Ask Dave

All-Terrain Advice

Jul 31, 2007
Outside Magazine
Ask Dave

What kind of dog will make me look manlier?
Anyone going for the hardened look needs a sidekick—John Muir rambled Alaska with a stubby mutt named Stickeen; Lewis and Clark had a Newfoundland named Seaman—but there's no consensus on the ideal breed to maximize macho. Wendy Diamond, author of What a Lucky Dog! How to Understand Men Through Their Dogs, says rottweiler guys tend to be protective family men, while Irish setter owners like the outdoors and have the gift of gab. And while it's said that Chihuahua guys are often nervous—and may pee on the rug when excited—Diamond thinks dudes can score man-of-contrast points by going small. "I find guys with little dogs to be more secure and comfortable in their own skin," she says. I agree. My trusty Lhasa apso, Dr. Furgood, was known for nipping Reinhold Messner and polishing off pots of Bear Creek chili in his day. He's a bit worse for wear now, but if humping my duffel is any indication, he's still my manly little man. Yes, he izzzz.

What's the best synthetic fabric for fighting funk?
In lightly traveled, mosquito-free venues, I prefer nature's base layer over any technical material. But when forced to cover up, I've been impressed by fake fabs that incorporate silver ions, which inhibit bacteria growth. Polartec's Power Dry with X-Static—a fabric used by many apparel brands—has silver fibers woven throughout and seems to be the most powerful anti-funker of the lot. I'm also partial to Patagonia's Capilene with Gladiodor (, a fabric treated with chitosan, which is an antibacterial compound found in crab shells. On the natural-fiber front, I've been wearing a KAVU shirt ( made with 55 percent bamboo, and it has remained remarkably fresh—even after a hard night of limbo dancing. Then there's the king of odor eaters: soft, itch-free merino wool, which wicks like a synthetic and washes like a natural. New Zealand–based Icebreaker ( believes so strongly in the stuff that it's releasing a line of merino lingerie in the fall. Looks like my Christmas shopping is done!

Single-speed bikes: yea or nay?
As a hipster trend, single-speeding, like the fauxhawk, is fast approaching oversaturation-leading-to-backlash. Still, Sheldon Brown, technical guru for Harris Cyclery, in West Newton, Massachusetts, and an early leader of the single-speed revival, makes a strong argument for One Gear Good, 27 Gears Bad. The stripped-down bikes are lighter and easier to maintain, have fewer breakable parts, and—most important—free your mind. "When you don't have to think about shifting, your brain becomes available for more interesting thoughts," says Brown. "Like appreciating the environment or singing a song." Or wishing you had a lower gear for the climb up Heartbreak Hill. Be wary of fixed-gear (meaning you can't coast) single-speeds. These track-style bikes often come without brakes. The only ways to stop are to try and slow the pedals or do what I do: Say the hell with it and crash.

DAVE'S WAY: Removing Leeches!
Mark Siddall, head of the leech lab at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York, has waded through swamps and soggy jungles in Madagascar, Australia, and Argentina, letting the bloodsuckers attach to his flesh so he can collect and study them. Though a dangling leech says, "I've been there and back," Siddall recommends prompt and proper removal. If you just yank them off or hold a flame to their butts, they can get upset, regurgitate bacteria into the bite, and give you a grisly infection. Siddall's proven method is to use your fingernail to break the seal between the sucker and your skin, then gently peel the beastie off. At this point, you have the option of smushing it or throwing it hard and far. Dave prefers a gentle catch-and-release technique. After all, the little guys are only trying to survive.

Filed To: Culture

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