay for. Still any other product like Event should be look case by case. My opinion.

Ralph
May 17, 2012

Kristin mentioned Polartec Neoshell, Mountain Hardwear Dry.Q Elite, add eVent, all of these membranes are more breathable than PTFE, aka GoreTex. Enough so that you may need to bump your insulation layers in colder temps. eVent is a slightly older technology than Neoshell and Dry.Q Elite (may be a smidgen less breathable) and jackets with eVent can be found on sale. GoreTex is fine you're sitting around but chugging up mountains in adverse conditions I'll stay with one of the other membranes, I just sweat too much. Have to wonder if having Gore as a major advertiser is perhaps an influence in not calling them out?

Ted44
May 17, 2012

eVent is still marketed as eVent, but manufacturers are also allowed to use it and call it what they want. MHW DryQ Elite is eVent, other levels of DryQ are coatings and such. VERY smart move by GE, in my opinion. eVent is still expanded PTFE, like GoreTex, but differs in the way the polyurethane is applied and is supposedly quite breathable, maybe better than Gore. But Gore has alot of different fabrics now, so who knows.

Mike
May 17, 2012

Goretex works great when there is a large humidity differential (e.g. when it is humid inside the jacket and cold outside the jacket). I did my own test with a piece of goretex fabric. When I put it over a steaming glass of water it barely breathed but when I put the same glass of water in the freezer, it instantly started breathing very well.

Goretex is good but not nearly as breathable as Event or DRY Q Elite (Event) or Neoshell. I wish folks who review gear would forget about the tremendously strong Gore lobby/advertising dollars and just write the truth.

Gear puppy
Mar 11, 2012

Btw, many guides on kili use umbrellas. Try have their place, like the ability to protect something you are handling, not just yourself. For example, reading a map can be easier under an umbrella.

Also I've had experiences where heavy rain against my hood made it impossible to hear my partners. I would have much rather had an umbrella and the ability to drop my hood, after three hours we were all tired of yelling to be heard.

Gear puppy
Mar 11, 2012

If I understand correctly, goretex is a middle layer. If it is slippery, it is because of the choices the garnet manufacturer made, not because of goretex. My marmot alpinist jacket is not slippery, it feels almost velvety.

I own two main jackets. My marmot alpinist is what I take on long cold trips. It has been with me on a rainy climb on kilo for example, and it worked great. For wet warm climates I take a rab event jacket. The marmot is sized to take layers, the rab not so much. They both perform admirably so I could go either way.

But what usually sells me on goretex is not the material but the requirements they impose on manufacturers in order to receive the gtx brand. Other providers are only interested in selling fabric so the manufacturer can put it in a subpar garment. With gtx at least I know it has passed gtx certification requirements. To me that is important. To others, who knows.

meanolddog
Aug 14, 2011

Before Gore-Tex we used Umbrellas and I still do. Though I miss the old external frame Packs which we were able to bolt the umbrella on to so we wouldn't have to carry it and still use a hiking stick. With the new materials in Umbrellas I find that I need to spray it with a silicone based material before each hike especially after a couple of hours of steady rain for they leak, the silicone spray solves the problem. Here in the South we get a lot of unexpected afternoon rain on the trail and I've found that in a number of the Rain Coats offered for sale at $200+ that I returned they all eventually leak through and are "cold wearing" so I always have to bring an imported Irish wool sweater, or a good military issue to wear under them to keep warm, especially at the shoulders. So I have found myself going back to the old Military issue nylon Poncho which can also be used as a tarp and Wool Sweaters to avoid getting wet & cold and having hypothermia creeping on me. And I have never been warm in fleece garments unless I sit still inside of tent. So I'll stick with the tried and true..Wool and a coated nylon poncho.

James
Jul 14, 2011

There are somethings not being said here:

1. Gore-Tex was one of the first, if not the very first, W/B fabrics out there, as such, give them the respect they deserve. Since then, other companies have come up with good W/B fabrics. Come on guys, it's called competition.

2. Gore-Tex needs to protect it's product image to protect their sales. If you want to use the Gore-Tex name then you don't get to use the name of another W/B fabric as that would cut into sales. It's a contract and all companies sign them, don't like the contract? Don't sign it.

3. Cheap is relative! A $300 jacket that lasts for 12 years is much cheaper than a $100 jacket that lasts for only 3 years. You want cheap? Buy Gore-Tex jackets at used clothing stores like me.

JD
Jul 08, 2011

One more thought (don't know why I'm spending so much time on this??)....umbrellas are also EXCELLENT for sun protection. I see PCT and long distance hikers using this technique often, and I love it on the high glaciers on calm days.

A great solution for anyone concerned about all the sunscreen controversy.

JD
Jul 08, 2011

ONe other thing about GoreTEx, it's very slippery!! For winter mountaineering on Rainier, mountain guides avoid this layer at all costs, as it is very hard to self arrest once you start moving. Softshell makes it much easier to stop.

So I guess folks can take my Gore Tex and umbrella solutions with a grain of salt. But on PNW volcanoes, Gore Tex is not good for the heavy precip down low and it is dangerous (too slippery) on the high glaciers above....mountain guides, rangers, and avid mountaineers around here are not too keen on the product.

JD
Jul 08, 2011

Kris, regarding umbrellas, there are some very nice, very strong umbrellas out there, including some golf umbrellas (the most expensive ones are around $120, still 1/3 the cost of a Gore Tex jacket and far more functional. This is what many of us use here in Washington where I live, which should give me some credibility on wet climates. I actually learned the trick from two Rainier park rangers who live in the wettest climates. Regarding high winds....well, umbrellas have their limits. They are most useful in the extremely wet lower elevations and canyons and old growth forests. IN the trees you are more sheltered. Once above treeline where its windier, temps are usually lower, precip typically drier (snow), and then a good softshell or Primaloft puffy holds up fine.

Eric
Jul 06, 2011

Regular GoreTex in shoes...forget it. It's like wearing plastic bags on my feet. GTX-XCR is an improvement in shoes, but haven't seen it in clothing for some reason.

Lee
Jul 05, 2011

There was a good article in the 6/22/11 edition of the Wall Street Journal concerning anti-trust action against W. L. Gore for restricting manufacturers that use Gore-Tex from using other materials. Additional materials such as eVent should have been considered for this article.

kris
Jul 05, 2011

I have to see a picture of the first guy with his umbrella on his pack going through the woods on a single track trail. Maybe it would work in open areas but seriously? On a hiking trail you need a hard shell coat. Also what is your answer for high winds? Extra umbrellas for the nine you broke that day?

kris
Jul 05, 2011

I have to see a picture of the first guy with his umbrella on his pack going through the woods on a single track trail. Maybe it would work in open areas but seriously? On a hiking trail you need a hard shell coat. Also what is your answer for high winds? Extra umbrellas for the nine you broke that day?

Andy
Jul 05, 2011

Core-Tex is standard Wehrmacht issue in the German military. I had a jacket myself that was surprisingly warm and light and it was easy just to roll it up and toss it into a corner when you wanted it out of the way. It was only after years that it started to wear down. It was my favorite for walks and hikes with my dogs.

JD
Jul 05, 2011

On the contrary, I thought that was a short-winded answer (good summary). Gore Tex requires a strong temperature differential (very cold outside, very warm inside) to really do what it claims to do . Ironically, many outer-shell ads feature extreme alpinists on steep mixed terrain, but this environment is actually not that demanding on fabric technology (the cold temps keep precip quite dry). The most demanding conditions on fabrics are mid-elevations (usually below treeline) hiking (not climbing) uphill in about 30 - 38 degress F in wet precip with a pack on. This is extremely demanding as you are very warm inside and very wet outside, and the pack backpanel and straps prevent even the best Gore technology from functioning. But this is never what manufacturers advertise! Nothing keeps you dry in these conditions, but these are the day in and day out conditions the majority of outdoor folks encounter. The best solution, believe it or not, is a plain old umbrella, attached to your pack or carried, while wearing a soft shell jacket. This will keep you dry and breathable. A little more hassle yes, but completely worth it when you crawl in to the tent dry and toasty later.

Gore Tex is still handy in some situation - lift skiing for example, its phenomenal. Very cold outside, you stay dry from any precip, and when your heart rate and body temp shoot up on the descent it breathes well (also not carrying a pack usually).

View all comments

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

GEAR CHICK - KRISTIN HOSTETTER - ASK THE EXPERT

I am 6'7'' and an active outdoorsman year-round. Which 20ish degree bag has the most shoulder space and is still rather light?
Read more...

Hi Kristin, You've said the best baselayers, socks, and some of the best insulating layers are wool. I'm allergic to wool (and sheep) and even "no itch" merino is itchy, especially when I'm sweating. What are good non-wool alternatives? Thanks!
Read more...

Ever since my backpacking trip in Canyonlands, my multitool had been gunked up with sand. I've scrubbed it with a toothbrush and run it through the dishwasher, but there's still grittiness whenever I open the tools. What can I do?
Read more...

Which 3-season sleeping bags can you recommend for women over 5'10? It seems like all of them are too short for me!
Read more...

Dilemma: I'm a vegan, but most hiking boots are made with leather. Are there any 100% animal-free synthetic alternatives out there?
Read more...

I'm traveling to Machu Pichu and need a backpack. What should I get?
Read more...

Dear Kristin,

I'm allergic to down, but I like its compressibility. I’ve been trying to find a synthetic bag that packs as well as a down one. But do you know anyone who makes a hypoallergenic down sleeping bag or am I stuck with synthetics? 
Read more...

It is finally here, we are taking our Boy Scout troop in the AT thru the GSMNP. We feel we have planned well and our gear is up to speed. The only question now is how to keep teenage boys motivated to complete the 76 miles? Any suggestions as to how convince them to keep digging? I have some ideas but wanted to get some from you all. I love the magazine and read it monthly, have used it as reference several times in the past. Keep up the great work!
Read more...

Do I have to get my girlfriend a women's-specific backpack if her torso size fits a men's one? Do the shoulder strap position and waist belt flare really matter and do you wear a women’s-specific backpack?
Read more...

I'm pretty skinny and when I tighten the hipbelt and other straps on my pack I end up with lots of extra strap hanging and flapping around. Can I just cut this extra stuff off?
Read more...

At 5'1 I have a hard time finding snow pants that aren't too long. I've found some waterproof pants that I really like, but they are extremely baggy in the legs. If I alter the pants, how can I make the new seams waterproof?
Read more...

I'm on a budget. Why shouldn't I substitute a $10 pool float for a sleeping pad that costs $100 or more?
Read more...

Next year I am planning my first backpacking trip where I need to wash myself and some clothes. What is a soap that will work for both and is still good for the environment?
Read more...

I recently had an ember burn a hole a little smaller than a dime in my Mountain Hardwear Mesa convertible pants. What’s the best way to patch the hole and make sure it will not expand any bigger?
Read more...

What can my husband and I do to protect our wedding rings when we are backpacking?
Read more...

Do I really need to buy a tent footprint? Or are the newer tents tough enough that you don't need one?
Read more...

Why are American tent floors less waterproof than European ones (they have about 10,000mm* of PU floor coating while all the ones I've seen here have 2,000-3,000mm)? Isn’t more better? Should I buy a European tent for maximum protection?
Read more...

I am getting ready to buy a lightweight canister stove. Is there a guide for which stoves use which fuel bottles? I would like to buy my canisters at Walmart if possible.
Read more...

One of my leather hiking boots has a cut across the toe box. It is not deep, but it is enough to cause tearing in the leather. Is there a way to close this cut?
Read more...

What steps can I take to make a 28°F sleeping bag stretch into colder temps than it is designed for? Looking like low 20s is a possibility!
Read more...

I have an Osprey Ariel 55 backpack and am going on an eight-day trip where hard side bear vaults are required. Will I be able to get everything including the BV in my pack, and if so, how do I carry the BV?
Read more...

I have a down parka that says "dry clean only". Do you think it would be fine to wash it as I do my down bag (on delicate) with proper down wash, then dry with tennis balls on low heat?
Read more...

I recently purchased a new pair of hiking boots (Salewa Alp Trainer Mid), I am noticing a hotspot forming on my heels, particularly when traveling uphill. Is there anything in particular I can do to ease the pain?
Read more...

I need to fit a week’s amount of equipment for a scouting trip not including cooking stuffs, food and a tent in my 35 litre bag. Can you help?
Read more...

Is there any special way I should wash my boots or can I just treat them like any other shoe?
Read more...

What is the best way to find a slow leak in a self-inflating sleeping pad?
Read more...

I tied my tent and mattress perpendicular at the bottom of my pack to save space. On my practice hike, it seemed like I was bouncing. If I keep these items on the outside of my pack, where and how is the best place to attach them? OR, should I go with a larger pack?
Read more...

Can bears and other critters be a problem at night even if all our group has for food are, say Clif Bars - or any other similar kind of energy/protein bars?
Read more...

Can sleeping bag liners be used as ultralight sleeping bags, or do they require the insulation of a bag in order to be effective?
Read more...

I’m new to backpacking, should I buy all my gear then buy my pack? Or, should I buy my pack first? I will be doing some long distant hikes and some weekend hikes too.
Read more...

Are there any "tricks" to keeping water liquid on an extended winter outing? I've had issues with both bladders and Nalgenes. A friend had to slice open his hydration bladder to avoid carrying 2 lbs. of ice!
Read more...

Is my sleeping bag's performance affected by what I wear when I sleep?
Read more...

After testing out backpacks I found the Osprey Ariel to fit really well, but am concerned about the thin hipbelt padding. My ultimate question: If a bag fits you really well, does thin padding make a big difference? If so, is there a way to improve it?
Read more...

I occasionally go backpacking alone, but have trouble bear bagging. The issue is not knowledge of how to bearbag - it's the throwing! I have no arm and no aim. Tricks? Suggestions? Thanks!
Read more...

I have a narrow foot and a size 13 1/2. No one makes a 13 1/2 in a narrow. In a 14 the lacing pulls together and in a 13 my toes hit the end and turn black. Any suggestions? I've tried several brands, hoping to find a longer boot, but so for no luck.
Read more...

I've been told that O rings on the WhisperLite International Stove may crack when the temp reaches -10. Do you have any suggestions for operating the stove at temps below -10, or a way to keep the O rings from cracking?
Read more...

I want to take my 10-year-old (80 lbs.) boy backpacking. How much weight should he carry? I want him to enjoy it!
Read more...

I hear a lot about storing sleeping bags in cotton sacks for breathability purposes. I store all my gear in large plastic containers. My containers are large enough so there is no compression, but now I'm worried about breathability?
Read more...

How do I bend the stays in my backpack?
Read more...

What's the difference between titanium and aluminum cookware? Can you explain the pros/cons of each?
Read more...

Hi, can you suggest any ways for me to keep pebbles from getting in my running shoes while I run? Thanks!
Read more...

Next summer I will be transporting 4 people (2 adults, 1 toddler, and 1 infant) and 2 dogs (50 pounds each) into the great outdoors. What carries more gear? A roof basket like the Thule MOAB, or a roof box?
Read more...

I am going to start backpacking again after many years and wanted to know about internal frame packs. How do you determine the correct size of the pack (I am 5' 10" in height)?
Read more...

I am comparing the Kelty Gunnison 2.1, sold everywhere ($189.99) with the Kelty Zenith, sold at Target ($59.99). The basic dimensions are the same and there are a few obvious differences, but how can the price be so different?
Read more...

Can a woman comfortably use a man's backpack? How much of a difference does it make?
Read more...

My boyfriend always gets annoyed that I load our heavier items into his pack. I think that since he weighs 30% more than me, his pack can be about 40% heavier, adding 10% for M/F differences in hematocrit, VO2 max, etc. Do you think this is reasonable?
Read more...

When camping in the alpine environment, above tree line, what is the best way to store food to keep it way from critters (ie. pikas and marmots)?
Read more...

I have a Snowpeak stove that uses those small pressurized fuel canisters. Is there a good way to estimate the burn time left in a partially used canister?
Read more...

I've heard that DEET is bad for sleeping bag fabrics and can even melt some materials. Since I use DEET on my body on most camping trips, should I always wash my sleeping bag after every trip? And if not, how often should I wash it to protect it from DEET?
Read more...

What are the best quick-dry pants to use in cooler temperatures? I will be in Alaska in late August and will be out in the backcountry for 11 days. I wanted to find a good multi-purpose pant that will keep heat in and is also quick to dry.
Read more...

Is Gore-Tex still the #1 all-time best waterproof material you can buy? Or are other brands' waterproofing just the same with a different name? Just wondering if it's worth paying the extra money for the Gore-Tex brand? Thanks!
Read more...

I am new to backpacking and have only made a few serious trips. Everyone I hike with always carries a gun. Do you carry a firearm when in the United States? Or am I just paranoid?
Read more...

My friend and I have a debate going about how to pack a tent: He says stuffing it is better, but I say folding and rolling is better. His thought is that folding and rolling creates seams that will eventually let in water. Who's right?
Read more...

How can I be sure my water treatment equipment is doing it job. Is there a way to test this?
Read more...

Tents have warnings to "maintain adequate ventilation. Death by suffocation is possible!" My tent has lots of mesh. What's the story here?
Read more...

I am planning a thru-hike on the AT. Can you give me insight into the pros & cons of ultralight poles vs the old standbys? How necessary are shock absorbing poles for the AT?
Read more...

If a rain fly has a few areas of mildew will it still work to repel rain, or do I need to get a new fly? Is there anywhere to purchase just the rain fly, or do I have to go all in and get a new tent?
Read more...

For a summer trek at Philmont, which is better, a wool sweater or a fleece garment?
Read more...

Dear Kristen, I have a down sleeping bag that I forgot to place in my "storage" bag. I left it in my "stuff sack" for about 2 years. How will this affect its performance, and how do I remedy this situation? Do I just "air it out" for a few days?
Read more...

I have been away from backpacking for a while, why the shift away from external frame backpacks?
Read more...

What's the best way to patch a tear in a siliconized Cordura pack cover?
Read more...

I need prescription sunglasses, but can't afford them. I've had to cut snowshoeing trips short before because I couldn't cross any open meadow due to the sun. Do you have any cheap sunglass solutions that won't make me look like a geriatric?
Read more...

Is there a rectangular sleeping bag that can compress as small as a mummy bag?
Read more...

What is the best way to clean your hydration pack and tube? I sometimes get a moldy smell in my hydration bladder if I don't air it out thoroughly.
Read more...

The instructions on my gravity filter say you should "backwash"–reverse the flow–whenever the filtration rate slows. My question: What do you do with the water that is "backwashed" into the "dirty" bag? Discard the water or re-filter?
Read more...

I've noticed that the label on all of my baselayers say to not use fabric softeners. Do you know if this is just referring to liquid softeners or does this also mean dryer sheets? No dryer sheet = major static.
Read more...

Can rechargeable batteries be used in LED and non-LED headlamps and flashlights?
Read more...

I am wondering how the GPS apps for smartphones compare to a regular GPS? They seem to be the latest thing but are they as reliable?
Read more...

Dear Kristin, I'm in the military; for deployments and long field ops, I am unable to wash my sleeping bag. I have adopted the practice of spraying the inside of my bag with Lysol and drying it in the sun. Do you see this ruining the bag in any way?
Read more...

The rubber from the sole of my boots is starting to separate from the leather. Is there something I can do to mend this or are my boots toast? (I LOVE these boots...)
Read more...

My GPS works great in the Walmart parking lot, but in a steep valley, next to a mountain, or in the woods it can't get an adequate signal. How can I solve this problem?
Read more...

Does campfire smoke degrade the properties of DWR or breathable laminates?
Read more...

With chemical water purification tablets, almost all of them give instructions for a full quart or liter. If I want to clean just 8 ounces, could I divide the dose by breaking tablets into quarters (or cut the number of drops by 1/4), and would the treatments still be effective?
Read more...

Any suggestions for small, leakproof containers for carrying cooking supplies such as oil, syrup, sauces etc.?

Read more...

What is the best way to repair a tear in my fleece?

Read more...

What is the best way to add down to areas of a sleeping bag?
Read more...

Does a down sleeping bag go bad? I have an old The North Face expedition down bag. It has been in storage for 35 years. It looks good still, but will it fall apart?
Read more...

I am looking for a hydration pack for day ski trips this winter–need to attach skis, shovel, probe, food, and a few pieces of clothes. What are your favorites?
Read more...

I am considering retrofitting my old Kelty external frame backpack with new shoulder straps. Should I also replace the hipbelt?
Read more...

Is it best to put gaiters on over or under rainpants?
Read more...

If I spray a DWR finish on clothing, will that also increase its wind resistance? Specifically I'm thinking of a pair of light gloves and a headband that I use to meet an early morning chill, but are not much help in a cold wind. I find most windproof items too bulky.
Read more...

What are the pros & cons of a single-wall tent to a double-wall?
Read more...

Are there standards tents must meet to be designated "3 season"/"4 season?" A pole on my new Big Agnes Copper Spur 3 snapped after a full night of strong winds below Longs Peak, plus there was a punctured rain fly and snapped shock cords. A defect or design limits exceeded?
Read more...

Do you know of a good pair of beginner crampons for use in the Rockies? What's the price range?
Read more...

What's the low-down on rain gear? I'm a novice who's weary of spending his cash in the wrong places. Should I go with a softshell jacket or something with a sturdier outer shell?
Read more...

Hi Kristin, I was wondering if wearing two pairs of socks really helps prevent blisters/toe damage? If so, what do you recommend for the second sock? I usually use a merino wool blend, heavy cushion sock with my boots, and occasionally will get some blisters.
Read more...

I've been doing more hiking in sandals vs. my hiking boots. I have found hiking in the sandals good because I can also use them as camp shoes, they dry fast, and they're so much lighter than my boots. Do you see any safety issues with do this?
Read more...

Kristin, do you ever bring "backups" of your important items? On one hand it seems logical to bring an extra compass, flashlight, knife etc., but on the other it usually just turns out to be dead weight. What's your take on it?
Read more...

What is the earliest age at which we can start tent camping with a child? We were hoping to start thru-hiking the AT when our child reaches age two and half, but is that too young?
Read more...

Which should be applied to clothing and gear first? Waterproofing or Permethrin bug spray?
Read more...

How can I stop the elastic on my underwear from chafing me under my hipbelt?
Read more...

How can I recycle old polyester fiberfill sleeping bags to keep them out of the landfill?
Read more...

I have high arches so bad that the top of my right foot hurts. Is there any one brand of hiking boots that you recommend that has excellent arch support? Currently I use an insole in my hiking boot which helps but I still have issues.
Read more...

How can you tell if your water filter is still working properly?
Read more...

Can you wash a tent?
Read more...

When water comes over the top of Gore-Tex boots it can't seep out again like in regular boots, right?
Read more...

While rummaging around my basement I found a can of stove fuel. Does this stuff go bad like regular gasoline?
Read more...

We are taking our loaded backpacks on an airplane and are looking for protective sacks that we can put the backpacks in so they don't get destroyed during baggage handling. Where do I find this type of protection?
Read more...

I’m getting ready for summer and have been really interested in the soda can stoves. The only concern I have is whether the alcohol fuel can stand up to the South Carolina heat. Any thoughts?
Read more...

Stupid question time, what is the best way to wash camp dishes without hauling extra gear and wasting water? Do you have to boil/filter the water used for cleaning? Are dishes detergents bad for the environment? How do you dispose of dirty dish water?
Read more...

My wife and I are going to take our baby (born in December last year) hiking and camping with us and our dog this summer. Do you have gear recommendations for the main gear: baby carrier, baby sleeping gear, dirty diaper containment, etc?
Read more...

I am having a very hard time finding the right pair of trail pants. I've searched online and found what seems to be a thousand pairs and none are the right pair. Do you have a favorite?
Read more...

I love my sleeping bag/pad combo, except for one thing. I can't stop sliding off the pad! Is there anything that I can do to my pad to cut down on the sliding
Read more...

I am confused about the capacity figures that backpack manufacturers claim. With particular regards to daypacks it seems that the figures advertised are always about 20% higher than what the pack actually holds. What gives? And how many cubic inches do I need for a daypack or a week-long pack?
Read more...

My friends are getting married in a month and I want to give them a piece of gear specifically for couples. I looked into couples sleeping bags, my first choice, but I can't spend more than $200. Can you suggest something thoughtful and high quality?
Read more...

I need a new winter sleeping bag. Should I choose a sleeping bag with or without a waterproof laminate? Can you explain the difference?
Read more...

Dear Kristin, What is the ideal way to rig your 4-season tent for cold weather? My tent has zip in/out panels and I'm not sure what the right balance is between keeping the heat in and getting the condensation out.
Read more...

Kristin, do you have any tips for winter cooking? How should I set my backcountry kitchen up differently? Can I cook in my tent?
Read more...

When walking around the neighborhood or out walking the dogs usually duringwinter the streets are most times icy. Are there any shoes or hiking boots that are studded or ones that would be best for ice?
Read more...

Dear Kristin,
I love being outside when it's cold, especially hiking, and I wear glasses.
I have a hard time wearing face masks or balaclavas because my warm breath fogs up my glasses as I breathe out into whatever is covering my face. Any suggestions on being fog free?

Read more...

I am going on a week-long trip at around 10,500 feet elevation and we'll be using mules to carry our gear. Any suggestions on how to keep our food cold so we can carry perishables such as steak/chicken etc?
Read more...

How do I get rid of cold feet while in my sleeping bag in the middle of the night? The rest of my body is fine but my feet are freezing.
Read more...

Hats: Is there a secret to finding/wearing a great one as it gets colder out there? Synthetic? Wool? Is there one that's better than the other?
Read more...

I'm a sweaty sleeper. Any tips?
Read more...

I'm a cold sleeper. How do I sleep warmer?
Read more...

What's your method for storing and hauling your trash on a multi-day trip? I usually just use plastic bags but there's got to be a more packable way.
Read more...

Kristin, can you recommend a good glove system for colder hikes? Should I bring one pair or two? What should they be made of? Oh, and with longer gloves that bungee up my wrist, should that portion go over or under my jacket sleeve?
Read more...

What's the proper teeth brushing procedure in the woods? Is there one?


Read more...

It's getting cold out there--when do I need a hardshell and when do I need a softshell? I've never really understood the difference and when to use which jacket. Help!
Read more...

What's a good set of on trail eating utensils--fork, spoon, etc?
Read more...

Hey Kristin, this doesn’t seem to come up very often but should I be wearing a different kind of underwear in the backcountry than I do every day? Any recommendations?
Read more...

I'm having trouble deciding upon an insulating layer. I can't decide to go with fleece or PrimaLoft. What are the downs and ups of the two?


Read more...

How should my daypack fit? Should it fit differently from my weekend or week-long pack?
Read more...

Hey Kristin, I've got a great sleeping bag but I can't sleep without a pillow. Do you have a recommendation for a lightweight pillow or so kind of trick for making one with my gear?
Read more...

I've read many outdoor books to get up to speed on camping, cooking, hiking, etc. I would like to hear what your choices of books might be in the outdoor education area. One of my complaints is that they all start to sound the same.
Read more...

Going to the bathroom in the wild. What do I need? Do I need to pack out my waste? How? I'm going on a multi-day trip and am not sure what I need.

Read more...

How do I remove pine sap from my down sleeping bag (and other gear for that matter)?
Read more...

I love hiking and camping, but not alone. I'm one of those people who think about running away when I hear one stick break in the woods. Is there any way I could mentally prepare myself for sleeping alone in the wilderness?
Read more...

Hey Kristin, I'm a navigation newbie. Basically, I just head to the trailhead, look at the map there, and go. Is there essential, basic navigation equipment that I should have at all times, even on a dayhike?
Read more...

Dear Kristin,
Time and miles have taken their toll on the knees with one total knee replacement recently. I am getting back to limited hiking and some of the folks I pass on the trail are very high on the use of trekking poles. I would value your advice as to tips on how to adjust them to the proper length and techniques for most advantageous use of the poles to both reduce stress on the knees and ensure stability (twisting artificial knees is very painful!). I sure hope these poles are a benefit and not just an equipment fad?
Read more...

Kristin,
My wife and I are becoming more serious backpackers and l am shopping around to replace the tent that I've been using since childhood.  Could you explain what “minimum weight,” “packaged weight,” and similar terms mean? Thanks, Rick

Read more...

I know I'm supposed to use a bear canister all the time in bear country but they can be bulky. If I'm going on an overnight trip, do I really need one? And if I do, is there a sealable bag option that might work?
Read more...

What's the best way to keep pack contents dry. Pack covers and pack liners have failed repeatedly. Should I just rely on zip lock bags?
Read more...

Baselayers. I need a good one. I know wool is great but frankly, I itch and get pretty hot when I'm mid hike. Any suggestions?
Read more...

How do I get the campfire stench out of my gear? I tried washing it but no-go.
Read more...

What can I feed my dog throughout the day while we are hiking to keep his energy up?

Read more...

Can a water purifier purify pee?
Read more...

Alas, pain in my shoulders and hips is destroying my ability to camp. I can no longer sleep on the ground, even with a thin mattress underneath. What is the best, most cushioned, and lightweight pad that might help solve this problem?
Read more...

I commute by bicycle to work 15 miles one way. Where can I find a backpack for clothing and hydration that is visible to vehicles?
Read more...

Is it really necessary to have big hiking boots with really sturdy ankle support? I've always used trail runners on multi-day trips without a problem.
Read more...

Times are rough, and I don't have the spare cash to blow on top-dollar gear for every essential. If I have to skimp on one, which one should I cut corners: tent, sleeping bag, pack, or boots?
Read more...

What would you suggest for a windproof lighter that is simple and dependable?
Read more...

I am going to summit Kilimanjaro, but I only have summer weight sleeping bags good to 40 degrees. Given the high cost of lightweight, warm bags and that I don't winter camp, would it be effective to double bag a couple of my summer bags?
Read more...

How should a shell fit? I can't decide between a large or an extra large. Is it best to have ample layering room or should it be tight and form fitting? I can't decide whether to go up or down.
Read more...

Does Talc powder block the GoreTex Membrane of my boots? And what is the best odor killers for GoreTex Boots?

Read more...

Do campfires deter bears?

Read more...

I have been backpacking for 15 years and I have not been able to find a way to stop black toenails. I have changed my lacing especially going downhill, always trim toenails and had several different types of boots. Help!
Read more...

On a recent backpacking trip, the sole of one of my hiking boots came loose. I was able to use a tent cord to tie it on and hike back to the trailhead. How do you repair loose soles on hiking boots?
Read more...

I'm an extremely heavy sweater no matter what the weather. Should I really trust my hi-tech clothing to be absolutely dried by my body heat? Or is it better to carry extra clothing to change? I can't imagine risking the chance of sleeping damp.
Read more...

What is the best way to clean my down bag? Should it be dry-cleaned or can I just throw it in the wash?
Read more...

I have been backpacking for a little over a year and would like to try some cold weather backpacking. I am wondering how to keep warm in the tent at night. Is there a such thing as a backpacker tent heater? Any suggestions are appreciated.
Read more...

How do you remove poison oak or ivy sap from boots?

Read more...

I am tired of iodine for water purification and I am considering a filter (like the Hyperflow), but I see that it doesn't filter viruses. If I only backpack in America, do I have to get a filter with a purifier, or will a filter for bacteria only suffice? Going to Big Bend in 3 weeks and I'm clueless...
Read more...

Kristin, I was wondering about your thoughts on waterproofing your own
clothes, particularly pants. I have never used any sprayon or wash in
waterproofing product. Would something like that work to waterproof your
pants or would that be a waste of time?


Read more...

Is steel better than aluminum when choosing crampons?
Read more...

When camping in subzero temperatures whats the best way to keep my food warm long enough to eat it and whats a good way to clean the pot once the food has frozen itself to the sides?
Read more...

My favorite trail is snowed over now but I still want to get out there. Should I use snowshoes or crampons? Or is there something in between?


Read more...

I'm an amateur hiker/backpacker and I'm wondering how much gear I should pack. I don't want to bring too little, and I don't want to be overexerting myself with too much. What's in the ideal pack?
Read more...

What are the best products for re-waterproofing Gore-Tex rain jackets?
Read more...

Is it safe or advisable to use Febreeze or other "fabric refreshers" on my down sleeping bag?
Read more...

Dear Kristin, I just started hiking through mountain trails in the last year or so. I'm ready to take on full weekend backpacking trips. My main concern is food. What are some important tools to take along for good food prep?
Read more...

Dear Kristin,
How do I prevent chafing? I have been on many long distance hikes in the last year and seem plagued by raw spots. I have tried talc, shaving and even gone commando to the summit of the South Sister. What's the deal and what really works?
Read more...

Should I be worried about hiking in bear country when menstruating?
Read more...

Dear Kristin
I've never really understood the principles of layering. For cold weather treks, should my baselayer be cotton or wool? What about my midlayer? Wool? Fleece? What are the basics of layering for any occasion?
Read more...

Dear Kristin, How can you carry on trekking poles when flying a commercial airline?
Read more...

I take long dayhikes (20-30 miles) and am looking for an emergency shelter to use in case I don't make it out before nightfall. I don't want to carry a tent. I have been considering a bivy sack - something just to keep me warm and dry. Will a waterproof bivy sack on its own be sufficient in case of rain?
Read more...

Is it okay to keep your backpack in your tent at night? There seems to be two opposing camps (no pun intended, or maybe it was)on this issue.
Read more...

I wear size 11 EE boots. I have tried to get hiking boots via mail order without success because they are always far narrower than marked. Do you know of a boot maker who makes really wide boots that are true to size? Thanks.
Read more...

Canister backpacking stoves are becoming so popular, but I have a concern about them that I can't find much info about. Are the canisters refillable or recyclable? Or are we just creating more waste when we purchase these stoves in the quest of lightness?
Read more...

Is there a multipurpose helmet out there I can use for skiing, climbing etc. or should I just plan on getting one for each season/sport?
Read more...

I'm confused about the capacity figures that backpack manufacturers claim. With daypacks it seems that the figures advertised are always about 20 percent higher than what the pack actually holds. What gives?
Read more...

Is it true that mummy bags should not be stored in a stuff sack, but rather hung in closet between trips? Seems like a waste of space.
Read more...

When camping in frigid temperatures, what's the best way to keep my food warm long enough to eat it? And how can I clean my pot once the food has frozen itself to the sides?
Read more...

Dear Kristin,
I plan on backpacking Europe for about a month. What is the most suitable backpack for me to use?
Read more...

I do a bit of camping on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I am looking for a 3-person tent that can withstand the howls and gusts of the winds without collapsing or flapping so loud it keeps me awake. No $3,000 tents please.
Read more...

What is the best way to wash my fleece so that I get longer use out of it?
Read more...

I just returned from a trip to the High Sierra and found a 1/2 inch tear in the bottom of my Big Agnes tent. The fabric is silicone treated nylon. How do I fix it?
Read more...

My wife and I have decided we want to hit the trail and take some overnight and weekend trips.

The trouble is, I'm a big guy: 6 feet tall and 325 lbs. Big. Since no amount of vertical stripes and black cloth can conceal that fact, I'm not going to wait for the flab to fall off so I can enjoy nature, so I've already begun to accumulate equipment. Unfortunately, I've come to an impasse; that being the distance between the clips on the hipbelt of every pack I've tried. My question is, are there any companies that make packs for bigger guys, and a 54" waist? I'll avoid going for a Krispy Kreme while I await your suggestions.


Read more...

In your video on Camp Stoves, why do you keep one of the gas canisters in a pan of water?
Read more...

I bought a pair of Swiss Gear poles from Wal-Mart for $17.00 just to see if I liked using them and have been very satisfied. I learned I do like using the poles and I've seen much more expensive ones in my local outdoor shop. What's the difference? Should I step up and buy the pricier ones? Thanks
Read more...

The plastic buckle on my pack's hip-belt slips. Is there a way to make it stay in place, or a better buckle? I have to cinch the belt really tight to keep it on my hips, but in 20 minutes or less, I'm adjusting it again.
Read more...

Dear Kristin,
I've been told that when using a down sleeping bag, sleeping in the buff will keep you warmer than sleeping in clothing. Is this true? (I've yet to do my own experimenting, as I like to wear long underwear to bed in order to keep my bag cleaner.)
Read more...

We're an experienced group of backpackers/fly fishermen here in Colorado. We will be camping in tundra this summer and we were wondering about our food bags. Since there are no trees to hang the food, what are our options? Thank you.
Read more...

Some friends and I are planning to backpack the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail over spring break. We are all Eagle Scouts, but we have concerns about travel speed. We have 106 miles planned and are trying to figure out a good distance to travel each day. We are novice backpackers and one member of the party is rather out of shape. What is your mileage recommendation?
Read more...

Dear Kristin, I want to start going ultralight. I've looked at tarps and bivy sacks but what do you think about hammocks? They look nice, but do they really work?
Read more...

What is the best way to get rid of leftover white gas, before I get on the plane to fly home?
Read more...

Do you have any suggestions on camp shoes? After backpacking all day in my hiking boots I don't really feel like wearing them around anymore.
Read more...

What causes–and how do you prevent–air bubbles from showing up in liquid filled compasses? Just about every liquid filled compass I have used usually gets a small air bubble in it.
Read more...

Over the years I've hoarded a lot of dehydrated food. Does this stuff ever go bad?
Read more...

I'm looking at down jackets. Some labels say 650-fill, some say 700-fill–what does it mean? Is it a unit of density of the down material or is it the quality of the down material or is it something else? How does it relate to the degree of insulation of a jacket or a sleeping bag, for that matter?
Read more...

Dear Kristin, I am getting ready to buy a new tent and I've heard that bears are attracted to brightly colored tents, but that they ignore dull colors. Does it really matter whether the tent is bright or subdued?
Read more...

Dear Kristin,
After reading many of your ultralight articles, I am seriously going to give it a try, starting with my kitchen gear. How good are the alcohol stoves at high elevations and/or any elevation?
Read more...

What's the best way to re-attach seam seal tape that is pulling away from waterproof fabric items such as a waterproof stuff sack or tent fly?
Read more...

Down versus synthetic sleeping bags: What's the deal?
Read more...


Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook