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Laurel Nelson

As the weather warms in the spring, river flows increase and a whole new world opens up for exploration. Rafting is an accessible adventure option that allows you to explore remote places from a unique perspective. There is nothing better than looking up at huge canyon walls dwarfing your boat. You are able to get away from the crowds, bond with your small group, and really feel like you are one with nature, but without having to rough it too much. There are many ways to venture into the boating world, from kayaks to stand-up paddleboards to rafts. There are guided [...]

Kyle Livingston

More than 60 years ago, Jack O’Neill, a northern California surfer, opened up a surf shop in Santa Cruz and began selling his creations: the first neoprene surfing wetsuits. Surfers and water-sport aficionados around the world can thank him for extending their seasons beyond a few short months of summer and their range of surf spots outside of balmy beaches. Wetsuits enable us to enjoy our favorite sports in colder waters by keeping our core body temperature above 95 degrees Fahrenheit and preventing hypothermia. From scuba divers to triathletes to surfers to freshwater rafters and kayakers, there are many outdoor [...]

Vinny Mauro

Seeking equal parts waves and adventure, twelve of my close friends and I have made Central America our destination of choice for three years and counting. This year was no different; in late spring, thirteen of us traded our heavy jackets and ski gear for board shorts and surfboards, and headed south to Nicaragua to celebrate the close of another season with two weeks of surfing and traveling. I took only a carry-on duffel stuffed with minimal gear to greet the warm waves and bid farewell to another winter. The art of packing light for a two-week surf vacation. What [...]

Jeff Catalano

Whitewater kayaking is an intense sport. It requires considerable skill, concentration and a solid understanding of the dynamics of water, not to mention a strong ability to control stress and fear. Despite paddling’s difficulty and inherent danger, after just a couple sessions in the water, or like me, simply watching kayaking movies, it’s easy to get hooked on this adrenaline-fueled sport. Whether you’ve been borrowing your buddy’s extra boat for years and already run Class V whitewater or you’re just getting ready to learn how to roll a boat, choosing a new kayak can be a daunting task with so [...]

Jeff Catalano

Once you decide to get into whitewater kayaking it’s time to start building your kit. There’s a considerable amount of kayak gear on the market and it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed when attempting to choose specific products. Following is a list of essentials and accessories you’ll need to have a great day and stay safe on the river. PFD & Helmet Your PFD (Personal Flotation Device) and helmet are the two most important accessories on the river. In the event of a swim, your PFD will help keep you above water. Rapids are very good at pulling objects, including [...]

Pace Measom

At first glance, doing yoga on a stand-up paddleboard might seem a bit gimmicky. But once you get over the novelty, you realize that the paddleboard adds a new and demanding fitness dimension to even the simplest of yoga positions. SUP yoga requires proper alignment and balance, or you end up in the water. This allows beginner yogis to learn proper alignment from the start, and it’s a refinement tool for more experienced yoga practitioners. You get quick feedback on whether or not your form is as good as you think it is. Apart from the fitness benefits, it’s a [...]

Lexi D.

In British Columbia, Canada, tucked alongside the Columbia River, you’ll find the tiny town of Revelstoke nestled under a multitude of lofty glaciated peaks. Yearning for an escape from Utah’s summer inferno, I stuffed my Subaru with my mountain bike, paddleboard, and backpacking gear to see what this famed ski town had to offer. Photos by Bruno Long Surrounded by National Parks, Revelstoke boasts a rich heritage in forestry, the railway industry and ski jumping. My adventure began with a mountain bike ride on the high alpine singletrack of Frisby Ridge. I marveled at stunning panoramic views of glaciers clinging to [...]

Pace Measom

Lake Powell is a bit of a paradox; it’s a crystal-clear ocean of bath water surrounded by an endless expanse of fiery red sandstone. But nature didn’t make it that way, and Glen Canyon Dam stands as a monolithic testament to what men can do with an infinite amount of concrete. I did get a melancholy vibe when I stopped playing and thought of the shaded canyon bottoms and Native American sites lost beneath the surface, but it’s hard to not be seduced by the place all the same. With 2,000 miles of coastline and nearly 100 side canyons, Powell [...]

Lara LaBar

Whitewater rafting is an adrenaline-packed summer activity, and part of the thrill is the danger of going into the drink. Even the most experienced paddlers can easily be taken by surprise by a quick flip, but it doesn’t need to put a damper (so to speak) on the weekend. Here’s a primer on how to make the best of a big swim. AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION Paddle Hard Heed whatever paddling instructions the guide is shouting at you. Some flips can be sudden and violent, but the majority of rafting flips involve at least a few seconds of warning. If [...]

Alex Blackmer

When a grizzled Austrian offers you a tent/sleeping bag/sleeping pad combo for 30 Euros, you don’t waste time wondering if it’s a good purchase; you get three, pass them out to your friends, and head out for some seat-of-the-pants backpacking. The first three nights are crystal clear, accented by the distant knocking of cowbells and an impossibly thick sprinkle of stars. The fourth night it rains, and you learn that, while the “waterproof” canopies of bargain Euro-tents are unbelievably permeable, the floors seem to be made of the world’s heaviest-duty tarpaulin, meaning that once the water gets in, it damn [...]

Lexi D.’s online community comprises a passionate group of wanderers, adventurers, Gearheads, athletes, and guys and girls who make mincemeat of that 5.12b you’ve been eyeing. Stories from the Backcountry Community will give the rundown on the raddest happenings within the community. This is your connection to the most superb reviews, product photos, and videos created by the savviest outdoor experts around. The strongest effort in paddle-related content is awarded to Backcountry athlete Kim Havell for this paddle, shot by photographer Gabe Rogel. On a day of 1st descents in Svalbard, Norway, Kim sports Salomon Q-96 Lumen Skis and navigates her [...]

Michelle Larson

Scientific research isn’t always your friend. The evidence can be conflicting, backed by financially interested parties, or simply not applicable to your particular brand of sport. You’re the athlete, and if you listen, your body will likely tell you what’s up. However, there are some trusted schools of thought behind hydration and rehydration. Daily Hydration In researching this article, I found a sweet chart depicting urine color as it corresponds to hydration levels. A nice, light yellow for a well-hydrated body gradually increasing to something the color of pea soup as dehydration sets in. (Pretty sure the pea-soup fella has [...]

Jacob Glissmeyer

Back in Leh, Christie, Susan, Adam, and I are scheduled to fly to Dehradun, then taxi to Rishikesh to explore the Ganges River and its tributaries. Newscasts just three months prior reported heavy monsoons that caused massive flooding, landslides, and thousands of fatalities in this area. Our contacts report that no rafting groups are running trips. It is now August and the monsoon season is drawing to an end (hopefully), but before departing, our team discusses alternatives. We decide to gamble and continue as planned. Since we are nervous about traveling to Rishikesh with our kayaks, we sell our boats [...]

Jacob Glissmeyer

I wake up with the sun on the bank of the river. I roll out of my bivy and wander to the water’s edge to rinse my face. Before me stands a surf wave with perfect eddy access, gone unnoticed the night before. No other team members are up yet. It’s time for a dawn patrol! I eagerly gear up, abbreviate a warm-up on the shore, and dive in. The wave is epic. Soon, several curious road laborers toting picks and shovels congregate along shore and across the prayer-flag adorned bridge overhead, and then gradually, several more. Personnel file from [...]

Jacob Glissmeyer

If, in life, I were a divinely chosen spiritual revelator, I would consider a life of teaching and leave behind words of enlightened guidance. Like the Buddha and the Mahayana sutras, the philosophical advice offered to Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, and the scriptures from Muhammad related in the Quran. However, I am not a revelator, and I don’t speak Arabic, and I definitely can’t read or write in Sanskrit. Instead, in this life, I am just a kayaker. And for this part, I’ve chosen to float through a vivid and rich culture in some northern regions of India, tucked in [...]

Backcountry Video

As the scope and range of outdoor pursuits grows and mountain athletes continue to specialize, the need for activity-specific outerwear tech is more apparent than ever. To satisfy the wide range of performance needs, Gore-Tex offers three unique technologies—Gore-Tex, Gore-Tex Pro, and Gore-Tex Active. But before we break it down, a few definitions are in order. At the heart of the Gore-Tex fabric is an extremely thin membrane with over nine billion pores per square inch (as shown to the right between the two fabrics). These microscopic pores are 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet, so they don’t allow [...]

Adam Riser

Above Photo By: Ian Matteson How much waterproofing do you really need, and what factors affect how waterproof your jacket will be? Membranes, Laminates, and DWR Coating Membranes: When people picture high-end outerwear, they’re thinking of jackets with a waterproof membrane. This is where you’ll generally find the highest waterproof and breathability ratings. If you’re really getting after it and expect some nasty weather, then this is what you want. The only real downside is that membranes themselves aren’t very durable, so most jackets with membranes include a light inner layer for added protection. Only the most minimal, ultra-light jackets [...]

Adam Riser

Above Photo By: Ian Matteson Looking for a ski or snowboard jacket, a technical shell, or a rain jacket? Here’s a guide to waterproof jackets, including features to look for and features to avoid. (It covers pants, too.) What’s Covered: Ski and Snowboard Jackets Technical Shells Rain Jackets Ski and Snowboard Pants Technical Pants Rain Pants Ski/Snowboard Jackets Key Features: In a broad sense, anything with a powder skirt can be considered a ski or snowboard jacket, as that’s really the only unifying feature. Powder skirts are pretty key, because whether you’re riding deep powder or just experiencing a particularly [...]

Laurel Nelson’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. Gearhead 360s are short interviews that will help you get to know the people behind the answers. What scares you? The thing that scares me the most is not being able to continue to do what I love… and spiders. I hate spiders. What motivates you? My main motivation is experiencing something unique and different every day. I am not really a fan of feeling comfortable all the time and my most memorable experiences have almost [...]

Backcountry Video

Nearly every piece of technical outerwear today is treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish before leaving the factory. The DWR treatment is the first line of defense against wet weather conditions and prevents the face fabric from becoming saturated. When you see water beading up and rolling off your Gore-Tex jacket or down puffy, that’s actually the DWR technology at work. DWR is a polymer applied to the face fabric that creates microscopic pegs, or hairs, that protrude from the fabric. (You didn’t know that you were bristling like a hedgehog in your new ski jacket, did you?) [...]

Jacob Glissmeyer

Above Photo: Mono Lake, CA Shot By: Tommy Chandler When you’re in the market for a new boat, there are many details to consider. First you need to decide what your goals are. Then you can start to narrow down your options. This precursory breakdown of the basic types of kayaks is a great place to start. Recreational Kayaks Recreational kayaks offer quick and convenient access to smaller lakes, rivers, and ponds. The combination of lightweight, durable materials and a manageable size makes these kayaks easy to handle both on and off the water. The large cockpit allows easy entry and [...]

Austin H.

Above Photo: Mono Lake, CA Shot By: Tommy Chandler Camping out of your kayak offers a feeling of freedom that few adventures on shore can match. You paddle down rivers or float across open water during the day, and kick back by a campfire at night. Experienced multi-day paddlers can easily pack their boats for many days on the water, but your first time packing for more than a day’s paddle can be pretty stressful. Here are some pointers for planning your trip, a sample packing list, advice on organizing and keeping track of your gear, and tips on packing [...]