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dead-reckoning

Tutorial: Dead-reckoning navigation | Basic but oft-used skill

Dead-reckoning is the simplest navigation skill. It’s much easier to learn than reading a map, or operating a compass, GPS, or altimeter watch. Yet I find it to be one of the most useful and frequently used, especially when hiking on well-maintained trails where a consistent physical effort yields consistent results. Such trails include well-known long-distance footpaths […]

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Recommended clothing systems: Backpacking in the Mountain West

What clothing is necessary for backpacking in the Mountain West in 3-season conditions? Let’s discuss. I define the Mountain West as the semi-arid ranges of the Sierra Nevada, Intermountain West, and Rockies. Examples: Pacific Crest Trail in California and southern Oregon High Sierra, including the John Muir Trail and multiple high routes, e.g. Sierra High […]

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Mike Clelland demonstrates poop soup in Olympic National Park.

Poop in the outdoors: Sites, holes, wiping & bidet

Pooping outdoors is easy to do: squat and wipe. It’s more difficult to do it well. A stroll around any popular frontcountry or backcountry area will attest that some fraction of hikers, backpackers, and campers struggle with this skill, due to ignorance of laziness, or a combination thereof. A good poop job will avoid: Contaminating […]

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How-to || Pack a backpack: Load distribution, organization, waterproofing, & canisters

When packing my backpack, I have two primary goals: Minimize its effect on my center of gravity, and Keep oft-needed items easily accessible so that I can hike uninterrupted. I’ll start by discussing these goals in-depth. Then, I will address special considerations like bear canisters and backpack styles. Center of gravity When not wearing a […]

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Tie-off to a horn-like growth on a cottonwood tree

My guyline system for tents, tarps, and hammocks

The guyline and tensioning systems normally found on backpacking shelters (including tents, tarps, and hammocks) share two flaws: Insufficient cordage is provided. This limits stake-out locations, which is especially problematic in rocky or hard-packed ground. Natural anchors like trees, downed logs, exposed roots, and large rocks cannot be used, nor can deadman anchors in the winter. These anchors […]

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An oriented map, done in a few different ways. Normally I rotate the bezel to TN/0 degrees, then line up the edge of my compass (or the meridian lines inside the bezel) with the edge of the map. As a cheat, you can use grid lines on the map, but this will be slightly less accurate.

Map & Compass: Adjust for declination & orient the map

Backcountry navigation is an art. The basics can be learned quickly, like dead reckoning, reading a map, and using an altimeter watch. But extensive practice is necessary to seamlessly and flawlessly apply these skills in the field, especially when under duress or in challenging situations, like off-trail in a heavily forested area with rolling hills. […]

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Insulation geekiness: specs, pros & cons, optimal uses || SD LIVE (September 8, 2015)

Live recording SD Live: All Things Insulation from Sierra Designs on Vimeo. Episode overview In the September edition of SD LIVE, we focused on the insulation materials most commonly used in outdoor apparel and sleeping bags, specifically fleece, down, and synthetic fills. Frank Kvietok, who manages the Advanced Development Center at Exxel Outdoors and who was the […]

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eating-right-screenshot-sd-live

Backpacking food: amounts, types, nutrition & storage || SD LIVE (June 10, 2015)

Live recording SD Live: Eating Right in the Backcountry from Sierra Designs on Vimeo. Table of contents Disclosure Not a dietitian Recommendations based on what has worked for me and what I see with and hear from clients Food is really personal. Hopefully you learn a few things, but you’re encouraged to experiment. Challenges No […]

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