March/April 2012

There are three simple things you can do to stuff a sleeping bag with minimal effort and hassle, as well as squash it down to the smallest possible size. First, stuff it tail first. Second, turn it inside out. Third, use a compression stuff sack. Here are the details on these simple, but extremely effective,…

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The better a sleeping bag fits, the warmer it will be. A properly fitting sleeping bag will wrap around you as snugly as possible, but not fit so tightly that it’s uncomfortable for you to sleep in. The basic idea is simple: You want to minimize the amount of air space around your body. This…

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Investing in an ultralight sleeping pad can save a pound or more off your pack weight—and the Therma-a-Rest Z Lite offers one of the best, most durable, most convenient, and least expensive ways to accomplish it. I’ve used the Z Lite as my go-to pad for years—here’s my evaluation of its many advantages, as well…

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A new long-distance trail is in the works that will span the length of the country. And it’s being named after a corporate sponsor: Gore-Tex. OK, the country we’re talking about isn’t the United States. It’s Scotland, where the 373-mile “Gore-Tex Scottish National Trail” is under development. But I find it a disturbing development in…

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Part 17 in an ongoing series highlighting Northeast-based gear companies. We-Flashy produces casual, stylish shirts and sweatshirts that incorporate high-visibility reflective elements for increased visibility while walking, running, or cycling at night. As the company explains on its web site: “We don’t believe that you need to choose between looking like a crossing guard and…

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Floorless pyramid tents are lightweight, excellent in wind and weather, and offer some of the best interior room for the weight of any shelter. (Read more on why I love floorless pyramid tents.) Now Mountain Hardwear has set a new standard for this category: the ultralight Hoopla 4, a slightly modified pyramid design that sleeps…

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A compass is one of the Ten Essentials, a crucial piece of equipment you should carry on any outdoor adventure. Compasses vary widely in features and cost, however, from minimalist $10 models to high-end versions that can approach $100 or more. To help you navigate the options—and select the compass that’s right for you—consider these…

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Are hiking boots really essential for heading out on the trails? Or will a pair of low-cut trail running shoes suffice? It depends on your ankles and the type of terrain you expect to encounter. Here’s what you need to know about potentially saving some serious weight on your feet. Hiking footwear needs to do…

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Summer is coming! Summer is coming! In preparation for the coming season, you can now design your own custom pair of Chaco sandals at the company’s new MyChacos website. It’s a well-designed, easy-to-use site that allows you to select from a wide variety of strap patterns, buckle colors, tread designs, and more to create your…

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I recently downloaded iTopoMaps for my iPhone and then set out on an overnight backpacking trip to test its navigation capabilities. Here’s why it’s great, plus four reasons why it totally failed. The potential is awesome. For $7.99, iTopoMaps provides you with access to every USGS topographic map for the entire country at 1:24,000 scale….

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