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Archive | Backpacking Know-how

The Davidson River, Pisgah National Forest

Thought it impossible: Wildfires close 140 miles of the Appalachian Trail

Along the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails, closures and fire bans are considered normal, especially after dry winters or late in the summer. Ditto for other long trails through arid or semi-arid environments like the Arizona Trail or Colorado Trail. But I considered such trail closures impossible on the Appalachian Trail, which is nicknamed “The Green Tunnel” […]

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The Lone Peak 3.0, the most recent iteration of Altra's popular cushioned trail shoe.

Review: Altra Lone Peak 3.0 || For wide large-volume feet or easy trails

Among segments of trail runners, ultra runners, and backpackers, the Lone Peak shoe from Altra Footwear has gained an almost cult-like following for its unique feature set: a voluminous toe box combined with generous midsole cushioning and zero drop from heel to toe. Does the most recent iteration — the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 — […]

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Bottom to top: 1.5-mm sheated Dyneema, 2-mm reflective nylon,  3-mm nylon, and a Bic pen for scale

Top picks: Stakes & guylines for backpacking tents, tarps & hammocks

I will finish this series on backpacking shelter systems with a discussion of stakes and guylines, which have a critical role but which are normally treated as an afterthought. To maximize the usability and performance of your tent, tarp, or hammock, give them some attention. Stakes If stakes are included with the purchase of a shelter, […]

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Nitro Joe with a mid tent made of DCF. It was September so he left the matching inner tent at home.

If cost were no object: My go-to backpacking shelter systems, gone ultralight

The backpacking shelters that I presented in this series — a modular tent, tarp & bivy, and hammock — are middle-of-the-road systems. They are not ultralight or excessively heavy, not cheap or prohibitively expensive, and not benchmark-setting or under-performers. This was intentional on my part. While they reflect what I personally use (in most cases, […]

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An ultralight hammock setup, with a 5.5-oz tarp made of Dyneema Composite Fabric. Hex-shaped tarps are popular among hammock users, but more rectangular-shaped tarps double better as hammock & ground tarps.

Gear List || Backpacking Hammock: Forest & high-use zone specialist

A night of quality sleep in the backcountry depends on multiple factors. A shelter and sleep system that defend against precipitation, wind, insects, groundwater, and cold are the most obvious prerequisites. But equally important is campsite selection, or the art of finding a comfortable location where you can hang your hat. When using ground-based shelters […]

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A tarp & bivy offers full -- albeit adequate -- protection against precip, insects, groundwater, and wind. It's an ultralight and compact package that will be too minimalist for most.

Gear List || Backpacking Tarp & Bivy: Ultralight minimalism

In a normal winter, the Sierra Nevada, Pacific Northwest, and Rocky Mountains get hammered by systems that roll off the Pacific Ocean and drop hundreds of inches of snow. The summers, however, are sunny and dry, with only occasional precipitation related to the North American monsoon. Storms can be violent, but they are normally short-lived and […]

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