The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Adventure

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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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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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.


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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The New Era of Low-Cost, High-Risk Expeditions

British mountaineer Ed Farrelly, 22, has a better climbing pedigree than most. (It was his great uncle Sir Christopher Summerhayes who gave Edmund Hillary the British flag he plonked atop Everest). But the young adventurer has found out the hard way that landing easy money to pay for adventure is a thing of the past.

“What’s making sponsorship more difficult is the sheer quantity of people chasing money,” says Farrelly, who sets out on a solo trek up Khan Tengri in Kyrgyzstan in July. “Everything gets lumped in together so that ‘adventuring’ becomes dumbed-down. I get through to someone on the phone and say I’ll be the youngest Briton to solo climb 7,000 metres, and the reply I get is, ‘Sorry, we’ve just sponsored someone to run the London marathon.’”

To survive in this competitive world, he’s working to perfect the art of low-cost, high-risk climbs. The goal: to give his hard-won sponsors an unbeatable return on investment, including dedicated “Ed-time” where companies can do everything from use him in product shoots to book him on a public speaking tour. He has a policy of never saying no to his investors. 

We sat down with Farrelly to chat about what it takes to secure sponsorship for extreme expeditions, and how he’s refined these low-cost, high-risk climbing trips.  

OUTSIDE: Is sponsorship the only way you fund your trips?
FARRELLY: Yes. I'm still a student, and I was determined to find a way to do some cool climbs without going into debt. I spend whole days tracking people down on LinkedIn and then calling people up, and most of the calls go nowhere.

I’m getting better at it because I do interesting, challenging climbs and I keep the costs really low, whereas a lot of climbers go through what’s basically a tour operator and that makes it more expensive. They need to find a lump sum, hand it over to a middle man, and then he sends that cash out in various directions so you can achieve what you set out to do.

While I’m not saying that’s bad, it does mean that people are trying to take too big a slice of the sponsorship pie. I can do a trip for half what some people are looking for.

How much will your Kyrgyzstan trip cost?
FARRELLY: By organising everything myself, I can do it for about $6,000. That’s a month and a half over there, all the flights, everything. The only back-up I’ll have is my dad at base camp, and he’s paying his own way.

What are the biggest costs associated with a big expedition?
FARRELLY: Transport. The Antarctic is the big one—it can cost upwards of $50,000 and most of that will go toward logistics. Insurance is a massive hidden cost when doing solo trips and can be as much as the flights, which on my next trip means about $1,000. Sat phones are another huge cost. Including upfront charges, sat phone services cost an additional $1.50 to $2 per minute. It’s easy to be stuck there sending photos back and finding yourself almost weeping as the seconds tick by.

Why send the photos back to your sponsors?
FARRELLY: It’s all part of the sponsorship deal. You have to get the information back to the very people that your sponsors want to find out about it.

Is your success rate with sponsorship money getting better or worse?
FARRELLY: It’s getting better, I think, but only because I’m getting better at it. I no longer try and persuade people who aren’t interested. I move on as quickly as I can. It’s a numbers game. If someone’s interested, I cut to the chase and tell them what I need, which is usually $1,500 to $2,500. They seem to appreciate the honesty.

Do the sponsors think they're getting a good ROI?
FARRELLY: They seem to. The value of the deals is going up, and they’re being renewed when they run out, too. I appreciate how hard it is to put a tangible value on what I can give them in return, but I take the responsibility seriously and I do my best.

What do sponsors want from their money?
FARRELLY: I would say they either want a quality story which is going to get them exposure, or content—photos, video, blog posts—which somehow represent their brand. The latter requires more work to utilize on their part but is probably better from a branding point of view. Too many companies are interested in just the first.

As far as what the stories are about, I guess the classic angles are youngest, oldest, fastest, and so on, but these are perhaps losing some of their allure as they have been done quite a bit, particularly on the classic challenges like Everest. Maybe now it's about being a little more inventive in terms of finding new challenges which haven't been overdone yet. But explaining why you're different to the press is easier said than done.

Are climbers always talking about money and how to fund their expeditions?
FARRELLY: Yes. If they’ve found it for their current expedition then they’re already talking about how they’re going to find it for the next one, and if they haven’t found it yet then they’re talking about it constantly.

It’s the one thing that stands between you and doing what you want—same as with most things, really. Some would-be adventurers never really make it, because it can be hard to get a toe in the door. There’s a ‘positive feedback’ aspect to it, so the more you do and the bigger your name, the less work you need to do to find the money. I’m nowhere near the big league, but sponsorship deals with Adidas, Rab, and Scarpa all help, and they’re obviously the names I mention when looking for new deals.

What’s your advice to budding adventurers seeking sponsorship?
FARRELLY: Don’t turn up on the wrong day! Actually, that isn’t necessarily a disaster, as it happened to me when I went to see Osprey looking for funding a few years ago and I turned up a day early. I drove two and a half hours to the meeting and I was sitting in the waiting room when the woman I was supposed to be seeing the next day walked past and seemed to recognize my face. She was good enough to do the interview there and then, although we had to change meeting rooms four times because obviously nothing had been booked.

How did your initial sponsorship meeting with Osprey go?
FARRELLY: I must have done a good job because they sponsor me now. I guess if what you’re selling is something people are interested in, you can overcome a few hurdles—though screwing up the date is obviously not an approach I would recommend.

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Volga Dacha: Redefining Minimalism

“Minimalism” is one of the outdoor-gear industry’s most pervasive buzzwords, and it’s invaded more than just running. People are adopting the idea of eschewing clutter in their homes, too. 

The Volga Dacha, located outside of Moscow in the country, is one of the best examples we’ve seen of an efficient four-person home. Even the getaway’s shape avoids frills: a simple gabled rectangle with blackened-wood cladding. When the family’s away, shutters cover the windows and doors.




This Volga Dacha (literally, “a small vacation cabin on the Russian river Volga”) located in the country outside of Moscow is one of the best examples we’ve seen of a simple, efficient four-person home. Even the getaway’s shape avoids unnecessary frills: a simple gabled rectangle with blackened-wood cladding. When the family’s away, shutters cover the windows and doors.

Architects from the firm Bureau Bernaskoni used a grid based on building-material sizes to plan the house, which measures just under 1,000 square feet. A small wood stove and radiant concrete floors heat this well-insulated home during Russia’s brutal winters. In the summer, the floors stay naturally cool and are easy to clean.

The cabin has two sleeping spaces, living and dining rooms, a kitchen, a bath, and generous terraces. A shed—essentially a smaller version of the main house—forms the courtyard. Even the lawn, surrounded by wild grasses, is maintenance-free, thanks to the geotextiles that were placed on a sand bed and then covered with gravel. 


The main floor’s living, dining, and kitchen areas are open to one another and to countryside breezes. The only deviation from the cabin’s standard grid? The minimal outdoor shower adjacent to the house. 

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