The Outside Blog

Skiing and Snowboarding : Nov 2012

The Only Jacket You'll Ever Need

Klymit 2

Two years ago Klymit launched its Variable Warmth Technology in a vest with sealed air/gas chambers that the wearer could inflate with his own breath, or Argon (the gas used to insulate between glass layers in your home's windows). Its premise: bodies change temperature drastically based on activity level, and the weather changes all the time. Carry less stuff and tweak your temp on the fly, whether you’re camping, at a game, on an expedition, or out for a walk, and you’ll be more comfortable.

Klymit is the first company to use Argon, a great insulator because of its low thermal conductivity, in apparel. The gas has allowed Klymit to create a 25mm insulation layer that is warm enough to be everything you need even for a South Pole, Denali, Aconcagua, or Cerro Torre trip ... in case you’re headed that way (in which case, take us with).

To date, Klymit has made a vest and a couple of sleeping pads, both of which use air chambers that, once inflated, conform to your body, capture its heat, and recirculate it. Now, through Kickstarter, they’re working on the Ulaar jacket.

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2012 Red Bull Rampage

This year's Red Bull Rampage may have been overshadowed by Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking free fall, but the fact that it takes a 128,098-foot sky dive to upstage this event should tell you just how severe downhill mountain biking has become. This invitation-only event sees 25 of the world's top mountain bikers riding some unimaginably scary lines on a cliffside outside of Zion, Utah. Canadian Kurt Sorge, 23, took his first-ever title at this year's competition.

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12-Year-Old Climbs for Conservation

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World's youngest ski patroller? Taylor Justice on the job at Aspen. Photo: Taylor Justice

There are overachievers, and then there is Taylor Justice. The 12-year-old skier/climber/straight-A student started shredding double-black diamond chutes when she was eight. Three years later, she joined the Junior Ski Patrol at Aspen’s Buttermilk Mountain. Earlier this year, she rescued a man who’d fallen 30 feet into a ravine on Peru’s Inca Trail, fashioned splints for his broken wrists out of cardboard boxes, and helped him to safety. And later this month, she’ll climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money and awareness for critically endangered black rhinos.

It’s enough to give even the most accomplished adventurer a serious complex.

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'Fire Season' Wins Banff Book Competition Grand Prize

Screen Shot 2012-11-02 at 10.00.48 AMFire Season. Photo: Ecco/Harper Collins

On Thursday, Banff announced that Fire Season won the Grand Jury Prize in its 2012 book competition. Written by Philip Connors, who quit his job at The Wall Street Journal to work on a fire lookout for eight seasons, the book quickly gained an impressive slate of reviews when it was released earlier this year. In our May issue, Bruce Barcott offered his opinion. "In short, it's one of the best books to come out of a government gig since Ed Abbey turned a ranger's wage into Desert Solitaire," he said.

Banff gave the book its Grand Jury Prize for a number of reasons.

"The winner of the Grand Jury Prize was for all three of us judges the outstanding book of the 2012 Banff Mountain Book Competition. Nothing else came close in terms of literary quality, human oddity, and that indefinable element of surprise present in all the very best writing. We loved this book," the judges wrotes. "The persona, the character as it comes through in his book of the author, his humor and odd sagacity, his sharp and lucid gift of natural observation, the fascinating perspective he gives on the ecology of wildfire, charmed and informed us. Also, since he went to school in Missoula, he can almost be claimed as Canadian, Montana being more like here than down there. Of all this year’s authors, here’s the one with whom we felt we’d most like to share a beer."

"His book will surely be accepted into the outdoor and environmental literary canon as one to be ranked with Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac and ornery old Ed Abbey’s Desert Solitaire," they continued. "It’s the account of a former Wall Street Journal writer’s sojourns through several summers at a fire-lookout post in the Gila Wilderness Area of southwest New Mexico: If there's a better job anywhere on the planet, I'd like to know what it is."

If you still need another opinion, consider this one from Outside senior editor Grayson Schaffer: "The gushing, here, over Philip Connors's book is well deserved," he said on Facebook. "Must read."

I've included the other winners below. Click on the award to read feedback from the Banff Mountain Book Competition Jury, and on the title to buy the book.

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