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Prior to the widespread adoption of the EN testing standard for sleeping bags, manufacturers assigned temperature ratings to sleeping bags based on their own testing methods and standards—which included everything from sleeping in a meat locker to real-world testing experience. Because of the variation in different brands’ testing methods, which produced ratings ranging from conservative to inflated, these in-house ratings were at best a rough guide for picking the right sleeping bag, and they made it nearly impossible to reliably compare sleeping bags across brands. Fortunately, nearly all major sleeping bag manufacturers have adopted the EN testing standard in recent years. [...]

Molly Baker

After three seasons of living tiny, we’ve learned … a lot. Traveling with a 112-square-foot cabin on wheels is only as good as you make it. Here are a few tips for moving into your van, Westfalia, or tiny cabin. Maximum Capacity A small space creates coziness. A natural-born romantic, I love the idea and ambiance of small, warm spaces. It can be the best option for reading a book, playing instruments, and stretching out after a long day in the mountains, and sometimes it’s great to share that space with others, like your ski bum friends… and their friends. [...]

Backcountry Video

On a spring evening in 1897, the fabled outlaws Butch Cassidy and Elzy Lay spurred horses over the rough desert 50 miles south of Green River, Utah. Despite nearing exhaustion, both were grinning beneath their bandanas. That morning, the two had quietly relieved the paymaster at the Castle Gate Mine of 7000 dollars in gold coins while he was still wearing his bedroom slippers. All while hundreds of loitering miners milled about and then watched in dumb amazement as their wages rode off down the canyon. At dusk the duo passed a prominent landmark known as the Flat Tops, and [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Whether you’re doing a three-pitch free climb or a 3000-foot big wall, multi-pitch climbing is all about efficiency. Every little time-saving action, every slightly more streamlined step, adds up to saving you precious hours—it’s the difference between climbing the last hundred feet of 5.9 offwidth by headlamp and topping out to a perfect sunset and sipping a beer by dark. Climbing quickly isn’t just a matter of moving faster on each pitch—it’s all about increasing efficiency at the anchors. Enter the Double Figure Eight, known fondly as the “Bunny Ears.” This knot has a range of useful applications, but where [...]

Kim Havell has a roster of world-class athletes with diverse talents and a wide scope of influence in the world of backcountry sports. I spoke with three of the team’s athletes who have changed the face of adventure sport and, by following their passions, led the field in their respective pursuits with grace and talent. Grete Eliassen Grete “Typically Seen with a Medal Around Her Neck” Eliassen is a six-time X-Games medalist, a four-time US Open winner, and a Powder Award’s Female Segment of the Year winner. During her first year of competing in freeskiing, she took first place in the [...]


Thanks to the mass production of the automobile, the building of the interstates, and the formation of our national parks, America has become a nation with a rich and enduring car camping tradition. And for as long as folks have loaded up vehicles and set a course towards the mountains, eating well has been an integral part of the experience. With a bit of forethought, culinary ambition, and the right camp kitchen setup, there is nothing to stop you from cooking like a pro and eating like king. When considered in the context of today’s fast-paced world, going gourmet and [...]

Cameron C

There are a plethora of reasons to explore the great outdoors, so just choose a reason and get out there—but please don’t leave any evidence that you were there. Over time, even small impacts can add up to a great deal of damage to the natural environment. Leave No Trace has identified seven principles for minimizing your impact on the wilderness: Plan Ahead and Prepare Every Boy Scout is supposed to be prepared. This motto means more than just having the right gear. Personally, I like to study maps. Finding a good topo map of the area is a key ingredient to [...]

Catherine Greenwald

The weather is warm and the outdoors is calling. Whether you have babes in arms or pre-teens, it is, with some planning and preparation, possible to answer the call. We surveyed employees, many of whom are experienced family campers and backpackers, to gather tips and ideas to help make your summer adventures successful. Plan smart It’s important to scale your adventure to suit your kids. You may be into peak-bagging and can’t wait to introduce your kids to the wonders of the backcountry wilderness, but make yourself start small and build, particularly if you’re backpacking. Remember: they’re not going [...]

Toni Isom’s online community encompasses a passionate group of wanderers, adventurers, Gearheads, and athletes. Get the rundown on the latest happenings within the community in You Are Backcountry, your connection to the best product reviews, photos, and videos submitted by our athletes, our employees, and you. A Vibrant Community Nature is host to some of the most gorgeous colors you’ll ever see, whether they’re in the form of double rainbows, smoldering sunsets, or bright purple climbing ropes, and our customers and community members have captured enough of them to make one of those giant photos that’s made up of other, [...]


Almost anything tastes good after a long day in the mountains. Hot dogs, hobo dinners, and instant oatmeal rarely disappoint, but if you have the luxury of bringing along a camp kitchen chuck box and really want to knock the socks off your fellow campers, these Dutch Oven and stovetop recipes are sure to do the trick. DELECTABLE DUTCH OVEN BACKCOUNTRY-STYLE DUTCH OVEN POTATOES This backcountry twist on an old Dutch Oven classic can serve as a hearty meal on its own or as a side dish with grilled steaks, salmon, or pork chops. To make cleanup really easy, you can line [...]

Joshua Barnes

The whole reason we humans go camping is to get away from the restraints of modernity, but just because you’re leaving civilization behind doesn’t mean you can’t get a good night’s rest. Think about how much better the sunrise will look if it’s preceded by a solid night’s sleep. Since all the sleep system choices can get overwhelming, we’ll break them into their basic parts and help you figure out which system is right for you. Your choice will depend on the way you like to sleep and the way you like to camp. A basic sleep system consists of [...]

Lexi Dowdall’s online community comprises a passionate group of wanderers, adventurers, Gearheads, athletes, and guys and gals who make mincemeat of that 5.12b you’ve been eyeing. Community Connection highlights outstanding individuals within the Backcountry herd. Ryan Conklin is an active community member and one of our hand-picked hike and camp experts who voraciously tackles trail around his home in southwest New Mexico. Ryan is a Spanish-speaking yogi who loves hiking, fine food, and his dog Osa. In 2012 Ryan tackled a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail’s 2184.2 miles, posting about his progress every single day from his iPhone on [...]

Kayla Weiser

There’s a time and a place for minimalist camping. But sometimes minimal just doesn’t cut it. If weight or space isn’t an issue, why sacrifice comfort during your vacation in the wilderness? Get your glamorous camping—or “glamping”—on. Here’s how to fluff up your campsite and enjoy the great outdoors in comfort. Personal Space First things first, you’ll want to establish some personal space to set up in. Whether this is a stand of trees for your hammock, or the little tent area behind that bush, it’s your space. And if you’re not concerned about weight and pack size, don’t force [...]

Jason Sager

If the season-opener event in Austin was about fluffy, feel-good racing on singletrack, Bonelli and Fontana were about world-class competition and pushing the pain needle to 11 on the dial, then seeing how you stacked up against the best. Both events are on track to become World Cup events, and as such feature sub-15-minute laps, multiple brutal climbs, and dust so thick it obscures the ground. Limited opportunity to recover or prevent being passed characterized the racing and the track. There’s no faking it on these courses or against the competition, which was gunning for both UCI points and the [...]

Kayla Weiser

Established campgrounds are great for offering electrical hookups, water, restrooms, and designated space for tents, tables, and fires, but when you’re sick of the noise, the people, or the confinements of these areas, it’s time to break loose and go on your own adventure. So pack up your goods and head out into the wild. Just be sure to read these tips on how to choose your home base in the wilderness. Ground Surface Needless to say, where you choose to sleep will be the most important decision when picking a campsite. It’s crucial to pick a spot with flat [...]

Lexi Dowdall

As the white cloak of Ullr slowly recedes from beloved ski resorts across the lands, the faithful gather one last time to celebrate the bounty of winter and bid farewell to another season. All hail Gaper Day! A ritualistic observance across ski areas nationwide, April 1st, or perhaps the last day of lift operations at your local resort, is oft marked by the prevalence of fanny packs, fluorescence, questionable amounts of beer, costumery, and boots of the rear-entry variety. It is a time to reminisce and honor the passing of winter while enjoying a few, final slushy turns. Commemorating the [...]

Eric Watford

Cooking away from home can get tricky, but it’s a very rewarding experience. Cooking for a group of folks brings everyone together for a common need: nutrition. A good camp chef needs to be resourceful and creative. No matter the length of the trip or number of people, there are a few things that should go in your camp kit every time. Here are 10 essentials that are worth turning around for. Utensil dopp kit There are dedicated kitchen organizer kits, or you can repurpose a dopp kit or toiletry kit. Either way, your kit should include the following utensils: [...]

Matt Park

There’s nothing quite like falling asleep in the wilderness in your trusty tent. But sometimes lugging that thing around isn’t practical, and you need a lighter, more compact alternative. There are many alternatives to camping in a tent. I’ve been camping a long time, and have done a lot of camping without a tent for many different reasons: to save space, weight, and time, or because a tent simply wasn’t the best option for the place I was going. Here is a list of tent alternatives, with advantages and disadvantages of each, so you can pick what’s best for you. [...]

Joshua Barnes

If you want to achieve technical prowess when it comes to picking a high-performance tent, you’re in the wrong class—watch this instead. This is about looks, superficially and simply. We’re here to talk about choosing the color of your tent. There are two main camps when it comes to choosing the “correct” tent color: a bright side and a dark side. Those on the bright side pick colorful tents like orange, yellow, green, and even white. These bright colors let in light, so even if a hard-hitting storm puts you in a permanent tent timeout, you don’t feel like you’re [...]

Robert L

When you find yourself in a camp that’s turned into a mucky mess, one chief concern is keeping the interior of your tent and vehicle from getting filthy. These five tips will help protect your gear and your car from gunk and will help save valuable setup and breakdown time. Take Advantage of Roof Space When you’re out in nature, you have a bevy of activities at your disposal, and your ride of choice—whether it’s a bike, board, or boat—is bound to pick up some of nature’s elements. Taking advantage of your roof space and utilizing a rack system will [...]

Rob de Luca

We asked our loyal Facebook fans for their top North American ski-town dive bars, and the response was enthusiastic, if not entirely united on what constitutes a “dive” bar. Perhaps y’all are used to the private wet bar in your Gulfstreams, or the lounge at the Four Seasons in Aspen, but some of the spots you suggested as dives are, dare we say, downright nice. It’s true, however, that a real dive can be hard to find in the exclusive, moneyed towns that often sit at the bases of ski resorts, so we’ve suspended our own definition of “dive” and [...]

Matt Park

Super psyched on your new sleeping bag and wondering how to take care of it? Or looking for tips on how to make your old bag last longer? Before getting started you need to figure out what kind of sleeping bag you have. There are two basic types: down and synthetic. Both have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of performance and care requirements, but they work on the same principle: they trap air to keep you warm. For this reason it’s important to store your bag “uncompressed” so the insulation doesn’t get crushed and lose its ability to loft [...]

Lexi Dowdall’s Gearheads are your instant connection to gear knowledge. They’re passionate outdoor experts hell-bent on helping you find the right ski, saddle, or pro. In the last week of February our Gearhead Management team took a break from providing the best customer service on the planet to scout the deepness of Powder Mountain Resort on their skis and boards. The team, about 25 strong, trekked one hour north to sample the fresh eight inches of snow dusting the slopes of Powder Mountain. The resort boasts over 7000 acres of seldom-tracked terrain, cat skiing, stellar backcountry access, and two parks packed [...]

Rob Story

As freeskiing legend Chris Davenport puts it, “The Antarctic Peninsula is the last great ski location on Earth.” That’s why I joined Davenport a couple years ago on a backcountry ski expedition to the peaks gracing the Antarctic Peninsula. The basic plan: Sail a 78-foot boat named Australis from Argentina; sleep on it by night; ride inflatable, outboard-motored Zodiacs to rocky beaches; climb peaks under our own power; then relish descents that likely have never seen skis, moving cautiously due to the scary lack of paramedics and rescue helicopters. “People have scoured the globe for the next Valdez,” Davenport says. [...]