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If you love exploring the outdoors, you depend on a strong back. Whether you’re skiing through deep powder, hiking to a mountaintop, or paddling around the next inlet, back pain can seriously hinder your plans. But with proper preparation, it’s possible to recover from pain or, better yet, to avoid it entirely. We asked two…

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It happens to the best of us. You’re playing outside with friends at dusk, and out of nowhere the sky explodes into an intense canvas of color and light. You fumble for your camera, envisioning your next smash-hit Instagram post, and begin to shoot. But by the time the tie-dye skyline has faded to deep ocean blues, you realize your photos are too blurry and dark to…

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Bright bluebird skies sprawl above a dark, craggy mountain peak. Glistening snow drifts along the shadowy forest’s edge. The same natural contrasts that make outdoor photography so spectacular can create a major technical challenge: How do you capture detail in both the brightest and the darkest elements of a scene? Fortunately, a standard smartphone feature can help you eliminate blown-out skies and dark shadows: high dynamic…

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Adapted from AMC’s Mountain Skills Manual If you’re lost in the woods, one not-so-well-known approach to locating a more familiar area is the find-me cross. This technique is quite effective, but you have to be self-disciplined to use it. After admitting that you’re lost, mark your location by building an obvious landmark using rocks or…

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It can happen to even the most seasoned hiker. You casually duck into the woods to relieve yourself, zip up your pants, and—uh, oh. Which way was the trail? If you’re a solo hiker who becomes disoriented—or, worse, injured—nobody is there to help. Don’t panic! You’ve got options. Before You Go Getting found starts before…

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Magnetic declination refers to the angle between the geographic North Pole and the magnetic pole located in the Arctic Ocean. You will discover that good hiking and topographic maps always indicate the local magnetic declination via a declination diagram, which includes one arrow pointing to geographic north (commonly labeled as True North, or TN) and…

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A map and compass make up two of the 10 essentials recommended for safe backcountry travel, but they’ll do little good if you don’t know how to use them. Misuse could even turn a situation in which you’re simply confused into one in which you’re totally lost. The bottom line? Learn proper technique before your…

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We’ve all been there: You’re opening a can of baked beans when—bam—you cut your finger. Fortunately, a good backcountry first-aid kit comes stocked with the necessary supplies to treat a small cut or abrasion: adhesive bandages, occlusive dressing, gauze, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly, tweezers, a syringe, and nonlatex gloves. By knowing how to…

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Mud season can be a challenge for hikers and trail maintainers alike. So if you want to hike in the spring, knowing how to safely enjoy soggy trails without destroying them is an essential outdoor skill. Wet Trails are Fragile “More and more people are hiking year-round, and while it is wonderful to have people…

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Whether you’re on a snow-covered hiking trail or bushwhacking through the woods, at some point on a snowshoe trek, you’re bound to come to a stream without a bridge. Whether the water is frozen or not, even a small stream can pose a slippery challenge. And if there’s ice, will it support the weight of…

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