March/April 2011

It runs 220 miles across Connecticut and Massachusetts, touring the full ecological, historical, and scenic diversity of southern New England. The New England National Scenic Trail celebrates its second anniversary on Wednesday, March 30 and begins its next season of snow-free outdoor fun. Here are some of the latest developments—and trip-planning resources—for 2011. Interactive Trail…

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Part 11 in an ongoing series highlighting Northeast-based gear companies. Ever hear of Cuben fiber? Originally designed for high-end racing sails, this stuff is half the weight of silnylon, 50-70 percent lighter than Kevlar and four times as strong, and 100 percent waterproof. By incorporating this magic stuff into their product line, Maine-based Hyperlite Mountain…

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Backpack styles have proliferated in recent years, creating a dizzying rainbow of high-tech, specialized designs in all shapes, sizes, and weights. Today’s packs are often created for very specific activities. A growing spectrum of load-carrying technology is used. Lightweight and ultralight styles are increasingly common. An astonishing range of fit adjustments are available. And recycled…

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OK, the bottle opener on the Etón Raptor doesn’t need solar power to operate, but just about everything else does: altimeter, barometer, electronic compass, AM/FM/Weather Band radio, LED flashlight, cell phone charger, NOAA weather alerts, and more. A small solar panel is located on the back of the 11.3-ounce device. According to company specs, it…

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Right about now, spotted salamanders, wood frogs, and other aquatic creatures around northern New England are preparing for a very big night at the pool. A vernal pool, that is — one of the ephemeral ponds that form in low-lying woodlands just after the snow melts each spring and serve as nurseries for a variety…

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The season here has shifted. Even before Daylight Savings Time kicked in on Sunday, there were signs everywhere: the rotting snow that’s still deep in the woods has melted out to bare ground in patches on south-facing hillsides; the ice has let loose in rivers and streams; the roads are a muddy mess. And over…

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You’ve heard it before. Cotton Kills! Cotton Kills! Why does it kill? Because it absorbs lots of water—up to 27 times its weight—which rapidly wicks away body heat and can lead to potentially life-threatening hypothermia in cool or cold conditions. But what is it about cotton that allows it to absorb so much water in…

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Eastern Mountain Sports is the official outfitter of the Mount Washington Observatory, providing insulation and outerwear for Observatory staff to handle the “Worst Weather in the World” found on the summit of the Northeast’s highest peak. Now the company has even provided the resident summit feline, Marty, with his own insulated “jack-cat.” According to this…

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“This was not in the plan.” Those words begin a winter’s tale of parents and children in the outdoors that had me laughing out loud by the end of the first paragraph. Writer and father Nathaniel Reade was trying to get himself and his 7-year-old son, Charley, on skis and out of a parking lot…

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Part 10 in an ongoing series highlighting Northeast-based gear companies. Bacteria causes stinky foot funk. Pure silver is one of nature’s most powerful anti-bacterial agents. Noble Biomaterials produces silver-coated X-STATIC fibers, which are incorporated into socks (and other apparel) to kill the bacteria and fight the funk. In my experience—and I’ve got some potent testing…

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