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5 Hot-Weather Essentials for Your Dog

With July just around the corner, it’s about to get hot. Really hot. And while you might have the gear you need to perform at top speed when the heat is on, what about your pup?

Dogs (especially older ones) can become dangerously overheated even in temperatures just warmer than 70 degrees. Heavy panting, excessive drooling, or an inability to walk straight are all warning signs that your pup might be too hot.   

There are emergency measures you can take if this happens. Wet a towel or bandana with warm water and place it on the dog’s belly or drape it over his shoulders, advises emergency vet Dr. Heather Loenser. “Get him to stand in a stream and pat water onto his belly. Fan your dog—he needs evaporation to help him shed heat.”

But the best way to help your dog this summer is to make sure he doesn't overheat in the first place. That’s where annual physicals, exercise, and these five products come into play. 

Ruffwear Swamp Cooler ($55)

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Soak the Swamp Cooler in cold water, wring it out, then clip it over your dog’s back and chest. The three-layer coat has a wicking outer layer to facilitate evaporation, an absorbent middle layer, and soft, cooling fabric inside. As water evaporates from the coat's middle layer, it draws the heat from your dog’s fur, cooling her through evaporation. Plus, the light-colored vest deflects the sun’s rays.

Dublin Dog Nomad Collapsible Travel Bowl ($25)

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Unzip the Frisbee-like Nomad and two waterproof bowls pop out. Made from 1,000-denier Cordura, the bowls hold 1.1 liters of water. An S-hook lets you clip the Nomad on the outside of your pack for easy access.

Mushers Secret (Starting at $11)

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Originally developed for sled dogs, this natural wax cream is meant to be rubbed into your dog’s paws. Designed to be used throughout the year, it works like an invisible boot to protect your pooch from sand, hot pavement, and other rough terrain. In the winter, it prevents ice from collecting in your dog’s paws. Musher’s Secret comes in three sizes, from 60 to 453 grams.

Wolfgang USA Camoflag Leash (Starting at $23)

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Just in time for the Fourth of July, this leash from Wolfgang combines two of our favorite prints: camouflage and the American flag. It’ll prevent your overly excited dog from exhausting himself and harassing others, and keep him looking good at the same time. It comes in four- and six-foot lengths.

Kurgo Step and Strobe Dog Shoes ($70)

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Protect your dog’s paws with this lightweight canine “running shoe.” Made from breathable tight-weave mesh and synthetic leather uppers and outsoles, they’re protective and durable. They’ve got a nice disco-flare, too: as your dog walks, red and green lights flash so you can see him at night and tell which direction he’s going. The kicks close around your pup’s paw with an ankle cord lock closure.

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PicoBrew Zymatic

What if you could design a craft beer and then brew it in your kitchen with just the click of a mouse?

Thanks to two former Microsoft employees and a food scientist, you can. The trio has used technology to simplify the ancient art of brewing beer without sacrificing any of the fun—or the taste.  

Their machine is called the PicoBrew Zymatic, which allows homebrew aficionados to make high-quality beer at home with about as much effort as it takes to run an espresso machine. And even though Zymatic automates most of the brewing process, it doesn’t completely quash creativity. Brewers still can tinker with their recipes and ingredients.

The Zymatic connects to the Internet so you can download a recipe directly to the machine. That information lets the Zymatic know when to release the grains and the hops you’ve selected. You then fill the gadget up with the ingredients you want, hit the start button, and wait three and a half hours. Voilà: You have a wort that can be cooled and then fermented. After about two weeks (once the yeast has done its job turning the glucose into alcohol and carbon dioxide), you’ll have beer. Next step: Drink.

But, traditionalists might cry, isn’t homebrewing just as much about the process of making the beer as it is about the final product? Well, there’s a lot that can go wrong in homebrewing. Sterilization is key, but can be easier said than done. (There are opportunities for your brew to be contaminated, which will ruin your hard work.) The Zymatic, on the other hand, is intended to remove human error, thus allowing brewers to focus on their recipes and ingredients, says PicoBrew co-founder Bill Mitchell.

The master plan is to bring homebrewing to the masses. And if recent stats are any indication, there’s a broad market for this sort of technology: The American Homebrewers Association estimates that 1.2 million American brew beer at home and that number keeps growing.

PicoBrew waged an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign last fall (it raised $511,000 more than its intended goal) and its founders believe that the social aspect of their machine will revolutionize homebrewing. The website allows users to share and rate consistent, clone-able recipes, thus growing the amount of high-quality homebrew out there. We can toast to that.

Available for pre-order now.

$1,799, picobrew.com

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The Training Tool of the Future

You don’t have to be a professional skydiver like gonzo-but-forward-thinking Jeb Corliss to envision—and utilize—futuristic training technology. Though in the not too distant future, you might credit Corliss for upping your game

First, some background. In March, Facebook announced plans to purchase California-based, virtual-reality company Oculus, and we started wondering if VR might be on the brink of changing how athletes prepare for extreme sports. 

After all, virtual reality, which has long promised—via a goggle-like screen—to immerse gamers in a simulated environment with extraordinary interactivity, seems like an ideal training tool. Using virtual reality, World Cup downhillers could run Austria’s Hahnenkamm from their living rooms. Mountain bikers might try Moab’s disorienting steeps without strapping on a helmet. 

{%{"quote":"In the future, sharpening your skiing skills may very well mean virtually taking on a super G course like the one Bode Miller faces at Kitzbuehel."}%}

As it turns out, Facebook’s whopping $2 billion offer for Oculus hints of VR only continuing as an entertainment-oriented innovation, going the way of social networking and gaming in ways that haven’t yet been imagined. Maybe that’s not surprising, but in the meantime, athletes looking for tech advancements to improve their performance might turn in a different direction: toward a nascent, potentially revolutionary training technology called augmented reality.

Augmented reality—one of today’s many voguish “wearable technologies”—generates virtual images that appear on real backdrops via the aid of everything from tablet computers to helmet-mounted screens. It’s currently under development for business (think architects moving virtual trees on existing 3-D models) and marketing (think athletes jumping off cereal boxes).

But one fledgling company, three-year-old Airglass of Budapest, Hungary, believes that augmented reality will revolutionize sports training. “We’re interested in making athletes better, faster, and more precise,” says Zsolt Mihalyfi, the company's founder and CEO. 

In 2011, Mihalyfi—who’s part engineer, part pilot, and part parachute skier—considered developing a training product that employed virtual reality. “But I found VR too disorienting,” he says. “It shut out the real world.”

Instead, Mihalyfi sought out simulation technology that kept athletes far more invested in their digitally devised challenges. After all, how much can you really learn on a virtual downhill run when the worst thing you’ll encounter is the phrase Game Over?

Mihalyfi soon came upon augmented reality, which offers a compelling blend of real and virtual imagery. “In augmented reality, you’re moving in the real world,” he says, “with things overlaid on it.”

Imagine if you were a skydiver who needed to train for a dicey landing. You could program the augmented reality equipment to project virtual obstacles (mountains, cliffs, or even other skydivers) around you during the jump. That way, you get the benefits of training in the risky environment without the risks—other than the leaping-out-of-a-plane bit.   

Enter Corliss, 38, a veteran BASE jumper who’s bent on notching increasingly challenging flights. In early 2013, Mihalyfi built a prototype augmented reality helmet and screen, and several months later watched Corliss launch himself into the Hungarian sky wearing the technology. Inside of Corliss’ helmet were a gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer, and GPS unit, as well as data of some specific landmasses.

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Corliss wanted to prepare for an upcoming jump in eastern China that required he fly through a fissure in a massive rock formation—an opening that’s only about 30 feet wide. While Corliss flew, the landmasses appeared on the small screen, sprouting from the helmet and projected just ahead of his goggles. He was put to the test. “There it was, the actual terrain that I was going to fly through in China,” he says. “My mind was definitely tricked into doing stuff.”

Last September, Corliss successfully knifed through the Chinese formation. He’s now a believer in augmented reality. “This technology is the only way that I can get all the feelings of flying and practice on new terrain—without perhaps dying,” he says.

Mihalyfi aims to rent his augmented reality helmet systems—mostly for skydivers and wingsuit flyers—by midsummer, and sell a more streamlined, sport-glasses version by the end of the year for approximately $3,000. He believes, over time, that the asking price will go down, and that all sorts of airborne and land-based athletes (the latter would include skiers and mountain bikers) will flock to the benefits of augmented-reality training. In the future, sharpening your skiing skills may very well mean taking on a super G course like the one Bode Miller faces at Kitzbuehel.

“I love the idea,” says Nicole Detling, an assistant professor of exercise and sport science at Salt Lake City’s University of Utah as well as a visualization expert for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. “You’re feeling whatever your body is supposed to feel like when it’s fully challenged.”

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The Dangers of a Wired Wilderness

Once upon a time we went into the backcountry to unplug. Constant connectivity, while obviously a boon to society in many ways, is exhausting. Your attention is pulled in a hundred directions and every few minutes you’re jostled out of your groove by another beep or buzz. And so we retreat back to nature to get away from all that and rediscover our humanity.

But here’s the thing: the Grid is expanding. Our hiding places are shrinking away, and before the decade is out, there may be no refuge left. Yes, really.

Consider: This week, a team from MIT collaborated with NASA and demonstrated technology that can beam lightning-fast Internet to the Moon. Yeah, the freakin’ Moon. The one orbiting Earth 238,000 miles away. If science can do that, you can bet that streaming Game of Thrones in the middle of Yellowstone is child’s play. And companies are already hard at work to provide such a service.

{%{"quote":"What happens to our most sacred places once the web creeps into them?"}%}

For the last year, Google has been testing an idea known as Project Loon. The concept is to essentially blanket the entire planet in Wi-Fi by putting a network of solar-powered, antennae-toting weather balloons into the stratosphere. Each balloon would float for roughly 100 days, and would be steered so that the grid of connectivity is essentially gapless around the world. 

On the one hand, it’s an extremely laudable goal, making the Internet (theoretically) accessible to everyone on the planet. The aid it would provide to previously unconnected locations in the arenas of education, medicine, and commerce is massive. On the other hand, what happens to our most sacred places once the web creeps into them? Yes, you’re enjoying the majesty of nature, but part of you feels like you should check your work email, just to make sure nothing is on fire. And since you have the ability to do that, isn’t it the responsible thing to do to just take a quick look?

Even if Google’s balloon project doesn’t float (sorry), this is the direction we’re headed. Earlier this year, when Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere completed Robert Scott’s ill-fated 1,800-mile walk to the South Pole and back, they were dragging computers, satellite antennae, and solar panels so they could blog and upload photos and video from their tent each of the 100-plus nights they spent out there. I guess you’ve got to keep the sponsors (Intel and Land Rover) happy somehow. As satellite data speeds increase, though, you’ve got to wonder how far we are from someone live-streaming HD video while summiting Everest or K2. 

Even us unsponsored Joe and Jane Schmoes out for a few days in the backcountry already have options. Last year Thuraya introduced the SatSleeve, which is basically a case for your iPhone that pops it onto a global satellite network with the press of a button. 

And earlier this year we met the Iridium Go!, a portable Wi-Fi network that fits in the palm of your hand and allows you to connect a whole array of devices to satellite Internet. Now, both of these services are limited in the apps you can use with them, they’re prohibitively expensive for many, and they positively crawl at early 1990's dial-up data speeds. But the point is they’re here already, they work, and they’re only going to get better.

Obviously, there’s some good that comes with all of this. Lost in the wild? Download a map. Not sure how to treat an injury? Get medical advice. Running a couple days late because of bad weather but otherwise fine? Let your family know so they don’t freak out. Someone needs to be medevac’d? Press of a button. These are good and potentially life-saving features.  

There’s a dark side, though. One of the best things about going way off the grid currently is that you just have to make that decision once, and then once you’re out there, you’re committed to it. You aren’t constantly wondering whether or not you should be checking your phone because, simply, you can’t. It’s not an option, and so you let go of those nagging voices, and you’re able to fully relax and recharge. 

If, however, we lived in a world where even the most remote nooks and crannies were Internet-ready, then, “I want to check my phone. Should I check my phone?” is a decision you will have to make over and over again, even while you’re out camping in the middle of nowhere. The current lack of technology makes it easy for us to just be in the woods when we’re there, but once the capability is an option, not-checking becomes a matter of will power. And you’ll be subject not just to your own habits, but to the expectations of others. There will be no more, “Sorry boss, I’ll be off the grid next week,” because the entire planet is on the grid.

{%{"quote":"As satellite data speeds increase, you’ve got to wonder how far we are from someone live-streaming HD video while summiting Everest or K2."}%}

Last month I did a through-hike across Zion National Park with some friends. One guy used his iPhone as his only camera, which meant it was always on him and always within reach. Sure enough, almost every time we got to a ridge he would check to see if he had bars on this phone. Occasionally he did. So while most of us stood there, jaws agape, staring at the incredible red rock canyons, he would take the opportunity to fire off a quick work email or say hi to his girlfriend. Now, his work and his girlfriend both knew he was going to be off the grid for a week and had no expectation of him checking in, but he did it anyway. Why? Because he was tempted and because he could. And every time it happened we felt him disconnect from the group, from the nature around us, and from the present moment.

Now, that is what happens today when, at best, you’re grasping for a bar or two here and there. What happens when you have consistent, quality Internet in the wild? Could you resist uploading a photo until you get back? Could you resist the siren song of your email and social networks? Well, how strong is your will?

Just because we at Outside prioritize getting out and away doesn’t make us luddites. We recognize the advantages that technology brings, and how beneficial it can be in an emergency. But our stance is that emergencies are what this should be reserved for. Bring your phone, but keep it in your pack, with the power off. Think of it as a lifeline that’s there if you need it. You will be tempted. We’ll all be tempted. But remember why you’re out there in the first place.

In the near future, the only way to get off the grid will be to willfully pull the plug yourself. We hope you’ll pull it. Deep breath. It’ll all still be there when you get back. 

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