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Chris Gerston

Gear Spotlight: Rain Jackets 101

You know how everything called a waterproof breathable shell or rain jacket has the same silly info graphic tag of the water cycle of a rain jacket? On this tag, from the outside of the material, rain is kept out and squiggly arrows push the water vapor out from the inside. It tells you nothing about the reality of how …

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Gear Spotlight: An Ultralight Sleep System

Yep, I’m a weight geek. I may not drill holes in my toothbrush or cut straps off my pack, but playing the game of cutting grams in the right places helps me push through challenging trips as I get older. In general though, sleep is so important, that my sleeping bag and pad warrant careful consideration. Perhaps, the sleeping bag …

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The Art (and Science) of Your Backpack

Someone asked me recently if ultra light gear has gotten too light; too weak to hold up to the rigors of outdoor adventures. While there will always be some problems with manufacturing, ultra light gear requires extra care to avoid shredding it. Zippers can’t be forced, pads can’t be thrown down on rocks, and backpacks need to be fitted and …

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Best Ski Boots for Baker? Try These

At Backcountry Essentials, we’ve expanded into alpine skiing with more services and boot-fitting. Now in addition to carrying the best of backcountry ski boots, we also carry boots for inbounds skiing that will provide the performance and comfort you’re looking for. And we guarantee that fit when you buy boots and custom footbeds (come in to learn more)!   Wherever …

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Sweet Dreams – Spend the Evening with Big Agnes

Yin or Yang: When choosing a sleeping bag you’ve got two choices – down or synthetic. Down is lighter, more compressible, more durable, and in my opinion, more comfortable; but it’s slow to dry if it gets saturated wet. Synthetic bags, by contrast, are heavier, bulkier, more fragile and lose their loft sooner than down; but when wet, they’ll dry …

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Gimme Shelter: Three Great Tents

When it comes to selecting backpacking gear, your tent is obviously a prime consideration. You want lightweight – but you also want comfort and dependability. Here are three great options. The Black Diamond Mesa is the ideal two-person tent for the northwest mountaineer. This tent blends the pole structure of a four-season tent with the materials (mesh walls) of a …

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Which Headlamp? It Depends.

LED technology has done wonders for outdoor lighting and here are a few tips to help you choose the right light. For doing camp tasks, reading a book in your tent, or walking down a trail, an inexpensive two-bulb LED light (about 20-30 lumens) should be sufficient. Some examples are the Black Diamond Gizmo and Petzl Tikkina2. If you are …

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Get a Grip with Ski Crampons

The question is not so much “if” ski crampons, but which crampons. Whenever possible I’ll drop my boot crampons in favor of my lighter ski crampons. Within ski crampons, basically, there are two types: those that fix directly to the ski and are static (for example, Voile Universal ski crampons), or those that pivot as the binding and boot make …

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Backcountry Essentials: The Season’s Best New Skis

  by Chris Gerston, owner, Backcountry Essentials, Bellingham, WA.   My perspective: I am 165 lbs., 5’5” on a good day, and ski tele, mostly in what some would say is my one and only forward gear – as fast as I can.  About mid-season on deep powder days, when I’ve finally gotten my 41 year old legs back into …

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