May/June 2012

No, you can’t get sunburned if your window is rolled up while you drive—car window glass blocks the ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn. Can you sustain long-term skin damage nevertheless? Absolutely. This striking photograph from a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine provides a startling example of the risks of ultraviolet light—and…

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Part 19 in an ongoing series highlighting Northeast-based gear companies. Vargo Outdoors is a small Pennsylvania-based gear manufacturer that specializes in ultralight stoves, cookware, tent stakes, and other backpacking accessories. Nearly all of its products are made with titanium, including its new Titanium Ti-Boiler pot set—one of the more intriguing ultralight titanium cookware sets I’ve…

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Backpackers are like turtles. Except they’re much faster. And they don’t eat bugs. Point is, like their terrapin friends, backpackers carry their shelter on their backs. And the less that shelter weighs, the faster they move. If you are looking to invest in a lightweight three-season tent—or just want an all-purpose tent for car camping—here…

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Mountainsmith began producing some of its packs and other products from recycled plastic water bottles six years ago. Today the selection of recycled products has expanded significantly to include everything from backpacks to lumbar packs to camera bags to dog packs. The company uses its own proprietary “ReDura” fabric, the outdoor industry’s first fabric produced…

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You can save some serious weight by investing in an ultralight windproof and water-resistant shell jacket and ditching your heavy-duty (or even lightweight) fully waterproof jacket. Some of the lightest weight wind shells barely weigh 2 ounces and will easily fit in a pocket, yet offer sufficient protection and warmth for many warm-weather excursions. Here’s…

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I just ordered my eighth pair of Vasque Sundowner boots, which have been my go-to boots since I began hiking more than 20 years ago. Here’s why I love them and keep coming back for more. The Vasque Sundowner is an iconic hiking boot, produced virtually unchanged for more than two decades.  As the Vasque…

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Have you ever wondered what the difference is between nylon and “ballistic” nylon? The short answer is durability. The long answer is a little more complex. I’d always assumed that the term “ballistic nylon” was purely a marketing term meant to persuade (dupe?) consumers into thinking that a particular product was more high-tech, more advanced,…

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Leti Taft-Pearman, AMC staff; Morag Deans, AMC Boston Chapter member; and Kim Foley MacKinnon, author. Did you know that wild turkeys, pheasants, and even coyotes call Mattapan home? I learned this and more this weekend on a visit to Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary to celebrate AMC’s new book, Outdoors with Kids…

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The best pillow for backpacking is a stuff sack, clothes, and a soft fleece. Here’s how I make them work for perfect, soft, head-supporting, sleep-all-night comfort. First, you could waste money and pack space (plus carry some extra weight) by buying an actual “backpacking pillow.” A range of such products are available, including the Therm-a-Rest…

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LEARN MORE Check out Biomechanics of Foot Strikes & Applications to Running Barefoot or in Minimal Footwear, a website of the Harvard University Skeletal Biology Lab. Read Matt Heid’s gear blog here. “Barefoot” shoes are designed to replicate the experience—and potential benefits—of running or walking barefoot. If you’re interested in buying a pair, or are…

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