The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Jan 2013

5 Adventure Cars That Do Less Harm, Conceptually Speaking

Ulrich_hackenberg_naiasVolkswagen's Ulrich Hackenberg presents the Cross Blue Concept car at NAIAS. Photo: NAIAS

The latest update of the National Climate Assessment, a federally-mandated report written by a panel of 240 scientists, was released January 11 and is meant to erase any doubts as to whether climate change is having a real, palpable impact on our daily lives.

"Climate change affects everything that you do," co-author Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina, told the AP's Seth Borenstein. "It affects where you live, where you work and where you play and the infrastructure that you need to do all these things. It's more than just the polar bears."

Aside from making everyone rather depressed by the changing climate and the resources that are at stake, the report is meant to push regulators into action. That process is maddeningly slow—arguably slower than the pace at which the climate is changing. When Cutter talks about our climate impacting the places we play and the infrastructure we use, that includes the cars we drive to access the places we love. The Obama administration has made some bold moves in fuel efficiency standards, mandating an average of 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks. By 2025. That's impressive, but loses some of its shine given our imperative to significantly reduce carbon emissions starting now (or decades ago).

Still, carmakers are reacting to fuel standards that are coming into play now—a 35.5mpg average by 2016. Because it's an average, and because efficiency is easier to obtain in smaller vehicles, the most efficient vehicles have traditionally not been the same cars and trucks people use to play in the mountains. That is starting, ever so slowly, to change.

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Notes From the 2013 'Outside' Bike Tests

The Mountain Bike LineupFeeding and making notes between laps at Starr Pass.

Lesson number one from this year's Tucson test: A full week of hard riding is tough this early in the season. Six straight days was nothing that a hot tub, some ice plunges, and a little bourbon (more on that in a second) couldn't remedy. But on day seven, I felt like an abused bike racing action doll—my legs seemed to come off.

For those of us who attended the whole test (precisely two riders), it wasn't just the volume that hurt. Every single day there were new riders on hand (meaning fresh legs), continued fast pace, and no chance to sit in. Nope, we weren't just riding around down there. My stats for the week: seven days on, 252 miles, 19,609 feet of climbing, 30 bikes. Multiply that by the 12 to 16 riders on hand each day, and you get a sense of the scope of our testing.

Lesson number two: a 26-foot truck might be good for transporting 61 bikes, but it's not useful for much else. We never got stuck (thanks to the expert driving of my wife), but threading the sinuous driveway was a time-consuming affair and we could only get within 200 feet of the garage, meaning lots of running bikes back and forth to the truck each night.

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What's Inside Conrad Anker's Gear Room?

What things does a great climber keep in his gear room? Conrad Anker answers that question in the video embedded above, in which he offers Black Diamond a tour of his basement lair. There's plenty of new climbing equipment, Alex Lowe memorabilia, expedition journals from places like Meru, a carabiner from Mugs Stump, and, well, just watch the video.

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Living the Outdoor Life Year-Round in London

Richard Roberts is a London piano tuner who abandoned his apartment and is living a life outdoors so that he can pay off his student debt. He bikes around town and sleeps in a bivy bag on a four-season mat—in a different location just about every night. He blogs about everything at It's an interesting chronicle, not just because you get to explore London outdoors at night through his lens, but because he takes you inside the homes of the city's residents: swiss bankers, athletic trainers, hunters, etc.

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Brand New Bags for Summer and Fall

The Outdoor Retailer show is just around the corner. And new product announcements are rolling in fast. Here's a quick look at some of the most promising bags we'll see in outdoor stores this summer and fall.


BOREAS BOOTLEGGER: This 3-in-1 adventure bag, the "Russian Dolls" of day packs, is designed to be used as a single unit, or in any one of three separate configurations, depending on what kind of excursion you’re on. Boreas calls the outer bag the Scrimshaw Dry Bag. This 11oz, 30-liter bag is made from rough and tough triple ripstop nylon with an extra heavy duty bottom. It’s fully taped to keep your gear from getting wet even when submersed, and its big enough to fit the Hopper Day Pack if you need your day bag to be fully waterproof.

The 28-liter ripstop nylon Hopper also has a burly reinforced bottom, as well as two-way stretch front panel pockets. And, inside it’s an organized commuter day pack.

The third part of the system is Boreas' 13-liter Torpedo Hydration Bag. This minimalist biking or hiking hydration pack has stretch front panel pockets (Boreas’ signature detail). And it fits inside the daypack. Having a hard time picturing it? Here's a visual aid:

Boreas 2

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