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(M) The Care and Feeding of Lindal Valves

Lindal valves are what makes your stove work (or not work). Their proper care can keep your stove running for years. by Roger Caffin | 2014-04-15

This is a seriously technical article for dedicated stove users. It has several origins: my experiences with the Coleman Xtreme Stove, problems with connecting French Campingaz canisters to screw-thread stoves when in Europe, and of course my experiences in developing my winter stove with its multi-canister connection.

One of the goals in making my multi-canister connector was so I could use all three of the common canister formats: screw-thread, Campingaz and Powermax canisters; in Australia, in the snow, in Europe, wherever. The first two were easy, but the Powermax design created a few problems. Subsequent beta-testing of my winter stove by a number of people showed that there were still problems with some of the Powermax canisters.

In this article I explain what the Lindal valve is, how it works, and what can go wrong. In case you are wondering, yes, there will be some duplication of what I have previously spread across a number of articles.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • The Resealable Lindal Valve and Connection
  • Common variations of the Lindal Valve
  • EN417 Standard
  • Attaching the Lindal fitting to the Can
  • How does the Stove Connector attach to the Lindal fitting?
  • What can go wrong?
  • Consequences of bad crimps
  • Other Problems - and Tricks

# WORDS: 3870
# PHOTOS: 10



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(M) Top Ultralight Tent Review

Ultralight tents are becoming more lightweight and durable. This is good news for ultralighters. by Sean McDevitt | 2014-04-15

A few months ago I contacted Backpacking Light about doing a review of the best superlight tents on the market. I wanted to see how tents have evolved since I stopped designing them in 2010. I was delighted that they said yes! I should tell you a bit about myself: I am a seasoned outdoor industry designer; I worked at Mountain Hardwear from 2000-2010, TRX Head designer, 2011-2012, Header Designer at Trinity Design Collaborative, 2012-2103. I have also been a pro level 24 Solo Mountain Bike racer and Ultra Marathoner for years. My ethos is to try and work hard, get past the marketing gimmicks and hype - get to the science of the product being an improvement or not. I have been fortunate to learn from some super smart people over the years. I have been afforded the opportunity to design fabrics, injection molded parts, tents, sleeping bags, suspension trainers and a lot more. Currently, I specialize in helping start ups refine their designs and bring their product to market.

The purpose of this article is to test and review the three best superlight tents in both the one-person and the two-person variety. For the past few weeks I have been testing the following tents:

  • Mountain Hardwear Mega UL 1
  • Mountain Hardwear Mega UL 2
  • The North Face Mica FL 1
  • The North Face Mica FL 2
  • Nemo Equipment Obi 2P

The tents were tested over several weeks in the mountains of southern California during several storms that varied from heavy gusting rains to heavy wet snow. The tents were also tested in the desert environment of Red Rocks Nevada. The following is my review of the tents after using each of them over the course of several nights.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • Mountain Hardwear Mega UL 1
    • Poles
    • Fly
    • Small Parts
    • Overall Rating: 5
  • Mountain Hardwear Mega UL2
    • Poles
    • Fly
    • Body
    • Small Parts
    • Overall Rating: 5
  • The North Face Mica FL 1
    • poles
    • Fly
    • Body
    • Small Parts
    • Overall Rating: 4
  • The North Face Mica FL 2
    • Poles
    • Fly
    • Body
    • Small Parts
  • Nemo Equipment Obi 1
    • Poles
    • Fly:
    • Body
    • Small Parts
    • Overall Rating: 3
  • Nemo Equipment Obi 2
    • Poles
    • Fly
    • Body
    • Small Parts
    • Overall Rating: ??
  • Summary

# WORDS: 2330
# PHOTOS: 11



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(M) Beyond Our Boundaries: Episode 4

Follow the story of a family of five as they backpack over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine. by Damien and Renee Tougas | 2014-04-08

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.



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(M) Beyond Our Boundaries: Episode 3

Follow the story of a family of five as they backpack over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine. by Damien and Renee Tougas | 2014-04-08

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.



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(M) Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody review

For their first ever attempt, Black diamond created a versatile, durable, and waterproof windshirt that raises the bar for ultralight windshirts. by David Chenault | 2014-04-08

Back in late 2012 I concluded, at the end of my Windshirt State of the Market report, that

...the future [of windshirts] looks bright. Advances in fabrics will continue to allow for good durability at less and less weight, as well as further bending the curve between breathability and weather resistance.

The future is now, and it has arrived in the form of the Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody; a windshirt which blends performance characteristics better than anything else, as far as I know. It feels quite unreasonable to ask any more of the 80 gram/meter Schoeller stretch woven fabric, which combines breathability, toughness, and weather resistance in an extraordinary fashion. The fit and detailing are peculiar in some ways, which I find tolerable but quite a few others have found less so. Given that Black Diamond has just entered the apparel market, I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the next generation Alpine Start will sort these out.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • Alpine Start Shirt
  • Conclusion

# WORDS: 1620
# PHOTOS: 11



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(M) The Grocery Sack Grows Up: A Genealogy of the Modern Ultralight Backpack

From humble beginnings to the sophisticated and lightweight packs, the ultralight backpack is a tale filled with adaptation and pushing the balance of weight and features. by David Chenault | 2014-04-01

By his own account, Ray Jardine made the first RayWay packs in 1992, for a 1993 Appalachian Trail thruhike1. Photos of Ray and Jenny Jardine's 1993 packs look remarkably like a traditional alpine rucksack: the drawcord top, dual side compression straps, and generally streamlined exterior could be anything from a (shrunken) Chouinard Baltoro to a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack. These packs even had a hipbelt and dual stays, though these were both quickly jettisoned, never to return. By the next year the Jardine pack had sprouted a rear mesh pocket, and by 1999, when Beyond Backpacking was published as an independent work, the Jardine pack had the permanent rear mesh pocket, dual lower side mesh pockets, and no hipbelt, all of which exist today in the RayWay kit pack. In four short years, Backpacker was reviewing2 half a dozen 3000 in3 packs under 2 lbs, including the ULA P-1, the Golite Gust, and the GVP G4. All three very directly inspired by the work of Ray Jardine.

In many respects, the contemporary ultralight movement has been defined by Jardine and his pack. Figures such as Ron Moak3 and Glen Van Peski4 specifically cite Jardine as having inspired their own work. This is the simplest explanation for the strong similarity most ultralight packs from the last decade have born to one another.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • Ultralight movement
  • Ultralight packs evolution
  • Notes

# WORDS: 3120
# PHOTOS: 5



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(M) REI Dash 2 (2-Person, Double Wall) Tent Review

A lightweight, high performance tent great for ultralight backpackers looking for more comfort in the wilderness - most notably couples. by Will Rietveld | 2014-04-01

A seriously lightweight tent from REI? Yes indeed. The REI-branded Dash 2 is the lightest two-person double wall tent REI has ever made, and amazingly it enters new territory with a claimed minimum weight of just 2 lbs 7 oz (1.11 kg), and it has two side entry doors with vestibules.

Nowadays, a two-person double wall tent is the shelter of choice for couples lightweight backpacking, so it's important to recognize that this review of the Dash 2 is written from that perspective. In contrast, ultralight backpackers commonly prefer a single wall shelter made of a very lightweight fabric or Cuben Fiber, often supported by trekking poles.

We have learned to be suspicious when a two-person double wall tent is claimed to be "lightweight" or "ultralight". Some manufacturers simply re-label a tent, like claiming a 4 to 5 lbs (1.81 to 2.27 kg) tent to be "ultralight" (yeah, right!), and some manufacturers make their tents lighter by making them smaller with less floor space and headroom, or eliminating features like a second door. Thus, a discriminating buyer needs to carefully evaluate factors like floor dimensions and area, headroom, and number of entry doors. For a two-person tent, its desirable to have floor dimensions of at least of 86 in (218cm) long x 50 in (127 cm) wide, and 40 in (102 cm) of headroom. More is better. And two entry doors with vestibules are highly desirable in a two-person tent.

The Dash 2 is a good example of an emerging trend - we are now seeing very functional and livable two-person double wall tents in the 2.5 lbs (1.13 kg) weight range. Previously we raved about a 3 lbs (1.36 kg) tent in this category, thanks to silnylon and lightweight mesh. The lightest woven tent fabrics are now in the 10 to 20 denier range, and tent poles are getting lighter too, both without sacrificing strength. By comparison, 30 denier silnylon now seems "heavy."

Sorting out all the hype and new technologies, does the REI Dash 2 meet our expectations for a functional and livable two-person double wall tent? Read on.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • Description
    • Specifications
  • Performance
    • Comparisons
    • Highlights:
  • Evaluation

# WORDS: 2490
# PHOTOS: 12



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(M) Concerning the Wilderness Serape

Despite the added weight, a Serape is a versatile piece of backpacking gear that can help manage the sudden weather changes. by David Chenault | 2014-03-25

Day and night insulation for the other three seasons (when daytime temperatures might be at least below freezing) can make for complicated calculations as far as extended outings are concerned. On paper an adequately warm quilt or sleeping, augmented down to the lowest probable temperature with insulated clothing, is the best option, and an easy one to calculate, once you've accumulated enough experience to judge claimed insulation values against your own needs. A hypothetical, generic, athletic male backpacker who finds EN ratings accurate can get a ~24 oz, 20 degree quilt, take it down to 10F with a 12 oz hooded jacket, and declare mission accomplished. A hypothetical female hiker in order to do the same task may need another 10 oz of insulation for a three day November trip in the snowy lower mountains.

On day three, things get more complicated. Condensation gets your sleeping bag wet, despite best efforts to stay away from the tent walls, and achieve proper ventilation. That puffy coat endures a similar treatment, as sweat is inevitable for even the most careful hikers, especially given that big vapor barrier vest called a backpack. Sunny lunch breaks are a good time to lay out your bag and parka for drying, but eventually a day without sun, and often with rain or snow, will come. Even worse, that night is the coldest yet, 15 degrees of functional warmth have been sucked out of your sleeping system, and sleep comes poorly in fits interrupted by shivering.

A range of different techniques can help address these issues. One is to add a backpackable wood stove to your kit. Being able to dry socks and insulation during a sleet storm is pretty fun. This approach won't be for everyone, as it comes with its own attendant challenges and skills. Using items of vapor barrier clothing can also work, but these are less useful in conditions which are not consistently cold (say, below 20F). Some people just don't find vapor barriers workable under any circumstances, too.

A third approach, and one I've come to enjoy, is to shake up your insulation regime with a wilderness serape.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • The Wilderness Serape

# WORDS: 1250
# PHOTOS: 2



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(M) Gränsfors-Bruks Mini Hatchet Review

While not a part of the traditional lightweight backpacker's gear list, a hatchet is a great piece of gear that can bring a unique perspective to fire building and shelter making. by Ryan Jordan | 2014-03-25

A hatchet is not a tool normally considered to be essential if you are an ultralight backpacker. Rather, it's more a tool used for "woodcraft" or "bushcraft", i.e., the practice of using naturally-occurring resources to supplement a fairly minimal kit of equipment. Bushcraft enthusiasts may therefore practice the arts of hunting, fishing, and trapping for food and skins, and the use of saws, knives, axes, and hatchets for making shelters and other functional structures, and of course, for firebuilding.

Ultralight backpacking, on the other hand, seems to come from the opposite direction, based on being firmly rooted in the principles of minimum-impact camping. At the extreme end of the spectrum, the "leave-no-trace" zealot will reject the use of virtually all natural resources in lieu of equipment, supplies, and food carried entirely in her backpack.

Ultralight backpacking meets bushcraft from opposite ends of the spectrum. Bushcrafters are always looking to lighten up, so they may enjoy the fruits of high tech materials, simple designs, and other elements of ultralight philosophy to minimize the amount of weight they do carry into the backcountry. At the same time, some ultralight backpackers are realizing some entertainment value in learning and practicing bushcraft skills such as shelter and firebuilding.

My own journey practicing woodcraft was incubated during my youth tenure as a Boy Scout. I was fascinated by ropemaking, knots and lashings, pioneering projects, sharp tools, and of course, fire.

Of course, my camping skills gravitated away from woodcraft as my backcountry skills evolved. Manila rope was replaced with paracord, pine boughs were replaced with Evazote, and wood fire was replaced with a gas stove. However, after moving away from the hardcore LNT culture of the Pacific Northwest to the "leave-less-trace-but-be-practical-and-enjoy-yourself" culture of Montana, I relearned some bushcraft arts such as hunting and eating game on the trail, taking advantage of natural forest structures for camp location and shelter, and firebuilding for warmth and cooking.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • Role of the Hatchet
  • Mini-Hatchet Comparison
  • The Gränsfors-Bruks Mini Hatchet

# WORDS: 1060
# PHOTOS: 4



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(M) Stephenson 2C Tent Review - Part 2

A performance review of the Stephenson 2C - the smallest and lightest "climber's" version from the ultralight line of tents from the Stephenson family of New Hampshire. by Ryan Jordan, Mike Martin, and Roger Caffin | 2014-03-19

As noted in Part 1 of this review, with a measured weight of about 2.5 lb, the Stephenson 2C is one of the lightest tents available that claims to be appropriate for four-season (winter) use. For three season use, there are many lighter, better-ventilated shelters (unless one is keenly interested in an tent that remains stable in very high (40+ mph) winds, then read on…). Thus, the primary purpose of this review is to investigate the suitability of the Stephenson 2C as a storm resistant winter tent.

Please review Part 1 before proceeding with the remainder of this review, and consider reviewing Roger Caffin's review of the Stephenson 2R as well for the valuable context it provides for what follows.

The challenge we have as reviewers of "gear for serious conditions" is in defining the scope of what "serious" really means. For some of us, "serious" might be defined by winds that cause your tent fabric to flap enough to interrupt your sleep. For others, the line between "serious" and "epic" might be defined by frostbite-inducing conditions that separate the preservation of digits from the loss of "merely one or two of the less important fingers".

We're not going to identify what "serious" means, and we're sensitive enough to recognize that our serious may not be the same as your serious, and that our context for reviewing expedition gear may not meet your needs for understanding how this gear might perform on your expedition.

That said, Stephenson tents have many passionate advocates - and detractors. You're going to hear from both sides in this review. We hope our varied perspectives will give you some insight behind the passion, and that you can apply this insight into answering the question: "Is the Stephenson 2C the right tent for me?"

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Review Context
  • The Main Questions
  • Wind Stability
  • Construction Quality
  • Snow Loading
  • Practical Living
  • Summary

# WORDS: 3000
# PHOTOS: 5



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(M) Beyond Our Boundaries: Episode 2

Follow the story of a family of five as they backpack over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine. by Damien and Renee Tougas | 2014-03-19

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.



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(M) Lil' Bugout Shelter Review

An uncommon design transforms the Lil' Bugout into a weather fortress. And it has plenty of space to keep you cozy as you weather the storms. by David Chenault | 2014-03-18

Pyramid shelters have been classics of ultralight hiking since long before the term ultralight existed. They are simple, fast, strong, and provide lots of protected space for the weight; all attributes desirable in any UL gear. When done well, pyramid shelters provide excellent protection from both precipitation and wind. However, doing a pyramid shelter well depends on the proper execution of several basic yet subtle principles. This article will discuss these principles in the context of reviewing the Lil' Bug Out (LBO) base shelter with 3 piece vestibule, made by the American cottage company Seek Outside.

Classic mids have a square or rectangular footprint, with ground level lengths between eight and ten feet, and center pole heights between four and six feet. The geometry provided by these dimensions works well, and balances wind resistance, the ability to withstand snowloading, and livable interior space for 2 or 3 people, with sleeping four possible in a pinch. Smaller mids can work for 1-2 people. Larger mids provide more space, but begin to run into constraints finding large enough campsites, and present larger flat panels which are potentially less weather resistant. Center heights much lower than 4.5 feet severely restrict liveable space: witness the Mountain Laurel Designs Speedmid and Trailstar, which have footprints as big as 3-4 person mids, but only provide room for two when pitched to the ground. Mids taller than six feet add fabric weight, and as likely need a much stronger pole to support such a span. In summary, there is a good reason why the most popular mids share a fairly narrow dimensional range.

It is important to note the lack of uniformity in factory claimed dimensions. Black Diamond quotes useable interior space, which is admirably conservative if somewhat confusing. Other mids are known for having claimed heights with only the corners just kissing the ground. This height criteria is most useful as users will want to pitch the hem as close to the ground as possible in bad weather. Buyers should be a bit skeptical of these figures, and seek out user provided measurements.

Much though the category is revered, mids have inherent limitations. By far the most commonly cited is the limited headroom caused by steeply sloped walls, as well as the presence of a pole right in the center of the living area. For instance, the Black Diamond Megalight is a square with 8.6 ft long sides, when pitched to the ground. This provides 74 ft2 of protected area, a veritable palace for two hikers, given that two person backpacking tents average around 30-35 ft222

This is a less than ideal state of affairs, and a problem which to a certain extent. In the simplest terms, weatherproofing a tent has to do with angles. Provided the material is waterproof enough, shedding wind and snow consists of a canopy whose angles provide a slick footprint. A good example is the aforementioned Trailstar (reviewed by Colin Ibbotson) whose wind resistance is perhaps unmatched, gram for gram. When pitched to the ground, the Trailstar is nearly 11 ft in diameter, and barely 3.5 ft tall in the center. It is a good shape to foil wind, assisted by pitch-perfect curves on all seams, but it's not much of a liveable space. A Trailstar pitched low in this manner is also easy prey for snow, and prone to be well and truly flattened unless the door panel is raised which in turn creates increased wind exposure. This is another reason for most mids having dimensions similar to that of the Megalight With approximately 45 degree angled walls, the shelter has a good balance of wind resistance from all five directions and snow shedding ability, unfortunately this comes at the expense of ideal headroom.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • Lil Bugout Shelter

# WORDS: 3140
# PHOTOS: 14



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(M) ISPO 2014, Munich, Part 3

We've covered the materials, the combinations, and now ISPO wraps up with a look at some innovative ski gear. by Matthew Pullan (editorial assistance from Roger Caffin) | 2014-03-11

By now you must be itching to know more about those ski bindings you saw in Part 1 and Part 2. Let's start with the lightest of the light. Dynafit are a dedicated ski-mountaineering manufacturer and rarely disappoint when it comes to no-compromise ultra-lightweight skiing gear. At ISPO 2014 Dynafit was celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 'Low Tech Frameless Binding' along with their long-term partnership with its inventor Fritz Barthel. They also announced a new partnership with well-known ski mountaineering developer Pierre Gignoux. Pierre has worked exclusively with carbon fiber since 2006 and will work alongside Dynafit to produce the 'Dynafit by Pierre Gignoux' race line. The first offerings from the new line are pictured below.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

# WORDS: 3530
# PHOTOS: 22



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Learning to Packraft: Ten First Steps for Backcountry Travelers

This article identifies the first steps on a path to packrafting competence for those specifically interested in actually carrying their raft on their back into remote environments! by Ryan Jordan | 2014-03-11

I discovered little rubber boats as a wilderness tool in the 1980s (we didn't call it "packrafting" then) as a mountain exit strategy: a way to relieve tired and battered feet that spent too much time in mountain boots on glacier climbs in the Olympics and Cascades.

My first packrafting trip down a glacial river in the Washington Olympics was an absolute disaster involving wood-shredded PVC, logjam drama, hypothermic whitewater swims sans life jackets or helmets, and dime-store boats with freeboard measured in centimeters.

We were young, stupid, ignorant, and arrogant.

But we lived. Barely. And at the time, we thought it was awesome. Looking back, I think I would have preferred a different path in learning how to paddle in the wilds.

There are many different reasons people want to learn how to packraft. Some people have zero interest in wilderness boat travel and simply want to try packrafting as a roadside activity. Some people are whitewater enthusiasts looking for a different type of thrill than that found in a larger raft, kayak, or river canoe. Still others see packrafting as a way to enjoy stillwater boating without the hassle, weight, and expenses of hard boats, boat trailers, car toppers, and tie-down straps.

For many of us here at BPL, however, we do see packrafting as a tool for wilderness travel - either as a means to paddle alpine lakes as a recreation activity (perhaps combined with photography, fishing, beach camp hopping, etc.), to paddle rivers as a mode of wilderness transport, or to cross larger rivers that we might not be comfortable swimming or wading.

Thus, this article focuses on a path to packrafting competence for those specifically interested in actually carrying their raft on their back into remote environments!

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • Step 1: Rent or borrow a boat.
  • Step 2: Practice on a frontcountry pond.
  • Step 3: Find a calm river.
  • Step 4: Cross your first river current.
  • Step 5: Cross the river.
  • Step 6: Find an obstacle and learn to avoid it.
  • Step 7: Repeat Step 2 at your calm river spot.
  • Step 8: Paddle your first point-to-point float.
  • Step 9: Repeat Steps 2-8 with a pack.
  • Step 10: Start planning your packrafting future.
  • Take a packrafting course in Montana.
  • Safety Considerations
  • What's Next?

# WORDS: 1830
# PHOTOS: 9



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(M) ISPO 2014, Munich, Part 2

ISPO 2014 features some innovative products. From sleep systems to clothing the new technology is exciting. by Matthew Pullan (editorial assistance from Roger Caffin) | 2014-03-04

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The outdoor shows are always an exciting time for those obsessed with the latest ultralight gear, so much so that the thoughtful staff here at BPL decided that those held in the USA simply weren't enough. Loyal BPL members deserve to know exactly what is going on over the water in Europe as well. Hence yours truly, based very conveniently in the Steiermark, was ruthlessly press ganged into producing an article on the ISPO 2014 in Munich.

This installment covers the cool gear made from some of the materials addressed in Part 1

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Gear

# WORDS: 2140
# PHOTOS: 13



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(M) Overboots as Mukluks: Basecamp Footwear for Ski Mountaineers

Hardshell double boots, common amongst ski mountaineers using modern alpine touring or telemark equipment, make for miserable discomfort during extended stays in camp. Adding a pair of thin neoprene overboots at less than a pound allows one to kick off the plastics and enjoy basecamp slippers while keeping feet warm and dry in the coldest weather. by Ryan Jordan | 2014-03-04

Trudging around camp in plastic double boots after a long day of skiing in plastic double boots is not high on my list of favorite things about winter in the backcountry. Long days spend in a boot that allows nearly zero plantar flexion means you're not only craving some foot motion, you need it for restorative purposes so you can do it all over again the next day.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Free your feet in camp for relaxation and restoration.
  • Down booties provide plush comfort for casual camp use.
  • My system: neoprene overboots over the thermomolded inners from my ski mountaineering boots.
  • Advantages of the mukluk system (relative to the down bootie system)
  • Disadvantages of the mukluk system (relative to the down bootie system)

# WORDS: 680
# PHOTOS: 4



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(M) Beyond Our Boundaries: Episode 1

Follow the story of a family of five as they backpack over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine. by Damien and Renee Tougas | 2014-02-25

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 BackpackingLight.com
View All: Profiles > People

(M) ISPO 2014, Munich

The ISPO features sports business and their latest products. Despite the big emphasis on winter activities, it is exciting to see what is coming down the pipeline. by Matthew Pullan (editorial assistance from Roger Caffin) | 2014-02-25

The outdoor shows are always an exciting time for those obsessed with the latest ultralight gear, so much so that the thoughtful staff here at BPL decided that those held in the USA simply weren't enough. Loyal BPL members deserve to know exactly what is going on over the water in Europe as well. Hence yours truly, based very conveniently in the Steiermark, was ruthlessly press ganged into producing an article on the ISPO 2014 in Munich.

So it was, that on a chilly Sunday in January, having taken full advantage of the eat-all-you-can breakfast at the Euro Youth Hostel, I headed off to the Messestadt on the outskirts of Munich. The weather gods had finally decided to share with Europe some of the snow and ice that they had been so kindly bestowing on North America. It would be nice to be able to actually put some of this gear to use this winter.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • The Show

# WORDS: 2790
# PHOTOS: 7



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(M) AT Nordic Ski Systems: Discovering the Best of Backcountry Nordic and Alpine Touring Systems Through Hybridization

Combining the best of both worlds, AT Nordic ski systems give you comfort, stability, and lightweight as you explore the backcountry. by Ryan Jordan | 2014-02-18

In Alan Dixon and Mike Martin's An Introduction to Nordic and Backcountry Ski Gear published here previously, a number of backcountry ski systems were compared with respect to their climbing ability (with and without skins), weight, speed on consolidated snow in flat/moderate terrain, flotation in deep/soft snow, and maneuverability/control in moderate vs. steep terrain.

The authors' assessment reveals a bias for BC ("backcountry") Nordic gear for "mere mortals" traveling in moderate to rolling terrain, claiming the following:

  • That BC Nordic gear is lighter than alpine touring (or telemark) equipment;
  • That BC Nordic gear is faster and more efficient for travel on gentle terrain; and
  • That BC Nordic gear is considerable less expensive than other systems.

I won't argue the expense point. There is no question that alpine touring ("AT") equipment is generally more expensive than BC Nordic systems.

However, I'd like to propose a counterpoint regarding a comparison between the weight, speed, and efficiency of BC Nordic vs. Alpine Touring, and propose that advances in AT equipment have all but made these considerations moot in this comparison. Further, I'd like to propose that AT equipment may now be a better option when weight savings, speed, and efficiency for long distance touring are primary considerations.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • BC Nordic vs. AT Compared
  • My Own Journey: A Summary
  • AT Nordic Defined
    • AT Nordic Skis
    • AT Nordic Boots
    • AT Nordic Bindings
    • AT Nordic Skins
  • AT Nordic Summarized
  • Limitations of AT Nordic

# WORDS: 2220
# PHOTOS: 4



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(M) New Balance MT910V1 and MT910V1GTX Trail Shoes Review

The flagship of New Balances's 2014 lineup, the MT910s perform well in a myriad of conditions and provide comfort and stability while on the trail. by Roger Caffin | 2014-02-18

Our last review of New Balance shoes was of the Leadville 1210 running shoe, designed for the Leadville cross-country race. We were much taken with the Leadvilles for running, and went so far as to buy some more ourselves. So what does New Balance do for an encore? Well, they refer to the MT910V1 shoe as the little brother to the Leadville (and a 'cousin' to the 890), and claim that, "the 910 borrows the best of both to create a lightweight, high-cushion trail shoe for all types of terrain". Not sure where the "little" bit comes from: the non-GTX version weighs almost exactly the same as the Leadville at 11.2 oz (318 g) each for size 10 4E. The marketing stuff says that, "the 910 is the flagship New Balance performance trail shoe" - for 2014 at least.

As you will note from the title, New Balance is making two versions of this model: the MT910V1 with a "mesh" body and the MT910V1GTX with a Goretex lining. The GTX version is about 2 oz (54 g) heavier. New Balance sent us one (pair) of each. My wife took the bright blue mesh version and gave the grey GTX version to me.

The shoes use the UL-1 last. The text with the shoes claims this gives a wider heel and a standard toe box; the diagrams suggest almost exactly the opposite. The New Balance web page explaining about lasts matches the text version.

Readers with a long memory may remember that I reviewed the MT910GT joggers early in 2010. Am I reviewing the same shoes again? Oh no - the ones I am reviewing here are the MT910V1 shoes and bear no relation to the previous 910GTs. Apparently New Balance understands this fine distinction ... Anyhow, these are new shoes.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Overview
  • Details
    • Soles
    • Midsole and Footbed
    • Rand
    • Uppers
    • Tongue
    • Fit
  • Field Testing
    • Specifications and Features

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