Reviews

Gear Spotlight: Kokopelli XPD Packraft

Kokopelli Packrafts are packable inflatable kayaks built for adventure and strong enough for nearly anything. They come in various materials: Ultra-lights for lakes, or burlier materials for whitewater (I’ve heard that Class IV rivers are doable if the rest of your river skills are up for it). With one of these, your biking, hiking and car camping adventures can be …

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Summer Gear Reviews: Edge of the Map, Hiking Pants, Clogs and a Radical Pan

Edge of the Map Johanna Garton’s newly published book, Edge of the Map (Mountaineer Books) tells the story of an amazing mountaineer, Christine Boskoff, who distinguished herself in the male-dominated world of expedition climbing. Boskoff’s accomplishments—and laid-back, understated persona—make for fascinating reading. Edge of the Map follows her audacious ascents in some of the planet’s most remote places, details her personal …

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Ready for Spring? Our Reviews: Down Vest, Rain Pants & Trekking Poles

Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Vest There’s just something about a puffy down vest. The venerable Transcendent Down Vest from OR is somewhat of a standard bearer when it comes to this layering essential. Warm? Oh yes. Light? 9.7 ounces. The Transcendent is stuffed with 650-fill responsibly-sourced goose down and has a roomy fit to accommodate a couple of layers underneath …

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Gear Spotlight: Garage Brand Skis Made for Right Here

Smaller ski manufacturers, often called garage brands, have been proliferating across the ski industry. Similar to how small, local breweries have popped up everywhere to accommodate specific local tastes, smaller regional ski manufacturers are now designing their skis with local terrain in mind.  Lib Tech, which manufacturers on the Olympic Peninsula, does a lot of their product testing at Mt. …

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Gear Spotlight: Mountaineering 101

Do you enjoy hiking uphill for a really long time? Have you thought about mountaineering, but are unsure where to start? Just outside of Bellingham, in the North Cascades, we have access to some of the best mountaineering in the lower 48. Stark and dramatic, rock and ice environs are a perfect place to enjoy being alive. Here are some …

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Gear Spotlight: Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Pack

Cotopaxi is an innovative new gear manufacturer that burst onto the scene in 2014 with an emphasis on innovation and stewardship. Their new Luzon 18L is part of their Del Dia line, meaning that each pack is made from remnant rolls of material.  The color details are uniquely designed at the sewer’s discretion from zippers to thread colors.  So each …

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Gear Spotlight: MSR Evo Snowshoes

Keeping active in the winter can be difficult for some people when so many local, favorite trails are covered with snow. This is a great time to explore the world of snowshoeing. At Backcountry Essentials, we both rent and sell the MSR Evo™ snowshoes because of their functionality, durability, and warranty. First and foremost, the best thing about these snowshoes …

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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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8 Gift Ideas for the Adventurous Man

Men are already difficult to find gifts for—but with an outdoorsman, you might be feeling hopeless. “Don’t get me anything!” They say, “I just want to be outside!” Which we know, of course, is really code for, “You better read my mind because if you get me junk, it’s going straight to Goodwill! The man van has no room for …

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