Product Reviews

O/B staff and contributors review apparel, backpacks, food, tents, sleeping bags, dog gear, and climbing, biking, paddling, fishing, and hunting gear, so you can find what works for you in your outdoor adventures.

Bike Balls, Gear Reviews
the Editors
Product-review rejects.
Emigrant Peak, Fall Gear
the editors
Late-season gear & apparel. 
the editors
A roundup of outdoor gear and apparel from the Outdoor Retailer show. Read more >>
Winter Gear Reviews
the editors
Gear you didn't find under the tree.
England, Mike
Energy products to supplement the season.
England, Mike
Four products to enhance your hunting.
England, Mike
Unconventional products to spice up the season.
England, Mike
Gear and apparel for summer excursions.
England, Mike
Winter is many Montanans' favorite season, and for good reason – the crisp alpine air is nectar to the lungs, while the vast whiteness all around soothes the soul with its serene beauty. And all this underneath a big blue sky grown ever more dazzling by the monochromatic contrast of snow. Read more >>
Leupold RX-1200i
England, Mike
For a compact rangefinder that reaches out past 1,000 yards and doesn't require two hours of prep time with the manual, check out the Leupold RX-1200i TBR/W. That's a lot of letters and numbers, for sure, but the name is as arcane as this product gets. Read more >>
Bozeman Spring Trail Running
the editors
Spring running-gear roundup. 
Brittany Wiser at Bohart Ranch. Photo by Ian Roderer.
Slepian, Maggie
A great all-purpose cross-country ski package from Madshus. Read more >>
  • Apparel

    Pearl Izumi Select Escape
    David Tucker
    A lightweight shell is a staple and especially useful in spring. Whether you’re running, biking, hiking, or fishing, having a water-repellent windproof layer will keep you comfortable and safe when the weather turns. Read more >>
    Pearl Izumi Escape Pro Review
    Chris McCarthy
    Pearl Izumi is known for great cycling gear, and I’m sure cyclists will find the P.R.O. Escape Softshell and P.R.O. Escape Thermal great additions for their late-winter / early-spring riding. Read more >>
    Dakine Beretta Jacket
    Mio Alt
    Charging burly lines demands burly apparel, and the Berreta line from Dakine offers just that. Read more >>
    Toad & Co., Boxcan Shirt
    Angie Mangels
    Boxcan Sherpa Overshirt
    Arborwear Campbell Hill Jacket
    England, Mike
    The down puffy coat—that ubiquitous anorak beloved by outdoor enthusiasts everywhere—has always suffered two major flaws: one, at any temperature above freezing, it’s pretty much a dry-sauna for your torso; and two, the flimsy nylon skin opens up with the slightest of scratches, spewing feathers Read more >>
  • Footwear

    Oboz Women's Sawtooth Low
    Joyce Pollastro
    I've always been skeptical of low hiking shoes because of their lack of ankle support. Read more >>
    Vasque ColdSpark UltraDry
    David Tucker
    Comfort and function for winter hiking.
    Lorpen Precision-Fit Ultalight
    England, Mike
    Two things are paramount in a ski boot: comfort and performance. And the sock you choose to wear affects both significantly. Which is why I’ve switched to the Precision-Fit Ultralight from Lorpen. Read more >>
    LOWA Innox GTX Mid, Montana Backpacking
    England, Mike
    Gone are the days of weighty, oversized hiking boots—those eight-pound clodhoppers that made the ankles invincible but limited one’s pace to a slow, steady walk. Read more >>
    Pearl iZumi EM Trail N3, Bozeman Trail Running
    Tucker, David
    The best part about testing gear in Montana is that you never know what the elements are going to throw at you, and our terrain is so varied that conditions are never certain. Read more >>
  • Packs

    Gregory Packs Salvo 24 Gear Review
    Tucker, David
    I used to think having a daypack was unnecessary. “I’ll just use my ski pack or my bike pack,” I’d say. Read more >>
    Patagonia SnowDrifter
    Doar, Melissa
    Finding the right pack for a tour into the Montana backcountry can be frustrating—until now. The Patagonia SnowDrifter20L makes a great sidekick for short excursions. This ultralight, water-repellent pack has a durable Cordura exterior. Read more >>
    Manfrotto's 3N1-35 PL Pro Light
    Krueger, Ryan
    Getting the shot often means having the right gear accessible at the right time—and relying on an average pack will only get you so far. Read more >>
    winter, Outside Bozeman, Montana
    Howlett, David
    In preparation for my first season on the Ridge, I needed a solid snowboard-specific pack that could also carry my backcountry gear. Research led me to the Ridge SB Pack from J.A. Gear. Read more >>
    Mystery Ranch pack, backpacking,
    Hamilton, Felicia
    Two words came to mind when I was deciding on a new pack: quality and comfort. The new Big Mountain pack from Mystery Ranch delivers both. Quality was a no-brainer; Mystery Ranch is known for their top-notch products. Read more >>
  • Skiing

    BCA T3 Avalanche Rescue Package Review
    David Tucker
    Combo packages have pros and cons. Buying everything at once is convenient and mindless, plus manufacturers usually discount product slightly if you making a bigger purchase. But avalanche safety gear isn't necessarily where you want to skimp, and your process should be anything but mindless. Read more >>
    Smith I/O Goggle Women's
    Mio Alt
    ChromaPop, meet the I/O.
    KneeBindings Carbon Review
    Chris McCarthy
    We take preventative measures for our health every day: we brush our teeth to prevent cavities; we exercise for ­our hearts; we wear our seatbelts in case of a car wreck. Read more >>
    Salomon Qst Pro 120
    Chris McCarthy
    As much as I picture myself a hardcore skier—the kind that searches for powder stashes well beyond ski-area boundaries—I know that I’m not there yet. I can handle myself in most situations, but when it comes to going out of bounds, I always let excuses stop me. Read more >>
    Mike England
    An all-around nordic powerhouse.
  • Fishing

    Montana Fly Fishing, Yellowstone Fly Fishing
    the editors
    Mid-spring fly-fishing gear.
    crampons, fishing wading, anti-slip traction
    Howlett, David
    Wading out to my favorite fishing spots has always been a precarious operation, and the swift currents, slippery banks, and mossy rocks of Montana’s rivers have left me upended and soaked more times than I’d like to admit. Read more >>
    Hobie Mirage Revolution 13
    England, Mike
    Hands-free boating for summer adventures.
    fly fishing gear, fly fishing essentials, fishing in Montana, fishing ideas
    the editors
    What to take for your day on the water Read more >>
    Bloom’s Parachute Caddis, Gallatin River Guides
    Jimmy Armijo-Grover
    Picking flies for any given day can be an overwhelming task. My advice? Keep it simple. Here are five flies every southwest Montana angler should have. Read more >>
  • Climbing

    Scarpa Techno X, Montana Rock Climbing
    McCarthy, Chris
    Now I know what Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters felt like trying to cram their feet into the undersized glass slipper. Straight out of the box, the Scarpa Techno X climbing shoe is so painfully tight that I thought I’d grabbed the wrong size. Read more >>
    ice climbing, boots, Outside Bozeman, Montana
    Pogge, Drew
    For climbing ice and mixed routes in southwest Montana, a boot’s fit and comfort are key. Our approaches can be long, and the weather is notoriously cold and fickle, and with the inherent wetness and inactivity of climbing and belaying, it’s a tough job for any piece of footwear. Read more >>
    Reuss, Dave
    When you’re as bad at climbing as me, every single variable can make a difference. That’s why I’m glad I found the Bravo Quickdraw from Metolius. Read more >>
    England, Mike
    Halfway up a 19,000-foot peak, watching one’s ropemates struggle for solid footing on near-vertical ice, a guy naturally starts wondering how good his gear really is. Read more >>
    Keyes, Fletcher
    The Mammut Superflash is the Sherman tank of climbing ropes. At 70m long, 10.5mm thick, and able to withstand up to 14 UIAA-rated falls, this thing is bombproof. Read more >>
  • Camping

    GSI Pinnacle Dualist
    Tucker, David
    Convenience is king these days, and it doesn’t get much more convenient than the Pinnacle Dualist cooking system from GSI, especially if you backpack in pairs. Read more >>
    Nemo Tent
    Mangels, Angie
    I was looking for a tent that could go from car camping to the occasional backpack, that would have a bit of interior room while keeping a low profile, and could handle a variety of weather. Read more >>
    MST WhisperLite Universal
    Tucker, David
    The WhisperLite stove from MSR has been the gold standard of backpacking stoves for years, and now the product is better than ever. Read more >>
    Montana Backpacking, Thermarest EvoLite
    Tucker, David
    Let’s get one thing straight: sleeping on the ground sucks. But it sucks by degrees. Read more >>
    MSR Papa Hubba NX, Montana Camping
    Howlett, David
    When my family outgrew our beloved Mutha Hubbard three-person tent, upgrading to MSR’s larger Papa Hubba NX four-person backpacking tent was an easy choice. Read more >>
  • Hunting

    MountainWorks Montana Hunting Access 2016, Montana Hunting
    McCarthy, Chris
    It’s happened to me a couple times: I do all the planning for a morning hunt on the dining room table and, when I head out, I leave my BMA maps behind. Now I’m stuck searching for a block management area to hunt and I'm unable to locate the sign-in box. Read more >>
    Mystery Ranch Marshall Review
    Hockett, Corey
    Mystery Ranch is at it again with their newest gift to the expedition hunter, the Marshall. Read more >>
    Mike England
    Hunting by personal watercraft.
    Alpen Optics Teton 10x42
    Acosta, Jeff
    I recently had a chance to try out the Alpen Teton 10x42 ED HD (extra-low dispersion, high-definition) and I have to say, I’m extremely impressed with both the feel and function of these binoculars. Read more >>
    Stone Glacier Sky 5100 Review
    England, Mike
    Quivers may be all the rage these days, but a more minimalist approach has its advantages: less money shelled out, less space occupied in the closet, less time spent fixing gear. Which is why I like my new Sky 5100, made by Bozeman’s own Stone Glacier. Read more >>
  • Biking

    Feedback Sports Pro-Elite
    David Tucker
    Unless this was the winter you decided to fat-bike more, it’s probably been a few months since you took your steed for a gallop. Do yourself a favor: before returning to the trail, give ‘er a tune up. Read more >>
    Smith Rover, Smith Route
    the editors
    Smith helmet reviews for spring. 
    RockyMounts TomaHawk Review
    Tucker, David
    If you’re like me and you drive a small car but love to ride, then you’ve probably been faced with the dilemma of what to do with your bike when it’s time to load the car. Read more >>
    Fall Biking, Bozeman, Fall Biking Gear
    the editors
    Fall bike gear.
    Dakine slayer elbow pad
    Tucker, David
    Rocks are hard and bikes go fast, so in order to protect my boney knees and elbows, I got a set of Slayer Pads from Dakine. Now when I’m bombing down from Mystic Lake, I don’t have to worry as much about careering off the Wall of Death. Read more >>
  • Boating

    Pristine Ventures PR 49, packrafting, packrafting Montana
    Chris McCarthy
    The idea of packrafting a river deep in the wilderness is exciting. Doing so with a couple hundred pounds of fresh elk meat—now that’s an adventure. The PR-49 from Pristine Ventures makes this type of epic Montana outing possible. Read more >>
    SealLine Bulkhead
    David Howlett
    I spend a great deal of time fishing from my kayak, so protecting dry gear from becoming wet is incredibly important to me. I also need to maximize the limited storage space in my kayak’s bow hatch, which is why I use the Bulkhead tapered drybag from SealLine. Read more >>
    Otterbox 3250
    Mike England
    OtterBox is back! That’s right, the original river-runner’s mini storage box, which kept cameras and other sensitive items safe and dry, has finally ended its hiatus. Read more >>
    Astral Brewer Review
    Kennedy, Kevin
    If you’re a recreational or professional waterman looking for a do-it-all shoe for the summer season, look no further than the Astral Brewer. Read more >>
    Pelican Coolers, ProGear Elite Cooler Review
    England, Mike
    For those extended summer road-trips deep into the Montana backcountry, you need a reliable ice-chest—when the fishing’s good and the sunsets are even better, the last thing you want is a mandatory town run. Read more >>
  • Nutrition

    Purps Hydro & Fuel
    Mike England
    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it—this maxim is why I’ve never drunk vitamin water. Pop a pill, down it with a glass of agua—is that so hard? It’s certainly cheaper, healthier, and less wasteful. Read more >>
    camp food, Outside Bozeman, Montana
    England, Mike
    When it comes to camp food, convenience and healthiness tend to move in opposite directions—but not so with Good To-Go’s Dehydrated Meals. These slim packets contain loads of healthy ingredients, without all the chemical compounds you’ve come to expect from most packaged foods. Read more >>
    Hammer Nutrition Fully Charged
    Mike England
    On some days lethargy reigns, and we struggle to summon the requisite motivation for the hike, bike, run, or gym workout that we so desperately need—and that, ironically, will release us from the very torpor that’s holding us back. Read more >>
    Reuss, Dave
    After a hard day in the mountains, there’s little better than sitting down to an ice-cold beer. And while a fancy, dark microbrew might hit the spot, sometimes you need something a little lighter and more refreshing—and that’s where Montucky Cold Snacks comes in. Read more >>
    Mangels, Angie
    I’ve never been a fan of standard trail bars, but I do like small energy snacks I can easily stash in my backpack—so I was happy to discover Honey Stinger Organic Waffles. These handy treats are based off the energy waffles eaten by professional cyclists all across Europe. Read more >>
  • Just for Chicks

    Mystery Ranch pack, backpacking,
    Hamilton, Felicia
    Two words came to mind when I was deciding on a new pack: quality and comfort. The new Big Mountain pack from Mystery Ranch delivers both. Quality was a no-brainer; Mystery Ranch is known for their top-notch products. Read more >>
    Mangels, Angie
    Whether you ice climb or ski, the Alpine Alibi II will cover your digits in comfort and style. Read more >>
    Mangels, Angie
    You’ll never have to worry about sudden snow flurries while wearing the Salida Hoody from OR. Thanks to the Alpin-wool Plus fabric, you’ll be well protected from finicky Montana weather. Read more >>
    Pollastro, Joyce
    Barefoot running had always seemed to me like a way for companies to sell us creepy hybrid glove-shoes, so I stayed loyal to my cushy sneakers… until I slipped into a pair of Merrell’s Bare Access Arc 2. Read more >>
    Canfield, Sarah
    Let’s face it: a girl can never have too many socks. And if you’re an avid trail runner like me, the Hike/Trek 1/4socks from Darn Tough are sure to stand out as you rummage through your overflowing sock drawer. Read more >>
  • Dog Gear

    Ruffwear Singletrak Pack
    McCarthy, Chris
    I’m in the mountains a lot, running a trail, bagging a peak, or shooting a grouse. Typically, my dog Seamus is with me, but rarely by my side. His off-trail adventures generally leave him thirsty and me short of water—but not anymore. Read more >>
    RuffWear Approach Pack
    Tucker, David
    Most dogs that love trails love accomplishing tasks. That’s why it’s nice having my lab Hank carry his own load in his Approach Pack from Ruffwear. He gets a sense of pride out of the responsibility. Read more >>
    Adventure Medical Dog First Aid
    Tucker, David
    Dogs need first-aid same as people, in fact moreso in many cases. Now that Adventure Medical Kits makes the Me & My Dog Series, you get what you need for people and pooches, all in one package. Read more >>
    ZUKE'S Power Bones
    Tucker, David
    We all need to pound calories if we’re going to be pounding trail, and our dogs are no different. During the hot Montana summer, they’ll be burning energy at a high rate, which is why I’m glad I have Zuke’s Power Bones to keep Hank going strong all day. Read more >>
    Ruffwear Dog Beds
    Tucker, David
    Sleeping gear for dogs.
  • Miscellaneous

    Moment Superfish Lens
    David Tucker
    The Superfish, Wide & Tele. 
    SMITH Guide's Choice
    Tucker, David
    Few things are more essential to an enjoyable outdoor experience than a good pair of sunglasses. This is even more true during summer in the mountains, so I sprung for a new pair this year and ended up with the Guide’s Choice from Smith. Read more >>
    FuelBelt, Helium 2-Bottle Custom Fit
    Tucker, David
    Staying hydrated on the trail isn't easy, especially in drier ranges like the Bridgers. And since I've been training for some longer distance runs this summer, I've needed to carry water. Read more >>
    Paddleboarding Bozeman
    the editors
    Putting standups to the test.
    Gerber Freescape
    Tucker, David
    Nothing is more essential than a good knife. It’s the ultimate tool and when you buy one, you can never imagine when and where you’ll need it. The applications are endless, and this winter, I’m using a Freescape folding knife from Gerber. Read more >>
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