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I looking for a new lightweight backpack. I never carry over 30 pounds and had decided on the Gregory Reality until I found a new Mountainsmith backpack called the Mountain Guide at a local store. The salesperson told me it was brand new and can't find any information about it. She weighed it for me as the specs didn't include a weight and it ce out about two pounds lighter then the Reality. Does two pounds makes a huge difference in a pack? Kjaristy Salt Lake City, Utah

If I want to go mountaineering up here in the Northwest, is it enough to slap some crampons onto a pair of Scarpa Rios? I know Rios are great for just about everything else and that they stopped making the Edwardo climbing boot (why, I don't know). Or, should I try some other boot? Jim Trueworthy Coeur d'Alene, North Idaho

Where can I buy climbing/hiking knickers? I used to wear them in the '70s, but styles have unfortunately changed. Now I don't know of a single outfitter that carries them. Anything from European sources, perhaps? David West Monroe, New York

I've heard that under non-extreme conditions my hiking pole can be used as a self-arrest tool when crossing steeply inclined snowfields. As much as I would love to buy an ice axe and add it to the chaos of my gear closet, I don't want to purchase an item when an existing tool would work just as well. Should I indulge my gear habit or stick with what I've got? PG Hancock Littleton, Colorado

I looking to purchase a pair of snowshoes and wondering what length/style I should get. I'm five-foot, 11-inchess tall, and weigh about 180 pounds. I most likely will be using the shoes primarily for day hikes so I would probably be wearing a daypack and possibly carrying my skis. Scott Garvin Boston, Massachusetts

I'm planning to do some solo hiking this summer and would like to take along more than a bivy bag for shelter. I'm looking for a three-season tent that maximizes room (I'm six-feet tall) and minimizes weight. Perhaps a Walrus Microswift or the Sierra Designs Ultra Light Year? I'm not finding too much information or many reviews on the Net, and those that I do find are outdated. Any advice? Don Sherwood Park, Alberta

I considering buying a pair of hiking shoes for day hikes with a light load (usually my 30-pound daughter in a child carrier). I have a pair of Merrell hiking boots and tennis shoes and I find both too warm (I don't know if its just me but I find tennis shoes very warm even though I don't have a tendency to sweat). Hence, I always end up using my Teva sandals, which don't give me enough support and don't protect my feet. Can you propose a closed hiking shoe that won't make me feel like my feet are in a furnace? Thanks in advance. Guillaume Frechette Columbus, Ohio

My ne is George, and I a Gearaholic. I know I have a problem, but I cannot control myself. Although I have eight packs, ranging from a Gregory Denali Pro to a Mountainsmith Ghost, I have the se dilemma with all of them. Though of average build, my hips are non-existent, causing my hipbelts to slide down my waist. This problem can be very bad in winter when lugging a heavy pack and wearing slippery Gore-Tex clothes. Are there any gripping solutions that can be applied, or is there another pack that can cure my problem? George Rochester, New York

For multi-day trips to the Sierras, I've been using an REI Wonderland external-fre pack, 5,000 cubic inches of cavernous, organized, old-school pack. Everybody I see these days, though, has internal-fre packs that look so comfortable (maybe they're fooling me). I still living in the '80s with my Wonderland? Is it time for an internal-fre pack? If so, any suggestions? Alex Chino Hills, California

My wife has been using a pair of Asolo AFS Ridge boots for our backpacking trips, typically extended ones through rugged terrain. The Asolos blew out a se in front of the laces and need to be replaced. We are considering the Montrail Moraines or the Asolo 520 GTX boots. Is the Moraine too much boot? Is the Asolo 520 enough boot? Any other suggestions? Louis Oregon City, Oregon

What's a good internal-fre backpack for someone just getting into backpacking (two- to four-night trips)? I don't want to spend more than I need to, not knowing how much I'll end up liking backpacking. (I've strictly been a day hiker in the past.) However, I don't want to buy junk that won't work properly and will ruin my trip. Kris Newbury, Ohio

I'm in need of a bigger climbing backpack, but I'm facing two problems. First, I also need a bigger backpack for weeklong trips; my climbing partner says just get one huge bag, just don't fill it up. So, one bag or two? Second, how big? I a five-foot-six, 130-pound female, and I think I require at least 3,000 cubic inches for my climbing needs. Kendra Boise, Idaho

I'm a 40-year-old dad planning to be a mule for my young family of five (wife, two daughters, ten and 12 years old, and seven-year-old son). I'm looking for a large capacity (6,000-plus-cubic-inch) backpack. I'm currently looking at the Osprey Crescent 110, Dana Designs Terraplane, and Arc'Teryx Bora 95. I realize pack comfort will differ based on individual size and body shape. Of these three I mention, and possibly others I haven't, which carries the heaviest loads and provides the most comfort. Frank Hahn Chula Vista, California

This summer, I will be traveling in Peru and concerned about thieves cutting into my pack. What do you recommend to protect my belongings? Pat Harlingen, Texas

Recently a couple friends and I attempted a 14-mile backpacking trip alongside a Class II-III river, with 90 percent of our time spent boulder-hopping, the remaining 10 percent waterborne. Unfortunately, we only managed to go three miles before the small recreational rafts we had to transport our packs got ripped up by the rocks and all the bushwhacking. In light of this, do you know of any companies who sell floating backpacks? Or is there some kind of easy-to-pack inflatable for transporting gear through water. We'd like to complete the se trek next year, but need a better way to float our backpacks. Travis Roseville, California

I have a bit of a problem. I must have put my pack away a little wet after a spring backcountry ski trip and now all the waterproof coating is coming off the inside of the pack. I have a siliconized nylon pack cover that I will probably use for an upcoming Sierra trip and sprayed the outside of the pack with Nikwax. I also always use a garbage bag inside of the pack to protect my gear. Do you think the pack is done and I need to bite the bullet and buy another? Or do you have any suggestions of ways to fix it? Tim Newport Beach, California

I'm a student who's planning a summer road trip to visit some neighboring states and maybe even Canada. I hope to leave the truck for a few days at a time and do a little backpacking, so I'm looking for a pack. Remember, I'm a starving college student, so nothing too expensive please! Mike San Luis Obispo, California

I have a Gregory Palisade pack and love it. A number of recent comments and reviews of the Dana Designs Terraplane pack have suggested it is the best pack on the market. However, I find the price of over $400 extreme. Is there something inherent in this pack that would suggest such a premium over the $200 to $300 internal fre packs in its category? David R. Eitemiller Colorado Springs, Colorado

I guess this might be more of a biological or physiological question than a straight gear question, but I notice that when I sip water from a CelBak, I have to "go" less than if I take bigger yet less frequent gulps from a water bottle. It seems that even drinking a full 70 ounces from my CelBak, compared to a quart from a bottle, is easier on my bladder. I just imagining this? Does the body better optimize water that's sipped slowly? Bill Bedford, New Hampshire

I'm planning on through-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and would like to keep my pack weight as low as possible without sacrificing comfort. When I through-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1990, my pack weight was around 50 pounds, including food and water. I have heard that ultralight packs are not very comfortable with loads over 20 pounds. Can you recommend a lightweight backpack for my hike? Cliff Ashford, Alabama

"I just got through watching reruns of the Eco-Challenge, and was wondering what those competitors (and us less adventurous hikers) can do for very wet, muddy, and slushy hiking conditions? How about Gore-Tex socks and some strips of duct tape around each calf to keep the water out?"

Do water bladders sweat inside a daypack? My daypack is big enough to hold a bladder, but I'm worried my other stuff will get soggy if I pack next to a bladder. I worrying for nothing? No Name Given

I'm looking for a hydration pack that I can use for cycling. But, I also want to be able to stick the bladder in my Gregory backpack for extended hiking trips, thereby knocking out two birds with one bladder. I have looked at products from CelBak and Gregory, but what do you recommend? Ronald Cookeville, Tennessee

When out hiking, I'm tired of getting my good-quality boots soaking wet when crossing knee-high stres. Worse still, repeatedly taking off my boots and putting on sneakers or water shoes is a drag, not to mention time consuming. So what's the solution, gear sage? Are there any "water boots" that are sturdy enough to handle trail hiking with a 25 to 35 pound pack, but that can also withstand multiple stre crossings and total immersion? Surely I'm not the only soggy hiker out there. Mitchell Fountain Valley, California

My husband and I just got a camera with a timer and remote control. We have a regular tripod, but need a good, compact tripod for hiking and backpacking. We've seen some that fold down to about cigarette-pack size, but are they any good? It's just a regular 35mm point and shoot camera, any recommendations? Linda Neve Incline Village, Nevada

When it comes to packing a backpack, I get lots of varying answers. What's correct, the weight at the top of the pack or at the bottom? Kristen San Diego, California

I looking for a boot that can do just about everything, including hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, as well as a little bit of climbing and bouldering. I would also prefer a crampon-compatible boot that can handle the snow and cold. Any suggestions, besides going out and buying five different pairs of boots? Jeff Midland, Michigan

How do you clean and wash boots? I have a pair of Asolo Cerro Torre's, and they are fairly light boots, but after a trip in the Never Summer Wilderness with lots of rain and mud, they feel heavy. The dried mud adds up, I guess. How can I make them light again? Thanks. Josh Wheeler Denver; CO

In one of your long-ago columns, you gave the scoop on the well-known Cascade Designs Chair Kit and the Therm-a-Rest Chair Lounger. But in the spirit of "discovering" unknown, neglected products, does the Gear Guy have a take on the Sling-light chair (naturally, at slinglight.com)? Does this alternative, lightweight product deserve our consideration? Marshall Atlanta, Georgia

I recently bought a secondhand Osprey backpack. Every time I use it and break a sweat, I'm overwhelmed with odorous memories of someone I've never met. Is there a way to rid the suspension of the previous owner's "scent"? Stan Gainesville, Missouri

When a pack manufacturer specifies a volume for a certain pack, do they mean the main compartment only or does the number include all the outside pockets as well? It seems that a 40-liter pack from one brand is not the se size as a 40- liter from another. Kenneth Toronto, Ontario

I in search of a backpack with a volume of 6,000 to 7,000 cubic inches for a month-long expedition that departs on November 29! Price is not an issue—I'm seeking a good fit for my five-foot-six fre and 17.5-inch torso. The Arc'Teryz Bora 75 women's pack fits well, but the volume is too small. I have also tried the Gregory Denali Pro, which has the capacity but not the fit. Cecilia Canmore, Alberta

I recently purchased quite an expensive digital camera. As I'll be backpacking in Montana's Crazy Mountains this June, I'm wondering if it's practical to bring the camera along. If so, what type of bag or protection should I purchase, and where is the safest, yet most accessible spot in my pack to store the camera? Kristin Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Backpacks are a bit of a problem for me because I rather well endowed and the straps get pushed out onto my arms when walking—with all the consequent chafing. Can you recommend a pack with front crossover straps, or an alternative that leaves me unchafed? Deborian Boca Raton, Florida

Despite the current trend towards light-and-fast hiking/backpacking gear, no manufacturer besides Eureka has looked at the rolled up size of even ultralight tents. They're still 5 feet by 18 feet or longer. Why not 6 feet by 12 feet? Or 6 feet by 10 feet? I've seen tents I'd really like to purchase but their packed size is too long to fit a small pack. Why is this? Ken Johnson Hollister, California

I have a five-and-a-half-year-old son who likes to hike with dad. Our problem is that we can't find good hiking boots for him. He has a pair of fine Salomon boots we purchased from Cor two years ago, but he has since outgrown them. His feet are a wide size two, which complicates our quest to outfit his feet. Bob Penfield, New York

Just be sure to share the load with one of this year's best backpacks

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