March/April 2011

Sometimes you find big innovation in the lowliest places. Like the top of your shoes. It is there that you duly ignore the humble shoelace when it does its job and stays tied. Only when your shoelace fails does it earn your attention—and it’s not usually positive thoughts. Now you can spare untied shoelaces your…

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Most trekking poles weigh about 8 ounces each (roughly a pound per pair). Lightweight versions dip down into the 5-6 ounce range. But did you know that styles are available weighing less than 3 ounces? I’m a big fan of trekking poles and use them regularly to reduce knee compression and pain on downhill descents,…

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The Michelin Man has unveiled his latest creation: the Michelin Michelin Protek Max. It’s a tube for your bike tire with some unusual qualities. First, it’s square in cross-section. Second, it’s dimpled with raised circles on three sides. Third, these features combine to give it the ability to self-seal in the event of a puncture,…

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If you’ve shopped for outdoor gear, you’ve seen the zillions of labels identifying what type of synthetic insulation is in that coveted sleeping bag or jacket. Primaloft, Polarguard, Thinsulate, Climashield… the list goes on and on. But do you know which of these are short staple and which are continuous filament? And why it matters?…

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It’s the time of year when aspiring thru-hikers have descended en masse on the Appalachian Trail. How many will make it the entire way? Based on statistics from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), would-be thru-hikers heading northbound from the southern terminus in Georgia have a better than 90 percent chance of completing the first 30…

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Last week I posted several of my favorite, go-to natural history guides for the Northeast. Here are a few more favorites, including several that cover topics not featured in my original post. Forest Trees of Maine: Centennial EditionMaine Forest ServiceIn 2008, the Maine Forest Service published the 100th anniversary edition to this wonderful guide to…

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Daydreaming about the summits you’ll climb this summer? Google Earth has just added several new features to further inspire your desktop plotting, including aerial tours of most major peaks, elevation profiles, and quick links to related images. First, if you haven’t already done so, download and install the latest version of Google Earth. It’s free….

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Snow has all but disappeared in southern New England and is steadily retreating northward (check out the latest snow depth map). In its wake, spring has sprung on the forest floor and green life has begun its rapid return. It’s the time of year when I brush up on my field identification skills so that…

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It’s summertime at the lake. The family clan gathers. It’s a paddle-happy reunion—and everybody wants to go canoeing. There’s only one problem. A flotilla of different canoes is stored in the shed. Some family members even brought their own boats! How will they decide which to use? Their choices will help guide you to the…

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What’s a supercollar? It’s a dog collar with a built-in retractable leash. A molded rubber handle secures to the collar. When you need it, simply undo the quick-release turn lock and pull the handle. Two thin steel cables extend up to 36 inches from small housings on either side of the collar for instant canine…

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