Gear

If your boots have been languishing in the closet all winter, or you’ve been using them to stomp through the snowy season, it’s time to get them cleaned, conditioned, and ready to go. Here’s the three-step process I recommend. (And while this post is geared toward all-leather hiking boots rather than boots constructed from fabric…

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Ultralight backpacking quilts have been around for years. Now they are one of the leading items of gear used by Appalachian trail thru-hikers. One company in particular, Minnesota-based Enlightened Equipment, has become a go-to for ultralight hikers. What is a backpacking quilt? Backpacking quilts are essentially down blankets that have been modified to perform in…

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If you’re out adventuring in sub-freezing conditions, you should be regularly stuffing calories into your face. You want to ensure you have ample energy to generate body heat and sustain the level of exertion that is required to snowshoe, ski, or otherwise tromp through a snow- and ice-covered landscape. The challenge is that many common hiking…

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With time and use, those factory-applied durable water repellent coatings on your outdoor equipment slowly wear off. But did you know you can use an after-market treatment at home to help restore your gear’s water resistance, without restoring the PFCs? Several options are available, but only Nikwax produces its entire line without PFCs and has…

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The outdoor gear industry has used PFC-based coatings for decades, but only in recent years have the associated risks brought increased scrutiny. Most notably, in 2012 Greenpeace launched its Toxic Threads campaign, which tested gear from a range of manufacturers for PFCs and then called out companies with the chemicals in their products. In response…

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Ever wonder about the magic substance that causes water to bead up and roll off your rain jacket? In most cases, that water resistance comes from a toxic and long-lived class of chemicals known as perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs. Now a growing backlash is driving gear manufacturers to look for safer, more eco-friendly alternatives. Here’s…

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I bike commute year-round on a 28-mile round-trip journey just outside of Boston, much of it on the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway. In winter, when snow and ice coat the bike path, I switch from my regular commuting bike to a 29er mountain bike with fully studded tires. And it’s this bike that takes the brunt…

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Down is amazing stuff, a natural miracle material that we strive, in vain, to replicate using synthetic materials and insulation. I’ve written before about its incredibly intricate structure, but one of its other remarkable qualities is its longevity. Properly cared for, down will last for decades without losing much of its loft or insulating powers….

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A sleeping bag is a voluminous piece of gear that requires large swaths of polyester or nylon. If it contains synthetic insulation as well, you’re talking about snuggling in a substantial amount of man-made material. Which is fine, but better if it comes from recycled sources. That can really narrow your search if you’re looking…

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How essential is it to put your food in bear boxes even if there aren’t any bears in the area? While bears can be a major concern, they’re not the only wild animals that pose a risk. We see it all too often. Campers arrive after a long slog overs hills and rivers to finally reach home. In an effort…

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