Outside magazine, June 1998
White-gas stoves may provide a powerful flame, but they don't hold a candle to a butane burner's simplicity. Of course, using butane isn't viable in temperatures below 20 or in corners of the globe where the handy cartridges are difficult to find. Thankfully, you can keep your options open with the Primus MFS ($99; 800-543-9124), a backcountry cooker that can burn whatever flammable fluid you feed it.
The MFS's innovation is a liquid-fuel bottle with a clever fitting that connects directly to its cartridge valve. If any of several brands of butane is available (Primus, MSR, and Optimus all work), you simply twirl a cartridge onto the stove's fuel line, open the valve, light it, and poof — you'll have a quart-size pot of water boiling inside of four minutes. If you're forced to resort to Plan B, the fuel bottle can be filled with white gas, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, and even, some proponents swear, amber spirits from a certain notable region of Kentucky. In this latter configuration, the MFS requires the same pump-and-prime fiddling as other multifuel stoves, but the torchlike flame is a wonder to behold: It'll boil that same pot of water in three minutes, and it won't sputter on frigid days. Just save a little bourbon for the flamb‰. — Michael Kessler
If you've ever wanted to know if steelhead are drawn to a green drake, the CD-ROM from Elkwing Productions ($50; 808-322-0025) can tell you with a quick click of the mouse. Hands down the most exhaustive reference on piscine come-ons, it covers just about any fly pattern you'd care to use on this continent. The disc digitizes a five-book series by fly-tying greats Dick Stewart and Farrow Allen (the hardcover set costs $190), cataloging 1,876 of the little buggers, complete with their provenance and material "recipes." Maybe it doesn't utilize the full grandeur of CD-ROM capabilities — giving you, say, QuickTime video on how to tie flies — but that's only because the encyclopedia is just too memory-intensive. A nifty search engine lets you explore the life's work of your favorite tier or instantly access every variation of the popular Adams pattern and view the chosen fly in a gorgeous, full-screen image. Then, assuming your interest runs more to casting than to tying, you can print out shots of the most effective lures and plop them on the desk of a local legend to bring them to life. — Jerry Gibbs
As convenient as those fluid-toting backpacks pioneered by CamelBak can be for thirsty bikers, they do tend to upset your center of gravity. And they make your back ridiculously sweaty. Well, it seems CamelBak has solved its own problem with the Bandido ($95; 800-767-8725), which packs the weight at your waist, incorporating a half-gallon reservoir in a slim lumbar pack. Neoprene sections in the waist belt snug it tight without restricting leg movement, and CoolMax-lined padding makes for a sweat-wicking canteen. Cinch up the compression straps and the Bandido won't sag, even when rumbling over rooty trails. The drinking tube also sits still, perched on either shoulder via a nylon bandolier, so you can sip in the saddle while your hands stay busy elsewhere. — Mark North
Fly fishermen have long known that felt-soled wading boots are the key to remaining upright on slimy, submerged rocks. Now Adidas has borrowed a swatch of this wisdom for its Escalante water shoe ($85; 800-423-4327), ingeniously recessing sections of felt into a low-profile rubber sole. The idea is to ensure carefree scampering for canyoneers and boaters by retaining the durability and walkability of rubber while adding the grippy-when-wet properties of felt.
And indeed, so long as one of the five fuzzy panels stays in contact with the slippery surface, the shoe grips tenaciously. Place your feet with some care and you'll find yourself maintaining astonishing traction. Of course, since the panels are recessed and underwater terra is generally something less than firma, you can't necessarily bank on keeping that connection — but at least the Escalante gives you a fighting chance.
If you do find yourself skidding and sliding, you'll be well equipped for the indignities of dunking with your feet in the ankle-high Escalante. A neoprene cuff seals out sand, the seams won't rip since they're covered in plastic, and the soft, thick foam footbed adds support and protects you against sharp rocks. In sum, the Escalante may not be quite as surefooted as your faithful Lab, but it can increase your odds of keeping up with him. — Jonathan Hanson
Photographs by Clay Ellis