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James Lucas

The La Sportiva Futura is an aggressive sport climbing and bouldering shoe with a narrow toe profile. I wore this shoe sport climbing on limestone around Mesquite, Nevada. Usually a shoe with no edge would have me guessing, but after an adjustment period, I found these shoes made my feet stronger and eliminated my sloppy footwork. Tech Specs Profile Shape: Aggressive downturn Asymmetrical Curvature: High Closure Style: Webbing with hook-and-loop tab Upper Fabric: Leather / synthetic leather Lined: No Sole: 3mm Vibram XS Grip2 Weight (Single): 8oz (225g) Additional Features: Pull-on tabs Size Tested: EU 40 Tester Info Foot circumference [...]

Jeff Stewart

From the Pro’s Perspective -Michael Barry For ages, cyclists assumed that narrower tires were better. Time trial bikes were fitted with 19mm tires, as we thought that they would slice through the air better than a 23mm. The rider cautiously rode to the start line, avoiding any bumps or road grit, for the fear that the tires might be punctured. We’d pump them rock hard, as we thought that harder tires created less rolling resistance. We also thought that narrower and harder tires were more aerodynamic, rolled faster, and were more responsive. Well, they aren’t. In the last five years, [...]

Matt Park

Everyone’s been there: It’s a beautiful summer afternoon, warm with light winds and a few puffy clouds on the horizon, but nothing overhead. You and your friends are enjoying your favorite hike, and as you gain the ridge you see tall, white clouds on the horizon; too far away to matter to you. You head for the summit as the sky turns grey and you think, “It’s mid-summer, we aren’t going to get rain.” When you hit the summit, you feel your hair kind of stand up, and the rocks seem to be buzzing. You finally realize you’re not in [...]

Eric Watford

Yes, creating hearty and delicious meals in a camp kitchen can be easy. Just for clarification, these are not minimalist meals to be cooked over a Jetboil; they’re made for weekend trips with big groups, bonfires, and loaded-down vehicles. Key to all of them is the right cookware, either a Dutch oven or a skillet. It’s a good idea to do some prep ahead of time; have the onions and veggies pre-chopped in baggies and all your spices pre-bagged as well, so you spend less time at the campsite prepping and more time enjoying being outdoors. Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili [...]

Tig Prendergast

Bears occupy a place in our collective imagination that’s wildly disproportionate to their presence in the actual landscape. We watch endless hours of documentary footage, cover suburban incursions with breathless news stories, and actively seek out bears in wilderness settings. And, sadly, we seem to be unhealthily fixated on bear attacks. In truth, though, there have been only a handful of fatal attacks in the last decade, and the good news, if you can call it that, is that you have an infinitely better chance of being hit by lightning, suffering a fatal fall in the shower, or of being [...]

Andrew Bisharat

For most climbers, spring is the time of year when your stoke begins to bud. You’ve been climbing indoors through the cold, dark months—or doing other desperate things like trying to not tear your ACL on the ski slopes while you wait for the snow to melt—and now you’re ready to crank on some rock. Over time, I noticed that I was falling into some of the same patterns and make some of the same mistakes year after year. Sometimes I wonder if I’m actually improving as a climber, or if it’s all just a big lie that I tell [...]

Scott Hicks

The variety of hiking boots and hiking shoes has exploded in the past decade as designs become increasingly specialized and borrow from other categories like trail running shoes and approach shoes. The good news is that there are more choices than ever, but that also makes the selection process more difficult and confusing. Many people cope with this overwhelming variety by finding a shoe that they like, and then sticking with that same model year after year. But perhaps you are curious about the new shoes out there, or, horror of horrors, perhaps your go-to shoe or boot been discontinued. [...]

Daryl Deprey

There’s epic, and then there’s Epic. In my ten years of racing downhill, I’ve seen the term overused to the point of meaninglessness; however, I can comfortably say that the 2014 Whiskey 50 mountain bike race presented by Epic Rides in Prescott, AZ was, as promised, Epic in every way. And I feel no shame admitting that, for me, it was in the not-so-good sense of the word (aka Type II Fun). For me the ordeal, uh, experience started two weeks before the start with a casual, “Hey, want to go race 50 miles?” Our “civilian” entry in the amateur [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Trad climbing requires a lot of gear. From cams to carabiners, nuts to nut tools, there are so many options out there that it’s hard to know where to even begin. There’s also the question of how much gear you actually need to get started—a decision that must balance everything from your own financial constraints to the common fear of not having enough gear to make it to the top of those first few trad leads. I’ll go over what you need to know about the gear and tips on building your first trad rack. Contents Active Vs. Passive Pro(tection) [...]

Rob de Luca

What do you really know about Montana? A recent Gallup Poll claims it’s the best state to live in across the U.S.A., which makes it sound pretty swell. Sure, the guidebooks say it’s the home of world-class fly fishing, the nation’s most scenic park, and more elk, pronghorn antelope, and bald eagles than you can possibly eat … but when we left Montana bars off our list of top mountain-town drinking establishments, we were shocked to learn from our neighbors up north that, despite rumors to the contrary, there are some serious downsides to what we thought was basically a [...]

jason sager

Everyone has their favorite ride. Start in town, head through the neighborhood, cut through the back roads to the trail head, climb, climb, climb, and climb some more before taking the single track downhill from the overlook’s edge back into town. Wrap up the ride with huge grins, high fives, some KNUCKS! and stop off for a brew or a bite to eat … sometimes before you even change clothes and clean up. That, in a nutshell, is Epic Ride’s Whiskey Off-Road, a 50 mile event in Northern Arizona. Starting from Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott, the event takes over [...]

R.J. Gardner

If there has been a clear frontrunner in the past three years in women’s ski halfpipe, it’s been Maddie Bowman. She has taken four X Game medals in addition to several World Cup, Grand Prix, and Noram wins and podium spots on her ever-more-impressive resume. With the addition of her Olympic gold to her trophy shelf, she’s more motivated than ever to keep progressing personally and to move the sport forward. Maddie came from a ski racing background originally, skiing out of Sierra-at-Tahoe on the California side of South Lake Tahoe. She now lives in Salt Lake City, taking classes [...]

Micah Lewkowitz

Rubbing, bouncing, and smashing … all of these things are a climbing rope’s nemesis. I’ve seen melon-sized rocks smash onto belay ledges and put several core shots in a climbing rope halfway up a route.  While rope soloing the classic Zion route Spaceshot a few years ago, I tore through 3/4 of the rope core while swinging off Earth Orbit Ledge with one final pitch and five rappels left to get me back to the ground.  What would you do hanging in mid-air, with nothing but 800 vertical feet below you, when colorful fuzzes of your climbing rope are falling [...]

Adam W. Chase

As the captain and manager of Team Salomon US, I’m honored to introduce the members of our team who have joined the Herd and become part of the Backcountry.com squad. The following athletes represent Salomon’s and BC’s shared mountain heritage and zeal for off-road endurance athletics. Their accomplishments are too numerous to list here, so these brief profiles, glimpses into the personalities that make up the team, are mere teasers. Aliza Lapierre A true Vermonter, Aliza is both rugged and pensive. The vegetarian social worker and featured blogger for Running Times doesn’t say something unless she means it, and she doesn’t [...]

James Lucas

If you were to add up the ‘rules’ of climbing etiquette, the actual number may be relatively small, but the nuances of proper climber behavior are numerous and important. A faux pas at the crag can mean the difference between getting helpful beta from locals and having them throw rocks at your head. For the most part, climbing etiquette comes down to basic courtesy, safety, and keeping things in perspective. For those that need a few extra hints, below are a few tips. Know the Area Every crag has a specific style and level of tolerance, with resulting etiquette. At [...]

Alex Blackmer

When a sketchy Austrian guy with a grizzled beard 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 all night, 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 [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Driving into Castle Valley, Utah gives one the feeling of crossing some kind of threshold, the way an astronaut might feel when he finally goes into orbit. Skylines of tumescent towers and squat mesas define this iconic landscape. You feel like you have entered your own personal Western drama with Castleton Tower, the Rectory, the Nuns, and the Priest as the main characters. This ridgeline of calcite-coated Wingate sandstone towers is one of the most popular and stunning climbing destinations on earth. Last fall, I spoke to my friend Hayden on the phone. “Dude, I feel like standing on top [...]

Curtis Jensen

Fly fishing is any sort of fishing in which the weight of the line is used to cast a fly so as to lure a fish to bite. Sort of. With the publication of Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler in 1653, the fly fisher was idealized as a gentleman angler casting dry flies on an English chalk stream to dignified trout. But Walton fished with frogs and worms, and some flies are tied to look like things other than flies (deer hair mice, for example—big browns love ‘em, especially at night).  Since Walton’s book, fly fishers have developed a range of techniques [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Carabiners are the unsung heroes of the climbing world. They get beat up and save thousands of climbers’ lives day after day, all without the slightest nod of gratitude or appreciation for their ingenious form and function. A carabiner is a loop of metal with a spring-loaded gate that opens and shuts. Despite what you might think if you were to stand at the entrance of an outdoor sporting goods store, a carabiner’s essential purpose isn’t actually to clip a water bottle to the outside of a backpack, or keys to a belt loop, or even a rope leash to [...]

Norrona

Once upon a time using your legs as transport was considered a poor man’s choice, and you could be pegged a vagabond or hobo. Today it’s more a sign of the complete opposite. In a world where time is money, and spare time is in short supply, the experience of moving your legs and spending time outside is almost considered a privilege. To put one foot in front of the other is a basic skill most of us learn as children, but to use this skill to carry ourselves out into nature can suddenly add a whole new aspect to [...]

Curtis Jensen

Fishing flies are bait designed to imitate insects, invertebrates, baitfish, crustaceans, small animals, and other fish fodder. Traditionally, flies were “tied” with natural materials like feathers, thread, and animal fur or hair. Now, a range of synthetic and natural materials are used, sometimes on the same fly. Flies fall into roughly five categories: dry flies, wet flies, streamers, poppers, and saltwater flies. Dry Flies Dry flies are fished on or at the surface of water and typically imitate adult or emerging insects like mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, midges, grasshoppers, and damselflies. Flies are tied in patterns, general recipes for specific types [...]

Greg Hill

Backcountry athlete Greg Hill has ascended 50,000 feet in a single day. Greg Hill has ascended 2 million feet in a single year. Greg Hill is a machine—not to make his conquests seem any less corporally and mentally punishing than they are; Greg is candid about the pain, exhaustion, and self-doubt inherent in his objectives. But that never seems to stop him from cooking up another crazy vert-inspired scheme. In March of 2014, he decided to find out what he could do in a month, setting his goal at 100 vertical kilometers (approximately 328,000 vertical feet), averaging 10,580 feet a [...]

Backcountry Video

It all started on a quiet Friday morning in the editing studio. Most of the crew was out shooting next year’s skis and boards, and without the typical chatter, the only sounds in the room were keystrokes and mouse clicks. Then Dan, our lead video editor, leaned over his cubicle and said, “Did you know the lunar eclipse is happening Monday night?” I wasn’t aware, but immediately my brain started doing the thing that signals the beginning of an idea. I responded, “Dan, what do you know about shooting the moon?” By Monday afternoon the vehicles were stuffed with crash [...]

jason sager

Unless you’ve been living under a steel clunker since 1991, you’ll know that the Sea Otter Classic is one of the best-known cycling festivals in the world. To overuse an already overused term, it’s a pilgrimage, a can’t-miss event for teams, athletes, sponsors, and anyone looking to make a splash in the cycling world. Equal parts outdoor industry expo and  competitive bicycle circus, it’s the rare chance for criterium racers, downhillers, cyclocrossers and cross-country mountain bikers to share a common event. For the Backcountry Bike Team, it was a chance for us to not only prove the results of March [...]

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