January/February 2010

If you own a handheld Garmin GPS and want to have a detailed topographic or street map on it, you only have one option—Garmin’s own proprietary $100 MapSource software packages. This lack of consumer choice is one of the biggest single drawbacks for Garmin units. But now the options are expanding on some of Garmin’s…

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As I mentioned in my previous post, winter is the best season to watch or simply listen to owls. In some parts of the Northeast, prime owl-watching season has already passed, but you can still find full-moon walks, winter nature walks, and daytime owl programs at nature centers, parks, and AMC’s lodges through March. February…

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Jim saw his first owl of the season the other morning. He was turning to leave the kitchen, but a flash of movement outside the window caught his eye. Our kitchen windows look out over the backyard, from the garden and the compost bins to the apple trees and the sledding hill. He stopped and…

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For the past several weeks, AMC volunteers and staff have shared some of their favorite winter walks, hikes, and other outings for families throughout the Northeast. We started in the White Mountains, inscribed a suburban semi-circle around Boston, and traversed Connecticut from eastern shore to western slope. For the last post in this series, we…

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If your backpack fits properly, you should be carrying roughly 80 percent of the weight on your lower body, 20 percent on the front of your shoulders, and exactly 0 percent on top of your shoulders. After dialing in waistbelt fit, you need to make sure that the shoulder straps fit—and are adjusted—properly. What should…

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When it comes to properly fitting a backpack, no element is more critical than the waistbelt. You should be carrying the vast majority of the weight (80+%) on your hips and lower body, which makes a good waistbelt fit essential. What should you be looking for? And what can you do to improve fit? When…

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We’ve been hearing from AMC volunteers and staff about their favorite winter walks, hikes, and other outings for families throughout the Northeast. We started in the White Mountains, then inscribed a suburban semi-circle around Boston. Continuing south, we explore winter outings in Connecticut, where Debra Rich organizes family trips for AMC’s Connecticut Chapter. Jump Hill…

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Just when you thought you had everything. Some wild new gear is hitting the market this year. Giant air bags that deploy in an avalanche. A backpack with a built-in tent. Vests that inflate with noble gases. They might not be on your must-have list, but it always amazes me when manufacturers come up with…

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The 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, a joint project of Audubon and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, starts this year on Friday, February 12, and runs through Monday, February 15. I know this because Ursula and Virgil have both brought home information this week about how to participate. The Great Backyard Bird Count is…

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Aerogel is the lowest-density solid material that exists. Made almost entirely of air encapsulated in an ultra-light silica matrix, this man-made substance also has superb insulating abilities and has been used by NASA in spacesuits, space shuttles, satellites, and other stellar applications. It’s some pretty cool stuff—the aerogel Wikipedia page has some striking photos that…

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