Summer Camping

The black bear population is exploding in New England, particularly in Vermont and Massachusetts. As a recent article in the Boston Globe recounts, the number of bears in Vermont has doubled over the past two decades, to an estimated 6,000. In Massachusetts, the population is nine times larger today than 30 years ago (an estimated…

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If you’re cold at night, life is rough. Your sleep suffers, your mood blackens, and the fun factor of camping plummets. The good news? It’s easy to avoid this dark and chilly fate. All you need is the right sleeping bag. THE IDEAL WARMTH People vary significantly in their midnight metabolisms. Do you sometimes wake…

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The price of goose down has soared over the past few years, a trend clearly evident in the world of sleeping bags and puffy jackets. And, while exact numbers are hard to come by, I’ve noticed that many gear manufacturers have begun to use duck down instead of goose down in some of their sleeping…

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You can spend a lot of money on a tent these days, with many styles—especially ultralight models—running well north of $300. But plenty of less expensive tents are available that sacrifice none of the functionality of pricier models. Here are three excellent models to consider. For this round-up, I’ve narrowed the criteria to two-person tents…

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After a day on the trail, the thought of building a bright, crackling fire is incredibly appealing: the warmth, the light, the s’mores. Yet a campfire, even a small one, can mar the landscape, so it’s crucial to consider your impact. Whether in front- or backcountry settings, practice Leave No Trace (LNT) principles to minimize campfire…

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Coffee is good. Brain-splitting headaches are bad. If you’re a backpacking caffeine addict like me—or you simply enjoy the occasional backcountry brew—you’ll need the tools to produce a cup or three of this headache-staving, performance-enhancing, deliciously stimulating beverage. Here are your backcountry coffee options, rated for weight, quality of brew, and convenience. Instant opportunities It’s…

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I’ve used an extensive array of outdoor gear over 20 years of hiking, camping, and backpacking. Here are my top five most used, most abused, most durable, and most loved items. Please share yours! Mountain Hardwear Subzero Parka I purchased this ultra-warm, super-sized down parka a decade ago—and still revel in its delicious warmth every…

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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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I spent my morning walking the dog and serving as an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet for my local mosquito population. It got me thinking about the little buzzers and prompted several crucial questions in my head. I now have the answers. Death by mosquito draining? For an average person, losing two liters of blood becomes life-threatening….

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Lightweight. Low-impact. Usable almost anywhere trees grow. Hammock camping has a lot of advantages over tents and shelters—but what do you need to know before stashing one in your pack and heading for the backcountry? First, you want to make sure that a hammock is right for you, and that you’re comfortable with each piece…

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