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Find the Best Portable Solar Panel to Power Your Camping Trip

portable solar panel

When I bought my first solar panel set three years ago, I knew nothing about them. You stick them in the sun, and they make electricity. I was clueless about cost, equipment needed, how to hook the solar panel to the battery storage. Nothing, I knew nothing.

Luckily, the clerk at my local hardware store was very knowledgeable. He told me what equipment I needed and explained how to connect everything. He also made sure that the system I bought would do what I needed it to do: power my Keurig coffee maker during an eight-day rustic retreat. That solar panel purchase was one of the best things I ever bought for camping. Ah, blessed coffee!

Essential Facts About Solar Panel Sets

Before understanding solar panel functions, it helps to learn some of the words that you will frequently hear during the entire process. Rather than explain volts, watts, and amps, this short video explains them well:

How a solar panel works

By collecting photoelectric light, a solar panel set can convert the power of the sun into usable electricity. But how does the entire process work?

The first step is the collection of sunlight. Photovoltaic (PV) cells collect, or capture, the energy from the sun. Next, as the photons, or particles of light, reach the solar cells, that energy is absorbed by electrons. Through the interaction of the photons and electrons, a difference in voltage occurs.

Because solar panels create energy known as direct current (DC), and standard appliances use alternating current (AC), a conversion process must take place. This mechanism requires a power inverter. In a portable solar panel system, the charge controller regulates how fast the batteries fill up. Appliances plug directly into outlets on the power inverter.

What equipment does a solar panel need?

So, you now know the basics of how solar panels collect and convert energy. The equipment necessary to perform this function is relatively simple. You can purchase entire sets that are ready for use. You can also buy separate components to configure your system.

The components needed are:

  • Solar panels
  • Inverter
  • Net meter (for home-based systems)
  • Charge controller (for off-grid systems)
  • Storage battery or batteries
  • Wiring and cables

Solar panel configurations can be one single panel or a series of connected panels. They can utilize one 12V deep cycle cell or a set of batteries linked to store energy.

Price Range for Basic Solar Panel Kits

Pricing varies depending on your needs. If you are purchasing just the solar panel, your cost will be less than if you need all the components for a complete assembly.

Pricing for individual 100-watt solar cells with connectors generally ranges from $100 to $200. Some of these panels have charge controllers installed while some have plug-ins to connect them.

Pricing for simple controllers begins at around $15 to $20. Controllers with higher rated capacities start at $50 and can go up to several hundred dollars.

Small power inverters with one or two AC outlets and a couple of USB outlets start at around $50 to $70. These are fine for most applications during camping use. If you need more, larger inverters can cost anywhere from $100 to $500.

A 12V deep cycle marine lead-acid battery will range in price from $100 to $300. You can pay more for a lithium storage battery, but please research them thoroughly as they are not all the same. Determine how many cells you need in your set and budget appropriately.

A pre-assembled kit will cost from $300 to well over $1,000. If you purchase one, make sure that all the components will produce the amount of power you need. They say that something is only as good as its weakest part, so it makes sense to conduct due diligence.

Finding the Best of the Best: How We Reviewed

When we reviewed solar panel sets, we researched many units that didn’t make our list. Our research included what components the kit had, how powerful it was, customer reviews, and professional ratings.

Most of the items presented are just solar panel assemblies, but one is a complete kit with all the components included. Determine your needs before spending great gobs of money. While more is usually better, in portable solar power units, just enough is often enough.

Top Portable Solar Panels

Based on our research and personal experience, we compiled what we consider the best solar panel kits for your money. Before you shop, determine what you want your rig to power.

All appliances should have a usage label that tells you how much power they need. A coffee pot will draw more amperage during the brew cycle than just keeping the pot warm. Cell phones, computers, tablets, and other smaller electronics don’t need a lot of power. Once you know this, you are ready to shop.

1. Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel

This product includes only the solar panel with no extras. You will need separate items to construct a camping solar power station. It provides up to 100 watts of power. With a junction box and MC4 leads on the back, it is easy to connect a charge controller or other solar collectors. At prices ranging between $110 and $135, it is affordable.

One of the downsides to this panel is that it does not have a stand. It does, however, include pre-drilled holes for easy mounting. Customers who left poor reviews mentioned problems with shipping and receiving damaged items or mismatched panels from separate orders. Others with complaints about the product say that the rated power of 100 watts doesn’t match the actual, which often measured under 50 watts.

This product received very high marks on the Renogy site at 4.9 out of 5 stars. This panel is also available at local retailers, which makes it appealing if you can’t wait for shipping. Look at local chains like The Home Depot.

Because this unit is just the solar panel, you would also need to purchase a charge controller, power inverter, and storage battery to use this completely off-grid. This panel would need to be mounted to provide an angled face for maximum solar absorption.

If you need replacement solar panels for an existing system, this is an outstanding choice.

Renogy Solar Panel, Single
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2. Zamp Solar USP1003 180-Watt Folding Portable Solar System

The Zamp 180-watt solar panel is a two-piece package with a built-in controller. These Zamp products are wired to plug into an RV or attach to a battery easily. Zamp offers a variety of panels ranging in size from 40-watts to 230-watts. This set is their most popular.

There are not many reviews on this item, and it is very high on the price scale. We included it because of the reliability noted by people who did leave reviews.

Sales for Zamp are processed through Specialized Products Company and Amazon. The pricing on this two-panel set ranges from $780 to $1,000. While it is more expensive, buying this product will be worth the money you spend if you plan on long-term use.

Zamp Solar Legacy Series 180-Watt Portable Solar Panel Kit with...
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3. ECO-WORTHY 100W 12V Foldable Polycrystalline Solar Suitcase

This unit is a two-panel foldable set with a pre-installed 15 amp controller. In a sturdy anodized aluminum frame, the solar panel has folding legs and a carrying handle. Amazon sells this in a 100-watt version, and a 50- and 100-watt version is available on the ECO-WORTHY website.

Pricing will vary depending on the size and the vendor but will range from $95 to $210. This unit has polycrystalline panels with tempered glass and weighs just under 30 pounds. The availability of different wattages allows the customer to purchase precisely what they need.

On the ECO-WORTHY website, the reviews are all 5-star ratings with comments praising both the equipment and customer service. The positive comments stated that this set is well worth the money. Many are using the unit to plug directly into an RV system, while others have combined it with a storage battery and inverter for independent use.

ECO-WORTHY 100 Watt Solar Panel 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel...
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4. Go Power! 120-Watt Portable Solar Kit (GP-PSK-120)

This unit is two hinged solar panels with a built-in control unit. It comes with a variety of connectors and cabling. As solar panels go, these are on the expensive side, ranging in price from $500 to $800 at various online retailers.

They do have a 25-year warranty, which is much longer than many competitor panels. The manufacturer also offers a similar 80-watt kit (GP-PSK-80) that is slightly less expensive.

Because this is a panel assembly, it will need a power inverter and a storage battery for a complete setup. Many RVs have plug-ins that allow this to be connected directly to the camper to power internal outlets and lights. The unit folds in half for flat, which makes storage a breeze.

Amazon is the only online retailer we found that had ratings on this unit. Customers who interacted with the manufacturer rave about the customer service and responsiveness to problems.

Go Power! GP-PSK-130 130W Portable Folding Solar Kit with 10 Amp Solar...
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5. Newpowa High-Quality 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Module

This item is a 100-watt solar panel with a simple connector assembly. Sold as a one- or two-pack unit, each module can connect to increase their capacity. The pricing on this panel is excellent, ranging from $95 to $115 for the single-panel and from $200 to $220 for the two-panel set. The panels can be purchased from NewPowa, Amazon, eBay, and through various online outlets.

The biggest thing to note is that this panel does require the addition of a control unit. The attached connector box contains fuses for circuit protection, but no power regulation. It is a versatile panel assembly for use with a controller to power a boat or RV. It can also connect to a battery, controller, and inverter for complete off-grid performance. While the anodized framing doesn’t include a stand, the panel can be mounted easily.

Customers rave about the responsiveness of the NewPowa customer service personnel. At NewPowa, one reviewer complimented the patience and knowledge of customer service. Customers love this product, and many stated that they would recommend it.

Newpowa 100 Watt Monocrystalline 100W 12V Solar Panel High Efficiency...
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6. KOMAES 100W Monocrystal Solar Panel

Connecting this 100-watt panel in a series of four will supply 400 watts of power. The monocrystalline solar panel comes with a 30 amp controller, 20 feet of tray cable, 20 feet of MC4 connector, and a mounting kit. The aluminum frame has pre-drilled holes for easy mounting. They are available from the manufacturer and on Amazon in one- and two-panel kits, that range in price

KOMAES 100 Watts 12Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel with...
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The Best Solar Panel

When I purchased my setup, it cost around $900 for everything, including extra cabling and a 12V marine battery. This year, my panels and stand unit need replacement, but my other components are still going strong. I will also be able to replace my three-panel system with one solar panel that will provide the same output more efficiently.

When you determine what your needs are, you can shop with confidence. Solar power allows much greater versatility for both camping and home use. Are you ready to reduce your carbon footprint? Drop a comment and tell us about your adventures.

The Best Snow Boots: Reviews

snowy boots
man in white shirt sitting at the top of red jeep wearing brown snow boots during winter

image via: maxpixel.net

Outdoor winter activities require a great pair of outdoor snow boots. But, you probably already know that. So, what exactly are you looking for when choosing a pair of outdoor boots? Any hiker and outdoor enthusiast alike realize they want to keep their feet warm. And, you want a great looking pair of boots. However, this isn’t all you should look for when choosing snow boots. Insulation, lightweight construction, durability, and ruggedness are a few additional features to consider. The right boot will vary for each person. The selection process, however, shouldn’t.

Comparison Of The Best Snow Boots Available


person wearing gold patent leather snow boots

image via: pexels.com

There are several great pairs of snow boots available. In addition to insulation and temperature ratings, consumers must also consider other relevant variables. Prices, brand-name, and design are a few relevant factors. Below are a few of the best snow boots currently available, for outdoor hiking and winter activities.

Selecting Snow Boots For Outdoor Activities


person wearing snow boots jumping in the snow

image via: maxpixel.net

When choosing a pair of snow boots, there are several technical features to consider. Sure, the aesthetic appeal matters to some, but this shouldn’t be the determining factor when buying new boots. Let’s review a few of the factors which will guide you in the process.

Warmth

Snow boots are for cold weather conditions; hence, they should be warm. Manufacturers utilize a temperature rating similar to that of sleeping bags when rating snow boots. Boots have scores of +/- temperatures. This system indicates what temperatures the shoes can withstand if hikers are wearing them in sub-zero temperatures.

It is essential to bear in mind how the owners will wear the boots. If being worn to run errands around town, consumers might not need a -40C (-40F) boot rating. These boots may be better suited for outdoor hiking.

Outsole

The boot’s traction should provide wearers stability in the iciest conditions and worst snowstorms. Especially for those who plan on wearing the snow boots for hiking and trekking. Consumers need a shoe which can withstand the problematic outdoor conditions they’ll encounter. Snow boots come with three main outsole varieties.

The rubber outsole is standard on many snow boots. This material is ideal for its waterproof properties. It won’t get dirty in sludgy or puddles after snow evaporates. Plus, wearers won’t feel uneasy walking on unsolid terrain wearing boots with rubber outsoles. A lug-design is another familiar outsole. This design is also a rubber material, only the bottom of the boot features deep indentations for better tractions. This boot model is great for areas where grounds are uneven, and hikers need additional stability.

Vibram outsoles are the third common variety. The outsole is well-known for excellent traction on various terrains, including wet and snowy conditions. Vibram also features the Arctic grip technology. The boots will have blue and yellow specs on the bottom. They’re ideal for extremely rough terrain and changing weather extremes.

Boot liner and breathability

Snow boots should be breathable and have a high-quality boot liner. There are many materials for the internal lining. For example, shearling and Thinsulate liners are available with many snow boots. For outdoor activities like hiking and snowshoeing, a removable liner is the best option. The reason being is that owners can remove the lining to dry it out at day’s end.

Boots should also be breathable. Materials like Gore-Tex are a favorite because it is highly waterproof and allows the feet to breathe. Nylon uppers are also highly breathable. However, the exterior isn’t as waterproof.

Comfort and sizing

Snow boots should be comfortable. The last thing wearers want is to have their feet get numb because the boot can’t withstand the cold. Nor do consumers want to wear extremely tight or loose-fitting boots causing chaffing or discomfort. When choosing boots, comfort and proper sizing are also important factors.

Sizing isn’t a “one-size” fits all order. In fact, throw out the rulebook as it relates to traditional sizing with everyday shoes. With snow boots, consumers should try on the snow boots with the socks they will wear. It is essential to try the snow boots on with the socks consumers will wear with them. Meaning if they choose to wear thicker wool socks, these are the socks they should wear to try on the boots. A little wiggle room should be present towards the front of the boot. This space provides padding if an additional pair of socks is worn.

Temperature rating

All snow boots fall into one of four temperature ratings. These are: -10C (14F), -20C (-4F), -30C (-22F), and -40C (-40F). Boots with a score between 0 to -25C (-13) usually have 400 grams of insulation or less. This level is perfect for winter activities where wearers will be highly mobile. For harsh temperatures boots with a -40C (-40F) rating or higher are a good choice. These boots also feature 400 to 700 grams of insulation.

Depending on the conditions and temperatures the snow boots chosen will differ for every outdoor activity.

Our Review Process


When reviewing snow boots, we consider various factors. The insulation and temperature rating are highly significant factors. The boot’s outsole and traction are also essential variables we consider. Of course, brand name, rating, and prices are also relevant factors in our review process.

Where To Buy Snow Boots And Average Prices


person with black snow boots stepping on snow

image via: pexels.com

Snow boots are available through many retailers. Customers can purchase directly through the manufacturer, including companies like Columbia and North Face. Additionally, sites like Amazon and Rugged Outdoors, also carry these boots. Pricing for snow boots can vary greatly. Consumers can expect the boots we review to average between $ to $$$.

Kamik mens NationPlus Waterproof Boot Dark Brown 10 M US
  • Temperature rated to -40
  • Seam sealed waterproof
  • Thinsulate Insulation

A brown leather exterior, with a -40C (-40F) rating, makes these the perfect snow boots for freezing temperatures. They feature a rubber sole and 10-inch shaft from the arch to the forefront. The platform measures 0.75 inches, giving hikers and climbers a little more stability on rugged terrain.

The boots feature a 200B Thinsulate interior liner which is removable. The rust-proof speed lacing system is also suitable in rain and snow. Damage doesn't occur in these conditions. The high-top design is a little uncomfortable with thicker pants and socks. Hikers and climbers also complain the exterior of the boot isn’t as durable as they would hope. The boots aren’t suitable for specific rocky trails.

Timberland Men's White Ledge Mid Waterproof Boot,Dark Brown,9.5 W US
  • Our White Ledge Men's Hiking Boots have premium full-grain waterproof leather uppers, seam-sealed waterproof...
  • LOOK NO FURTHER for trail-ready performance and style. Our selection of men’s hiking boots, waterproof hiking boots,...
  • TIMBERLAND HAS YOU COVERED whether you're looking for men's boots, women's boots, or kids boots. For the best in hiking...

A waterproof leather exterior won’t damage when going from snowy to dry or rainy conditions. The rubber sole-boot features a 4.75-inch shaft, giving excellent support below the feet. The boots feature a rear-pull loop, making it easier to put them on/take the boots off.

The platform of these boots isn’t too high at 0.5 inches. This incline provides little additional clearance between the feet and ground, for added traction. The boots feature multidirectional traction lugs. These lugs help in slippery and snowy conditions, preventing wearers from slipping. Many reviewers note the boots are rough and require some time to break in. Some reviews also indicate through rough terrains and mountain peaks; they aren’t the best boots for hiking.

KEEN Women's Elsa Boot WP-W Boot, Star White/Black, 9.5 M US
  • Waterproof pu leather and textile upper repels water in different weather conditions
  • Seam-sealed waterproof protection for dry comfort
  • 100 grams KEEN warm insulation-4f/-20c

Leather and synthetic upper finish make these boots highly breathable. Waterproof PU leather retracts rain and snow well so that the boots won’t remain wet in cold weather conditions. These boots feature 100 grams insulation.

The boots are ideal for moderate conditions, with a -20C (-4F) rating. The seam-sealed waterproof protection keeps feet dry and comfortable, in snowy, winter conditions. Some of the reviews indicate the boots aren’t as solid with a thin rubber sole as other hiking boots. They aren’t suitable for all cold weather winter conditions and activities.

Merrell Men's Moab Polar Waterproof Winter Boot, Espresso, 10.5 M US
  • Winter-ready hiker in high silhouette featuring protective shell bootie and color-blocked cage overlays
  • M-Select DRY treatment
  • Molded EVA midsole and footbed

This boot features a high 6.5-inch shaft, giving great clearance between the feet and ground. The leather, synthetic, and fabric exterior also repels water and snow well. A 1.25-inch heel provides additional bounce and support for longer hiking treks.

The boots are winter-ready with the M-Select DRY treatment. A protective shell and bootie keep the wearer’s feet dry, regardless of the outdoor conditions. Some reviewers note that the lace system rusts and damage easily. Some reviews also indicate the boots begin to come apart at the seam, causing slight tears at the base.

Sorel Men's Conquest Snow Boot, Bark, 10.5 M US
  • INSULATED WARMTH: Features 400g of Thinsulate Ultra insulation to keep you warm in extreme cold; Built in gaiter with...
  • WATERPROOF BOOT: Made with waterproof full-grain leather with synthetic textile upper; Seam-sealed waterproof...
  • EXTRA GRIPPY: Rubber outsole that keeps your feet on the ground in icy conditions; Injection molded thermal rubber shell...

This boot features a high 6.5-inch shaft, giving great clearance between the feet and ground. The leather, synthetic, and fabric exterior also repels water and snow well. A 1.25-inch heel provides additional bounce and support for longer hiking treks.

The boots are winter-ready with the M-Select DRY treatment. A protective shell and bootie keep the wearer’s feet dry, regardless of the outdoor conditions. Some reviewers note that the lace system rusts and damage easily. Some reviews also indicate the boots begin to come apart at the seam, causing slight tears at the base.

Hi-Tec Men's Logan Waterproof Hiking Boot,Smokey Brown/Olive/Snow,8.5...
  • Ankle-high hiking boot with waterproof suede and mesh upper
  • Ghillie-style lacing with rustproof hardware
  • Multi-directional traction MDT rubber outsole

An excellent option for consumers looking for an affordable outdoor snow boot. The large 13-inch boot opening allows wearers with thicker legs to fit into the boot comfortably. The durable rubber outsole also features multidirectional lugs for added traction.

The Thermolite insulation provides added warmth and comfort. The boots are for mild winter and weather conditions with a -25C (-13F) rating. Many reviewers indicate the EVA footbed isn’t as comfortable as other interior lining materials. Additionally, reviewers note the low price is indicative of quality, as the boots aren’t as sturdy as other snow boots.

The boots price range is $ to $$, and the overall reviews on Amazon are 4.1 out of 5-stars.

The boots feature a synthetic upper material with 200-gram insulation 3M Thinsulate insole. The boots feature a gaiter D-ring and fleece inner lining for additional warmth.

A molded rubber heel-kick design gives wearers additional traction on icy terrain. And, the ultradry waterproofing system keeps boots, and feet, dry, in snowy and rainy conditions. The primary complaint reviewers indicate the size is a little large. Some also suggest that when the fleece lining gets wet, the interior soaks. This flaw also causes wearers feet to feel colder in chilly conditions.

AIRIKE Men's Hiking Boots Backpacking Boots Trekking Boots Climbing...
  • FEET PROTECTION&GREATLY COMFORTABLE:Our snow&hiking boots is shaft measures approximately 7" from arch fit ergonomic...
  • High-tech innovation and fashion designs greatly improve the performance of this multi-fuctional hiking boots.

The boots have a leather and synthetic fabric upper finish. This material finish provides high levels of warmth and waterproofing throughout the boot. A 4.5-inch shaft from the arch to the front of the boot offers a solid grounding for wearers.

The lacing system is rustproof, and the multidirectional sole provides excellent traction on unstable grounds. A compression resistant, comfort plus interior sock liner keeps feet comfortable during long hiking tracks. Some reviewers complain of poor waterproofing exterior. Many note that the waterproofing also wears off after a few uses in snowy or rainy conditions.

The North Face Women's Nuptse Purna II - TNF Black & Beluga Grey - 11
  • Feel better prepared to face wintery conditions in The North Face® Nuptse Purna II boot.
  • 200 g PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Eco helps lock in warmth.
  • Waterproof construction.

The boots have insulation and also feature a waterproof suede exterior. Fleece lining dramatically improves internal warmth when temperatures dip. The 100 percent recyclable P.E.T cuff is Eco-friendly.

The boots feature a durable TNF rubber outsole. The boots perform well in the snow, and suede exterior dries easily. The removable liner also dries quickly after use. Reviewers complain of minimal support cushioning and also arch stability issues. Some reviewers also complain about the fur on the exterior comes apart after several uses.

Columbia womens Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Hiking Boot,...
  • ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Features our lightweight, durable midsole for long lasting comfort, superior cushioning, and high...
  • HANDY FEATURES: Treacherous days out on the trail are comfortable and worry-free with this boot's waterproof full-grain...
  • ADJUSTABLE FEATURES: The Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped hiking boot features a lace-up closure for an adjustable,...

The leather and synthetic boots are waterproof throughout. A platform of 0.5-inches provides little-added arch support for wearers. This height ensures feet don't remain flat in cold, snowy conditions, and offers high mobility to wearers. The upper material is breathable, wicking sweat naturally from the interior of the boots.

The Omni-grip outsole digs into the snow and icy conditions easily. This outsole design improves traction and stability, minimizing the possibility wearers will fall in snowy conditions. Some reviewers complain the waterproof material doesn't last very long. Some also note that the width of these boots is narrow, limiting who can purchase them when seeking comfort/proper fitting boots.

The boots feature a rubber outsole and leather and synthetic upper material finish. The waterproofing exterior helps wick water and snow, keeping wearers' feet warm and dry, regardless of the conditions. The 400-gram insulation ensures these boots are perfect for -40C (-40F) weather and below.

The high level of insulation is ideal for extraordinarily cold winter sports and activities. Wearers' feet won't get numb or cold, no matter how low the temperatures dip. The multidirectional sole ensures excellent traction on snowy terrain. Some reviewers indicate the boot's sizing is a little smaller than the size charts indicate. They don't run "true to size" so consumers might want to consider ordering one size larger than average.

Our Verdict: The Best Snow Boots for Outdoor Hiking, Trekking, and Winter Sport Activities


woman walking on street wearing snow boots

Image ​via:​ Pixabay

For outdoor sport, hiking, snowshoeing, and extreme winter sports enthusiasts, the right snow boots go a long way. For the coldest temperatures, the Keen Durand is the boot to choose. With 400-grams insulation, they'll protect your feet in the most rigid conditions. The multi-directional outsole also increases traction on rugged and snowy terrains.

If temperatures aren't as cold, the North Face Purna II is a great option. Wearers will experience high levels of comfort. Plus, the outsole is one of the best, regardless of how slippery or difficult the external conditions get. The boots also have a -20 C rating, so they're warm enough for the mild outdoor weather.

Best Hiking Socks For Extra Comfort

hiking socks

Besides having the right hiking shoes, a pair of quality hiking socks helps prevent foot discomfort, so you can remain focused on the invigorating feeling that hiking brings. Socks are a critical part of your hiking kit. If you pick the wrong pair, you risk sweating, blisters, and aching feet. This means you need to choose hiking socks with the same level of care dedicated to other outdoor apparel.

Sometimes you may be tempted to pack your regular gym socks, but these aren't proper hiking gear because they're not built for performance on the trail. Wearing regular socks on a long hike will have you cursing the whole way. What you need, however, is a pair that will keep your feet dry, comfortable and blister free. Pick the right socks, and your feet will thank you.

Why Hiking Socks

Feet Folder Footwear

Photo by Alan Cabello from Pexels

Hiking in the wilderness can be enjoyable, or a miserable experience depending on the type of apparel you carry with you. If you have worn cotton socks on the trail before, then you definitely understand how hard it is on your feet. It can even make you want to forgo your excursion and head back to the lodge instead.

Unlike regular socks, such as running or gym socks, hiking socks are designed for the harsh terrain and different types of weather and climatic conditions. Hiking socks not only keep your feet cushioned, but they wick away moisture to prevent blisters and let you sweat comfortably. Additionally, they’ll keep your feet warm when hiking in adverse weather like winter or rainy seasons, reduce friction, and improve boot fit.

However, picking the wrong pair can also bring misery to your otherwise fun outdoor excursion. Bad hiking socks soak up water, trap odor and sweat (causing that worn sneaker scent), make your toes cold, and cause bunching up around your heels. What’s worse, they chafe your heels, cut off your circulation, and give blisters that leave a painful reminder of your hike for days to come.

How To Pick Out The Right Hiking Socks

Hiking socks and shoes

Photo by Alan Cabello from Pexels

Your feet are your most important tool when hiking, so if they aren't cared for and kept comfortable, your hike can descend into the realm of misery pretty fast. So how do you pick out the best hiking socks for preventing odor and sweat, in addition to keeping away blisters, while cushioning your feet and keeping them warm or cool in different types of weather? Well, here’s a list of factors to consider before making that purchase.

1. Material

2. Thickness and insulation

3. Height

4. Comfort

5. Durability

How We Reviewed

Man in the Forest Wearing the Best Hiking Socks

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

Seasoned hikers know that the hiking socks are a must-have on the trail, but, however simple their appearance, they can be a complicated purchase. This is why we spent some time researching the top sock options. We discovered some great pairs from Amazon’s list of best sellers as well as brand websites, noting those that had the highest ratings, reviews, and met the criteria for the best hiking socks. What follows are 2019's best hiking socks, which offer the ideal mix of comfort, cushioning and durability.

Pricing

Alpine Boots

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay 

Hiking socks may seem pricey compared to the usual cotton socks sold in packs of 12 for a few bucks. However, like all pieces of outdoor gear, they too are designed for performance, which is why their prices are higher than ordinary socks.

Best Hiking Socks Review

Now that you know how to pick out the best hiking socks, its time to slip into a pair and feel the difference. Below, in no particular order, are our picks for the best hiking socks of 2019.

Darn Tough Hike-Trek Merino Wool Micro Crew Cushion Sock (Pair) - L...
  • ALL WEATHER COMFORT: Darn Tough uses the highest quality Merino Wool, which naturally provides all weather performance....
  • STAY DRY AND COMFORTABLE DURING THE LONGEST DAYS ON THE TRAIL: This hiking sock features a performance fit that stays in...
  • LEGENDARY DURABILITY: The Hiker Micro Crew is built tough and made to last with 61% Merino Wool, 36% Nylon, and 3%...

Darn Tough hiking socks are known for their unmatched durability and even have a lifetime warranty that lets you trade them in for a new pair if they don’t last long. They are great for different types of weather conditions and are designed with merino wool, nylon, and Lycra spandex for versatility, with medium cushioning.

Pros

  • Warm
  • Unmatched durability
  • Moisture-managing
  • Keeps even sweaty feet relatively dry
  • Maintains fit and shape
  • Doesn’t create pressure points
  • High-density sole cushioning
  • Good for multi-day and long distance hiking
  • Seamless construction
  • Doesn’t bunch

Cons

  • Tough construction, not plush like other socks
Smartwool Men's Hiking Medium Crew Sock (Medium, Gray)
  • Sock Height: Crew
  • Knit in USA of Imported Yarn: 68% Merino Wool, 31% Nylon, 1% Elastane
  • Elasticized arch brace

Smartwool hiking socks are made from merino wool and nylon, but, unlike Darn Tough socks, they blend the two materials with elastane. They offer the three thicknesses available, ultralight, light and medium cushioning, and are known for their Indestructawool technology – a tougher wool blend.

Pros

  • Performance fit
  • Hold your arch and instep very well
  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Heathered look iconic among hikers
  • Flat and minimal toe seam
  • Light compression around the arch
  • Stretchy nylon design keeps everything in place while hiking
  • Sufficient padding under the heel
  • Excellent breathers even underfoot
  • Indestructawool technology
  • Resists stinky odors
  • Keeps shape after numerous wears and washings

Cons

  • Has durability issues in some of its socks
  • The fit isn’t quite tailored
Injinji 2.0 Outdoor Midweight Crew Nuwool Socks, Charcoal & Black,...
  • The original performance toe sock
  • Allows for better sweat wicking
  • No skin on skin friction to prevent blistering

Injinji hiking socks are made from a blend of NuWool, nylon, and Lycra, but what makes them unique is their five-toe design that claims to reduce the risk of blisters and hotspots. With solid reviews on their socks, Injinji has managed to attract hikers to their brand dispelling the saying that new gear technology isn’t always better.

Pros

  • Design helps with hotspots and blisters
  • Separated toes mean less rubbing and friction
  • Incredibly comfortable style over time
  • Supportive arch compression and mesh top
  • Ribbed lining keeps socks in place during movement
  • Fabric blends are perfect for all types of weather
  • Keep feet warm, dry and cool
  • Top panels create proper air circulation
  • Excellent breathers even underfoot
  • Indestructawool technology
  • Resists stinky odors
  • Keeps shape after numerous wears and washings

Cons

  • Longer to put on than other hiking socks
  • Lacks in durability
  • Can spread out the toes thus may be uncomfortable
  • Offers little discernable upside
  • Ill fit with tight shoes
Wigwam Merino Comfort Hiker F2322 Sock, Charcoal - Large
  • Midweight all season Merino Wool hiking Crew Socks with soft terry loops inside and elasticized arch outside for a foot...
  • Fully cushioned terry loops inside and Seamless toe closure for comfort
  • Elasticized arch with ventilation channel aids performance

Wigwam is one of the top brands in camping and hiking gear and has gained trust over the years while building reliability with their products. Their hiking socks are thick, cushioned fully, and work best in cold conditions.

Pros

  • Flexible ribbed arch prevents socks from falling and bunching
  • Fabric blend includes synthetic and natural fabrics that extend their lifetime
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Retains heat well
  • Crew cut
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Run small
  • Less tailored fit
Icebreaker Merino Men's Hike+ Medium Crew , Twister Heather/Fathom...
  • Highly durable
  • Fully cushioned hike sock with double-up cushioning for comfort
  • Odor resistant

If you keep getting sweaty feet or hotspots while hiking, then you need to rethink your sock choice. Icebreaker hiking socks feature breathable mesh zones that offer extra ventilation, keeping your feet dry, cool and void of blisters. Its anatomical toe box design reduces chafing, ensuring extreme breathability as it adds space around your foot. They are made of merino wool, nylon, and Lycra fabric blend.

Pros

  • Well-fitting toe box
  • Ventilate well
  • Great for warmer weather
  • Crew style is longer than other hiking sock brands

Cons

  • Cuff tends to stretch with use; hence they droop slightly

Best Hiking Socks

Hiking Footwear

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Choosing the best hiking socks is difficult because it all depends on what type of hiking you are going to do. Darn Tough hiking socks are the best for long distance trekking and adverse weather conditions. Their sturdy construction gives them an edge over the competition. If you want a hiking experience that guarantees a blister-free time on the trail, Injinji hiking socks deliver on this better than other brands. Its five-toe unique design that separates the toes, plus the panels that create proper air circulation keep away blisters and hotspots. The Icebreaker hiking socks take the crown for best breathability and ventilation because of its breathable mesh zones.

There’s fierce competition as top brands keep innovating and patenting different types of technology and fabric blends to design, and create the ultimate hiking socks. Of all the hiking socks we checked out, the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew pair came out on top.

Have you recently gone hiking wearing any of the hiking socks on our list? Or is there a pair that you feel should be included? Share with us in the comments section below.

How to Choose the Best Ski Gloves: A Buyer’s Guide

Man on Ski board is on the snow field wearing the ski gear including the gloves

Nothing can ruin a ski day like cold weather. Frigid fingers and toes while skiing is a common issue. That said, the best ski gloves mean cold fingers don't cut your ski day short. There are plenty of ways skiers can keep their hands warm. A simple solution is wearing the appropriate gear when tackling the slopes.

Ski gloves help keep your hands warm while providing a full range of mobility on the slopes. The right gloves will help you avoid frostbite and maintain complete control of your ski poles, no matter how cold it gets. It will also allow skiers to move freely, without having to worry about getting back inside as the temperatures dip.

Comparison Table

Ski Gloves or Mittens?

ski gloves

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

The first thing a skier has to decide between is whether they prefer a ski glove or a ski mitten. Mittens are generally warmer than gloves. They're also thicker. The fingers share a single compartment, helping to increase insulation and heat. Mittens will, however, limit mobility. For those who prefer a high range of movement on the slopes, ski gloves may be the superior alternative. They are lighter, feature individual slots for each finger, and are typically thinner than ski mittens.

Important Features to Consider When Choosing Ski Gloves

Ski gloves

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay  

Skiers should think about overall construction. Additionally, it's important to consider warmth rating and design, as well as the material of the lining and shell.

Warmth

Exterior shell material

Insulation

Lining

Membrane

Palm and cuff style

Extra features

Proper Sizing and Fit

ski gloves

Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay  

The last thing a skier wants is a ski glove which is too tight or too loose. A suitably fitting glove should fit snuggly onto the skier's hands. They shouldn't move around, but they shouldn't restrict mobility either. An excellent way to measure how well it fits is by making a fist when wearing the gloves. The gloves should allow skiers to mobilize their hands and fingers at all times easily.

How We Reviewed

Ski gloves

Image by sugerfly from Pixabay 

In comparing the best ski gloves, we cover many different aspects. The brand-name, quality, design, and material were a few determining factors in our review process. Additionally, the fit, comfort, features, and overall quality of the gloves, were also part of the review process. In addition to the basic features of ski gloves, we rely on professional reviews written by industry experts. Some features reviewers consider include features including warmth, the range of mobility the gloves afford skiers, and material quality.

Ski professionals put the top ski gloves to the challenge. Considering aspects like warmth and dexterity while wearing the gloves in different weather conditions, they determine the most appropriate styles for different ski conditions. Ski professionals determine the best ski gloves for specific purposes. Considering design features alongside reviews written by industry experts, we provide an in-depth listing of the best ski gloves.

​Price Range

The ski gloves we reviewed range depending on the size, material, and manufacturer, prices can vary significantly.

The Best Ski Gloves Available

Skiers shouldn't limit themselves to one brand or style when looking for the best ski gloves. The more options they review, the easier it will be to find the proper fit and most comfortable gloves.

Tough Outdoors

Ski & Snow Gloves - Waterproof Winter Snowboard Gloves for Skiing &...
  • BRING IT, WINTER: These winter ski gloves keep your hands warm and dry. You'll be ready for anything.
  • PROTECTION FROM THE ELEMENTS: Don’t let snow, sleet or cold ruin your day. Tough’s weatherproof ski gloves protect...
  • DESIGNED FOR WINTER ACTIVITIES: Tough's thermal ski gloves provide no-nonsense warmth all winter. Perfect for skiing,...

An exterior nylon-shell makes these gloves both waterproof and windproof, increasing warmth and comfort levels. Ski gloves with wrist straps are simple to secure on a backpack when you're not wearing them. Interior thermal insulation helps to increase warmth, and a synthetic leather palm creates a more durable exterior.

Individual finger slots have lining throughout, making the gloves extremely warm in colder weather. The 100 percent nylon exterior is weatherproof. Snow, wind, rain, and cold won't penetrate the gloves, keeping the wearer's hands warm in all winter conditions.

One consumer complaint is thickness. The thickness can hinder mobility or lessen the grip a skier has on their ski poles. The wrist strap isn't as durable as other products. The leather palm is not genuine leather, so it isn't as durable as different material finishes either.

FRDM Outdoor Gloves

FRDM Free Fit Midweight Gloves Windproof Water Repellent Touchscreen...
  • ACCESSIBILITY: Awesome midweight convertible glove for your cold weather everyday activities. Flip back thumb & index...
  • HIGH END MATERIALS: Three-layer breathable water and windproof softshell repels water and snow, insulated soft fleece...
  • UNIQUE DESIGN & COMFORT: Flip back thumb and index finger caps with hidden magnets to keep them out of your way....

These gloves are windproof and weatherproof, keeping skiers warm in all conditions. The gloves also feature a textured palm pattern. They're touchscreen compatible with phones and tablets. The finger slots have a zipper compartment, allowing skiers their choice of full or half coverage. The three-layer material is breathable but warm.

The gloves aren't as warm as others, however. The temperature rating is between 25 to 50-degrees Fahrenheit. Another complaint by reviewers is the high price. The gloves are more than double the cost of others.

No products found.

These ski gloves are water- and windproof. They also feature a sensitive touchscreen function. Also, a Velcro wrist-closure helps keep the wind out.

The pocket on the top portion of the glove is perfect for storing keys, credit cards, or other small items. The gloves feature a PU leather overlay on the palm, giving wearers more grip and control. They are also water resistant.

One common complaint is how bulky the gloves are. This makes them a little uncomfortable for long periods of use. Some reviews also state that the gloves aren't true to size, and feel loose, which allows some wind to seep in.

These gloves are perfect for multiple winter sports. They feature a touchscreen-compatible digital fingerprint design, which allows wearers to keep the gloves on and still operate their electronic devices. The gloves are light and feature compression fabrics, which keeps the wind from seeping in when moving at fast speeds.

Many owners like the overall design of the gloves and the fact that they are great for many outdoor sports. They feature a large zipper on top for storage. The gloves also have an anti-slip silicone palm design, for better control.

Sizing disparities are a common consumer complaint. Unisex design means that the sizing doesn't transfer appropriately for some individuals. Many complain it is difficult to choose between two sizes based on their hand's length and width.

N'Ice Caps Men's and Women's 100 Gram Thinsulate Waterproof Ski...
  • VERY WARM, WATERPROOF AND SNOWPROOF: The mittens and gloves are insulated with 100 Grams of 3M Thinsulate, which is...
  • BRING ON THE SNOW! These mittens and gloves are perfectly suited for cold, snowy outdoors activities including...
  • EASY TO PUT ON, ADJUST AND WEAR: The mittens and gloves are designed with elastic in the wrist area, which widens and...

These feature a fully-enclosed design guaranteeing no wind will penetrate the surface. The 100-gram Thinsulate material is lightweight. It also allows skiers to maintain a full range of motion when wearing these gloves for outdoor activities.

These gloves are breathable and feature an exterior waterproof membrane. The adjustable wrist strap allows each wearer to determine how loose or tight they want the gloves. A PU gripper palm helps skiers maintain full control of their ski poles on the slopes.

The mitten design limits mobility, however. Many reviewers note they can't move their fingers and feel somewhat constricted when wearing the gloves. Reviews also state that when the gloves become wet skiers don't feel as much protection in their hands.

ALASKA BEAR

ALASKA BEAR - Natural Silk Gloves Thermal Liner Unisex
  • Made of pure long-strand mulberry silk, breathable & moisture wicking fiber; Pamper your hands day and night
  • Ultimate inner-layer gloves design - ultra softness and long ribbed cuff to cover your wrists and make joints warmer in...
  • Lightweight, thin and naturally hypo-allergenic - Relief from itchy skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema; Good for...

The material of the gloves is pure, long-strand mulberry silk. They are soft to the touch and provide high levels of warmth in cold conditions. A wicking fiber material also helps keep the hands warm and dry, so wearers won't sweat when temperatures increase.

Skiers like the more extended design of these gloves. They cover the wrists and have a cuffed-strap, to help keep the wind out. The comfort level of these gloves is also something skiers also greatly appreciate.

On the other hand, some consumers complain that the sizing isn't accurate in comparison to other gloves. Some reviews also complain that the gloves aren't durable. Many consumer reviewers claim that the material begins to tear quickly, especially for outdoor sports use.

Solaris Ski Gloves

Ski Gloves, Winter Warm Cozy 3M Thinsulate Outdoor Windproof Snowboard...
  • SIZE RUNS SMALL: 4 Sizes available: the Small, Medium fits kids and youth, the Large and X-Large fits most women palm....
  • WARM AND COMFORTABLE: 40g 3M Thinsulate Insulation lining filled in the ski gloves. It is thick enough to keep hands...
  • WINDPROOF & TEMPERATURE LOCKING: Extended cuffs with a drawstring closure prevent chill from entering the gloves; a...

These ski gloves are water- and windproof. The material used to design the gloves is 3M Thinsulate material. It's highly maneuverable and gives wearers a full range of motion. It helps to wick away water and sweat, so the hands remain cool and dry, without compromising warmth.

Purchasers of these gloves like that they come with a free ski mask. They also feature a top-zipper design for storing small items like keys or credit cards. The gloves feature interior lining throughout each finger-slot, for added warmth on colder ski days.

One complaint many reviewers note is that the gloves are bulky. Some also state that the gloves feel tight. Reviews also claim that it is difficult to move the fingers in the gloves. This design flaw limits their range of motion when skiing.

​Our Verdict

ski gloves

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

There are dozens of options to choose from when purchasing ski gloves. For skiers who want something simple and affordable, the Unigear ski gloves are a great option. The price is reasonable, but the manufacturer didn't compromise on quality. The Velcro closure on the wrist is a nice feature to keep the wind out. The weatherproof shell also keeps skiers warm in all weather conditions.

For skiers who want high levels of comfort, mobility, and warmth, the FRDM midweight ski gloves are a great option. They feature the zipper-finger design. This design feature allows skiers to choose full coverage or only half-finger coverage on warmer days. The gloves also feature a touchscreen finger design, so skiers don't have to remove them to operate their phone. The midweight material won't feel too heavy or limit the range of mobility.

Featured Photo by PaweĹ‚ FijaĹ‚kowski from Pexels

How to Pick the Right Binoculars for Your Activity

Otherwise known as field glasses, binoculars are two telescopes aligned to allow the viewer to see distant objects. Most binoculars are sized to be handheld, but they vary according to use.

Binoculars provide the viewer with a three-dimensional image. Numerous designs have emerged on the market since people use binoculars for various uses. 

The activity one engages in determines the type of binoculars they select. Binoculars are not a one-size-fits-all item. 

How do you know what the different types of binoculars are and which ones to choose?

To answer that question, we delved into the different activities that one might need to use binoculars and how it would benefit them. We also determined the best type of binoculars required for each activity.

Hunting

Regardless of the form of hunting one engages in, binoculars are a necessary item for the hunter to take with to the game.

Unlike the rifle scope, hunters use both eyes to track down their prey. The biggest reason that hunters need binoculars is that they cannot get close to their prey. That’s due to the prey posing a danger to the hunter, or the hunter not wanting to scare away the prey by getting close to its proximity.

Hunters use binoculars to observe their surroundings and spot their prey. The binoculars help the hunter to determine the species, sex, or range of the prey. 

Hunters will need to determine the magnification and the field-of-view (FOV) applicable to them. Higher magnification does not mean that the binoculars are the best option, as it makes it more difficult to stabilize the image.

The other drawback of high magnification is that it narrows the FOV. Hunters who hunt in wide, open spaces should opt for high magnification binoculars. The best option for those hunters is the 10x magnification.

Hunters who stalk their prey in woods should choose a pair with low magnification (1).

Stargazing

Nothing beats lying on the grass at night or on a beach and looking up at the stars. The only thing that would surpass that is having good equipment.

While telescopes are a popular item for stargazing, binoculars might be less commonly used but are better. Since most telescopes use a single eyepiece, binoculars use two. 

Manufacturers such as Canon have designed binoculars with large objective lenses to let in more light at night, as well as higher magnifications to enable the viewer to see further. 

Depending on the binoculars that you choose, you can see 25 to 50 times more stars with them than with unaided eyes. That’s a possibility due, not just to the magnification alone, but to the “phenomena of perceptive narrowing driving a flow state.” (2)

What the layman would call focus or clarity.

The binoculars that Canon has designed enable the viewer to see 15x and even 18x magnification into space. Their 10X42L IS WP binoculars provide a brighter viewing for night gazing (3).

Opera

Believe it or not, the people who have field glasses in front of their eyes at operas are not only doing it to look suave. 

Although opera glasses are binoculars, they are specialized binoculars.

Manufacturers have designed opera glasses for indoor settings and theatrical performances such as ballet, opera, and musical performances. Patrons use the glasses to see fine details and facial expressions of the performers that most of the audience, usually, miss. 

Viewers who use opera glasses will find that a low magnification of 3x or 4x is the most relevant. 5x magnification is uncommon. 

The reason for the low magnification is that the glasses enable you to see a wider view of the stage, as well as close enough to see the details without missing the bigger picture.

Remember, the field of view decreases when the magnification increases. 3x opera glasses provide a 385 ft field of view. 4x glass provide a 228 ft FOV and 8x will provide only 126 ft FOV (4).

Manufacturers have designed opera glasses to be small so that it can fit into a pocket or a purse. Opera glasses contain roof prisms and have a single focus wheel to focus both eyes simultaneously.

Bird Watching

Spending the day in nature while looking at interesting birds is a favorite past-time for many people. The main reason that people use binoculars for bird watching is to see the detail of the bird while keeping a distance to avoid scaring it.

Binoculars enable the viewer to see the shape, size, and colors of the bird with unbelievable clarity. 

Choosing the right type of binoculars for bird watching can be challenging since what one viewer might deem important might not be important to another viewer.

Here are some of the things that bird watchers should consider when choosing binoculars. 

Magnification is, obviously, important. Bird watchers should choose between 7x, 8x, or 10x. If the bird watcher uses the binoculars for tree-dense areas such as forest, opt for 8x to 10x. For marshes or shorelines, bird watchers should choose 8x to 12x. (5)

Waterproofing is another feature to have if viewing birds early in the morning or close to beaches and lakes. Binoculars sealed with Q-rings are moisture-proof.

Determining the size and weight that is suitable for your hands is important to gauge if you can keep the binoculars at eye level for extended periods without shaking.

Sport Viewing

Watching sports on television is a different experience than watching it live. Some people say that it’s better to watch it on TV since you can’t get a good view when you’re sitting at the back of a large stadium.

If you have the relevant binoculars, watching sports live is better since you can see the players close while experiencing the ambiance. 

The first thing to determine is if you’re going to use the binoculars for indoor or outdoor use. You wouldn’t use the same pair of binoculars to see your favorite soccer player as you would to see the biggest basketball star.

Sports fans who are at outdoor events should opt for magnification of 8x to 12x. If you are indoors, you should opt for a range of 4x to 8x. For sports games that happen at night, we recommend that you choose binoculars that have a large exit pupil, offering a brighter view.

If the binoculars provide good optical performance, it will enable you to see facial expressions clearly at night. 

For indoor arenas, the viewer would opt for a wide field of view, hence the lower magnification. You need to grasp all the action that happens at a fast pace but also be close enough to the action. 

Final Thoughts

It should be obvious by now that certain activities will require a particular pair of binoculars. We have made suggestions about the binoculars that provide the best vision for the individual activities, but it is up to you to determine your preference.

After all, your preference might be different than the common use. The important take-aways are that the magnification and the field of view need to coincide so that you get the optimal viewing experience from binoculars.

Before purchasing binoculars, make sure to test them by looking through them, as that will help you to ascertain if you can hold them for prolonged periods. It will also help you to find out if they’re suitable and comfortable for your eyes. 

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