My Honest Review: Is Outdoor Vitals Gear Really Worth It for Backpacking?

I put Outdoor Vitals gear to the test on many backpacking trips. Read my in-depth review covering quality, price, durability and recommendations for top OV gear for thru-hikers.

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Josh Koop

I live with my wife and daughter in Katy, Texas and my local trail is the Lone Star Hiking Trail which is an amazing way to experience the Sam Houston National Park!

Hiker using the Outdoor Vitals CS40 Ultra backpack out on the trail
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Over two years ago, I found Outdoor Vitals; I was searching for gear to start building myself a backpacking setup and needed to find the equipment that could perform up to needs while not breaking the bank and wondered is Outdoor Vitals legit.

I enjoy the gear I buy from Outdoor Vitals and still use many pieces of their gear consistently as I continually evolve. As you can see from my gear page, I purchased plenty of clothing and equipment from OV.

Recently I bought A Vario jacket for colder treks and their Tern ultralight sun hoody for use in summer, as Texas is hot and exceedingly humid. The lighter and more airy the gear, the better!

This is why I wanted to write about buying and using Outdoor Vitals, as you can quickly get your base gear and weight to a perfect thru-hike, whether you choose the AT, PCT, CDT, or any other fantastic trail.

Outdoor Vitals Provides Quality Gear at a Great Value

I find the gear at an excellent price point, durable, and of great quality. I have had no issues with my gear, and it has all performed fantastically.

They have relatively humble beginnings and have grown to make fantastic new products using new and unique materials that help set them apart.

They have learned to effectively use Kickstarter to leverage finding backing for products and to know that they have a market interest before more significant production runs, keeping losses down.

This is incredibly important to me because it helps them provide a fantastic product at a far more reasonable price.

What to Expect with Outdoor Vitals’ New Releases

With their new gear releases, I can tell you I know their membership offer pays for itself in early access to sales and the ability to build credit with their membership funds!

If you aren’t a member, I highly suggest signing up to become one today; this is how I save to buy gear more frequently.

Some of their most popular gear will be on sale, and if you’re looking for gear for thru-hiking or backpacking in general, this is the time to buy.

Suppose you have wanted to try out some of their newer items, like the Vario Jacket. In that case, the sales and options come first or early to members, jumping the line to get that key item.

My Top Gear Recommendations for Thru-Hikers

If you are or have a hiker or backpacker in your life who you are looking to get new kit items for the next season and they don’t already have gear from Outdoor Vitals, here are some items I would highly recommend.

Shelter – Fortius 1 or 2-Person Tent

Trekking pole tents are the way to go should you want to drop base weight overall and have a more comfortable night’s sleep in the backcountry.

The Fortius tent was designed for people who want to experience the outdoors without being weighed down.

This tent is sturdy and can withstand bad weather. You can be confident that you will be safe and dry inside this tent, no matter what nature throws at you.

The Fortius 1 or 2-person trekking pole tents from Outdoor Vitals are some of the newest available on the market.

They offer great features at an unbeatable price, as well as two excellent color options: Arctic and Blue.

Many available ultralight tents do not hold up in some of the environments in which hikers may often find themselves, like on the high bald during a violent wind, snow, and lightning storm.

Backpack – CS40 Ultra Backpack For Ultra Treks

Introducing the Outdoor Vitals CS40 Ultra, a revolutionary 40L backpack that reshapes the landscape of ultralight backpacking. Beyond its weight, this backpack embodies a perfect fusion of comfort, durability, and innovation.

The CS40 Ultra features UltraWeave Fabric, specifically Ultra 200, a 200d laminated material that rivals the weight of 100d fabric while offering double the tear strength and abrasion resistance of 500d Cordura nylon. Laminated with RUV film, it ensures both durability and a virtually impenetrable waterproof rating.

UHMWPE, or Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene, plays a pivotal role. Boasting a tensile strength 15 times stronger than steel, this lightweight material is a game-changer, ensuring the CS40 Ultra stands out in the world of ultralight backpacks.

Performance is a hallmark of this backpack, with tear strength exceeding 100lb, abrasion resistance tested over 4,400 cycles, and a waterproof rating of 200+ PSI. The inclusion of carbon fiber stays, weighing a mere 2 ounces, ensures optimal load distribution, functional load lifters, and a comfortable carry for those extended adventures.

The CS40 Ultra doesn’t compromise on comfort for weight. Meticulously designed features, including a full-size padded load-bearing hip belt, breathable cutouts, hip belt pockets, and adjustable sternum strap, contribute to a supportive and comfortable backpacking experience.

Embrace minimalism without sacrificing functionality. The CS40 Ultra’s streamlined design includes targeted back panel foam, trekking pole retention loops, a volumized stretch mesh pocket, and a roll-top closure for additional volume.

Weighing only 2 ounces, the CS40 Ultra challenges the norm by proving that ultralight design can coexist with comfort and performance. Don’t compromise—choose the CS40 Ultra for an unparalleled ultralight backpacking experience.

Down Puffy Jacket – NovaUL Ultralight Jacket (Men’s) (Women’s)

For those who need an ultralight and packable down jacket, the NovaUL from Outdoor Vitals is one of the lightest on the market.

This jacket is made from a new fabric woven together instead of stitched or bonded. The D-tube baffle design makes the jacket look like a classic puffy jacket without the stitching that might wear out.

The new Nova Jacket line also uses their brand new DownLT™ insulation. DownLT™ insulation combines mostly 850 Fill Power HyperDry down and a small percentage of synthetic LoftTek.

This insulation is much more stable than typical down and will stay lofted even when it gets wet.

An adjustable hood with drawstrings helps keep you warm in cold weather, and the zippered hand pockets are perfect for storing small items or keeping your hands warm.

This is an ultralight down jacket that I recommend to anyone looking for a high-quality piece of gear that won’t break the bank.

Sleeping Quilt – Stormloft Quilt (0, 15, 30 degrees)

One of the first things I purchased from Outdoor Vitals was their StormLoft quilt. I had been looking for a while for a quilt that was packable, lightweight, and would keep me warm in cold weather.

The Outdoor Vitals StormLoft quilt is all of those things and more. This quilt is made with high-quality materials that will last you many years and is simple to order with a range of temperature ratings from 0, 15, and 30 degrees.a

This quilt is also one of the most versatile quilts on the market. The side snaps allow you to attach it to your sleeping pad, making it perfect for those who move around a lot in their sleep.

The StormLoft quilt also comes with pad straps, a draft collar, and horizontal and vertical baffles, which are excellent for keeping the warmth in and the cold out.

Sleeping Bag – Summit Down Sleeping Bag (-15, 0, 15, 30 degrees)

A new redesign for 2022 taking the old design and making it even better!

Summit bags have the best materials. The new ultralight ripstop fabrics by Toray™ improve consistency and make it more comfortable to hold. They also reduce down leakage.

The HyperDry™ 800 fill power hydrophobic down has been both certified and sourced from RDS to make you feel like you’re sleeping in a warm cloud of comfort.

They also made some critical updates to their sleeping bag!

The depth and volume in the head area have been increased; the baffle height has been adjusted for a much-improved loft!

It is now slightly roomier throughout, the footbox has been anatomically tapered for more comfort, and an anti-snag ribbon has been added behind the YKK zipper!

Synthetic Warmth – Vario Jacket (Men’s) (Women’s)

The Vario is the newest product out from the team at OV and is a perfect mid-layer or even as a outer replacement for a puffy when in the right seasons!

The Vario Jacket is just like the Ventus Active Hoodie, but with pockets and more insulation. This jacket is perfect for people who want to stay warm without having to carry a lot of weight.

With their innovative 3DeFX insulation, we were able to create a jacket that is ultralight but still maintains a high warmth value.

Their materials are sourced and created by Toray, which means that there are no impurities in the recycled insulation fibers. Everything is planned and recycled purposefully.

The Vario Jacket can control temperature while being lightweight and working as a great windbreaker, all due to its insulated hood and exterior fabric.

With this jacket, you won’t have to worry about being without a warm layer again! You can compress it to the size of a grapefruit, so it’s ultralight weight and amazing packability make it perfect for any adventure.

Midlayer – Ventus Active Hoodie (Men’s) (Women’s)

The Ventus Active Hoodie is perfect for ultralight backpacking. It is a warm hoodie, but it doesn’t add much weight to your pack. This hoodie will become one of your staple items whether you enjoy backpacking, biking, traveling, snowshoeing, or any other activity!

They used an innovative 3DeFX insulation to make a hoodie that weighs only half as much as other traditional insulated hoodies while still being warm and breathable.

The hoodie’s 3DeFX insulation and durable Ripstop Nylon fabric will help stretch with you as you move.

This allows tiny coils (similar to trampoline springs) to expand, letting more heat escape and allowing the hoodie to breathe when necessary.

However, when the hoodie fabric and insulation aren’t being stretched through movement, these coils contract and create an immense amount of loft and warmth!

Consequently, you’ll be able to stay comfortable no matter how active you are!

The uninsulated areas under your arms are perforated to help you stay cool in the hottest part of your torso. The fabric and insulation are placed in specific areas to help improve breathability.

The Ventus Active Hoodie has a lightweight exterior fabric and an insulated hood, making it perfect for windbreakers. Plus, the fabric helps to control temperatures!

The Ventus also features a hidden inner pocket that makes it easy to pack away. You can compress the hoodie to the size of a softball so you can take it with you on any adventure.

You’ll never be without a warm layer again!

Merino Hoodie – Tern Ultralight Hoodie

The Tern Ultralight shirt is a perfect top for hot weather. It also works well as a base layer in cold weather.

This shirt has excellent moisture-wicking and quick-drying abilities. It is also odor and bacteria-resistant and has adequate durability for the ultralight weight.

The Tern has a comfortable fit that is not too tight or restrictive. This allows the merino wool blend to better wick moisture from your body. Simply stated, the Tern is perfect for high-activity situations.

Merino wool is naturally resistant to odors and very light, making the shirt perfect for traveling, running, hiking, and general everyday use.

The Tern can be used on warm days to protect you from the sun as you will not overheat because of the Tern.

The merino wool next to your skin will keep you warm in colder temperatures.

Rain Protection – Tushar Rain Jacket

The Tushar Rain Jacket is named after the mountain range where it was put to the test. Its confidence-inducing durability and super lightweight and waterproof properties make it perfect for extended use in any storm or downpour.

They’ve used fabric with different membranes to cover the correct parts of your torso. These membranes will help prevent pressure areas like backpack shoulder straps from getting wet.

This means there is protection even if the water-repellent finish eventually wears off. The fabric will also allow other areas to breathe, keeping you dry the whole time!

The Tushar Rain Jacket is both ultralight and durable so you can take it on any adventure. The lightweight fabric won’t weigh you down, but the sturdy construction will give you confidence that it can stand up to anything.

Base Layer – Dragonwool Hoodie and Pants

The DragonWool Hoodie is perfect for any adventure. It can be used as a sun shirt or as a performance base layer to regulate moisture and temperature.

This hoodie is special because it keeps you warm and it’s comfortable to wear. The fabric is made from Merino wool which helps regulate your temperature.

They state that DragonWool dries 4x faster than regular merino wool. I can say from my uses this feels pretty accurate, as Texas storms come on brutally hard and fast, and you are soaked in an instant!

Pants & Shorts – Satu Adventure

Do you know those pants that are both comfortable and stylish? The ones you can wear on a hike or to the office? Well, the Satu Adventure Pants are just that.

They’re perfect for any adventure with their versatile design, and they’re made of stretch fabric to keep you comfortable all day long!

These pants have invisible vents that help regulate your temperature, a gusseted crotch for more range of motion, and mechanic stretch fabric so you can still look good even at work.

Final Verdict: Is Outdoor Vitals Legit for Backpacking Gear?

Hands down, this is a yes. I have over ten pieces of gear from them and would rebuy any of them if I wore them out.

I hope this gave you some ideas for potential upgrades to your kit or the hiker or backpacker in your life! Outdoor Vitals has great gear at excellent prices, so check them out year-round!

I will make videos on each piece of gear I own mentioned above, so be sure to subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss them!

Happy shopping and happy trails!

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