Fall's new casual shoes are crossover artists: ready for a day in the woods or a night on the town

I just moved to New England from Scotland, where the lack of defined seasons and nearly constant chilly rain make three-season gear essential. Should I shop similarly here or aim for two entire get-ups, one for lightweight summer trekking and one for colder months? Callum Boston, Massachusetts

I have heard that clothes treated with Buzz Off work well for repelling ticks and other bugs in the U.S. I’m traveling to the African tropics in the wet season and curious if Buzz Off can repel malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Carmen Washington, D.C.

What raingear would you suggest for bike commuting in rainy Seattle? I need something that will keep me dry but not slow me down this winter. Martha Bainbridge Island, Washington

I’ve always made do with cotton briefs when hiking, but I’m tired of the chafe factor and that ensuing wide-legged walk. I’m planning a trip into Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and need your recommendation for irritation-free hiking (especially since the well-known brands go for $25 a pair). Suggestions? Brian Billings, Montana

With technology constantly improving outdoors gear, are sock makers following suit? Should I still use my old standard of wool socks against my feet, then an oversock, usually cotton (never had a blister)? Glenn Aquebogue, New York

I'm looking for sunglasses that will perform everywhere from snowy mountains to the open ocean. I've looked at three different pairs: the Zeal Optics Maestro, Julbo Nomad X4, and Native Nano 2. Could you please recommend a pair that would work best for me? Gina Gainesville, Florida

Layering gets smart with cutting-edge fabrics and designs that let you do more with less

I'm looking for a good all around soft shell alpine climbing pant; something I can wear alone in warmer weather and layer under in cooler weather. Any suggestions? Denise Albuquerque, New Mexico

As a college student in Boston, I spend a lot of time outside in the freezing, windy winters. Will the Patagonia R4 fleece jacket keep me warm around town and on the New England ski slopes? Or do you know of any cheaper, comparable fleeces? Jenny Boston, Massachusetts

I like to hike in Baja where the vegetation includes some of the nastiest plants I've ever met. Do you have a recommendation for the toughest pants to wear? Jon Pacifica, California

Backyard season is in full swing. Get in the game with our guide to classic warm-weather fun and sizzling new style.

I’ve been hearing a lot about merino wool base layers, such as Icebreaker. What are your thoughts on this fabric? Is it a suitable alternative to synthetic fleece layers for a mountain climb such as Kilimanjaro? Iain Solihull, UK

I have worn Patagonia Silkweight underwear for years, but I’m still not sold on “evaporative cooling.” And this summer I’ll be backpacking in the Middle East, where temperatures are frequently 100-plus degrees in the shade. Can anything really keep my nether regions as cool as cotton? Michael Alexandria, Virginia

Just in time for the World Cup, Adidas is rolling out the world’s first modular soccer shoe. The F50 Tunit features interchangeable uppers (in the company’s proprietary ClimaCool and ClimaWarm fabrics, synthetic leather, and full-grain leather), footbed chassis, and spikes for maximum traction on hard, soft, or turf fields. Single-upper…

With thin weaves and ultrafine fibers, merino beats the summer heat

I going climbing this summer in Switzerland and looking to shed a few pounds off my gear. My idea is to dump all my fleeces (except maybe a vest) and heavy-duty shells in exchange for a soft shell. I’d like to find one with a hood that actually moves well with the head and allows for a helmet, too. What would be a suitable soft shell for Alpine mountaineering and rock climbing that is warm enough to not need fleeces, and waterproof enough to handle a Southeast Asian monsoon? Matthew Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

I looking for a rainproof jacket, light enough to wear during south Florida's humid, rainy summers, and still be able to use it as outerwear for a spring Yosemite trip. I was considering the Patagonia Ready Mix. Is that too heavy? Any other ideas? Jorge Mii, Florida

I looking for some tough raingear for summer trekking through the Canadian wilderness, where I'll be portaging gear and experiencing sudden changes in weather. My priorities are something that's durable, light, and that will keep me dry and windproof. I normally go for top-of-the-line brand nes, but not in this case. It's just got to last and get the job done. John Beckley, West Virginia

Shield your eyes with the season's coolest shades and be primed for action anytime, anywhere

Whether you and your posse are catching the train out of Santa Fe or heading into the Australian outback this spring, you owe it to yourself�and your fellow passengers�to ride with style

YOU KNOW HOW SOME STARS get all the attention, when it’s really the supporting characters who carry the show? In the quest for better health, strength, and vitality, calcium is one nutrient that’s been hogging the spotlight, but the fact is, vitamin D does most of calcium’s heavy lifting. Vitamin…

I have recently heard talk about a new insulation from NASA, called Aeroloft or Spaceloft. It supposedly weighs less than air and three millimeters of it can keep you warm down to 50 below. Burton apparently used it in a jacket called the Ronin Katana. Do you know anything about this material? Will it be possible to make expedition-worthy sleeping bags that weigh eight ounces? John Atascadero, California

I totally confused by the number, types, prices, and brands of performance T-shirts. I simply want a shirt that is comfortable in warm-hot weather and will stay comfortable when I sweat. Can you help? David Tpa, Florida

What type of jacket would you suggest as an all-season shell for somewhere like North Carolina? I would like to buy one that could be used in the winter as a shell for skiing but that is not too hot to wear in a summer downpour. Art Chapel Hill, North Carolina

An extremely cool makeover brings high performance and style to the latest generation of fleece

I'm after a down jacket or sweater that could replace a fleece jacket in my pack, hopefully adding lots of warmth for only a few ounces extra. I'd hope it would keep me warm by itself to about 45 degrees, and be a layer after that. I don't want it to be too warm or heavy—California isn't usually very cold. I was looking at the EMS Super Sweater, for exple. Any thoughts? Jonathan Thousand Oaks, CA

My back always gets wet then cold when I skiing, snowshoeing, or doing other activities that get my heart pumping. Is there any clothing that will take away the moisture? Bari Edmonton, Alberta

I hope this question qualifies as a gear question. My boyfriend and I always argue about whether or not I should wear less before running, skate-skiing, or mountain-biking, or if I should be warm at the beginning and take off layers as I warm up. I absolutely hate starting out cold, so would much rather layer up, get warm, and take things off as necessary. He thinks I weigh myself down and less efficient since I'll be warming up in a few minutes anyway. It takes me much longer to get sweaty than it does him! So which approach is better? P Arvada, Colorado

If I were to be standing outside in the Arctic, not exercising, what could I wear to stay warm? I'm not interested in down-filled coats or any other animal-based materials. I'm just after warmth over fashion, either men's or women's styles. Brooke Niagara Falls, Ontario

I'm looking for a pair of pants that will be good for trekking the Everest circuit in April. I tend to overheat easily, so they have to breathe fairly well. The trail will be rocky, so they have to be able to take a few of my inevitable slips. Oh yeah, and I'd rather not spend more than maybe $150. Ideas? Craig Brooklyn, New York

I looking for some mountaineering gloves or mitts to keep me warm on summit attempts of Chimborazo and Cotopaxi in Ecuador this January. Any suggestions? Mychael Fort Collins, Colorado

What are the advantages of wool versus synthetic base layers? I going on an 80-day NOLS mountaineering/sea-kayaking expedition in Patagonia, so my base layers are going to get a lot of consecutive use. What is the best option: wool or synthetic? Wool doesn't stink like synthetics, but does it wick as well? What would you go with? Kirby Austin, Texas

I'm looking for a warm three-season jacket. I have a hard shell and a TNF Denali for really cold situations. I've been researching the Arc'teryx Gma line and the Mountain Hardwear Synchro as options for a good jacket that can be worn for spring and summer hikes in the Sierras and Rockies. Any suggestions? Also, why do many soft shells not come standard with a hood? Michelle San Diego, California

My daughter has just begun her studies at the University of Chicago. Her dorm is quite a distance from the main cpus and, as a result, she'll be spending time waiting for buses and walking to classes. What jackets provide good protection from the cold and wet yet are stylish enough for her to wear? A hood seems to be a necessary part of the jacket. What do you recommend? Rowan Potomac, Maryland

I looking for a lightweight insulated jacket, preferably using synthetic insulation for greater resilience to wet conditions. What are the relative merits of the different types of insulation available? PrimaLoft and Thinsulate (plus Thinsulate Lite) seem to be the most commonly used for this type of application, but how do they differ in terms of warmth and durability? Chris Perth, Western Australia

Whether you're headed to the cabin or the corner café, fend off fall's chill with luxe sweaters and jackets made to last a lifetime

Can you take a company to the top when you can't stand nearly everything about traditional business and what it represents? You can if you're Yvon Chouinard. In an exclusive excerpt from his new management guide, Let My People Go Surfing, Patagonia's contrarian founder talks about breaking the rules�and creating the world's most iconoclastic adventure-ap

I about to transfer to the hot, humid tropical island of Gu with the U.S. Navy. I need a recommendation on an extremely lightweight, breathable outer shell. With an average temp of 87 degrees and daily humidity at 80 to 90 percent, I certainly need a light and breathable rainjacket. I was thinking of the Marmot PreCip or REI Ultra Light. Andrew San Diego, California

Workers, unite! Get dressed, gear up, and turn that commuter grind into a grand detour—you'll kick-start the day

I have a wicking shirt that's several years old that smells like sweat even after being freshly washed. Is there anything to get the body odor out of quick-drying fabrics? Melissa Minneapolis, Minnesota

I tend to get cold around cp and want to get an ultralight jacket to replace the fleece & two thermals I typically wear. I'm looking at the Western Mountaineering Flight Jacket and the Bozeman Mountain Works Cocoon Pullover. Any suggestions? Chris Santa Monica, CA

I climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in August. I have been skiing before but never in sub-zero conditions. Will two layers of long underwear under two layers of fleece and a waterproof, windproof shell jacket be enough to handle the cold at over 19,000 feet? Or do I really need to get down or something like it? Steve Moorpark, California

Soft shells, soft shells...that's all you ever hear about these days. But for next winter's mountaineering season, I'm in the market to replace my ten-year-old North Face hard (and I mean HARD) shell. What's out there ong the hard shells—both high end and more affordable—that's durable, well-designed, maybe even innovative? John New York City

I've read about the Moonstone Lucid's light weight and compressibility, but because I won't wear clothes for which animals are slaughtered, I wonder if there's something comparable made of Hollofil or some other man-made fiber that's equally warm, compressible, and lightweight (and for men, since I understand the Lucid is only available in women's sizes). Nicolás Buenos Aires, Argentina

I recently saw a pair of $42 Patagonia shorts and, after recovering from the sticker shock, looked to see what "technical" stuff made it so expensive. All it had was some mesh that acted as a second pair of briefs, a handful of pockets, and it was pretty cool and light. That for $42? David California

I'm going on a weeklong backpacking trip in the Sierras this August. Given this year's extraordinary snowpack, I'm expecting an equally extraordinary year for mosquitoes. I have been eyeing Ex Officio's line of Buzz Off clothing as an alternative to rub-on bug repellents. Is this stuff for real or just marketing hype? Larry Long Beach, California

Several years ago, my husband and I hiked across England on the coast-to-coast route, making good use of some rather inexpensive umbrellas. We are planning a repeat trek, and require strong yet lightweight umbrellas. Any suggestions to help keep our aging bodies dry? Although we are well acquainted with Gore-Tex, it is nice walking under cover! Victoria Toronto, Ontario

After a number of successful three- to four-day hikes, I have recently been extending my trips up to a week. I have found that during extended warm periods (over 95 degrees F) I sometimes develop a bit of chaffing in the groin region—ouch! What is the best clothing (both base and outer layers) to prevent this? Tim Melbourne, Australia

Protect your baby blues with sunglasses designed for a summer's worth of action and adventure

I looking to buy Patagonia's Ready Mix as my first soft shell. What's your opinion on this shell? Will it repel light to moderate rain showers as advertised? Dan Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Do you have a solution for sweat getting in your eyes while hiking? I have tried wearing a visor but I like to get sun on my face. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

For the U.S. military, there are no priorities higher than troop readiness and efficiency of field medical treatment. A remarkable new tool for improving both could be new combat T-shirts that allow commanders and medics to assess soldiers’ fit-to-fight status and perform rapid triage miles from the fray. The lightweight,…

Many high-tech products from jackets to sleeping bags ask that they be washed in a "mild soap." Some say a "pure soap." But none ever give an explanation of what that means, nor a recommendation of any actual brands or nes. Can you share some wisdom? Tad Urumqi, China

James Dean, Liz Taylor, and Rock Hudson had a "Giant" time in this high-desert corner of Texas—and so have generations of on-the-road seekers and, more recently, art-world hipsters. Whether you roll on down to the Rio Grande or stick around town, Marfa is the perfect place to shake off winter and look good doing it.

I'm a news photographer headed to Iraq this summer. I need some long pants (for protection), but they need to be very light, breathable, and quick-drying. Further, good-sized cargo pockets and belt loops that will allow me to wear a sturdy belt would be helpful. I can't seem to find a good combination of the above. J. Lee Washington, D.C.

Boom-shaka-laka: Explore the old-school landscape of retro runners and seventies sneakers cool enough to take you back to the future

New-school technical pieces look after the serious business of snowbound fun, while playing nice with the classics of cold-weather style

I'm planning a coast-to-coast walk across England this spring, covering 190 miles in about two weeks. What are your top three choices for a rainjacket? Sid Susanville, California

I need a really, really warm fleece for a trip on the Pacific Crest Trail this coming season. I'm having a hard time deciding on the right fleece, especially with all the soft shells on the market to muddy the picture. I own a soft shell, which is great for when I'm actually walking with a pack or up a hill, but otherwise it doesn't really keep me warm at night or when I'm just getting moving. Gear Guy, what is this fleece I seek? Do you know its ne? Sarah Santa Barbara, California

I want a pair of sunglass lenses that will take me from bright and snowy skiing conditions to sailing on the ocean and inland lakes. What is the best color for a broad array of activities, and are polarized lenses worth the extra expense over regular sunglass lenses? Laura Evans, Georgia

Slimmed down and styled up, expedition parkas are taking back the streets. Winter doesn't stand a chance.

I looking for some really good cold/freezing-weather cycling gear. All the gear makers have clothing that is supposed to be super warm, but which one's garments are the warmest and most affordable? I heard Pearl Izumi makes some of the best cold-weather gear. Is that true? What actual bib/tights and jacket would you suggest? Ian Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I looking for a good pair of durable pants for hiking in cold weather (late fall to early spring). I see construction workers out in their Carharrts year round. Aren't they made of cotton? Would I be better off buying wool pants from L.L. Bean or Woolrich? Or is there a better option? Matt Albuquerque, New Mexico

I'm a woman with an athletic build. For years I have purchased and used gear for men (including ski boots and inline skates), thinking that it is better made. But is there really a performance edge in gender-specific gear? Think I can rp it up by making the switch? Diane Highland Park, New Jersey

I live in the wet and mild Northwest, where I cycle to work five days a week, preferring to be in the rain than inside on a stationary bike! Here's my dilemma, though: My ass gets wet from the rain or my own sweat if I wear rain pants. I've been told by sales folk in cycle shops that most clothing manufacturers are based in places that aren't even particularly wet. How do you pedal at 15+ mph on your road bike and keep your rear end dry? Steven Portland, Oregon

The latest in waterproof shoes will surprise you—the same protective qualities you’d expect in your rugged hikers are now popping up in casual boots and even dress loafers. The result is dry-foot comfort in the face of the season’s first cold rains. Dr. Martens's Waterproof Rigger Dr. Martens’s Waterproof Rigger…

The lighter side of warm: From left, get cotton’s durability and cashmere’s luxuriousness with 1.) NAUTICA’s cable-knit crewneck ($128; 877-628-8422,; channel Paul Bunyan with 2.) WOOLRICH’s washable wool pullover ($69; 800-966-5372,; stand out from the crowd on game day in 3.) POLO…

I've been looking at soft shells for an early fall trip up to Voyageurs National Park, and certainly like what I see from REI, The North Face, Marmot, and the like. Thing is, there's A) way too many choices, and B) I'd like to get something that I could also wear casually around the city. Any ideas? Henry Chicago, Illinois

My kids are very sensitive to sun and mosquito bites. Can you recommend any sun-protective clothing, and have you heard of clothing that protects from mosquitoes? They are seven and 12, and we live in a hot, humid environment. Beth

Pretty much everyone with whom I go backpacking or hiking has always told me never to wear pants made from cotton. And so, I have avoided jeans and khakis most of the time, usually favoring polyester blends. However, I long for nature's own fabrics again and again. Recently, I saw hemp pants available online, but I wonder if they'd be suitable for backpacking and hiking? Brice Rough and Ready, California