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Lexi D.’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 [...]

Danielle Mariott

Many of us grew up in towns where kids were dirty. We used to eat cookies that dropped in the sandbox. We built mud castles, sat in tractor tires, wiped our dirty hands on our faces, our friends, and our pants. We rarely wore shoes. We let the rain gutters pour water onto our heads because rainy days were the best. Hand sanitizer wasn’t a thing. We weren’t raised by wolves, we weren’t savages, we were immunized—we might have only been 5 years old, but we were smart enough then to know that putting our hands in the dirt and [...]

Karissa Lamb

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 [...]

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’re looking for highly technical information to help you select a high-performance tent, you’re in the wrong place. This article is about looks, superficially and simply. We’re here to talk about choosing the color of your tent. There are two main camps (so to speak) 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 [...]

Robert Latham

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 [...]

Ian Saukerson

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? Read on for a few basics that will keep your outdoor adventures epic (or at least a lot more comfortable) for years to come. Storage Whether you have a bag filled with down or synthetic insulation, both 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 back [...]

Lexi D.’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. [...]

Joshua Barnes

Everest doesn’t care how “on-trend” you are; dawn-patrol temps are indifferent to your “color palette,” and your “refined silhouette” will not keep you dry. Function comes first in the outdoors, but looking good is a huge bonus (when you think about it, the desire to look good is pretty much hardwired into us—it helps us perpetuate the species). Lucky for us (and the future of humanity), looks and performance aren’t mutually exclusive—in fact, they play together nicely. Fancy fashion designers borrow from the outdoor industry, and outerwear developers take cues from the fashion world. It’s a daisy chain of fashion [...]

jason sager

The Backcountry Bike Team has been a labor of love; it’s a project that’s been in the works for months, if not years. But finally, we were doing it. The 2014 Mellow Johnny’s Classic in Austin was our first outing, our first ride in the new uniform and on the new bikes, and in the case for some of us on the team, our first ride together as a group. Ever. I could hear the yells of support echoing through the scrub oak and cedar trees, down the rocky washes, and off of rock walls. Surprisingly, it was loud enough [...]

Wally Phillips

Backcountry travel has really increased in popularity over the last couple of years, due to heightened emphasis on exercise and major technology improvements making the backcountry more accessible. But there’s hidden danger in this blissful paradise. Areas like these aren’t controlled by ski patrol and don’t have a continuous parade of skiers, snowboarders, or snow groomers consistently rolling over them. It’s up to you and your group to figure out what the mountain will do. If one wrong decision is made, this can happen: Thankfully, you and your group aren’t really alone in the backcountry. Organizations of backcountry scientists are [...]

Joshua Barnes

There’s something attractive about brands who stick with their old-time commitment to making solid product that doesn’t change with every passing trend. Quality always looks good, and a product that focuses on workmanship will always be a classic. The Pacific Northwest is home to a handful of heritage brands that have weathered the fads and consistently deliver classic style. Pendleton Woolen Mills Employees wrapped in blankets at Pendleton Mills in 1910. Creative Commons. Pendleton Woolen Mills has been a family business ever since an English weaver named Thomas Kay made his way from England to the Atlantic seaboard to Oregon [...]

Omar Muhyar

From pocket knives to the Bowie knife popularized in Crocodile Dundee, the wide variety of knives available ensures a proper blade or type for just about any job. Familiarize yourself with the following blade types to better prepare for outdoor adventures, survival situations, and everyday applications. Drop Point One of the most common blade types, the drop point is most popular within the realm of hunting knives and larger pocket-knife blades, but this blade style also works well as a tactical or survival knife. Characterized by a convex-shaped, sloping spine and a lowered point, drop-point blades are especially useful for [...]

Austin H.

SkiMo racing is an alpine sport spun off from ski mountaineering, the skiing discipline responsible for discovering and placing the first turns on much of the terrain we ski today. Originally, mountaineering focused on summiting tall peaks, but skiing was growing in popularity, and the addition of skis made the descent all the more worth the lung-busting climb. Ultralight materials made skis lighter than ever, and new alpine touring bindings, adjustable poles, and lightweight outerwear designs made ski mountaineers faster and more efficient—the ideal recipe for racing. What Goes Up SkiMo racing is a race to the top, just so [...]

James Lucas

Sonora’s Gold Country contains an amazing variety of climbing, from limestone bouldering to traditional basalt cracks to blocky sport climbing. Spring and fall are the best times to climb in Sonora, but the overhanging rock of Jailhouse stays dry in even the most savage winter storm. In the summer, escaping the heat can be easy at the columns of the Grotto. With solid weather throughout the year and an awesome range of climbing, Sonora offers a perfect destination for a long weekend on the rocks. Contents Day 1: Columbia College Bouldering Day 2: The Grotto Day 3: Sport Climbing at [...]

Lexi D.’s online community encompasses a passionate group of wanderers, adventurers, Gearheads, and athletes. Get the rundown on the raddest 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. In this installment of You Are Backcountry we’ve compiled the best community-submitted images of planks poised to drop rowdy lines, untracked powder, pillow fights, or AK spines (if you’re Backcountry athlete Ian Provo). Take a deep breath before you plunge headfirst into this curated collection of #goatworthy ski lines. Without wasting any time, let’s [...]

Garson Fields

You’d have to live under a rock to be unaware of the wheel size debate that has gripped mountain biking for the past few years. Since you’re reading this, you probably don’t live under a rock, unless said rock has Wi-Fi. And while we’ve all heard countless arguments favoring each size, what’s certain is that the classic 26-inch wheel size has lost significant ground, which means that most everyone who’s looking for a new ride is choosing between a 27.5- or 29-inch bike. Your choice will largely depend on your priorities, as each size offers distinct advantages. Let’s dig through them. Bottom [...]

Derek Newman

Rock climbing with a brand-new rope is a joyous occasion for any climber. You and your partner should revel in its fresh color, impeccable strength, smooth handling, and trustworthy protection; because sooner than you’d like, its color turns dull, it weakens, its handling becomes more troublesome, and you gradually trust it less and less. You might start to consider retiring it, but knowing exactly when that time comes is more challenging than you’d initially think. Nobody wants to deck from a snapped rope, and you certainly don’t want to question your rope’s strength while you’re climbing—but at the same time, [...]

Cory Akin

The first time on skins in the backcountry can be a humbling experience, especially if the track is steep and slick. Many a reference to people’s mothers has been uttered as the first-time ski tourer finds his- or herself desperately clinging to the least bit of friction, poles locked in a death grip, as he or she attempts to avoid a face-plant into the frozen surface. And while swearing does play an important role in dealing with panic and frustration, there are a few other tricks I have found to make skinning easier and entirely more enjoyable, without having to [...]

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