Meet the People Behind the 2014 Summer Buyer's Guide

You read the reviews. Now get to know the folks who took on the tough job of testing and compiling all those bikes, cameras and shoes.

May 15, 2014
Outside Magazine

From left: Whitney James, Billy Brown, Erin Beresini, Caty Enders, Molly Loomis, Ryan Stuart, Inga Hendrickson, Michael Karsh, Meaghen Brown, Whitney Dreier, Julia Amirzadov, Stephanie Pearson, Michael Frank, Mark Anders and Doug Schnitzspahn.   

When it came time to organize and fact-check the hundreds of products in Outside’s 2014 summer Buyer’s Guide, assistant managing editor James drew on the wrangling skills she developed while working on a dude ranch in the Rocky Mountains. Surprisingly, she insists the two experiences were similar.

To evaluate the best new tents, sleeping bags, and shells, Stuart climbed, hiked, mountain-biked, and camped all over his native British Columbia and neighboring Alberta. To balance out his testing adventures, the field editor at Canada’s Explore magazine also squeezed in a surfing trip to Mexico.

While putting together the issue, Buyer’s Guide art director Amirzadov learned that her dog could never make it in Hollywood. Her Aussie, Cash, modeled the doggie life vest featured in our roundup of women’s SUP gear. Despite being initially “immobilized,” Cash quickly decided she wasn’t being paid enough in dog biscuits. We used the first shot taken.

Hiking-shoes and boots tester Brown is the man behind Trek Tech, a site dedicated to gear, beer, and adventure travel. His recent gear tests have included trips to Jordan, Chile, and several emergency rooms.

Photographer Hendrickson was able to sneak in a take-your-daughter-to-work day this issue. Her three-year-old, Mia, pictured amid the car-camping gear essentials, took direction better than art director Julia Amirzadov’s Aussie shepherd, but wasn’t quite as easy to work with as the goldfish in the fly-fishing photo.

While testing luggage last winter, Pearson, an Outside contributing editor, was stranded at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for 24 hours. It felt more like 24 days, which made Thule’s Crossover feel like a small, carry-on home away from home. Pearson’s next adventure: the Bataan Death March, a 26.2-mile memorial run-hike over White Sands, New Mexico, with her younger brother, a veteran of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obstacle-racing-gear tester Beresini spent more than two years reporting her new book Off Course: Inside the Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Course Racing, to be published in October by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She also managed to finish more than 20 races.

Photographer and photo assistant Karsh has three main loves: his girl, Sarah; his dog, Simone; and the smell of newly unwrapped outdoor gear. He enjoys long walks on the beach in the summer and fresh powder in the mountains in winter. You can usually find him in a dark studio or walking to Whole Foods for a burrito.

Frank nearly froze his fingers off testing cameras in Wyoming and New York’s Hudson Valley this past winter. But since he was skiing powder and riding fat bikes to do it, he doesn’t expect your pity. Frank contributes to Road & Track, Popular Mechanics, and online magazine Adventure Journal, among others, and races mountain bikes whenever possible.

Santa Fe–based Enders tries to stay out of the sun long enough to write and produce radio segments. Having a carry-on bust open on a packed red-eye to Beijing made her realize that the travel gear she evaluated for this issue is, in fact, very important.

Outside gear editor Brown tested women’s shells and running accessories during the lead-up to her first 100-mile trail race. While training, the 25-year-old lived on a steady diet of black coffee, beef-based energy bars, and bananas. This summer, she’s regaining her social life and doing a marathon instead.

When Anders got into stand-up paddleboarding in 2006, the sport was so new that people stared at him like he was a strange amphibian. He didn’t get many stares during SUP testing this year, near his home on the North Carolina coast, but his five-day, paddle down England’s River Thames in 2012 garnered him some odd looks. Not that Anders cared. “It was the ultimate pub crawl,” he says.

Women’s-climbing-gear tester Loomis splits her time between the east and west sides of Wyoming’s Tetons. She was part of a seven-person team that completed a nearly 300-mile jungle trek across Myanmar last fall to make the first ascent of Southeast Asia’s disputed highest peak, 19,192-foot Gamlang Razi.

After topping out on California’s Mount Whitney, the tallest summit in the lower 48, during the government shutdown last fall, Outside Online associate editor Dreier was the perfect choice to review women’s hiking gear.

On a family trip in Europe last summer, Schnitzspahn managed to fit a four-person tent, four sleeping bags, four sleeping pads, two stoves, cutlery, a bottle of Tabasco, and a good bit of food inside one 75-liter backpack. This year, the editor of Elevation Outdoors and The Mountain Gazette tested packs everywhere from his backyard trail in the Boulder, Colorado, Flatirons to Jökulsárgljúfur National Park in Iceland.

Outside executive editor Roberts spent four weeks in February and March chained to his desk in Marin County, California, plowing through Buyer’s Guide copy and wistfully looking out the window dreaming of bike rides and trail runs. His recent decision to quit coffee made this especially challenging. The occasional lunchtime yoga class got him through, though he never got that glow everyone talks about.

Krogh, an Outside associate editor, tested fly-fishing gear and binoculars everywhere from Colorado to California to his home state of North Dakota. And yes, his yellow lab, Magnolia, accompanied him on every trip.

Though she loves her life in Vermont, Broudy’s biking addiction takes her all over the world to ride. Most recently, she pedaled Zebra-built singletrack in Namibia and circumnavigated the Spanish Sierra Nevada on old mining and walking trails with H&I Adventures.

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