The Outside Blog

Adventure : Mar 2012

New Contest from CLIF Challenges Backyard Rippers

Remember the days when all the kids in the neighborhood would gather in someone’s yard for massive games of Man Hunt, Kick the Can, and SPUD? This was back before play dates and carpooling soccer moms, before parents decided it was insane to let their kids ride bikes home from school alone, when "game" meant something you played outside, not on a screen, and if you asked your mom for a ride to the mall, she said “walk.” It was true then, and it’s still true now: You don’t have to get all fancy about raising outdoor kids. Especially now that the days are warmer and longer, keeping kids active outside is as easy as shooing them out the backdoor to play. 

Giving kids unstructured fresh-air time isn’t just good for the body, it’s good for the brain, too. It’s simple and proven: Creativity flourishes outside. "New research suggests that children are more likely to invent their own games in green play spaces than they are on flat cement or playing fields,” says Richard Louv, bestselling author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle. “Kids are healthier, happier and more creative when they spend more time outdoors.” 

Slide4Crows vs. Eagles in a epic game of Eagle's Nest [photo: CLIF Kids]

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It's Egg Cam Time! Watch Great Blue Herons, Eagles, Owls...

Watch live streaming video from cornellherons at

As I write this, I can hear geese and a Belted Kingfisher in the distance and I'm watching a Great Blue Heron sitting over her day-old egg. I'm thousands of miles away from the birds, who reside near Sapsucker Woods pond, outside the Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity at the Cornell Lab for Ornithology. But I've got a front seat on the action, along with 2,500 other lurkers, thanks to the lab's Livestream video link. And if we grow bored, we can switch to Big Red, a Red-tailed Hawk, who is currently laying on her three eggs, protecting them from the wind on an unseasonably cool day in Ithica.

Streaming video links to nesting birds isn't a new craze, but it's a growing one. Last year, an eagle nest cam established by the Raptor Resource Project captivated thousands who sat, staring into their computer screens as a Bald Eagle in Decorah, Iowa, laid and guarded her hatchlings. It was the most popular feed on the Ustream service, reports

And now the show is back on in Decorah. Two eaglets hatched on Tuesday and one more on Wednesday, which you can watch here. Skip to around minute 7 to see the hatchling being fed. This year, the eagles in Decorah are under more advanced surveillance; the cameras use night vision, high definition and panning capabilities. What's next? GoPro cameras strapped to the birds' chests?

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Two New Ways to Protect and Cool Your Digital Gadgets

Heat is a major problem for electronics. Even after you're computer is off, you want it to cool quickly. Two new protective devices help prevent overheating while buffering your gadgets against bumps.

Soft cells

Sea to Summit Padded Soft Cases: Cameras, helmet cams, and other plug in devices can always use protection when you're packing, whether it's your carry on, or your rollerboard. Sea to Summit's Padded Soft Cells are made from high-density, die-cut EVA foam encased covered in slippery, silky sil nylon. So they're easy to slide into a tightly-packed bag, and they add a maximum of only two ounces per case to your bag. Big hypalon handles make the bags easy to stuff and retrieve. EVA foam won't crack in the cold, nylon provides moisture protection, and thanks to a large U-shaped zipper, the lid flips fully open while you're packing. Available August 2012, $30-$35,

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The Vibram Lawsuit

Photo of Vibram Sprint FiveFingers via stevendamron/Flickr

A Florida woman has filed a lawsuit against Vibram USA alleging misleading advertising in promotional materials for the company's FiveFingers line of shoes. The plaintiff, Valerie Bezdek, accuses Vibram of inflating claims about the health benefits of barefoot running to market FiveFingers and charge a price premium over other brands.

The suit appears to piggyback off a similar complaint filed last year against Reebok for their EasyTone shoes, which Reebok said would give wearers nicer thighs and butts. (They don't!) That suit netted consumers a $25 million settlement and prompted this statement from the Federal Trade Commission:

“The FTC wants national advertisers to understand that they must exercise some responsibility and ensure that their claims for fitness gear are supported by sound science.”

My first reaction to the Vibram suit was irritation. (We can't possibly need a court to intervene in the barefoot running debate, can we?) My second reaction is that the suit could be good news, and Vibram might actually lose.

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Sherpa Trekkers Warn Villagers of Climate Change, Flooding

Shutterstock_GalynaAndrushkoShivling Peak via Shutterstock Photograper: Galyna Andrushko

As mountaineers from around the world converge in Nepal and prepare for the 2012 Everest climbing season, Apa Sherpa, the porter-turned-professional-climber who has summited the mountain 21 times, is in the midst of a three-month trek to call attention to the changing climate. He's warning that rapid glacier melt could result in cataclysmic flooding in the Himalaya region.

Thousands of lakes in the Himalayan foothills, laden with glacier run-off, are endangering "millions of people in seven countries abutting the massive mountain range," according to the Associated Press.

"In Nepal alone, at least 20 of the more than 2,300 glacial lakes are in danger of bursting banks made mostly of rock and scree held together by little more than gravity. Across the wider mountain range, dozens more are building to dangerous levels as temperatures rise and ice melts quicker," reported the news agency.

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