Industry folks call it by its correct technical name: silicone-impregnated nylon. Marketers and consumers, on the other hand, have an aversion to “impregnated” gear; they use more benign names like siliconized nylon, or silnylon for short. Whatever you call it, this slick fabric is arguably the biggest new material to hit the outdoor market in…

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I’ve been busy this week preparing for a 9-day trip into Alaska’s Katmai National Park. As part of the process, I’ve been prepping one of my longest-serving tents for what may be some particularly harsh elements. I expect wind, rain, and quite possibly some blowing volcanic ash as we head into the Valley of Ten…

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There’s a new contender in the ever-escalating battle to create the greenest/hippiest/most politically correct energy bar on the market: Raw Revolution. Their line of Organic Live Food Bars ($1.99) are 100 percent organic, kosher, vegan, and free of preservatives, refined sugars, gluten, soy, wheat, GMOs, and all animal products. Plus all of the ingredients are…

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Alternative Repellents  DEET and picaridin are synthetic chemicals that are not generally recommended for use on children under the age of 2. Several natural alternatives are available, all of which work—just not for as long as DEET or picaridin before they must be reapplied. Oil of eucalyptus offers the longest-lasting protection (up to two hours),…

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To be bear-proof, food must be suspended at least 10 feet off the ground and 8 feet from the trunk. To accomplish this: Carry 50-100 feet of thin cord. Look for a load-bearing branch 20-25 feet overhead that extends far enough from the trunk.  Tie a rock or other heavy object to one end of…

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This past weekend I spent a wonderful night at AMC’s Ponkapoag Camp, which is located just a few miles south of Boston in the Blue Hills Reservation. The camp consists of a lodge and series of small cabins nestled along the eastern edge of Ponkapoag Pond, a large shallow kettle pond in the lesser-visited southern…

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I’ve accumulated quite the gear collection over the years, but that doesn’t keep me from drooling over other, better gear! To wit, I currently have four different sleeping bags, ranging from a minus-15 degree down winter bag to a lightweight 20-degree synthetic. But ironically, none of them are from my favorite sleeping bag maker: Marmot….

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There’s a rapidly expanding—and outstanding—contender in the ever-escalating arms race of waterproof-breathability: eVent. Waterproof-breathable (WP/B) materials keep liquid water (rain) out but allow water vapor (your evaporating sweat) to pass through. Gore-Tex has long enjoyed the best name-brand recognition in this category, though there are literally dozens of other versions available from different manufacturers. These…

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2009 seems to be the year of the nesting cookset. A battle is brewing among gear manufacturers to see who can produce the slickest cookset that fits together like a backpacker’s version of a Faberge egg. My personal favorite is the Pinnacle Dualist Cookset from GSI Outdoors. Designed for two people, this 20-ounce, $60 set…

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More than 50,000 black bears roam the Northeast woods, snuffling opportunists that occasionally dine on unprotected backpacker food. But the biggest threat to your precious grub is much, much smaller. It scurries in the dark. It peers out, whiskers aquiver, from the cracks of nearly every backcountry shelter. It waits for you to slumber, then…

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