The Outside Blog

Adventure : Nov 2012

Arc'teryx Covert Case: The iPhone of Travel Bags

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Duffel bags have no shape. Packs are meant to carry, not serve as suitcases. And wheelie bags have their limitations on stairs and over cobblestones, not to mention that they’re awkward in the overhead compartment. After over 1,000 flights dissatisfied with his suitcases, Nathan Kukathas joined Acr’teryx’s design team and created a collection of clean, sophisticated, functional travel bags that are arguably the simplest, most understated, discreet and sophisticated bags we’ve ever tested.

The Covert bags are the iPhone of travel bags. Each is a rectangular cube, vaguely army duffel like, that stands on end, slides easily into the overhead, and is made from materials you could back a truck over—or even hand over to baggage handlers without fear. The bags are superbly durable, treated to repel dirt and water, and can be carried in numerous ways: with hidden backpack straps, or by side and top handles.

The internal organization is perfectly practical, with pockets sized to actually hold the items you need, without so many that your car keys, passport or magazines end up lost. Buckles and zips are hidden, offering a new kind of theft protection.

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The Outdoor Philosopher: Kate Rawles on Riding 'The Carbon Cycle'

Kate_Rawles_bioKate Rawles on her Mexico-to-Canada tour. Photo: Chris Loynes

Kate Rawles is an outdoor philosopher. That is a title she coined herself, and it is accurate in more than one way. She spends her professional life thinking about, talking about, and being in the outdoors, activities that culminated in the publication of The Carbon Cycle, her account of the three-month, 4,553-mile bike ride she undertook to better understand concepts and perception about climate change in the American West.

The Banff Center named The Carbon Cycle a finalist in the 2012 Banff Mountain Book Competition. Philip Connors' Fire Season took the prize, but the nomination helped bring Rawles' book to an audience outside her base in the United Kingdom. Adventure Ethics talked to Rawles, a lecturer in Outdoor Studies at the University of Cumbria, about outdoor philosophy, her ride, and the resulting book.

What is outdoor philosophy?
I spend a lot of time talking about human-nature relationships, but I was doing this inside lecture halls, and there were no other species in the room. The whole thing felt very abstract, so over time I started to take those classes outside more and more.

Outdoor philosophy means getting outside the classroom. I often take my classes sea kayaking and they have a very powerful engagement with a very different landscape. There is a motivation aspect, too. It's not just exploring the topic academically but encouraging students to act on behalf of the environment.

The Carbon Cycle is based on the conversations about climate change that you had with hundreds of people during the course of your Mexico-to-Canada bike ride. How did the book come into being?
I always loved cycling and mountains and I've done a number of trips over the years, but wanted to do a bigger trip. I wanted to use it as a way of communicating about climate change. I wanted to raise awareness rather than money. And I wanted to connect what is known, academically, about climate change with what is happening on the ground.

I wanted it to be adventurous enough to get people's attention. I used the bike ride almost like a Trojan horse, to get to people who would not necessarily pick up a book about climate change, and get them to talk about it with me.

The trip was 4,553 miles and I tried to follow the spine of the Rockies as much as possible, I crossed the Continental Divide about 20 times.

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Vonn Will Not Ski Men's World Cup

The International Ski Federation has decided that Lindsey Vonn will not be allowed to participate in the men’s World Cup downhill race at Lake Louise on November 24. The Federation said in a press release that "one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other and exceptions will not be made to the FIS Rules." They welcomed Vonn to submit a request for to be a forerunner, testing the course before the men's race, but doing so would disqualify her from the women's event. "I'd like to have one chance in my life to race against them,” the four-time overall World Cup champion said. "Annika Sorenstam did it in golf and paved the way for women. I'm not asking for World Cup points. I just want the chance to compete."

Via BBC News

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Lower White Salmon Opens to Paddlers

Washington’s lower White Salmon River is now open to paddlers for the first time in nearly 100 years. On October 31, the PacifiCorp power company finished the last stages of decommissioning the Condit Dam, which was breached with dynamite a year ago. The White Salmon now flows freely to the Columbia River and into the ocean. "The restoration of a free-flowing river is an exciting event for the whitewater boating community," said Thomas O’Keefe, Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director for American Whitewater. Paddlers eager to try the new stretch of river are strongly advised to exercise extreme caution, as the changing nature of the riverbed, combined with the high volume of wood and debris makes conditions unpredictable.

Via American Whitewater

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This Is How We Roll on the Tundra

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Tundra buggies resemble a kind of double-wide, offroad school bus, with plush suspension, a massive 460 International Diesel engine, and tires that run at 12psi to float over mud and snow. They're jacked up about 10 feet, partly for clearance, but mostly to prevent any curious polar bears from climbing aboard.

We spent Saturday riding on Frontiers North Adventures' Buggy One, a wired-to-the-teeth expedition vehicle that Explore.org and Polar Bears International use to run their roving webcams. It carries two high-definition Sony cameras mounted at the front and rear, which can be aimed and focused from an onboard terminal or remotely controlled from PBI's Churchill office; another camera on the inside makes it possible to broadcast live video chats with researchers in the field. With two bunks, a bathroom, and a propane stove in the back, Buggy One can stay out on the tundra of the Manitoba Wilderness Management Area anywhere from a day to several weeks at a time.

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