Gear Guy

What backpack will do it all: climbing, trekking, urban travel, the lot?

What backpack will do it all: climbing, trekking, urban travel, the lot?

G'day, Doug. I'm after an "all-rounder" backpack for trekking, travel, backpacking, the lot! I want a top-loader but can't decide between two Deuter bags, the Aircontact 75+10 or 65+10. The 75 might be a bit big for city travel, but it could carry all my climbing gear, trekking boots, tent, sleeping bag, and the like. On the other hand, the 65 might be better for ease of use, and I can then carry a cargo bag for the excess. What do you think? Mark Brisbane, Queensland

The Gear Guy asks: What should one know about using knives in the wilderness?

The Gear Guy asks: What should one know about using knives in the wilderness?

Readers may have recently come across my thoughts on some of the more offbeat reader questions. One was: "What three or four skills should a true outdoorsman be able to do with a knife?" I had to admit—I was stumped. I use a knife to make shavings for a fire or for various gear-repair chores, but despite many years of hiking and camping, I'm not much of a knifesman. So I asked readers for help, and got some! Sue Duncan in Billings, Montana, read my plea, and responded with a detailed note. I thought her advice so good that it was worth posting.

What's the right way to layer before starting out on cold runs?

What's the right way to layer before starting out on cold runs?

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

Is there one boot to hike and climb the Americas?

Is there one boot to hike and climb the Americas?

I'm looking for a do-everything mountaineering boot, a tall order I know. A friend and I have plans to travel through the Americas next year, climbing in the big mountains wherever we go, following the summer. I only want to bring a single pair of boots, so I want something that can handle bushwhacking in Patagonia, snow and ice climbs in the Canadian Rockies, and the cold and altitude of Aconcagua. Is there one boot that can handle all that? I'm leaning towards either the Scarpa Inverno or the La Sportiva Nepal Extreme. Alex Princeton, New Jersey

Which skis will help me earn my turns?

Which skis will help me earn my turns?

Gear Man, it's been too long! Over the years your sage wisdom has been invaluable: jacket, check; watch, check; socks, check (my platoon says thanks, by the way). Anyway, I'm taking the winter off from sand, sun, and hostile fire and getting back in touch with my mountain roots here in Vermont, and I've decided to start earning my turns on Mansfield rather than riding that klunky old lift. Plus, I'm getting cheap. So, O Sage and Eminent Gear Scholar, please help me choose a good all-terrain ski. Now, I've got to get back to building my shrine to Ullr before the evening storm report. Larry Burlington, Vermont

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