July/August 2014

Like many children, my 4-year-old daughter loves the tactility of my iPhone, especially swiping back and forth through the photo albums and studying each image, however mundane. It seems natural, then, as Mabel’s dexterity with the camera grows, to encourage her to experiment with her own visual interpretations of life, to give her an additional…

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Opting for a three-quarter length sleeping pad allows you to carry less weight and bulk in your pack, but it also comes with some notable drawbacks. Is it worth it? Though there’s an increasing array of sleeping pad lengths, shapes, and sizes, most 3/4-length sleeping pads (often listed as size small) are right around 4…

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Trekking poles offer a slew of advantages—increased hiking stability, reduced knee compression, easier river crossings, ultralight shelter support, and more—but if you aren’t using them correctly, you’re not taking full advantage of their strengths. One of the most common mistakes—and one of the simplest to correct—has to do with how you use the trekking pole…

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Wind speed and wind direction have significant implications for paddling safety and enjoyment—and it doesn’t take much to affect the paddling experience. A light breeze (4 to 7 miles per hour) is sufficient to alter the movement of most kayaks; paddlers will need to compensate to keep moving in a straight line. A gentle wind (8…

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GearCommons is the latest manifestation of the so-called “sharing economy,” where individuals can rent goods or services directly to other individuals with the help of a dedicated online platform—think of Airbnb (for lodging) or Lyft (cars). Now GearCommons is applying the same concept to outdoor equipment. Here’s how it works. Are you a gear owner…

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Bring your family to the Berkshires of western Massachusetts for bountiful summer wildflowers, rambling hikes and bicycle rides, and real dinosaur footprints that will fascinate young T. rex fans. Here are four suggestions for your next outdoor getaway. Ice Glen and Laura’s Tower in Stockbridge, Mass. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne called Ice Glen, which is just…

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Last month, Big Agnes announced its new mtnGLO line of tents, which will feature LED lights built directly into the tent to provide ambient lighting at the flick of a switch. Available in early 2015, the tents’ details are scant at this point, though early product images (see below) show a line of LED lights…

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When it comes to camp cooking, there are some camp cookware items and accessories you need—and plenty you don’t. The Essentials Pot lifter (if your pots don’t have handles) Cup or other drinking vessel (potentially your pot or water bottle) Lightweight eating utensil (fork, spoon, spork, chopsticks) Small knife Very useful, not absolutely necessary Small…

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When it comes to cooking in the backcountry, canister stoves—those that run on a compressed propane-butane blend—have been my go-to backpacking option for years. For me, their convenience and ease-of-use—attach stove, ignite, boil, simmer, done—more than outweighs the minor drawbacks of the canisters’ small additional weight and expense. These stoves do create one significant hassle, however….

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I just returned from a trip to Northern California, where I completed a high-elevation overnight hike in Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately, the broad-spectrum sunscreen I had in the car failed to make it into my pack, which I realized only when I entered the open landscapes above 10,000 feet, where UV exposure is much greater…

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