(M) Beyond Our Boundaries: Episode 13

Follow the story of a family of five as they backpack over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine. by Damien and Renee Tougas | 2014-08-19

The Tougas Family is embarking on an exciting journey; their ambitious plan is to backpack the Appalachian as a family. This episode introduces their plan, gear, and the individual skills brought to the production by each of the family members. The beauty about this project is that the family is learning how to do this sort of trip from scratch and the end product will be something that others families can use for similar endeavors.

Read this article at
View All: Profiles > People

Cinnamon Monkey Bread

The winner of the BPL summer recipe contest made this tasty treat. by Ken Larson | 2014-08-19

Sidewinder Ti-Tri & 1.3 Evernew Ti Pot

Epicurean Stove (Wooden block shim is needed under stove plate (L 2in x W 1.7in x .433in) + one 14g Esbit Tablet; OR Fat Cat It's a Snap Windscreen without Wooden block shim OR KOVEA gas stove with either Sidewinder or Fat Cat It's a Snap Windscreen.

1ea Pint Ziploc bag, 2ea Sandwich bags

Fat Daddio's 5" round pan


  • Equipment
  • Ingredients:
    • Dough
    • Topping
    • Coating
  • Preparation

# WORDS: 390

Read this article at
View All: Profiles > People

(M) Martin Titanium Knife

Weighing about the equivalent of half an ounce (16 M&M's) this knife has a 2.75 inch blade that easily guts fish and small game. Better yet it self-sharpens. by Ryan Jordan | 2014-08-12

Direct from Mike:

I got into knifemaking about a year ago. I became fascinated with "carbidized" edge technology where a layer of very hard tungsten carbide is micro-welded on one side of the edge. The softer substrate (e.g. steel or titanium) wears away more quickly, constantly revealing a fresh carbide edge. The result is a knife that is largely self-sharpening when used on some materials (e.g. cardboard), and has superior edge retention on just about everything else. It's modeled after a beaver tooth, where the enamel on the front of the tooth is harder than the rest of the tooth. Carbidized blades have kind of a toothy edge that excels in slicing, but is only mediocre for push cuts. But slicing is precisely the action you want in hunting, fishing, and river knives. It doesn’t work well for whittling, batoning, bushcraft, etc., especially with a soft Ti blade. And, the toothy edge texture means that it will never get razor sharp. I've carbidized a bunch of knives with various edge geometries, but the self-sharpening effect is optimized with a "chisel" edge, hence the right and left handedness of the knife. To make these, I designed and built my own electro-spark deposition carbidizer to micro-weld TC onto steel and Ti blades, tuning the voltage, current, pulse width, and pulse energy to get just the right deposition properties. I use 6Al4V titanium for my knives as that alloy generally has the best properties for a knife. Titanium usually makes a poor knife blade material because it is much softer than steel and is subject to edge deformation. But, by carbidizing a Ti blade, you can overcome this limitation, provided you limit the knife to slicing. If you try to chop wood with these knives, you'll damage the edge.

So there's the essence:

  1. titanium blade for ultralightness;
  2. carbidized edge for slicing trout, birds, and food prep;
  3. self-sharpening;
  4. made in a garage with an "electro-spark deposition carbidizer" which is just way, way beyond cool, even just to speak the words;


  • The Technology
  • The Application
  • My Experience
    • RJ: Was the main reason for doing this project the edge technology? Or something else?
    • RJ: What were you trying to accomplish with building the "trout" knife? Design goals? Anything quantitative?
    • RJ: Are you going to continue this project? If so, what's next in the evolution of the "Martin Knife?"
  • In Action?

# WORDS: 1280

Read this article at
View All: Make Your Own Gear > Techniques

The Greatest Trip That Never Happened

Although the trip was never completed, the lessons learned were irreplaceable and the experience was very memorable. by Scott Morris | 2014-08-12


    An unfortunate consequence of my growing immersion in the world of running has been the nagging voice of others questioning my motivation for wanting to do the things that I do or the much more ominous and obvious question of my sanity. That question has never really bothered me much. My simple rationale behind running has always been simple; I enjoy running and it makes me feel good, so I end up doing it a lot. That’s always been enough for me. I first became interested in the concept of expedition trail running when I finished my first big solo backpacking trip - 280 miles in 10 days on Vermont's Long Trail. I was happy with the pace of my walking, but I had been running competitively for several years and after a big triathlon, I felt ready to apply the focused discipline of athletics to the world of long trails. A job in outdoor education had brought me to Australia, so I cast my gaze around Oceania for a long trail where I could explore the idea of expedition trail running. After a few listless weeks of clicking around on the internet I found the Te Araroa, a trail that ran the entire spine of the island nation of New Zealand. The southern island section was thirteen hundred kilometers of some of the most beautiful trail in the world. New Zealand was high on a short list of places that I wanted to explore while in Australasia, so it was an easy call. All that was left was figuring out how I was going to run eight hundred miles.

# WORDS: 2380

Read this article at
View All: Trip Reports > Places

(M) Beyond Our Boundaries: Episode 12

Follow the story of a family of five as they backpack over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine. by Damien and Renee Tougas | 2014-08-05

The Tougas Family is embarking on an exciting journey; their ambitious plan is to backpack the Appalachian as a family. This episode introduces their plan, gear, and the individual skills brought to the production by each of the family members. The beauty about this project is that the family is learning how to do this sort of trip from scratch and the end product will be something that others families can use for similar endeavors.

Read this article at
View All: Profiles > People

Where the Mountains Meet the Sea: Trekking the Olympic Range (Photo Essay)

Boy Scouts tackle the Olympic range - from rainforest to snowy divide - in lightweight style. by Ryan Jordan | 2014-08-05

Much of the Olympics remained unexplored until the early part of the 20th century. Many summits and off piste routes were pioneered by ambitious Boy Scouts and "Hikemasters" (i.e., trek leaders) walking out of Camp Parsons, situated between the deltas of the Quilcene and Dosewallips rivers.

In 1987 I would join the Camp Parsons Staff, and within a few years would carry the Hikemaster moniker with a later generation of Boy Scouts keen on exploring the range's glaciers, slide alder, and talus.

In 1990 I'd start dating the Camp Director's daughter, a fellow staffer. She ran the trading post, had a perm, and seemed strangely attractive ... in a Boy Scout uniform.

In 1991 Stephanie and I would embark on our second Olympic mountain hike together - a trip up the Quinault River valley to Mount Anderson and the iconic (and now-endangered) Enchanted Valley Chalet. A little over a year later, we'd marry.

In 1998, our first son, Chase, was born. In 2004, he'd join Scouting. In 2011, he'd visit Camp Parsons for the first time. In 2013, he too, would explore the Olympics with some of his pals as part of the Camp Parsons high adventure program, and follow in the footsteps of Boy Scouts from Parsons who have been walking the Olympics for more than 90 years.

In late June of 2013, we'd take a group of Scouts from Bozeman, Montana to a trailhead near Forks, Washington, and begin a trek through the Olympic rainforest. This photo essay presents a few highlights from the trek and hopefully, captures the spirit of Scouting, and the Olympics, in an inspiring way.


  • About the Author

# WORDS: 1680
# PHOTOS: 22

Read this article at
View All: Photo Essays > Places

(M) Evaluating outdoor gear with open source hardware

As customers of the outdoor industry we want to know which gear works the best. Using open source hardware is a great way to evaluate our gear choices. by Matthew Morrissey | 2014-07-30

In an academic publication, this space would be filled with justifications of the physical, mental and social benefits of outdoor activities and the importance of its associated clothing; this audience will be intrinsically aware of these benefits and keenly aware of the importance of good clothing for enjoyment, comfort and safety in the outdoors.

But what exactly does 'good clothing mean? In addition to effective design, fit, and aesthetics, probably the most important measurable properties of clothing are thermal and evaporative resistance. Thermal resistance might also be referred to as thermal insulation, or (a little incorrectly) - "how warm" something is to wear. Evaporative resistance is usually called 'breathability' or sometimes 'water vapour transmission'. Apart from factors beyond your control (primarily ambient temperature), evaporative resistance is the main factor deciding how much moisture condenses in your clothing system and how much can escape.

Thermal resistance is a particularly useful property to measure, because empirically-derived models exist which allow you to use metabolic rate (exercise intensity) and ambient conditions (temperature, wind speed, radiant temperature etc) to estimate what thermal resistance is required.

The quantitative measurement of these clothing properties is also crucial for quality control (e.g. for companies sourcing products from new manufacturers) and for product development (i.e. is the new Mk II product better than the Mk I). Although manufacturers often have good data regarding their products, consumers are usually bombarded with confusing information, skewed by industry-bias and marketing hype.

Thermal and evaporative resistance measurements are typically made by universities and research institutions. Thermal manikins and other devices have been used for many decades to measure the thermal resistance (insulation) or evaporative resistance (breathability) of clothing. The first thermal manikins were probably those used by the US military in the early 1940s - at a time when many troops were lost to cold rather than bullets. An interesting history of manikins can be found 202006/2nd%20publish%20Proceeding_all-in-one%5b061005%5drev02.pdf">here, written by Dr Ralph Goldman.

Online publications like, and their associated communities, seek to provide unbiased information which is more useful to consumers, and have developed quite sophisticated equipment with which to do this (see articles by Roger Caffin and Jerry Adams).

In this article the potential of relatively recent developments in open source hardware (specifically the Arduino platform) in developing equipment to quantitatively evaluate outdoor clothing will be explored. An example of a thermal manikin developed at a fraction of the cost of commercial equipment will be presented, and suggestions for future developments discussed. My aim is simply to share what I know with the people that are mostly likely to find this information useful. I hope it complements the work already presented on


  • Introduction
  • Development of a thermal manikin
    • Principal of operation
    • Introduction to Arduino
    • First two prototypes
    • "Working prototype"
    • Electronics
    • Temperature sensors
    • Climate chamber
    • Other limitations and scope for improvement
  • Case studies
  • Conclusions
  • Further resources

# WORDS: 3500
# PHOTOS: 15

Read this article at
View All: Research Reviews > Technology

(M) MYOG: Backpack fabrics, features, and dimensions

Making your own gear is a frustrating and expensive yet very rewarding process. Making your own pack allows you to tailor it to your needs and is a fantastic way to learn about gear. by David Chenault | 2014-07-30

The article will not discuss harness construction or suspension design, save tangentially in a few places. These are complex topics which deserve (many) independent treatments. That said any pack project should begin with quite a bit of planning and contemplation. A clear and comprehensive consideration of the intended uses will drive all subsequent decisions, from harness and suspension type, to fabric and features. All my best projects began after weeks of off and on contemplation, and usually after several different sketches were put on paper. Paper drawings with dimensions will also help ensure you have enough material, and keep you on track once you get started. Packs gone wrong are rarely due to big mistakes, but rather 2 or 3 small mistakes or oversights which exacerbate each other (follow the seam allowance you planned for!).


  • Prelude and planning
  • Fabric: the prime mover
  • Features: as few as possible
    • Side pockets: the necessary evil
    • Compression straps and lacing
  • Front pockets
  • Daisy chains
  • Pack volume and dimensions
  • In conclusion

# WORDS: 7000
# PHOTOS: 12

Read this article at
View All: Make Your Own Gear > Techniques

(M) Gear Guide: Packrafts

Review the current offerings in the packraft market and find out which boats are most appropriate for a variety of purposes including alpine lake fishing, incidental river crossings, flatwater boating, expedition packrafting, and whitewater paddling. by Ryan Jordan | 2014-07-22

This report:

  • Provides an overview of packraft types, terminology, and design principles;
  • Identifies specific brands and models and compares their key features and specifications;
  • Suggests specific packraft models for various applications.

This report features open boats (i.e., packrafts without integrated spray decks or skirts) designed to be paddled with a double-bladed kayak paddle, where gear (i.e., a backpack) is secured to tie-down loops affixed to the outside of the tubes. However, many of the packrafts featured in this report can be rigged with add-ons that add functionality to the boat. Examples include:

  • Rowing frames and detachable skegs for more efficient flatwater paddling with dual oars;
  • Self-bailing floors, spray decks, and/or spray skirts for whitewater use;
  • Zippered cargo bays that allow for storage of gear inside the tubes;
  • Additional tie-down loops that can be glued to the tubes for increased gear attachment options, or grab lines;

In an attempt to normalize the comparison of packrafts in this report and distill the market to its core designs, packrafts specifically featuring these add-on options have been omitted from the comparison table. Where appropriate, however, the availability of these add-ons have been noted, and packrafts featuring them will be highlighted in the "Applications" section later in this report.


  • Introduction
  • Packraft Types & Applications
    • Water Type
    • Nature of Access
    • Trip Duration
  • Design Features
    • Material
    • Seams
    • Inflation Mechanism
    • Tube Size
    • Chamber Redundancy
    • Cargo Storage & Rigging
  • The Seat
    • Dimensions
    • Weight
    • Compactibility
  • Gear Guide: Specifications Table
  • Performance Comparison
  • Applications: Which Boat?
    • Alpine Lake Fishing
    • Incidental River Crossings
    • Long Distance Flatwater Paddling
    • Flatwater River Running
    • Expedition Boating / Trekking
    • High Performance Whitewater Boats
  • Directory of Manufacturers

# WORDS: 4130
# PHOTOS: 13

Read this article at
View All: State of the Market Reports > Gear

(M) The Updated Foot-Care Kit

While moleskin still is an effective means to treating hot spots and blisters, new technology is emerging that is far more effective at treating sore feet. by Darin Banner | 2014-07-22

In the summer of 1978, my dad took his scout troop into the High Uintas for a week of hiking and fishing. He brought along my brother and me. We were eight and six years old respectively. The scouts and the leaders carried their equipment in their big external-frame backpacks while horses carried in the heavy canvas tents and food. My brother and I had small daypacks with our warm clothes inside. We carried official Boy Scout canteens strapped over our shoulders.

We packed in to Granddaddy Lake, a trek of six miles. It rained off and on throughout the day and my Keds shoes got wet. After a few miles, I started to get sores on me feet. During one of the rest stops, my dad had me take off my shoes and socks and inspected my feet. No blisters yet! He broke out the trusty Moleskin. This was new to me. It was fuzzy on one side and sticky on the other. He put it over top of the red spots on my feet and claimed it would make it so they didn't get more sore. Lo and behold, it worked! Despite having this miracle fabric on my feet, my legs got tired and I finished out the last couple of miles to Granddaddy Lake on the back of a horse.


  • In the Beginning
  • The Age of Enlightenment
  • The Present
  • How I Use the Kit

# WORDS: 2050
# PHOTOS: 20

Read this article at
View All: Techniques & Best Practices > Techniques

(M) Beyond Our Boundaries: Episode 11

Follow the story of a family of five as they backpack over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine. by Damien and Renee Tougas | 2014-07-15

The Tougas Family is embarking on an exciting journey; their ambitious plan is to backpack the Appalachian as a family. This episode introduces their plan, gear, and the individual skills brought to the production by each of the family members. The beauty about this project is that the family is learning how to do this sort of trip from scratch and the end product will be something that others families can use for similar endeavors.

Read this article at
View All: Profiles > People

Jetboil Joule Review - Part 1, Overview

The Jetboil Joule is a high-volume cooking system that performs very well in ambient conditions; however more testing in cold conditions is needed to asses its overall performance. by Ryan Jordan | 2014-07-15

The Jetboil Joule cooking system is a liquid-feed canister, high-volume cooking system.

Liquid feed canister systems take advantage of the canister in an inverted configuration to deliver liquid fuel to the burner, in contrast to upright canister systems, which deliver fuel as vaporized gas to the burner.

The primary advantage of a liquid feed canister system is that it offers better cold weather performance, since the vapor pressure in the canister isn't changing while the stove is operating.

In upright canister systems, as the vapor pressure in the canister decreases, the canister temperature decreases, and the rate of fuel delivery to the burner decreases.

Thus, upright canister systems don't work so well in the cold, or for boiling large volumes of water at cooler ambient temperatures.

The Jetboil Joule attempts to solve this problem not only by inverting the canister, but also by preheating the liquid fuel before it hits the burner, which allows it to maintain power in cold temperatures.

In addition to the inverted canister configuration and the preheated liquid fuel delivery tube, the Jetboil Joule pot has an integrated heat exchanger, which allows for more efficient heating of the pot, and greater fuel efficiency.

The other unique feature of the Jetboil Joule is that it's an integrated system that consists only of two parts - the stove base and the pot - which connect to each other to make one solid unit during operation.

There are no separate parts such as windscreens, fuel pumps, or external heat exchangers, and the entire stove unit - with an attached fuel canister, nests neatly into the pot for space efficient storage.


  • Overview
  • Features & Specifications
    • Table 1. System Specifications (Comparison of Jetboil Joule & MSR Reactor 2.5L System)
  • Using the Stove
  • Baseline Fuel Efficiency
    • Table 2. Baseline Comparison of the Jetboil Joule and MSR Reactor: Boil Time & Fuel Efficiency
  • Observations
  • Preliminary Assessment

# WORDS: 1270

Read this article at
View All: SpotLite Reviews > Gear

(M) Beyond Our Boundaries: Episode 10

Follow the story of a family of five as they backpack over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine. by Damien and Renee Tougas | 2014-07-08

The Tougas Family is embarking on an exciting journey; their ambitious plan is to backpack the Appalachian as a family. This episode introduces their plan, gear, and the individual skills brought to the production by each of the family members. The beauty about this project is that the family is learning how to do this sort of trip from scratch and the end product will be something that others families can use for similar endeavors.

Read this article at
View All: Profiles > People

Delmar's Poll

Delmar O'Donnell conducted a poll of BPL readers and teamed with Roger Caffin to relay the results which tell a lot about the BPL demographic and their backpacking preferences. by Roger Caffin and Delmar O'Donnell | 2014-07-08

On the 23 of June 2014 Delmar decided to run a simple poll of BPL readers on what they actually carried. Over 170 responses were received: more than expected. This article summarises the responses.


  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Gear, in all its glory
    • Pack Size, Liters
    • Pack Base Weight, lb
    • Shelter Type
    • Quilts and sleeping bags
    • Cooking arrangements
    • Rain Gear
    • Water Treatment
    • Navigation
    • Toilet paper
    • Sundries
    • Trekking Poles
    • Food safety
  • Locale etc
    • Locale
    • Travel time
    • Trips length and times
    • Conditions
  • Cross Correlations
    • Shelter and sleeping gear
    • GPS usage

# WORDS: 4030
# PHOTOS: 17

Read this article at
View All: Commentary > Trends

(M) How One High Sierra Trip Turned Into Permanent Nomadic Travel

Getting outdoors often makes all the difference, and a long expedition can go a long way to transforming your life. by Brock Delinski | 2014-07-08

All it took was one long distance hike through the High Sierras to change the course of my life forever.  I went from climbing the corporate ladder, to climbing through the Sierras, to traveling the world indefinitely.  My preconceived ideas about what life was about were challenged in a very big way.

Every story has a beginning, and mine was on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

As I sat digging my toes into the sandy beaches, I turned to my friend and exclaimed, "There's more out there that I want to experience.  I want to sail around the world, I want to through-hike the AT.  There's just more out there for me to do."

My friend, a little perplexed, stared at me with wonder.  He had known me my entire life and knew that this wasn't that path that I was on.


  • Introduction
  • Let the change begin
  • Author Bio

# WORDS: 1370
# PHOTOS: 10

Read this article at
View All: Trip Reports > Places

(M) Technical Canyoneering for the Ultralight Backpacker

Canyoneering is challenging as it offers an opportunity to tackle a variety of terrain using new gear. Combining canyoneering with backpacking is a recipe for a legendary trip. by David Chenault | 2014-07-01

One of my favorite places to backpack is the Colorado Plateau, in the southwestern United States. Folks with much broader and wide ranging experience than me agree; it's one of the coolest backpacking destinations on the planet. Part of what makes the Colorado Plateau (CP) so enthralling is the variety of terrain, and the often shockingly vivid contrasts found within an outwardly monolithic desert landscape. While the massive vistas are as good as those in any mountain range, the most striking and unique places within the CP are the most narrow and tortured canyons. They define the CP and set it apart from any other place. Travel through these canyons often requires extra-ordinary approaches and techniques, things not well replicated by any other backpacking environment. This article will outline approaches for multiday travel in the most rugged and iconic places within the CP, and suggest methods and places for further information and training.

The article will restrict itself to technical and semi-technical canyoneering, the peculiarly American sub-genre of canyoning, which has evolved specifically for the CP. Canyoning, as practiced in places like Europe and the mountain ranges of the American Rockies and Cascades, is most often done in relatively broad granite or limestone canyons. Canyoning often involves flowing water, a rarity on the CP. Also, CP canyons (and thus canyoneering as it most often conceived) are most often sandstone. Dryer sandstone canyons, often in serious wilderness, demand a different approach than flowing water canyons cut from harder rock. A separate treatment and term makes sense, and thus this article will restrict itself to canyoneering techniques, which are quite distinct from canyoning. Technical canyoneering has a simple definition; it is canyon hiking where ropework, 5th class climbing moves, or both are required to negotiate the route in question.

Extended Scenes from Dan Ransom on Vimeo.

What does technical canyoneering look like? These outtakes from Dan Ransom's Last of the Great Unknown show a lot. Ransom et al's film is well worth the purchase price.


  • Introduction: Canyoneering defined
  • The demands of technical backpacking
  • Canyon backpacking gear
    • Table 1: Clothing considerations for Canyoneering
    • Table 2: Camp gear considerations for Canyoneering
  • Backpacking canyon gear
    • Table 3: Rope weights for Canyoneering
    • Table 4: Gear weights for Canyoneering
  • Resources
  • Trips
    • Pseudo-technical Canyoneering
      • Zion Narrows
      • Buckskin Gulch and the Paria River
      • Deer Creek to Kanab Creek loop
    • Baby technical Canyoneering
      • Grand Canyon- Royal Arch Route
      • Zion- Lower Kolob
      • Robbers Roost- South Fork of Robbers Roost Canyon
    • Moderate technical Canyoneering
      • Escalante- Full Neon
      • Zion- Right Fork of North Creek
      • Grand Canyon- Tatahatso Wash loop
    • Full bodied technical adventures
      • Zion- Heaps Canyon via Phantom Valley
      • Grand Canyon- 150 Mile/Matkat/Olo/150 Mile lollypop
      • Cedar Mesa- Long and Gravel Canyon loop

# WORDS: 7050
# PHOTOS: 11

Read this article at
View All: Techniques > Techniques

The Yellowstone Paddling Dilemma

Hand Propelled Vessels are banned in Yellowstone National Park. This is in direct violation of the Park's founding principles. Not only should HPVs be allowed on Yellowstone's waterways but their presence will improve the health of the ecosystem. by Chase Jordan | 2014-07-01

In 2012, several kayakers illegally attempted a run of the Yellowstone River. This endeavor lead to a helicopter, horseback, and foot pursuit through the Yellowstone River's Black Canyon. The kayakers were fined $5,000 each and were banned from Yellowstone National Park (YNP). After the appeal to the District Court of Montana, their sentence was twenty-five dollars apiece, a lifetime ban from YNP and the closing statement, "Do not bring this frivolity into my courtroom again" (Ammons). Doug Ammons and the rest of the kayaking community are not the only groups unjustly affected by the ban. The canoeing and packrafting communities also suffer. This "frivolous" ban on boating on the rivers of YNP is contrary to the legislature governing the administration of the Park and is a violation of the principles on which YNP was founded.

The prohibition of paddling is inconsistent with legislative documents promoting the principle of the enjoyment of the populous. The earliest document demonstrating this principle was the Dedication Act of 1872. This act created and described YNP as a "pleasuring-ground", and states that one of the purposes of the Park is to provide "for the enjoyment of the people" (Dilsaver; MacDonald). Additionally, this same goal is stated in YNP's Strategic Plan, which says that the Yellowstone is set aside for the satisfaction of the current and future generations (Menard, et al 4). The prohibition on Hand Propelled Vessels (HPVs) is in direct violation of this principle which is expressed in each document because of the rarity of conflicts resulting from multiple user types and rarity of discrimination.

Social scientists have determined that user conflicts occur rarely and when they do occur, they seldom have a detrimental effect on the enjoyment levels of recreators. In a study conducted in Rattlesnake National Recreation Area, near Missoula, MT, where high instances of conflict between hikers and mountain bikers were thought to occur, less than 20% of the perceived conflicts resulted from actual behavior. In fact, both the backcountry cyclists and the hikers agreed that the perceived conflicts rarely affected the group or person's experience and their enjoyment (Watson, Williams, and Daigle 68-69). Therefore, it is sensible to reach the conclusion that conflicts between paddlers and fishermen while floating or trail users during portages would only be perceived and would not negatively affect the enjoyment of the populous of Park users. In fact, this data suggests that paddling is not inconsistent with the Park's goals, and allows paddling to be considered for recreational purposes.

However, because this ban is in place, a significant segment of recreationalists feels discriminated against. In fact, 10.2 million Americans kayak and 20.6 million Americans canoe (Vonk 26). This segment of the American populous totals over 30 million people, not including packrafters and Adirondack paddlers, among many other types of paddling; and the discrimination against this large group of users should be minimized. The allowance of HPVs on Park rivers would minimize this discrimination and would enhance how YNP administers the Park based on the values and legislation governing the Park.

Allowing HPVs on the rivers of YNP would not cause severe biological impacts, as claimed by conservationists and park rangers, but instead it would be consistent with the legislation in place to protect the Park's biotic resources. Yellowstone's mission statement states that its purpose is to protect the Park's natural resources including, but not limited to, the grizzly bear, wolf, elk, bison, and its prolific aquatic species: the Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Menard, et al 4).

Permitting HPVs would not reduce the stability of populations in comparison to other allowed recreational activities, such as, snowmobiling. In fact, over two thirds of passes by snowmobiles results in either injury or death (Davenport, and Switalski 347)! This is a severe loss of energy producers in the ecosystem and is a major negative effect of snowmobiling. Another negative effect caused by snowmobiling is a decrease in native wetland plants and an increase in noxious weeds of the sedge family (Davenport, and Switalski 347; Watson, and Dalwitz). Native wetland plants are shown to suffer a 23% decrease in density and a 12% decrease in size. These decreases are coupled by a 44% increase in noxious sedge weeds, resulting in severe ecosystem disruption. Additionally, botanical disruption is caused by compacted snow which reduces the insulating air pockets in the snow and conduct cold air towards the ground. This causes a decrease in plant density and biodiversity while furthering the reduction of winter growth of perennials and evergreens, further delays seed germination, as well as negatively affecting decomposition rates of organic material, humus formation and microbial activity (Davenport, and Switalski 348). Each of these biological processes is important because there is a direct quantitative correlation between those processes and many aspects of forest growth (Chavat, Ponge, and Wolters 625). A final way that snowmobiling damages botanical life is via carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon (HC) emissions. Snowmobiles emit 54 tonnes of carbon monoxide and 20 tonnes of HCs on the peak day in YNP. This carbon monoxide reacts with the hydroxyl radical in earth's troposphere to form CO2, which has a severe detrimental effect on the environment (Feilberg, et al 4867). This increase in CO2 causes a decrease in botanical health and efficiency through heat stress, an increase in anaerobic microbes producing toxic metabolites, and a decrease in the groundwater table (Perry, et al 826-9). The HCs produced by snowmobiles, after diffusion into the soil, inhibit plant growth and seed germination. These HCs, such as benzene, toluene, styrene, and naphthalene, increase the toxicity of the soil to inhibit the growth and germination (Pascale, et al 968-9). These effects, in conjunction with each other provide for a major impact to the biological producers of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem inside YNP. There are no consequences as severe or drastic that occur because of paddling.

In comparison to snowmobiling, hand-powered paddling does not have as drastic consequences for the biotic populations of YNP. Other than the trampled riparian vegetation at backcountry launches and take-out sites, which would be nowhere near as drastic as vegetation destruction caused by snowmobilers, hand-power paddling may actually improve habitat of one of the Park's most prolific species: the Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The cutthroat trout requires habitat with both riparian and lotic vegetation in order to filter ultra-fine sediments from the water in order to keep gravel beds in good condition for survival, with gravel ranging from seventeen to sixty-two millimeters in diameter (Machtinger 4.) Unfortunately for the cutthroat trout certain rivers are becoming overgrown with lotic vegetation (United . . . Boating 55-104). Studies show that boating could potentially improve habitat for cutthroat trout and other similar species because boating can be correlated to the reduction in lotic vegetation (Sandström, et al; Hilton, and Phillips). Therefore, the allowance of paddling would enhance the park's ability to provide for its prolific species and as a secondary consequence provide for the species consumers, fulfilling its goal to stabilize and improve the biotic community of YNP.

Unfortunately, the detrimental effects of snowmobiling in comparison to paddling are not the only discrepancies seen in YNP, there is also a discrepancy with the effects of motorhomes and RVs in comparison to paddling. These effects include CO2 emissions more than twice that of camping with an automobile and tent or automobile and tent trailer (PFK 3-5). Similar to CO2 emissions from snowmobiling, the increase in CO2 from motorhomes causes a decrease in botanical health and efficiency through heat stress, an increase in anaerobic microbes producing toxic metabolites, and a decrease in the groundwater table because of warming induced drought (Perry, et al 826-9).

But increased CO2 in the air is not the only detrimental effect to the environment. Formaldehyde, which is found in many motorhomes and RVs, has serious health consequences to the Kingdom Animalia (Odendahl). At temperatures greater than 70F, where formaldehyde is released into the atmosphere from commodities where it is used as a preservative, its inhalation is a cause of nasal lesions, damage to the epithelium of the nasal cavity, damage to pharynx and larynx, while also having carcinogenic properties. When formaldehyde is ingested, commonly through plants in areas where formaldehyde is present in the troposphere, it may potentially cause gastrointestinal lesions, papillomatous hyperplasia, hyperkeratosis, atrophic gastritis, and focal ulceration in the forestomach and hyperplasia (United Kingdom). Though governments make the claim that formaldehyde is not harmful at normal emission levels, the large number of motorhomes and RVs driving through YNP every year makes formaldehyde a concern for the animal kingdom (Scotland). All in all, the inhalation of formaldehyde and ingestion of formaldehyde containing plants, negatively affects the biotic realm in a degree much larger than the negative effects of paddling while not having any probable consequential improvements to the environment.

Additionally, park rangers and conservationists argue that the allowance of paddling would have severe consequences for the abiotic factors of the environment inside YNP, especially the geothermal features, which are affected in a greater degree by erosion. This concern comes especially from Yellowstone's Dedication Act of 1872 which provides "for the preservation, from injury or spoliation, [. . .] natural curiosities, and wonders [. . .] and their retention in their natural condition" (Dilsaver; MacDonald).

Though the concerns are legitimate, they are avoidable with simple training. The American Packrafting Association's PACKRAFT Code of Ethics may diminish this problem with only training on the fourth and eighth points of their code. The fourth point, "keep an eye on our traces" means to simply observe the impact you are making on the environment. With the institution the eighth point of the PACKRAFT Code of Ethics is apply those observations to "tread lightly", in a way that minimizes the impacts you produce on the environment ("Code."). Additionally, environmental impact reduction by minimal teaching on two of the principles (second and fourth) of Leave No Trace. The second point is to "travel and camp on durable surfaces"; would mean for paddlers that travelling would be limited to the waterways and any foot travel should be limited to established trails, rock, dry grasses and snow. When the paddlers camp, this point means that paddlers should spread campsites in pristine areas throughout the area in order to prevent significant and possibly irreparable impacts. If possible paddlers should try to camp in areas devoid of vegetation and should always camp at least 200 feet from riparian zones. The fourth point of Leave No Trace states "leave what you find." This not only means to leave natural curiosities where they existed but to also leave the rivers in as pristine of a state as possible and to not transport invasive and aquatic nuisance species into the areas ("Leave."). The spread of aquatic nuisance species is caused by the release of live bait, the release of aquatic species from one body of water to another, and the failure to clean one's boat before launch and after takeout ("Aquatic."). The institution of codes of ethics similar to the PACKRAFT Code and Leave No Trace would eradicate concerns about negative effects on abiotic factors of the environment, especially those concerns regarding terrain.

The ban on river paddling in YNP is additionally not necessary for the retention of validity of the 1972 Wilderness Designation. A total of 2,032,221 acres of land has been set aside as recommended wilderness and is currently being managed as a wilderness area under the Wilderness Act of 1964 (United States . . . Wilderness.; "Yellowstone."). The Wilderness Act, which instituted the National Wilderness Preservation System states that in order for land to be eligible for continued recommendation and to be a wilderness area, that there must be "no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, [. . . and] no other form of mechanical transport" ("Act."). The permission of paddling in YNP would not disrupt Yellowstone's 1972 recommendation by not introducing motorized usage into those areas.


  • The Yellowstone Paddling Dilemma
  • About the Author
  • Works Cited

# WORDS: 2990

Read this article at
View All: Commentary > Trends

(M) Still My Favorite Cook Kit

An Esbit cook system is very lightweight, fuel efficient, and ideal for warm-weather, solo cooking. by Darin Banner | 2014-06-24

Compromise is inherent in lightweight backpacking. To save weight, you have to sacrifice something. The question is, what are you willing to sacrifice? Many years ago, on a trip to the Grand Teton, I sacrificed a stove, pot, and fuel.

At the time, my cook kit consisted of an MSR Whisperlight stove (9.82 oz.), fuel bottle and pump (6 oz.) with fuel (7.8 oz.), a two-liter pot with lid (7.68 oz.), and a plastic insulated mug (6.7 oz.), for a total weight of 38 oz. or 2.38 lbs. My plan was to save weight by leaving this all at home and only eating no-cook meals.


  • Sacrifice
  • My Ingenious Plan
  • The Esbit Stove Kit
  • Using the Esbit Cook Kit
  • Alcohol Stoves
  • Tips
  • Where You Can Get It
  • Summary

# WORDS: 1850
# PHOTOS: 11

Read this article at
View All: Techniques & Best Practices > Techniques

(M) The Timberline Trail

Similar to its cousin, the Wonderland Trail which circumnavigates Mt. Rainier, the Timberline Trail traces the shadow of Mt. Hood and makes for a spectacular journey. by David Pex | 2014-06-24

Both Mount Rainier and Mount Hood have wonderful trails that circle the mountain. Typically, I have hiked these trails clockwise. One of the reasons is the Tibetan belief that you should walk around holy sites (stupas or mountains) in a clockwise fashion.  Counter-clockwise is said to "unwind your karma".  Well, if it works for them, why not?


Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier are similar geologically (shield volcanoes), and thanks to prevailing rains from the west, are similar geographically.  Both mountains, on the west side, are cut with significant river canyons.  On the east, thanks to the rain shadow, both mountains still have most of their shield intact.  And the north and south sides have both canyons and shield portions.  These mountains are huge, but are simple in their basic structure.  And it is really great to walk through!


  • Introduction
  • A lovely trail

# WORDS: 1910

Read this article at
View All: Featured Routes > Places

Unseen Africa: Francis Tapon’s Four Year Journey Circumnavigating Africa

Taking an ultralight mindset to Africa requires an adjustment, but the lessons learned and the experiences had in Africa are rarely matched. by Ryan Jordan | 2014-06-17

I've always admired long-time BPL Member Francis Tapon's thirst for adventure that leaves most of us well out of our comfort zone. In the face of adversity, including the burden of carrying an ivy league education and the unexpected death of his father, Francis has a unique ability to meander his way through trials by facing adversity gracefully, patiently, and without surprise.

Francis is currently on a four-year mission to visit every African country (54 of them!), document their unseen culture, and develop the media into a TV series. Francis is currently raising money for the pilot episode via Kickstarter, check it out:

Please consider contributing to Francis' ambitious campaign.


  • Introduction
  • An Interview with Francis Tapon
  • What's in My Pack?
  • Francis Tapon's African Gear List

# WORDS: 4220

Read this article at
View All: Interviews > People