gear: Equipment & clothes

What Problem Does It Solve?

A Google search for "backpack gear reviews" brings up 2,590,000 results — meaning there are literally millions of gear reviews online. Entire websites like Outdoor Gear Lab, Backpack Gear Test, and Trailspace are devoted to nothing but gear reviews. Manufacturers and retailers encourage consumers to post reviews on their sites, and even magazines like Backpacker are primarily venues for gear reviews.


Most of these reviews are useless, especially  "best of" and "top 10" lists.


When you consider a piece of gear, the only question you should ask is, "What problem of mine does it solve?" If it doesn't solve a problem you have, then it's useless, regardless of how great others think it is and how many five star reviews it got — or how many bad reviews it got.

Every individual has their own unique problems and so too do different trails. Seven hundred miles of desert present PCT hikers with very different problems than the drizzling rains of Appalachia or the muddy swamps of Florida.


In the following pages we discuss backpacks, shelters, sleeping bags, shoes, clothes, and water treatment systems but these are not really reviews. They are debates about problems on the FT and what gear features best solve them. Each section begins with a statement of the problem and then broadly outlines ways to solve it. Generally speaking, on the Florida Trail the problems to be solved are water, humidity, and heat.