The Outside Blog

Science : Travel

Scouting Report: No-Hassle Family Skiing at Canyons

John_Davis_CongareeNP_Susan_BaycotCanyons Resort. Photo: Scott Markewitz

Last week I was at Canyons Resort in Utah on official Outside business, and for the first time in months, I had to leave my children behind. Solo traveling has its pros and cons. On one hand, without little bodies pattering into my bedroom at 3 a.m. or hollering “Rise and Shine!” while it’s still black as night outside, the assignment was surprisingly relaxing. I actually came home more rested than when I’d left. On the other, it’s a kind of strange to find yourself at the epicenter of family adventure without, well, your own family.

Then again, because I wasn’t spending every free second bundling little ones into snowsuits and wrangling their gear, I had time to dial in the details on a sweet family ski trip.

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Patagonia Proves Responsible Business Can Be Profitable Business

M Untracked Jacket and Pants

In fall 2013, Patagonia will celebrate its 40th anniversary, proving once and for all that responsible business can also be profitable business. In the words of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, "only those businesses dancing on the fringe are going to be here 100 years from now."

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Brand New Bags for Summer and Fall

The Outdoor Retailer show is just around the corner. And new product announcements are rolling in fast. Here's a quick look at some of the most promising bags we'll see in outdoor stores this summer and fall.

Boreas1

BOREAS BOOTLEGGER: This 3-in-1 adventure bag, the "Russian Dolls" of day packs, is designed to be used as a single unit, or in any one of three separate configurations, depending on what kind of excursion you’re on. Boreas calls the outer bag the Scrimshaw Dry Bag. This 11oz, 30-liter bag is made from rough and tough triple ripstop nylon with an extra heavy duty bottom. It’s fully taped to keep your gear from getting wet even when submersed, and its big enough to fit the Hopper Day Pack if you need your day bag to be fully waterproof.

The 28-liter ripstop nylon Hopper also has a burly reinforced bottom, as well as two-way stretch front panel pockets. And, inside it’s an organized commuter day pack.

The third part of the system is Boreas' 13-liter Torpedo Hydration Bag. This minimalist biking or hiking hydration pack has stretch front panel pockets (Boreas’ signature detail). And it fits inside the daypack. Having a hard time picturing it? Here's a visual aid:

Boreas 2

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Going Analog and Other Adventure Resolutions

Falcon2Camping cure-all. Photo: Katie Arnold

Happy new year! The exclamation point feels a little forced this morning as I saddle up to my computer with a mix of dread and anticipation. Something tells me I’m not the only one. For 10 days, the whole country has been in the space between: real life, suspended. No school, work, deadlines, meetings, professional obligations. My husband, two daughters, and I spent Christmas in Connecticut with my parents and siblings and their eight kids. I left my computer in Santa Fe and, with all the free time I wasn’t wasting on Facebook, we walked to the beach with the kids, set up my niece and nephew’s new slackline, played paddle tennis, and shucked and ate eight dozen Bluepoint oysters. I even managed to read a whole book.

I craved the uninterrupted family time, but by the end, I was antsy. I missed my writing, our family’s normal routine. Structure. This is the conundrum of 21st-century family life, played out on a national level during the holidays: How to strike the balance between too much to do and too little? Me-time and we-time? If you don’t plan, things don’t happen, but if you plan too much, you run yourselves ragged. We wrestle with this all the time in our house, but it’s especially pronounced this week as I look back on all the fun we had in the last 12 months—river running, camping, a month in bare feet, Thanksgiving in the canyons, etc.—and start scheming a new year of adventure resolutions. Here's our bucket list. What's on yours?

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Teachable Moments: Sustainable Surfing in the Mentawais

Murray_studentsElizabeth Murray and her pupils. Photo: A Liquid Future

By Gregory Thomas

Not long ago, villagers on the remote Mentawai island chain off the west coast of Sumatra lived without electricity, cell phone reception, and even a local government. But, as has happened to many other tropical paradises, word got out about the islands' exceptional surf. Their perfectly curled waves, white sand beaches, turquoise water, and coconut palms have earned the islands the nickname "Garden of Eden" among surfers, who started arriving there en masse in the late 1990s. If all goes according to the plans of developers and the newly formed island government, the Mentawais will be the next hot spot in Indonesia travel guides.

But a motivated English surfer and a group of ambitious locals are working hard to ensure that island residents get a seat at the table and that the Mentawais grow in a sustainable fashion.

In 2010, a devastating tsunami flattened the western edges of the Mentawai archipelago. During the rebuilding efforts, a Portuguese boat captain named Goncalo Ruivo struck up a conversation with an English surfer named Elizabeth Murray. Having recently taken up residence in Katiet, a surfing hub of the islands, Murray told Ruivo about a passion project to start a local school that would teach lessons in English and surfing.  This struck Ruivo, since he recognized these as essential for local Mentawaians who want to prosper in the changing economic landscape. Murray, who went to college in the United States on a sports scholarship, was particularly adamant about teaching young girls to swim and surf.

In October of 2012, Ruivo visited the village where Murray was working and found himself "amazed with the success of her program," he says. Murray taught her first English lessons on the sand earlier in 2012 using a whiteboard tacked to a coconut tree. A fluid group of about 15 kids would meet in the afternoons, in the hours after school and before supper. After about a month, Murray moved her lessons into an unused community center, and the group swelled into a loyal crowd of about 90 pupils, including the initial kids and their parents. The sight inspired Ruivo to donate proceeds from a photo book he'd published following the tsunami to fund Murray's newly minted non-profit organization, called A Liquid Future.

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