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The weather in the White Mountains over Labor Day weekend was just about perfect, with cool temperatures and fair weather clouds during the day and a brilliant full moon at night. So far, that’s the same forecast looking forward: perfect hiking weather. As I mentioned in my previous post, over the next two weeks I’ll…

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Big Agnes produces some exceptionally light, high-quality, and well-reviewed three-season tents, including the Emerald Mountain SL, Seedhouse SL, and Copper Spur UL series of one-, two-, and three-person tents. (“SL” stands for “superlight” to distinguish it from the slightly heavier, though still very lightweight, “ultralight” or “UL” designs.) Of the three series, the one that…

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We’re coming into my favorite time of year to hike as a family. The last few nights have been cool, and the days have finally lost that sticky feeling. This morning, for the first time in weeks, Virgil and Ursula wanted jackets on before they went outside. The cool, dry air makes for perfect walking….

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When I’m out on a long backcountry adventure, I aim to consume around 3,000 calories per day. This means that if my food averages 100 calories per ounce, I’m toting roughly 2 pounds (30 ounces) of food per day. If I’m out on a two-week backpacking trip with no options for resupply, that quickly adds…

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We’ve been hearing a lot about the presidential family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard this week. Imagining Sasha and Malia Obama exploring a landscape so different from Chicago and Washington, D.C., reminds me that for many children, vacationing at the seashore is an early and powerful introduction to the natural world. That put me in mind…

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There are a lot of times when a fully waterproof shell is far more than you need. Rather than carry around all that Gore-Tex-ified bulk and weight, you may want to consider cutting your pack weight significantly by going with something as simple (and lightweight) as a basic water resistant shell. Sure, a water resistant…

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Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of catching the Perseids, the annual mid-August meteor shower. We hadn’t planned our summer vacation to coincide with the showers, which occurred this year between the end of July and the middle of August. We were just lucky to be on a lake with a wide-open view of…

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When I’m out hiking, I always carry a map of my location. And so should you! It’s one of those no-brainer, don’t leave-home-without-it, Ten Essentials items. But it’s not nearly as helpful if you have to rummage through your pack any time you want to check something—you’re much less likely to use it if you…

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The other morning we were awakened by the sound of a battle in the field across the road. I was first to the upstairs window, but I couldn’t immediately tell what was going on. I saw animal motion, a brief glimpse of whirling body parts — just like in the cartoons — and heard harsh…

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For a long time, there has been no industry standard for setting the warmth rating of sleeping bags. Manufacturers were free to label their sleeping bags as they saw fit, leading to great disparity between companies’ ratings. For example, The North Face is notoriously optimistic; Marmot is generally conservative. Consequently, a +15 degree bag from…

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