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Swimsuit Season is Here

Check out backountry's wide selection of swimwear to get you look dialed this summer.

An Intro to Outdoor Jackets

Anyone who spends time outside has a favorite jacket—it’s a staple in the kit of every hiker, climber, skier, snowboarder, cyclist, or mountaineer. But the one-jacket-for-everything days are long gone. To get you started on the path to understanding your jacket options, we outlined the five most basic styles.

How To Care for Your Down Jacket

Your puffy spares you the shivers on long chairlift rides, it offers a cozy embrace when you’re belaying a long pitch, and it lets you enjoy evening stargazing on alpine backpacking trips. And what do you do for it in return? Cram it into a stuff sack.

Technical Shells Explained

For the worst weather conditions imaginable, you need the reliable protection of Technical Shell. The best Technical Shells often feature waterproof/breathable laminates, watertight zippers, and high denier face fabrics.

Softshells Explained

Can a softshell replace your trusty hardshell in sustained rain or snowfall? Probably not. What softshells do best is keep you warm and dry while your heart rate is up in windy and/or damp weather.
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Jared Downs

Having access to clean water and a hydration plan are imperative to a successful camping or backpacking trip. Experienced outdoorsman and Expert Gearhead Jared Downs shares some strategies here for staying hydrated in the backcountry.  Access to clean water is essential to extended outdoor pursuits; we require substantial amounts of water (minimum two liters a day) to stay healthy. Unfortunately, water sources are often impacted in ways that can make drinking from them a bad idea. Whether it is an outhouse located too close to a water source, contamination by livestock or wild animals, or poor sanitation in a developing [...]

Emily Jenson

You love and appreciate the outdoors, and you want to share it with your littles—not only bringing them along when you head outside, but also fostering in them the same enjoyment of outdoor activities. Outfitting them in the proper gear will increase their enjoyment, maximize the chances that they start developing a love of the outdoors, and at the same time keep them safe. Backcountry Expert Gearhead Emily Jensen surveys some must-have gear for active parents and kids. My parents set a good example for us by always getting outdoors. They introduced me and my five other siblings to everything [...]

Wally Phillips

When you’re planning a bike trip, you’re probably focusing more on daydreams of digging into a tacky descent, or feeling the speed of the tarmac and finding a little more in your legs than you thought. What can get missed are nitty-gritty details, like how you’re going to get your bike to your destination. Just throwing your bike in the back of your car is appealing, but if you don’t have the room, the right car, or the time to clean up after a muddy bike, a rack is indispensable. The right bike rack can make that process painless, while [...]

Pace

Camping is a good excuse to shed the trappings of modern life like your smartphone and laptop. But you shouldn’t have to leave behind a quality cup of coffee. Cowboy coffee has a certain nostalgic charm if you’re OK with chewing grounds throughout the day, and instant coffee packets are attractive for their convenience. But if you’re accustomed to high-quality brew every morning, these options will most certainly leave a disappointing taste in your mouth. Fortunately, there are some amazing camp coffee systems that make it easy to brew a first-rate cup anywhere. We assembled a collection of the best [...]

Ben Rabinowitz

Spending a night outdoors is something everyone should experience. Sitting by the fire and laughing with friends is where friendships really grow. While the night can be magical and mysterious, the dark can be difficult to navigate. Tripping over chairs and fumbling through packs can be a real pain. Lanterns are a crucial piece of camping gear to light your way. In this article I’ll walk you through the different types of lanterns and how to choose the right product for your needs. Lanterns are also great at home for emergency preparedness or a survival kit. What Kind of Light [...]

Kim Havell

There are different ways to explore. For our team, as we began planning a ski expedition to the Wrangell St. Elias/Kluane Park region of the Yukon, Canada, we decided to add more levels of adventure beyond that of the standard routine of arriving, climbing and skiing one peak, and flying back out. Our trip incorporated a greater level of expedition experience. Though it would involve more suffering and more logistics, we finalized a plan to climb, ski, traverse, and explore as much of the area as possible. Choosing to go in mid-April meant colder temps but safer movement in the [...]

Lisa E

Selecting a backpacking pack that fits your frame and your needs isn’t always easy. Backcountry Expert Gearhead Lisa Edlund breaks this down into the basics you need to know to make the right choice. Nothing quite compares to the experience of heading off into nature with a pack on your back that contains just the essentials. This truly makes you aware of how simple life can be. But picking that backpack for your adventure can be anything but simple. There is a wide range of pack options out there, making it daunting for beginners and experienced backpackers alike. The first [...]

Lexi D.

Whether it’s in the form of a lightweight baselayer or stylish pea coat, you really can’t go wrong with wool. It has been around for centuries—millennia, even—yet it continues to outperform many of today’s high-tech synthetics. But before we get into why wool is so amazing, banish from your mind the image of scratchy sweaters that exude the essence wet sheep upon first contact with snow or drizzle. That’s not the kind of wool we’re talking about here. We’re concerned with merino wool—also known as nature’s miracle fiber—but lambswool and high-quality wool blends are worth a mention, too. What makes [...]

Pace

Romance in the wild is a bit of two-edged sword. It’s true that wilderness has a certain romantic charm—think of a crackling campfire, a stunning sunset, and the cool evening breeze that encourages two love-struck souls to draw closer together. But it’s equally true that camping presents would-be romantics with certain challenges—think of constricting mummy bags, rash-inducing plants, biting insects, and camp meals that send your innards in a death spiral. As it turns out, there’s a lot of good gear that can help improve the not-so-romantic aspects of the campground. To put some of the best to the test, [...]

Bill Porreca

Bill Porreca, an Expert Gearhead at Backcountry.com, has not only been climbing for years, but he has also built ziplines around the country. He understands the importance of safety, to say the least. Here he shares a few tips for selecting a climbing helmet. Climbing can be one of the most rewarding experiences out there. Obviously, there are inherent risks and as climbers we should take every measure to reduce them. Wearing a helmet is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself before you even tie into the rope. I wouldn’t consider climbing without a helmet, in this case [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Climbing tastes are as subjective and whimsical as tastes in love, poetry, and music, so to say that there are five best routes—of any style—is completely ridiculous. Still, I would argue that there’s a set of values that contribute to a climb’s overall quality. Those values are: Position: Where the climb is located. Is it set amid a pristine wilderness, a humid jungle, or next to a major highway? Exposure: How much air you “feel” beneath you? Quality of rock: Are you grabbing iron-hard rock, or are you ripping choss holds off the wall every third move? History: Was the [...]

Garson Fields

Buying a new mountain bike can feel like a daunting task, whether you’re buying your first mountain bike ever or your first one in a while. Between the sport’s state of constant change, the staggering amount of information, and the huge array of choices, it’s hard to know where to start looking. If you’re feeling lost, consider these seven guidelines a starting point to making an informed choice about your next mountain bike. 1. Know Where You’re Riding Your local terrain, style of trails, and riding ambitions are key points in narrowing down your choices. The forgiveness of a 150mm [...]

Bill Porreca

Rock climbing is one of the most exciting ways to get out and experience the vertical world. There are many forms of climbing; sport climbing involves using pre-drilled and set expansion bolts for the primary means of protection. Backcountry Expert Gearhead Bill Porreca shares a few tips on selecting the perfect kit to get you out onto the crag. Climbing is a great way to exercise or physically challenge yourself. I guarantee a day of sport climbing is just as tough as hitting the local gym. Aside from being physically demanding, it also pushes you mentally, both in problem-solving and [...]

Kyle Livingston

We are all drawn the open trail, our gear on our back and map in hand searching for some solitude next to a campfire far beyond the lights of the city. When you decide to leave the campground behind and make the leap to the backcountry, there is a lot to consider. My first backpack was a hand-me-down Gregory and it took me years to accumulate the necessary gear to support me in the wilderness as a bona-fide backpacker. Loading up your pack, leaving the car far behind, and carrying everything you need on your back combine to raise the [...]

Ben Rabinowitz

For most people, the appeal of roped rock climbing is readily apparent—long lines, flashy gear, and the thrill of exposure. While roped climbing can be great fun, it’s not the only way to have a good time on rock. Bouldering, while related to roped climbing, is almost a completely different sport. Backcountry Expert Gearhead Ben Rabinowitz breaks down what you need to get started. Bouldering is a great introduction to climbing—it’s social, low to the ground, and presents both mental and physical challenges. So what exactly is bouldering? It’s literally climbing on boulders or other outcroppings, generally around ten feet [...]

Pace

The remote northern end of the Great Salt Lake in Utah is a stark, otherworldly place. Microbes imbue the water with a rusty red color that’s reminiscent of Mars. Delicate salt crystals grow on black basalt rocks spewed from ancient volcanoes. Signs of life are scarce. Extending from the shore near Rozel Point is a jetty made of black basalt boulders. It’s 15 feet wide and 1500 feet long, snaking outward and bending counterclockwise in great cosmic spiral. This is Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. Smithson helped pioneer the concept of creating earthwork sculptures on a monumental scale, outside the confines [...]

Emma Garrard

It’s been almost two and a half years since I became a mom and there are still moments when I find myself thinking, ‘Wait, when did I become a parent?’ Yet at the same time being co-owner of a toddler is now a huge part of my life and identity. Returning to the activities that define and bring me joy was not simple, but was an exciting and challenging journey from athlete to mom-athlete with a lot to learn. No new parents like unsolicited advice directly, but here are my top ten tips from my experience returning to life as [...]

Ben Rabinowitz

Whether you’re a camping novice, a seasoned ultra-light backpacker, or living out of your tent on a road trip, having the right tent is important. Backcountry Expert Gearhead Ben Rabinowitz walks us though the process of selecting the right tent: There are many different types of tents out there, and choosing the right one will ensure a better camping experience. A tent, after all, is quite literally your “home away from home.” In this article I’ll walk you through the different constructions, sizes, weights, and features. I’ll also go into some alternatives. While each adventurer has his or her own [...]

Jared Downs

No matter what your sport or activity, a headlamp is a critical piece of gear for your kit. Not just any headlamp will do; headlamp capabilities vary greatly, and you want to be sure to select the proper headlamp for your use. Backcountry Expert Gearhead Jared Downs breaks down your headlamp options below. Headlamp selection does matter. For example, I do my best to get out trad climbing on a regular basis, and occasionally I run into dusk. Last summer I found myself on the fourth pitch of a multi-pitch climb, here in the Wasatch called “Eleventh Hour.” Getting a [...]

Andrew Bisharat

If you’re going to be a rock climber, you don’t necessarily need to know how to tie your shoes (as long as you wear Velcro slippers), but there are seven essential knots you’ll want to know. There are dozens of knots that might be worth learning as a climber, but for the most part, you can get up and down any climb on Earth with just these basic, essential knots—The Figure-8 Retraced, Girth Hitch, Clove Hitch, Munter Hitch, Double Fisherman’s, Prusik and Euro Death Knot. Know them, learn them, and practice them until you can tie them in your sleep. [...]

Jessica Hamel

Haunted by a past filled with violence, Colombia is a bit of a hidden gem when it comes to exploring in the outdoors. Just 10 years ago, Colombians didn’t feel safe in their own homes so you can’t blame them for not heading out into the isolation of the mountains for the sake of exploration. This has left the beautiful land rather undiscovered. Mix in the lack of information on the World Wide Web and that’s what you call an adventure, right? To be honest, Colombia wasn’t a thought-out trip planned and dreamt about for years. It was actually rather [...]

steph davis

With nearly two decades of hard free ascents, free solos, and mind-boggling BASE jumps under her belt, it’s clear that Backcountry athlete Steph Davis knows her stuff. The Backcountry video crew caught up with Steph for a day of world-class crack climbing and the chance to learn from a true master in Utah’s renowned Indian Creek. Learn from Steph as she explains the different types of climbing ropes and the situations that each rope is best suited for. The Basics: Static or Dynamic With ropes you basically have two options: static ropes and dynamic ropes. Dynamic ropes stretch. Static ropes [...]

Lexi D.

In the gentle rolling hills of Eastern Oregon, along the Umatilla River, you’ll find the old frontier town of Pendleton, Oregon. For over 100 years and through six generations of family ownership, the Pendleton Woolen Mill has cranked out beautiful woolen goods that reflect the culture and heritage of the American West. I received my first Pendleton blanket two birthdays ago, carefully tucked among clumps of newspaper in a modest cardboard box with scant trimmings. The box was big, with ‘Happy Birthday, Cowgirl’ scrawled in black ink across the lid; I had no inkling of what lay inside. Pulling out [...]

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 [...]