Want to look at maps on your tablet instead of your phone so that they're bigger and easier to comprehend? Trimble Outdoors just released its MyTopo Maps app for the Kindle Fire and other Android-powered tablets. Now you can plot your next outdoor adventure on the big screen. The app gives any tablet user access to over 68,000 detailed topographical maps of the United States and Canada in addition to aerial photos, street maps, terrain maps and hybrid maps.
Light-is-right fanatics take heed: don’t bother cutting the handle off of your toothbrush just yet. If you’re going on a multi-day trip, look to your sleeping system to shave some serious weight.
After 2,700 miles on the road, our cross-country walking tester Andrew Forsthoefel gave us the scoop on his setup. It kept him warm and comfy in conditions down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, and it weighs in at a mere 3lbs 1oz.
Telluride Mountain School students explore the Needle Mountains. Photo: Jamie Salem
By Emily Brendler Shoff
The older kids get, the easier it is to take them into the backcountry. This is even true for teenagers, who, despite getting a bad rap for being addicted to all things electronic, can be some of the best adventure companions. Removed from digital distractions, teens often share new sides of themselves in the wilderness. They connect more to each other in the backcountry, and to you. And they gain the practical, outdoor skills to eventually head out on adventures of their own.
No wonder, then, that teen outdoor programs are growing in popularity, ranging from short multi-day trips to summer adventures and semester-long leadership expeditions in almost every adventure discipline: sailing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, backpacking, climbing. There are large organizations like the National Outdoor Leadership School and Outward Bound, with programs across the country and world, as well as smaller, niche groups, like The Ocean Classroom, in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and Island Wood, outside of Seattle.
If you’re like me, no matter how much you plan, the Wing It factor always comes into play when you go camping with children. Somebody sprouts a new tooth; you forget the salt; nobody sleeps. That's why it's called adventure.
But now there's a book that can help you tame the chaos of smooshing your whole family and a ridiculous mountain of gear into a single tent. You won’t find a more comprehensive how-to on the subject than The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping With Kids. Author Helen Olsson leads you through practically every decision you need to make, from where and when to go to what to bring (less than you think) to what to cook (single best compendium of s’mores recipes ever) and how to keep the kids out of your hair (berry paints! photo safaris!).
At times Olsson, a former editor at Skiing magazine who now writes the Mad Dog Mom blog and is raising three outdoor kids of her own, is so thorough and practical with her advice she almost gives you a complex (I'm supposed to know arts and crafts?!). My husband and I take our two young daughters camping quite often, and our method basically entails writing out a list of menus on a piece of scrap paper, trying to remember to bring said list to the grocery story, laying in a lot of beer in cans (we second Olsson’s endorsement of Santa Fe Brewing Company’s Happy Camper as the perfect backcountry beer), throwing our camping gear into a big pile in the middle of the floor, shoving it into the car, and hoping we haven’t forgotten anything. You could say we have a system, but we’re not exactly systematic.
Never worry about being stuck in the wilderness with nothing to eat again—as long as there is a healthy river nearby.
Last year, Washington State-based Fikkes introduced the world’s first fishing pole/trekking pole. The contraption houses a fishing rod blank inside a hollow aluminum trekking pole. With just a few quick adjustments, you can transform your traditional-looking trekking pole into a fishing rod.