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Colin Clancy

Ten years ago this very moment I may have taken a break from shotgunning beers with my ski bum friends to stir the Crock Pot of sloppy joes simmering atop the toilet for lack of table space. Or I may have been hot-lapping Loveland Pass backcountry lines under the full midnight moon until the cops kicked us out. More likely, though, I was dropping into the superpipe on a stolen cafeteria tray, because we did that damned near every night. I earned my ski bum stripes at Copper Mountain, where I spent two seasons bumping chairs, shoveling snow, setting up [...]

Ryan Schoeck

Above Photo by Tommy Chandler On their own, they look like something you might wear to a costume party. Little half leg tights, arm sleeves, mesh net tank tops, and even those special covers for your shoes called “booties.” And while they might look a bit ridiculous by themselves, these layers of clothing can make or break your rides when Mother Nature decides to flex a bit of her muscle. Every year, around this time, we go through a transition. Those glorious days of mindlessly throwing on our jerseys, shorts, helmets, and little else before rolling out the door come [...]

Wally Phillips

Selecting a new pair of ski boots can be difficult, to say the least. Backcountry Expert Gearhead Wally Phillips, a former bootfitter, offers some guidance to help you select just the right pair of boots. Every year, ski companies roll out their shiny new boots in a myriad of styles, sizes, flexes, and widths. If you’re wondering what it all means and how these correspond to your specific skiing needs, here’s a little guide designed to help you make sense of this dizzying array of choices. Your skiing style The first thing you’ll want to consider is the type of [...]

Patrick Law

How much waterproofing do you really need in a jacket or pants, and what factors affect how waterproof your jacket will be? Membranes, Laminates, and DWR Coating When people picture high-end outerwear, they’re thinking of jackets with a waterproof breathable membrane. If you’re really getting after it and expect some nasty weather, then this is what you want. Note that we’re not talking about heavy-duty coated garments like foul-weather gear for sailing; the PVC coating on this may be great for keeping the wet stuff out but it makes this jackets and pants heavy, and you’ll be sweating buckets if [...]

Adam Riser

Until synthetic insulation, down feathers were the primary insulation used in sleeping bags and puffy jackets. Down feathers offer powerful warmth, but they have a weakness: moisture. A new type of water-resistant down insulation addresses this weakness, and we’ll discuss its benefits in this article. The Beginning Temperature and weather are two of the biggest obstacles to any outdoor activity. Much of the gear that we use either protects us from weather or helps us regulate temperature—and some do both. Until recently, down feathers were the primary insulation used in sleeping bags and puffy jackets. Down feathers offer powerful warmth [...]

Adam Riser

Looking for a ski or snowboard jacket, a technical shell, or a rain jacket? Here’s a guide to waterproof jackets and pants, including features to look for and features to avoid. 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 nasty crash, snow is always trying to [...]

Cole D. Lehman

You’ve probably heard that yoga can fix every problem known to humankind—and that’s suspect, isn’t it? Yes, it certainly is. Anything touted as a miracle cure deserves scrutiny. That’s why more research is being done on the ancient practices of yoga and meditation. So far, the confirmed benefits make it worth looking past the hyperbole and getting over the discomfort of trying something new. It’s especially important not to get caught up in the story that “yoga is for women.” Yoga is for everyone. Athletes and pro sports teams use it and attribute it to their success—from the NFL to [...]

Jared Downs

We’re often not very good at planning for the worst, and fail to plan ahead for emergencies when we’re heading outdoors. After all, what could go wrong? The answer is, “Plenty.” Having a first-aid kit handy is an essential component of your equipment because it can make all the difference if and when a serious situation arises, or even when you just need to tend to a minor problem. In 2007 I began backpacking and as time went on I realized there were many things that I either did not know or situations I was not properly equipped to handle. [...]

Curtis Jensen

While the reasons for a bike tour are ever-increasing, packing for a bike tour depends heavily on the time frame, distance to be covered, weather, and road conditions. However, before you pack, it’s best to determine what kind of tour you’re actually going to have. In general, most cycle tour itineraries fall into four categories: Credit-card touring means paying for food and lodging along the way at motels, B & Bs, hostels, or cafes. And, aside from clothes and bike equipment, the most important item to pack on a credit-card tour is, well, a valid credit card. Supported touring typically [...]

Cameron C

Canyoneering provides an incredible way to explore the depths of remote canyons etched by millions of years of erosion. The sport will lead you to beautiful areas and views rarely seen or experienced by others. Stealing Solitude: Legendary Outlaws and Sketchy Slot Canyons in Robber’s Roost from Backcountry.com on Vimeo Last year Backcountry.com created this video about canyoneering in the network of canyons in southern Utah known as Robber’s Roost. Several customers called our Gearheads in Customer Service looking for more information about the trip and how to get started. This article is a beginning guide for anyone who is [...]

Cameron C

If you’re intrigued by canyoneering, and are ready to get into the sport, you’ll want to start thinking about the gear that you need. Canyoneering can be a highly gear-intensive activity, in part because of the wide range of conditions and terrain that you might encounter, and because the sport is just hard on equipment. If you’re going out with an outfitter much of this may be provided, but there are other things you’ll want to be sure to bring along, or that you might want to begin to accumulate as you get into the sport. Equipment Ropes When selecting [...]

Catherine Greenwald

All photos by Tyson Stevens When it comes to run training, all work and no play is a sure recipe for burnout. You could try throwing in a few Farleks or intervals to break things up, but sorry, that’s still work. One way to mix things up, possibly gain a little speed, and, most importantly, have fun at the same time, is to inject some play into your routine with some Ultimate Frisbee. Usually referred to as “Ultimate” for fear of attracting unwanted attention from certain corporate attorneys, the game involves elements of soccer, football, and basketball. Physically, you can [...]

Matthew Pizza

Backcountry Expert Gearhead Matt Pizza is an avid fly fisherman who has been fly fishing since he was a teen. He has fished all over Utah, as well as Idaho, Wyoming, a bit in Colorado, and even upstate Wisconsin and New York. Although trout makes up the bulk of his prey, he has been known to land pike and walleye, and has found a new love for catching bass on the fly. Here, he breaks down one of the essential skills for fly fishing, tying knots. Tying knots is a huge part of fly fishing. There are dozens of knots [...]

Matthew Pizza

Backcountry Expert Gearhead Matt Pizza is an avid fly fisherman who has been fly fishing since he was a teen. Here, he breaks down the essential step of rigging your line. We all know that there must be some work before you can play; it makes plucking that hog out from his favorite hiding spot all the sweeter. Preparing your fly line is necessarily painstaking, but doesn’t have to be painful. Here are some guidelines for making that all-important first step of rigging up your fly line a little bit easier. Dry Fly Dry flies simulate natural patterns hatching and [...]

Curtis Jensen

Not all fleece jackets are created equal. Differences in synthetic and natural fibers, fleece weights, and jacket features make for a range of possibilities when choosing a fleece jacket. Here’s the lowdown on this popular midlayer. Enter Synchilla In 1985, Patagonia released its first Synchilla fleece jacket, a mass-produced, synthetic fiber, midlayer insulating piece that was quick drying, packable, and lightweight, an excellent alternative to the badly pilled powder-blue-and-tan pile sweaters common in the early ’80s, or the traditional water-absorbing wool, down, or cotton layers that dominated mountaineering clothing in the decades before. Synchilla was the product of years of [...]

Kyle Livingston

Bikes have a voice of their own. Every click, squeak, creak, grind, and snap is your bike trying to tell you something—namely that it needs attention, most likely in the form of cleaning and lubrication. No matter where or when you ride, your bike will always have some sort of grime or dirt build-up to show for it. To keep your beloved masterpiece of engineering working properly, cleaning it regularly is a must. It prolongs the life of parts like chains, cassettes and suspension pivot bearings, and keeps things running fast and quiet. Yes, it’s hard to put the extra [...]

Lexi D.

The high desert of western Utah looks the way you’d expect it to: dry, rugged, and desolate. But it hasn’t always been that way; 500 million years ago this place looked like the Bahamas, covered in a warm, shallow sea. Trilobites, distant ancestors of crabs and lobsters, crawled around on the reefs in this sea, and their hard shells made them prime candidates for fossilization. One of the best spots in the world for hunting trilobite fossils can be found in the foothills of Utah’s House Mountain Range, embedded in a layer of limestone called the Wheeler Shale formation. To [...]

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 [...]

Emily Jenson

After water and a good pair of hiking shoes, a well-fitted backpack is the next most essential item you need when you embark on a multi-day backpacking trip. Backcountry Expert Gearhead Emily Jenson has a few tips for getting the ideal pack fit: If the pack you’re carrying on a backpacking trip isn’t right for you, you’ll know it. A poorly fitted pack can bounce around on rough terrain, dig into your shoulders, bruise your hips, or rub your lower back raw after just a few miles. That’s why getting the right sized backpack and adjusting it properly is so [...]

Jared Downs

Having access to clean water and a hydration plan are imperative to a successful camping or backpacking trip.  When on the go outdoors, 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 country, non-potable water is reality. Lugging your own water is not an option for trips of more than a day or two, [...]

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. My parents set a good example for us by always getting outdoors. They introduced me and my five other siblings to everything from surfing to fly fishing to skiing, often starting at a very young age. [...]

Zach Lassek

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 ride, a rack is indispensable. The right bike rack can make that process painless, while [...]

Pace Measom

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 [...]

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