By Michael Lanza

Are you in the market for a new backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag or other backpacking gear or apparel? How do you find something that’s just right for you? What should you be looking for? How much should you spend? These are questions I’ve heard from many friends and readers over the years as they’ve waded through the myriad choices out there. This article lays out five simple but helpful tips to keep in mind when buying gear.

I’ve learned these steps over nearly three decades of testing and reviewing gear—as the lead gear reviewer for Backpacker magazine for about 10 years and even longer running this blog—and helping people find gear they love. No matter what you’re shopping for—boots, pack, tent, sleeping bag, other backpacking gear, or some major piece of apparel like a rain shell or insulated jacket—you face a daunting array of choices, and everyone’s needs are different.

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

But finding the gear that performs well and that you’ll be happy with really comes down to following a simple thought process described in the five easy steps below, which you can follow when buying almost any gear. Below them, you’ll find links to my stories offering specific tips on buying a new pack, boots, tent, sleeping
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