January/February 2011

I went surfing this weekend at a beach along the Massachusetts coast, catching remnant swells from the storm that blew through New England last Friday. At this point in the season, water temperatures are right around the annual low (~37 degrees). I stayed warm bundled head-to-toe in thick neoprene and had a great session, but…

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If you’re like me, you’ve somehow managed to accumulate an inexplicable number of AAA batteries in your gear chest, almost all of them for headlamp use. Some are fresh. Some are dead and awaiting proper disposal—and infused with the nagging guilt that you really should get your act together and find a rechargeable, reusable solution…

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Over the coming weeks, days will get warmer, the sun will rise higher in the sky, and backcountry enthusiasts will be out romping in blissful, snowy spring conditions. But consider this: Snow reflects up to 80 percent of UV radiation, which means that your UV dose is close to double what it would be otherwise….

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Goose down is amazing stuff, as I highlighted in my February “Equipped” column, “The Story of a Miracle Material.” But there was only so much I could include in that piece, and I wanted to share some more fascinating info and pictures about down’s remarkable structure. The following information and photos are all culled from…

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There was a good round-up of 14 new guidebooks for New England in this morning’s Boston Globe. Two in particular caught my forest-loving attention. Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested LandscapeBy Tom WesselsBackcountry Press ($14.95)A new companion guide to one of my all-time favorite books about the New England landscape. In Wessels’…

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Your body strives to keep your brain operating, no matter what the conditions. It will sacrifice toes, feet, and fingers to winter’s bite but continue pumping warm blood to your head until the bitter end. And your neck is the conduit for all that brain-bathing warmth. In cold conditions, retain this precious body heat with…

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Part 9 in an ongoing series highlighting Northeast-based gear companies. As a follow-up to my recent post on Winter Traction Systems, I wanted to more extensively highlight 32North of Biddeford, Maine—manufacturer of STABILicers. Produced locally in Maine for nearly 20 years, STABILicers Originals ($49.95) were one of the first winter traction devices to hit market….

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There’s no question that a good pair of poles is a boon for staying on your feet and balanced while out snowshoeing, especially if you’re tromping around in uneven terrain or snow conditions. But what exactly is the difference between a pair of trekking poles and those marketed as “snowshoe” poles? Not much. They are…

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Cold braces, cold bites, cold is your enemy on long winter nights. When late-night temperatures plummet and warmth is precious for sleep, a good winter sleeping system cocoons you in comfy dreamland no matter what the conditions. It’s in the BagFor winter camping adventures, you need a winter sleeping bag. Choose a model rated to…

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More than a decade ago, I acquired a pair of well-used MSR Denali Classic snowshoes that somebody dropped into the “Free” box at work. They were vintage even then, featuring the original lash binding system that debuted with the snowshoe in 1995. Since that fateful day, this pair has been my go-to snowshoe for any…

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