Here's some key equipment and planning advice from a first-timer who just completed the Appalachian Trail

The perfect assortment for all manner of out-and-backs

Here's the kit one of the country's most ambitious FKT chasers uses when he heads out into the backcountry

Picking up a new sport? Repurposing these five items will save you some dough.

The Ultralight Trail Running Essentials of 2015

The Women’s Through-Hiking Essentials of 2015

Say goodbye to your grandpa’s hiking stick

Of the dozens of poles, stoves, multitools, and other essentials we tested this year, we kept reaching for these six, from the Brunton Get-Back GPS, which stores up to three waypoints and steers you to the trailhead, to MSR SureLock TR-3s, which, at 20 ounces a pair, aren't ultralight, but they are quite sturdy and strong.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Summer Buyer's Guide, including the Merrell Mariposa waterproof jacket.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the CAMP Xenon Trek pole.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Pole.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Exped Explorer 120 trekking pole.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Black Diamond Distance FL Poles.

No cranking required to loosen and tighten the super-secure twist locks on these aluminum poles. And, as with the others, long foam grips let you instantly adjust to frequently changing terrain. 18 oz per pair; leki.com…

BD’s signature FlickLock mechanism makes adjusting these sticks literally a snap (no twisting required). The oval-shaped, aluminum shafts are the stiffest we tested, and the grips nest perfectly in hand. 20 oz per pair; bdel.com…

The Contour is light and strong—made with a tough aluminum alloy—and the new Airshock cushioning system (which can be turned off if more stiffness is required) serves up a soft ride. 15.8 oz per pair; komperdell.com…

A carbon lower shaft and aluminum upper section mean you save weight and money with this utility pole. But you give up the more comfortable ergonomic grips of pricier sticks. 19.2 oz per pair; exelsportsna.com…

They’re extremely light (carbon-fiber shafts), comfy (cork grips with foam extensions), and easy to adjust. Come winter, swap out the trekking baskets for the included powder versions. 1 lb; bdel.com…

Swift Sticks Three things we look for in trekking poles: light weight, comfy grip, and easy length adjustment. The new Aergons hit the trifecta. At 17 ounces, they’re respectably light. The mostly cork grip is ergonomic, and the newly designed locking levers are strong and simple to use—even with gloves…

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