July/August 2010

As an outdoors family, we care about the health of our environment — from the plants, animals, and natural features just outside our front door to those that we occasionally visit or only read about. Over the last several years, we’ve tried to make our daily habits correspond to that care. And that includes our…

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As an admitted and serious caffeine junkie, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to ingest the brain-pumping stuff—especially lightweight and compact delivery systems that pack well on the trail. So when I recently encountered a pack of Jolt Caffeine Energy Gum, I couldn’t pass it up. Produced by the same company that brought…

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Now that I’ve made the case for summer, it’s time to say good-bye to it. Regardless of what the calendar says, summer ends for children and their families on the first day of school. No matter whether school starts in mid-August or whether September days are just as hot and steamy as they were at…

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For several years now, ultralight tent manufacturers have been shaving ounces by taking advantage of lighter and lighter weight fabrics, primarily siliconized nylon. As these fabrics approach the limits of thin (15-denier and below), the ounce-shaving frontier is now expanding to tent poles. On this front, Easton has introduced a line of carbon fiber poles…

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I’m trying to catch up on summer reading before the season ends, and just finished reading the cover story in an issue of TIME magazine that I picked up earlier this month. The cover first caught my eye: A shirtless boy in a baseball cap skipping a stone across a pond, rendered in a retro,…

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When the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, it can always be found due south. This is often referred to as “high noon,” although the correct astronomical term is “solar noon.” The precise time it occurs varies depending on the time of year and your location within the time zone. For example, on…

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It takes me almost exactly 2,000 strides to hike a mile, a fact I recently double-checked while hiking out of the Pemigewasset Wilderness along easy-cruising Franconia Brook and Lincoln Woods trails. I also measured how quickly I could hike on the even, level terrain, walking as briskly as possible without breaking into a trot. The…

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A recent article in The New York Times described an unusual outdoors adventure: a week-long raft trip down the San Juan River in southern Utah undertaken by a group of neuroscientists to debate the effect of spending time “unplugged.” The skeptics in the group didn’t see much value in disconnecting from their electronic devices or…

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“I’m having trouble getting my family outdoors…” A mother wrote this in a recent comment on the blog. She wanted to get her 3-year-old daughter outdoors more. But her husband is an indoors person and spends many hours at work. When he’s at home, her daughter wants to spend time with him. It’s a common…

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A lot of us are carrying around GPS receivers these days, embedded within iPhones and other pocket-sized smartphones. But when it comes to backcountry use, these nifty gadgets fall short on several fronts: durability, accuracy, sensitivity, and battery life. The new Magellan ToughCase attempts to address these issues by providing a more durable, more sensitive,…

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