Home / Awards / Readers Choice Hiking and Backpacking Gear Awards – 2016

Readers Choice Hiking and Backpacking Gear Awards – 2016

Thousands of SectionHiker.com readers provided input for this year’s Readers’ Choice awards which are based on reader recommendations collected during the reader surveys, gear raffles, and articles we publish year-round. Want to have your voice heard? Be sure to participate in our bi-weekly reader surveys and sign up for the weekly SectionHiker.com newsletter so you never miss an opportunity to win great gear!

Reader Recommended Multi-Day Backpacks

Reader Recommended Backpacking Tents, Hammocks, and Shelters

Reader Recommended Car Camping Tents

Reader Recommended Sleeping Bags and Quilts

Reader Recommended Sleeping Pads

Reader Recommended Backpacking Stoves and Cook Pots

Reader Recommended Trekking Poles

Reader Recommended Water Filters and Purifiers

Reader Recommended Headlamps

Reader Recommended Rain Jackets

Reader Recommended Hiking Socks

Reader Recommended Hiking Underwear

Reader Recommended Hiking Pants

Feel free to leave a comment below if I missed any gear that you feel should be added to this list of reader recommended products. Also be sure to participate in future Section Hiker Raffles and Reader Surveys to voice your gear recommendations so other readers can benefit from your experience.

Support SectionHiker.com, where we actually field test the products we review. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links above, a portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you.


  1. Awesome list of gear Philip. Thank you for all you do in compiling this information for the community. I’ve bought many of the items that you review and recommend (which are all excellent.) Keep up the great work!

  2. A great selection of gear. Interesting to read what people really buy despite the hype. SectionHiker is the only website I trust to cut through the crap. I recommend it to all my friends.

  3. Maybe add insulated jackets/sweaters and wind shirts to the list?

    • I think it’s based on responses to his survey/free gear posts, and I can’t recall anything recently asking about either of those types of jackets.

      • Yes, that’s correct. Not sure if a jacket/sweater survey would be all that useful anyways. That entire segment has turned into a fashion show with constant model and style changes and I doubt we’d see much consensus among hikers since there’s such a huge range of constantly changing options available.

      • I’m always on the lookout for a good wind shirt on sale. I’ve never used one, other than your and Lanza’s reviews I don’t know what I’m getting. Just waiting for that lightweight one on sale I guess.

        I do think it’d be interesting to see what the readers wear, synthetic or down. And what brands are most common. I think the knowledge and experience would cancel out the trends.

      • Try a wind shirt. very different experience from using a rain jacket. It’s much thinner, so you won’t overheat but you will still stay warm.

      • Would you recommend hood or no hood, and what brands are the best for wind shells? REI and Backcountry currently have good prices for Marmot and North Face wind shirts.

      • Definitely with a hood – Montane, Montbell, and Patagonia make the best wind shirts.

      • Yeah I prefer hoods for all my full zips, I’ll be on the lookout for those thanks

    • With an OR Helium II rain jacket, I just make that do double duty as wind shirt – pretty light and saves bringing two things.

  4. I use a $13 White Sierra nylon anorak for a windshirt. Perfect for light rain and wind and is very lightweight and can stuff it in a pocket.

  5. Roger (the other one)

    Thanks for all the terrific work in pulling this list together, it is much appreciated by all your Section Hiker readers. It’s always great to see what the other readers have chosen and, of course, compare them to our own gear list.

  6. Great list. Thank you Philip!

  7. Hey great list, one question for whoever put the Lifestraw? WHY!?

    I can’t understand what the advantage of a lifestraw is over the Sawyer Mini/Squeeze. It weighs the same, costs about the same, but it filters 10 times less E. Coli and Salmonella and 10,000 times less giardia and cryptosporidium and it can’t be connected to a standard threaded water bottle. Also, the Lifestraw is only rated for 1,000 gallons, while the sawyers are rated for 100,000 (mini) and 1,000,000 gallons (squeeze).

    (Note: all of info above are from their respective websites)

    The only reason I care is because I constantly get asked if I have a Lifestraw and people try to buy them for me for christmas.

    • That is a day-hiker choice not a backpacker choice. People carry them because they are convenient, as long as you have a bottle to stick the straw into to drink from. My guess is that they’re not used all that much, since most hikers carry way more water than they need.

      • Good point. I have a hard time thinking without my ultralight backpacker bias.

        Regardless, Lifestraw and Sawyers are both lightyears better than filters were just 10 years ago. They were heavier, filtered out fewer bugs, cost more, filtered fewer gallons, and were larger.

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