Reviews

Gear Spotlight: Line Sakana Skis

I have skied the Line Sakana at demos for the past 3 years and each year it was among my favorites. Maybe it’s because of the unique swallow tail that makes this ski so well rounded and playful. The Sakana’s tail is pretty flat, which typically means that as you drop through the fall line of a turn, the tail …

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A Light in the Darkness: Best Flashlights for Camping

Even a decade or two ago, carrying a flashlight in the backpack was a smart thing to do. But with the growing popularity of cell phones and the rapid development of cell phone flashlights, it looked like our old-school flashlights were starting to lose their importance. But seasoned campers understand that cell phone flashlights don’t stand a chance when it …

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Gear Spotlight: Altra Lone Peak 4.5

Whether using the Altra Lone Peak 4.5 as a trail runner or strapping crampons onto them for climbing Glacier Peak, Backcountry Essentials manager, Niki Moltumyr, loves her Altra shoes. The design philosophy of zero drop (meaning both heel and toe cushioning are the same) and a wide toe box make the Lone Peak ideal for a wide variety of uses. …

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Dress for Success when Hitting the Slopes

Ski gear is just ski gear, right? It’s designed to be worn anywhere that you can slide around on snow. And while that’s mostly true, there’s actually a huge range of climates where we ski, each with their own set of weather patterns and temperatures that dictate what sort of ski or snowboard clothing will keep us warm and dry …

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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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