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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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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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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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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Mountain House, erstwhile purveyor of dehydrated backcountry meals, has introduced a new idea into the market: The Wrap Series. This new line is designed to be used as delicious filling for tortillas that you provide separately. If my experience is any indication, I can tell you that a lot of burritos get made in the…

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GoLite, manufacturer of high-quality ultralight gear, has some nice offerings in its 2010 collection, including updated versions of its Adrenaline series of lightweight down bags, industry-thinnest 15-denier tents, and an increased focus on eco-friendly materials across its product line.Adrenaline Sleeping BagsThe Adrenaline series is GoLite’s top-of-the-line selection of ultralight 800-fill goose down. Nice—and unusual—features include…

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Ever wonder what crampons are made of? Until recently, most crampons were made with chromoly steel. But now Black Diamond has updated their entire line of crampons to stainless steel, offering a fresh silvery look—and several improvements over previous models. Chromoly steel is harder and stronger than traditional steel due to the use of chromium…

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In 1997 Ibex Outdoor Clothing opened shop in Woodstock, Vermont, as a specialty manufacturer of high-quality wool clothing, especially outerwear and insulation for outdoor use. This is part 4 of an ongoing series profiling outdoor gear companies in the Northeast. Over the past 12 years, the company has expanded rapidly and antipodally, though it remains…

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Liner gloves are long underwear for your hands. They add significant warmth with a thin, form-fitting, next-to-skin layer. They provide full dexterity as well, making it unnecessary to strip to naked palm and fingers for things that require fine motor skills—a boon when it’s frigid out. They also work well as a thin stand-alone glove…

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