Chris Gerston

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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