Hiking

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By Stephen Regenold A million little needles work a million strands of yarn. Gears shift. Machine arms adjust and spin, the mechanized anatomy of a knitting machine pulls raw yarn on one side and spits out a sock on the other. It is a…

A few weeks ago, my friend Aileen and I made a rookie mistake, despite being inveterate outdoorsy types. We hiked 12 miles through Santa Fe National Forest equipped with only an 18-oz water bottle between the both of us. Not the smartest move, especially in high desert. Luckily, just when…

If you're familiar with the online shopping website Gilt Groupe, then you probably know that it mostly survives on the likes of Gucci, Missoni, Marc Jacobs, and other designers that grace the floors of Neiman…

When I was a kid, I don't remember every buying my dad a gift that wasn't a fanciful tie bought at a department store under fluorescent lights or a shiny pen that costs somewhere in the double-digits. I wasn't even sure why someone needed a pen like that–my BIC pens…

When I was a kid, I don't remember every buying my dad a gift that wasn't a fanciful tie bought at a department store under fluorescent lights or a shiny pen that cost somewhere in the double-digits. I wasn't even sure why someone needed a pen like that–my BIC pens…

By Stephen Regenold Headlamps have become de rigueur in the outdoors world for light at night. But the handheld flashlight still has a place for camping and other activities. This spring I put three flashlight models head to head, including a penlight, a super-bright model, and one…

By Stephen Regenold Over the past few years, reviewing equipment for camping, hiking, biking, and other pursuits, a few products and a few ideas have stood out. These five innovations in gear have literally changed the way I do things outside.

By Stephen Regenold Invented during the Great Depression, and seen as a small icon of American design for more than 75 years since, Zippo brand lighters package fuel, spark, and flame in a portable, durable metal case. Flip…

By Stephen Regenold “Free of bisphenol-A. Free of polycarbonate. Free of phthalates. Free of cadmium. Free of lead. Free of PVC.” Thus read the bullet points dissecting the makeup of Thinksport's 350 Silver water bottle. The $15.99 stainless-steel bottle comes from…

By Stephen Regenold A pair of international trips this year have netted me multiple bouts of stomach sickness, but I can't say I haven't tried to allude the little bugs that cause ill will to so many travelers. One weapon I've employed, the AdventurerOpti…

Wow, it's been nearly a decade I've been stopping in and asking you questions for my Army sponsored jaunts around the globe. It's Afghanistan this time and I need a stiff mountaineering boot that is still light and won't cook my feet to death in the 110 degree heat this summer. Our issue boots are getting better, but still aren't quite there for the really steep, rocky stuff. My average load is around 40 to 60 pounds with the body armor. Don't worry about colors or "military looking" stuff. Just let me know what will get the job done. BTW: The Suunto altimeter you turned me onto back in '02 is still going strong and hard at work over here. Nice job.—LarryFirebase Vulcan, Afghanistan

By Stephen Regenold Mike Horn is a South African explorer known for his solo sailing expeditions and extreme feats, such as circumnavigating a route along the Arctic Circle via kayak, ski, and on foot. It was a solo trek that took more…

On first glance, the black grips on the Wenger EvoGrip S18 look gimmicky and the Big Bird-yellow color is a bit loud for my taste. But, after a few test runs, I realized that the non-slip rubber allowed me to cut with more confidence and the…

  By Stephen Regenold It took a van loaded with gear to get from my house tothe airport. Then in the terminal, I juggled a cart stacked with three rollingduffel bags, a carry-on suitcase, and a daypack to wear on the airplane…

I am looking for an all around boot/shoe to go hiking with in the mountains, usually distances of more than 20 miles. I like to hike without socks in the summer. I have had Merrells before but want to try something different now.—BryceRaleigh, NC

By Stephen Regenold My head is still spinning. My feet are damaged but on the mend. To say the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race was a crazy time would understate the experience. After almost seven straight…

By Stephen Regenold It took months of training and nearly a full week of human-powered effort (six days, three hours, and 31 minutes, to be exact) to traverse the entirety of Tierra del Fuego in Chile's Patagonia region. But from a ferry depot on the Strait of…

I am an avid reader of your advice and I like the way you also explain technologies. So here's a question that involves both: I would like some shoes for day hikes of up to six hours. I already have some great boots (Meindl Burma) for multi-day trips or rugged day-hiking terrain. But I'd like something light for other occasions (but probably with some waterproofness as it rains a lot in New Zealand). The trouble is, I don't really know what I am looking for. Light hikers, trail runners, cross-terrain shoes...? Are these different names for essentially the same thing?—KarenWellington, New Zealand

I took the Petzl Zipka 2 headlamp ($40) on a recent camping trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. It's one of the most pared-down headlamps on the market these days. Petzl replaced the conventional elastic-band head strap with a thin retractable cord. At first…

By Stephen Regenold This gear won't be in shops until the spring or next fall, but here's a peek at a few innovations and out-there items coming soon to an outdoors store near you. Glowing Sandals: Never trip in the dark again. A small…

Courtesy of Flickr Alexander Kendrick, a 16-year-old from Los Alamos, New Mexico, has invented a device that allows cavers to text to the surface of the Earth from deep underground, NPR reports. It's basically a…

One of my health resolutions this year was to drink more water. Should be easy, right? Except for the fact that I sit at a desk all day, and when the water fountain's out of sight, it's out of mind. I needed a water bottle, and not one that would…

Nokia, the world's number one phone maker, has a full navigation suite now available to any compatible smartphone for free, Wired.com reports. The suite includes maps, updates, driving and walking directions, guides from Lonely Planet…

By Stephen Regenold My plane ticket is booked. The training schedule I've committed to for months is winding down. The great adventure that is the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race, a weeklong endurance event through Tierra…

Your dog likes to roam around outside for several hours a day, so why not make good use of play time by strapping a solar panel and battery pack to its back? …Right? That's what one guy thought, anyway, as shown in this YouTube video that was featured on…

By Stephen Regenold Send a Tweet from the backcountry, track your GPS position anywhere on the globe, text-message a friend out of cell-phone range, or blip out an SOS signal in an emergency situation via a roving satellite network. These are the touted features of a GPS/satellite…

One might think that jeans would’ve suffered neglect due to all the highfalutin’ Space Age materials on the market today. After all, they’re slow to dry and stretch out between washings. The knees blow out with minimal provocation. But these limitations have only strengthened my love for them. With synthetics…

I trying to find the best boot setup for my job. I a professional dog hiker. My job entails hiking five to six miles a day three days a week with 13 dogs throughout the winter in mountainous terrain. Generally I moving so much that I sweating and warm, but after I start my descent my feet are sweaty and start to freeze. I use sock liners and hiking socks with my Vasque Sundowners or Asolo's with Outdoor Research gaiters and Yaktrax Pros. Is there a special winter boot out there or setup you recommend? John Missoula, MT

By Stephen Regenold From whitewater kayaking in Colorado to trekking in Belize, the past 12 months proved to be another epic year of adventure. Along the way, I put dozens of outdoors products to the test–tents, packs, boots, bikes, and knives among the mix. These…

By Stephen Regenold It stuffs down to a size smaller than a baseball. Its manufacturer, Sea to Summit Inc. of Perth, Australia, suggests using it as a keychain. But unpack the Ultra-Sil Day Pack and its crinkly “siliconized” Cordura nylon quickly takes shape, a backpack…

I love gadgets. I always have. Gadgets are handy little devices that usually aren’t necessary, but are still fun to have along for the ride. The Highgear Terrapod ($70) is a gadget, and a rugged one at that. I've gotten along fine on backpacking journeys for…

A few years ago, I bought a pair of hiking boots with a molded sole. Spent $250 for the things. I have to admit that they were comfy. They lasted less than a year; the sole ce off both boots, and because of the way the sole was attached there was no way to repair them. I just had the third sole put on a pair of Lowa's that I bought in the late ?70s. As far as I'm concerned these new boots are for the throw-away crowd who face all the adversities of hiking across the parking lot of the local mega box. I'm looking for a new pair of boots with the good "old" style welt and a similar rugged construction. Or, at least, something that can be repaired. Leroy Fayetteville, AR

My biggest problem with my current daypack is that my back gets very sweaty, even with a quick-dry shirt. Do you know of any daypacks that allow for more airflow between the pack and my back? Christopher St. Louis, MO

The Flash 65 by REI ($150) is fairly elusive to the eye. It seems like just another backpack with nothing special to offer. Fortunately, this pack is loaded with smart features and the fit is awesome. Designed to be a lightweight pack at two pounds…

Spot Messenger emergency beacons have become popular with backcountry users as a low-priced way to summon help when outside of cell-phone coverage areas. Today, however, the company issued a statement that it would be accepting free returns of the new, smaller version of the beacon—the Spot 2—after the company…

By Stephen Regenold With its new high-top trail shoe, Inov-8 stakes a simple claim: The Roclite 288 GTX is “the lightest-weight waterproof boot on the market.” Its GORE-TEX membrane provides a waterproof barrier. It weighs about 10 ounces per foot in a men's size nine–half the weight…

Whether you're looking to get some holiday shopping done, or just need to upgrade your gear stash, a web site to watch is SteepandCheap.com. Much like Woot! and other bargain sites, SteepandCheap offers daily deals on outdoor apparel and gear, with products…

It took a lot for me to let go of The North Face down sleeping bag I’ve had for about two decades, in spite of its becoming flatter and flatter by the year. It had been with me through the Andes, North Africa, much of Europe, and…

I do a lot of winter hiking and would love to know what boot will provide the warmth I need that is also very light. I'm only 101 pounds and the ones I have now are not working for me! Jeanette Gilford, NH

I found the perfect place to test out the La Sportiva FC 1.1 Hikers ($105), the Moosehead Lake region of Maine. I set up up a series of day hikes to put the shoes to the test. Let’s start with the cosmetics: these…

By Stephen Regenold Take a watertight polycarbonate container and cram it full with gear. That's the gist of a GearPod, the namesake new product from GearPods Corporation of Polson, Montana. The company (gearpods.com) offers a line of ready-made adventure and survival…

I'm in the market for some good ol' fashioned, single-leather-upper hiking boots. Nothing against the space age looks of most boots today; I just long for the time when boots looked like, well, boots! Aside from the Vasque Sundowners, do you have any recommendations? I liked the Zberlan Panthers, and the Made in Italy nostalgia is a plus. Price being on the back burner, I'm looking for that old-school Sundowner, Panther, Banff style boot; ideally of high quality. Thoughts? Ben Bern, NC

The first thing out of my mouth when I set up this beast was, “This thing's freakin' huge!” MSR’s latest addition to its fast-and-light series of tents, the Skinny Too ($250), is a lightweight yet…

By Stephen Regenold Rod Johnson, owner and founder of Midwest Mountaineering, took a multi-month journey on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) this past summer to push the limits of ultra-light gear. His experiment in minimalism for the great outdoors included more than 1,000 miles…

I tried to get the Salomon Quest 4D GTX hiking boots ($200) a couple of weeks in advance. With a rim-to-rim backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon on the horizon, I wanted to have some time to break them in. As it turns…

I planning a weeklong hut-to-hut ski trip in the Gaspe this winter. Food and heavier gear will be transported by sled but a day pack with essentials must still be carried, of course. Any suggestions for pack and gear? Tim Toronto, Ontario

Audi has partnered with MIT to design a robotic GPS with a head and facial expressions called AIDA (Affective Intelligent Driving Agent), New Scientist reports. The robot will do more than just give you directions. It will also give…

What is the best way to carry water into a hike? I have been using a regular gallon jug and it's just a bad choice, but I don't want to carry a bunch of Sigg or Nalgene bottles. Is there any lightweight system to carry water that is a little more...packable? Daniel Powell, OH

A new trend in the outdoors world is the overuse of locator beacons, according to an article published by Edge Philadelphia. Nowadays, the technology of these beacons allows hikers and adventurers to transmit help messages from practically anywhere. Unfortunately, this include novices…

I'm looking for solid backpacking boots that come in wide sizes and that will work for someone with thick feet and high insteps. The Asolo TPS 520 looked/felt good but has stitching and folds on the liner booty that seem to chafe quickly. I also looked into the Meindl Perfekt 7, which does not have a liner booty but seems to be indefinitely back-ordered from its sole U.S. distributor, Cabela's. Any other suggestions? Do you think the liner stitches and folds will smooth out over time? Barr Albuquerque, NM

This video posted by the Adventure Blog demonstrates the functions of a new backpack that generates electricity as you walk.  The pack collects energy as it bounces up and down with your body, allowing the wearer to recharge batteries, iPods, satellite phones,…

I have freakish feet. I a size 13 with AA width. I can't seem to find a boot that will fit. Any ideas? Bill Burlington, VT

I looking for the best backpack type child carrier. Any suggestions? Rudi Gardiner, NY

I have freakish feet. I a size 13 with AA width. I can't seem to find a boot that will fit. Any ideas? Bill Burlington, VT

I'm replacing a ten-year-old pair of Zberlan Civettas that I've worn on two-week backpacking trips into the Canadian Rockies. Generally these trips involve pack weights of 50 pounds or so, largely due to the ount of food. I'm looking at boots such as the Zberlan Vioz and the Scarpa SL M3 (the former being light, the latter with seemingly stiffer sole and heavier). Do you have any suggestions? Ed Charlottetown, Prince Edward island

I'm looking for cross-over footwear for hiking. I'm not so much into the high-top thing. What is the best shoe/boot for multi-day backpacking with a 25- to 30-pound pack? S Tujunga, CA

I'm having trouble finding a good-fitting boot. A 12 feels short and a 13 is creating blisters on the tips of my toes. Can you suggest some brands that might have something in between a 12 and 13? I'm backpacking in west Texas and throughout the Rockies. Thanks! Erik Austin, TX

I'm looking for a lightweight, water-resistant, secure, and organization-friendly pack., basically what I would call my weekend pack. I'd like to have enough space for some food, water (hydration sleeve a plus), backup clothes, and all the gadgets we love so much (i.e. cell phone, iPod, GPS, headlp, etc.). Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Chris Royal Palm Beach, FL

I planning a number of long backpacking trips in the Cascades and Olympics, as well as climbs of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ads, and Mt. Rainier this summer. Recently, most of my old gear was stolen from my car while moving. I still have a tent and sleeping bag, but I no longer have my backpack, boots, stove, or any foul-weather gear. Can you recommend the best all-around light gear that is not too expensive but can hold up to the demands of the Pacific Northwest? (Just so you know, I a small women—5'2" and 103 lbs—so I need to keep things light and small.) Michele Portland, OR

I'm looking for a good day pack that I can use both hiking and mountain biking. I'm 6'5" and need to find one that will fit properly. Justin Rineyville, KY

What boot would give me the most bang for my buck when hiking south on Appalachian Trail in the early spring through summer, considering durability and water-tightness? Ian Nottingh, PA

I'm looking for luggage to use on a ten-day eco-tour of Costa Rica. Do you have any suggestions? Mark Buffalo, NY

Before there was Timbaland, there were Timberland boots. And before pop stars began naming themselves after consumer brands, there was the Abington Shoe Company. Established in 1933, it would eventually blossom into the $1.4 billion footwear-and-apparel behemoth now known as Timberland. Boots were cut from simpler cloth then—the only indulgence…

I've been using a Gregory Palisade backpack for week-long trips, usually on the AT or in the Whites. But I’d like to purchase a pack made specifically for women. Which pack will provide similar size and features as the Palisade? Kate Boston, Massachusetts

Can you recommend some good winter backpacking boots? Most of the time, I’d be around 4,000 feet, though I do spend some time around treeline as well. Bill Billerica, Massachusetts

My work frequently takes me to developing-world destinations where streets are unpaved and sidewalks nonexistent. Yet I'm generally expected to maintain business casual attire. Is there a shoe that acts like a hiking shoe but doesn't look out of place with a pair of khakis in the office? Christopher Washington, D.C.

El Naturalista‘s Messenger Bag is old-school cool ($420; elnaturalista.com).

I have the chance to purchase an old, never-used Dana Design Bomb pack to replace my Dana Sluiskin 30, which has proven to be a bit small. I do a lot of peak bagging and some light overnights in Colorado and occasionally take friends who don't have packs. What do you think? Mark Topeka, Kansas

Who makes quality comfortable backpacks for kids, ages 8 to 12? My grandsons love our weekend camping trips, but the best packs we can find, extra-small women’s packs, still have harness systems too large for them. S Fairbanks, Alaska

I have a new pair of Scarpa Trek Pro hiking boots and wore them for a week inside for up to four hours. They seemed great, so I went out in the bush for 2.5 hours and ended up with huge blisters on my heels. Was I too hasty or bitious in my first outing? And what is the best way to treat blisters? Alison Victoria, Australia

What weight of fleece (for a jacket) would you recommend for late-summer backpacking in the Pacific Northwest? I’m hiking the Wonderland Trail in early September and don’t know if 100 will be warm enough or if 200 will be overkill. Steve Puyallup, Washington

Does anyone still make unlined or leather-lined hiking boots? Shoes with a synthetic lining make my feet really hot and sweaty. Any suggestions? Tim Sonoma, California

I'm going to Nepal for an internship this summer and then to South erica for the Peace Corps next winter. I need a backpack that's durable enough for travel and big enough to hold all of my stuff. But, I would like one that is technical enough for backpacking trips. Any suggestions? Sean Columbus, Ohio

I just got a pair of Vasque Summit GTX boots, an all leather, sturdy backpacking boot with smooth leather and a Gore-Tex liner. What’s the best way to break them in? And how can I keep the leather conditioned long-term? Mark Lawrence, Kansas

Are backpacking boots made with fabric uppers stiff enough for good ankle support and protection against sharp rocks? I'm looking at the Kayland Apex Trek for a trip to Alaska, where I will glacier walk with crampons. Most of my other packing is done in the lower 48. John Evanston, Illinois

I want to know about Vibr rubber. What is so special about it? Badrim Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Other than color, is there any difference between men's and women's boot in the se model? I specifically interested in the La Sportiva Glacier. Chris Geneva, Illinois

For the past five years I lived out west, but I’m now in Indiana for a year. To make the best of my stay, I’m looking for new goals to tackle and have decided to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. What is the best backpack to take on that challenge? Charles South Bend, Indiana

Though the treads on my six-year-old Garmont Nagevi boots don't look too worn, I've noticed that I'm slipping more than I used to. I've spent some time trying on other light hikers at the stores, and they all feel light and flimsy. I'm told this is due to new advancements. Is this true? Nancy Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I hope you can settle a disagreement between my wife and me. We’re going on a five-day trek to Machu Picchu along the Cino Salcantay carrying day packs only. My wife has a pair of 10-year-old Vasque boots that she insists are adequate but don't look very substantial to me. Any suggestion as to what boots she should be wearing on this hike? David Palm City, Florida