Backpacks in the Mountains

Backpacks in the Mountains

Min­i­mal­ist hik­ing. Light­weight back­pack­ing. Dirt­bag­ging. What­ev­er you want to call it, hik­ers have recent­ly been eschew­ing the tra­di­tion­al ethos of pack­ing heavy in favor of some­thing that’s a lit­tle kinder on the back. Small­er packs, lighter gear, and few­er clothes are becom­ing com­mon­place along the world’s longest thru-hikes. If you’re look­ing to jump on the band­wag­on and embrace min­i­mal­ism, here’s what you need to do.

Choos­ing gear
You should not be hik­ing in order to use gear. That phi­los­o­phy is key to min­i­miz­ing the amount you take with you on both short and long hikes. When you place the empha­sis on what’s nec­es­sary, rather than what sounds fun to use, you’ll find that many of the items you pack don’t serve many purposes.

So what do you take? For starters, aim for a small­er back­pack that’s designed for long trips while also help­ing to pre­vent you from stuff­ing in things you don’t real­ly need. One that includes a built-in hydra­tion pack will let you lose the water bot­tle. Alter­na­tive­ly, pack a water fil­ter that you can use to pull out sus­te­nance from lakes and rivers. You can also reduce the size by focus­ing on inflat­able gear like pil­lows rather than the stuffed variety.

Instead of a change of clothes for each day, bring a small bot­tle of soap so you can watch your clothes each evening. This’ll reduce the load immense­ly and help keep you smelling fresh.

Choos­ing a tent
Unless your goal is to sleep out direct­ly under­neath the stars every night – and you’re not afraid of a lit­tle rain – you’ll still want to pack a tent. A light­weight, two or one-per­son tent like the Mar­mot Tung­sten UL is a great option that weighs under three pounds and fits snug­ly into any backpack.

Ham­mocks are also a reli­able and com­pact choice that can be tak­en out onto any hike in warmer weath­er. Sim­i­lar­ly, an all-pur­pose rain fly won’t take up much room but will still pro­tect you from the rain, if you must forego a tent entirely.

Choos­ing food
Food is an essen­tial fac­tor to con­sid­er when pack­ing for a min­i­mal­ist hike. Rather than stuff your pack with hefty pieces of meat and chick­en that need to be cooked over a fire, opt for small­er fare like grains and nuts. Pas­ta is also a quick, easy choice that doesn’t take up much room and can be fixed over a fire rel­a­tive­ly quick­ly. Ide­al­ly Vac­u­um com­press­ing food is a grow­ing solu­tion to the prob­lem of bulk and is a great way to reduce the space your fruits and veg­gies take up in your pack while also keep­ing them fresh for a long trip.

Don’t pack for your fears
One of the things that bogs hik­ers down is the sub­con­scious need to pack for our fears. Mean­ing, we wor­ry so much about what might go wrong that we stuff every­thing we can into our packs in order to be pre­pared for it. The real­i­ty is that we should be learn­ing how to sur­vive in the wild through train­ing and expe­ri­ence rather than rely­ing entire­ly on tools to help us out in a pinch. One of the best things you can do to become a min­i­mal­ist hik­er is to take a wilder­ness sur­vival course, a first aid class and learn as much as you can about nav­i­ga­tion. This knowl­edge will help you much more than a back­pack stuffed with the gear you don’t real­ly have expe­ri­ence using.


Boreal Firé

It’s not about the gear. Peo­ple have been hik­ing, camp­ing, climb­ing, surf­ing and pad­dling for hun­dreds of years, regard­less of how much their pack weighed or if their pad­dles were made of wood, fiber­glass or car­bon. But some gear inno­va­tions have fun­da­men­tal­ly changed the way we live out­doors, cre­at­ing a seis­mic shift that altered our out­door play experience.

Boreal FiréThe Bore­al Firé
In 1982, the Span­ish com­pa­ny Bore­al pro­duced the “Firé” style shoe with a rev­o­lu­tion­ary sticky rub­ber sole. Pre­vi­ous climb­ing gear had either used hard Vibram soles or can­vas shoes with reg­u­lar sneak­er rub­ber. The pro­to­type Firé was test­ed in Boreal’s home in Spain, but became all the rage when Yosemite climber John Bachar test­ed a pair on Mid­night Light­ning, the leg­endary and high­ly vis­i­ble boul­der prob­lem in Camp 4. When 265 pairs of Firés showed up in the Yosemite climb­ing shop, they sold out in a day. Now sticky rub­ber man­u­fac­tur­ing is a close­ly guard­ed secret among climb­ing shoe companies.

Before Gore-Tex, hik­ing in the rain was one of two things: either get­ting drenched from the rain, or get­ting drenched from the steam bath that came from gen­er­at­ing heat inside non-breath­able rub­ber jack­ets and pon­chos. Gore-tex was the first of the water­proof-breath­able tech­nolo­gies that are now wide­spread. In addi­tion to mak­ing hik­ing more pleas­ant year-round, Gore-Tex brought out­door cloth­ing from the low­brow world of army sur­plus stores to the high-tech world of spe­cial­ized out­door companies.

SPOT MessengerThe SPOT Messenger
Before the SPOT mes­sen­ger, when we ven­tured into the wilder­ness beyond cell range, we were just as out there and far from res­cue or human con­tact as we were back in 1985: you’d still have to hike, ski or pad­dle back to a road to get a cell sig­nal. The SPOT changed that, beam­ing a satel­lite sig­nal from any­where. The added mar­gin of safe­ty is great, but also comes with the temp­ta­tions of con­stant con­nect­ed­ness: SPOT allows your friends to fol­low your trip online (and dis­cov­er your secret camp­ing spots) and post mes­sages on social media.

JetboilThe Jet­boil
There are few things as basic to camp­ing, or human exis­tence for that mat­ter, as boil­ing water and cook­ing food. Stoves have evolved in count­less ways, but the Jet­boil has par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance, issu­ing in the “fast cook­ing sys­tem” that blasts out heat in record time. While the sig­nif­i­cance of how fast you can boil water is ques­tion­able except in the most extreme con­di­tions, it did jump­start the already grow­ing “fast and light” cat­e­go­ry in back­pack­ing, with light packs, long miles and cram­ming a week’s hike into four days off. The moun­tains got clos­er and the food got faster too.

fleeceRecy­cled Polarfleece
Polarfleece was around since Malden Mills began pro­duc­ing it in 1970. But fleece is a petro­le­um-based prod­uct, and ris­ing envi­ron­men­tal con­scious­ness both in out­door com­pa­nies and in gen­er­al con­sumers led Patag­o­nia and Malden Mills to find a way to make fleece jack­ets out of recy­cled plas­tic bot­tles in the late 1990s. The first ver­sions had some issues, but they fig­ured it out and by 2006, the man­u­fac­tur­ing costs had dropped well below the cost of new mate­r­i­al. It wasn’t the first and has­n’t been the last, but it was one of the most pub­licly vis­i­ble ways that out­door con­sumers could vote with their wallet.

Holoform River Chaser kayakThe Holo­form Riv­er Chaser
Before the Riv­er Chas­er, kayaks were large two-piece fiber­glass craft that couldn’t hit rocks with­out crack­ing. Tom John­son, U.S. Slalom Coach and invet­er­ate tin­ker­er, devel­oped the poly­eth­yl­ene Riv­er Chas­er in 1972. Kayak­ing became cheap­er and more acces­si­ble to the mass­es. And instead of metic­u­lous­ly avoid­ing rocks by run­ning big rivers at high water, pad­dlers could explore small creeks, expand the sea­son to run rivers at low water and invent new sorts of play. Mod­ern white­wa­ter kayaking—boofing, run­ning water­falls, and play­ing end­less­ly in holes—all owe their exis­tence to the Riv­er Chaser.

Before you buy your back­pack­ing equip­ment, check out these pop­u­lar myths to make sure you only buy the things that you real­ly need.

hiker with backpacking equipment

When it comes to hik­ing, there are lots of rules that every­one should fol­low. For exam­ple, hik­ers know that they need to bring water and a back­pack with them when they hike. And they know that they should always plan their route before set­ting off.

How­ev­er, there are lots of myths about back­pack­ing equip­ment that hik­ers believe. These myths may seem harm­less, but they can end up cost­ing you lots of mon­ey. Some will even put you in danger.

Myth 1. You Don’t Need a Map If You Have a Smartphone/GPS
Many peo­ple don’t use a map as they have GPS on their phone. This can be a risky move. Hik­ers should always car­ry a map of the area they are hik­ing and it can also be use­ful to bring a com­pass. Because tech­nol­o­gy devices can run out of charge, you can’t rely on them when hik­ing for a few days at a time.

It goes with­out say­ing, but mobile phones and GPS also nor­mal­ly require the Inter­net to work, which will quick­ly drain your bat­tery. If you don’t want to be strand­ed in the back­coun­try, it’s best to pack a map as well as your GPS.

Myth 2. You Need a Four-Sea­son Tent If You Are Camp­ing in Winter
Four-sea­son tents are designed for all types of weath­er, but most three-sea­son tents work just as well dur­ing win­ter. This is because they are still designed for cold weath­er and light snow. If you are camp­ing in an area with very heavy snow you may need to buy a four-sea­son tent. But if the snow is light, a three-sea­son tent should do the job perfectly—just make sure that you have a sleep­ing bag that is designed for cold weather.

Myth 3. You Need Hik­ing Boots
If you are new to hik­ing, it is like­ly that some­one has already told you that you need to buy hik­ing boots. This is actu­al­ly untrue; lots of long-dis­tance hik­ers don’t wear hik­ing boots any­more! This is because hik­ing boots are quite heavy and big so they can be unpleas­ant to wear in hot weath­er. They also take a long time to dry when they get wet.

This is why lots of hik­ers choose to hike in run­ning shoes instead. Run­ning shoes are light­weight and they dry quick­ly, so they are ide­al for any­one who is hik­ing in a warm climate—but if you live in a cold, snowy area, hik­ing boots will be more appropriate.

Myth 4. A Two-Per­son Tent Is for Two Peo­ple (and Their Gear)
Two-per­son tents are designed for two peo­ple, so it is nor­mal to assume that they can com­fort­ably fit two peo­ple. How­ev­er, most of them are far too small for two peo­ple and all their hik­ing gear. Hik­ers tend to have a lot of hik­ing gear with them. Since there is very lit­tle floor room inside, all of the indoor space is ded­i­cat­ed to sleeping.

So if you want to make sure that you buy a tent with room for two peo­ple and their hik­ing gear, invest in a three-per­son tent or start pack­ing light­ly.

Myth 5. You Need to Wear Head-to-Toe Pro­fes­sion­al Hik­ing Wear
Last but cer­tain­ly not the least impor­tant les­son. Some peo­ple like to believe they need to wear pro­fes­sion­al ath­let­ic cloth­ing, but this is rarely the case. Most hik­ers buy a good water­proof jack­et, hik­ing shoes, and a hik­ing back­pack, and then they just wear clothes they already have. This is much cheap­er than buy­ing new clothes you don’t need.

Lots of peo­ple don’t go hik­ing alone as they wor­ry that they may get hurt or lost. While these sce­nar­ios are cer­tain­ly pos­si­ble, they are not likely—especially if you pre­pare in advance.

Hik­ing alone may seem like a scary prospect, but in real­i­ty, there are lots of advan­tages to solo hik­ing. You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to and you can go at your own pace; if you want to stop to take pic­tures of a water­fall, you can. Want to take a break to sit down and have some water? You can. If you want to pow­er ahead, you can!

Hik­ing alone might be for you, here are six tips to make sure you stay safe.

1. Choose A Pop­u­lar Trail
It sounds counter-pro­duc­tive, but choos­ing a pop­u­lar trail is always a bet­ter bet. This is because pop­u­lar trails are nor­mal­ly bet­ter main­tained and safer so you are less like­ly to fall or injure your­self. It also means that you are much more like­ly to run into oth­er hik­ers. So if you do find your­self need­ing help you should have no trou­ble find­ing it.

You may usu­al­ly pre­fer qui­eter trails, as you are less like­ly to encounter oth­er peo­ple, but in real­i­ty, the oth­er hik­ers prob­a­bly won’t want to stop and chat any­way; they will just want to keep hik­ing, so you will be able to enjoy your alone time!

2. Hike Some­where You Know Well
If you are hik­ing alone for the first time, you should plan a hike in an area that you know well. For instance, you could hike local­ly, or you could vis­it a hik­ing path that you have trav­eled before. This is because you will know more about wild ani­mals and poi­so­nous plants in the area.

Don’t wor­ry that the hike will be bor­ing or repet­i­tive; the world always looks and feels dif­fer­ent when you are on your own.

3. Check The Weath­er Fore­cast Before You Set-Off
Sim­ply look­ing out of the win­dow before set­ting off for a hike isn’t enough. The weath­er could change with­in a mat­ter of min­utes, which can be very dan­ger­ous. If you think that you are going for a hike in the sun but it starts to snow after an hour, you are putting your­self at risk of hypother­mia and pneu­mo­nia. Check the weath­er fore­cast online to see pre­dic­tions for lat­er in the day or week. This way you will be able to pack the right kind of clothes for the weather.

You should also keep your eye on oth­er hik­ers that you pass. If you notice that they are all wear­ing rain­coats and head­ing to their cars, the weath­er may be about to get much worse!

4. Pack A Range Of Supplies
Always take a thick jumper, some food, some water, a map, and a first aid kit with you when you are hik­ing so that you are pre­pared for any­thing. You may also need to bring sea­son­al items, such as a peaked cap or a water­proof coat. If you don’t own a pair of qual­i­ty hik­ing shoes, you might want to get some.

5. Tell Some­one Where You Are Going
Let a friend or a fam­i­ly mem­ber know about your hik­ing plans and what time you should be arriv­ing home. Tell them that you will call them when you are back, just in case some­thing hap­pens to you while you are hik­ing (and don’t for­get to actu­al­ly ring them—otherwise they might wor­ry). Make sure that you don’t change hik­ing trails at the last moment with­out let­ting your friend know; if you don’t and you injure your­self, they may not be able to find you.

6. Drop By The Ranger Station
If you pass by the ranger sta­tion on your hike, make sure to drop in to say “hi.” Tell the rangers your name and let them know that you will be hik­ing alone today. Tell them how long you expect to be hik­ing for, and tell them that you will drop by on your way back.

This means that the Rangers will know that you are miss­ing if you don’t come back, so they will head out to look for you. This essen­tial safe­ty move could save your life if you are injured or hurt. It also means that the Rangers can let you know if any paths should be avoid­ed due to recent rain or snowfall.

©istockphoto/selimaksanWe all know how to wash clothes, but do you know how to get the grime off your Gore-Tex? Or how to clean a four-sea­son tent? It can be intimidating—but it doesn’t need to be. Try these easy tips to have your kit look­ing shiny and new.

Climb­ing Rope
First, take advan­tage of wash­ing day: it’s a great excuse to inspect your rope! Care­ful­ly look through the entire length for any dam­age like nicks, cuts, or places that are unusu­al­ly worn or frayed.

Assum­ing it’s in good shape, fill a clean bath­tub with luke­warm (not hot) water, then flake the rope into the tub and let it soak for an hour or two (Option­al: add a dol­lop of mild soap). Some com­pa­nies sell a kind of soap that’s made specif­i­cal­ly for wash­ing ropes, but Ivory dish soap works too.) Swish the rope around, then drain the bath water and repeat until the water is clear. Remove the rope from the tub and flake it out to dry some­where out of direct sunlight.

Hik­ing Boots
Start by dry­ing your boots completely—it’s help­ful to remove the insoles and place the boots near an open win­dow or in direct sun­light. Once they’re dry, wipe off any dirt or mud with a paper tow­el or old rag. If they’re extra dirty, remove the laces and scrub the boots with a sad­dle brush until all vis­i­ble dirt is removed. If your boots are designed to be water­proof, treat the leather or syn­thet­ic uppers with Sno-Seal every few months to keep your toes toasty and dry.

Sleep­ing Bags
Many peo­ple for­get to wash their sleep­ing bags, but it’s more impor­tant than you might think. Dirt, sweat, and oils can make the bags smell funky—but more impor­tant­ly, they can rob your bag’s down fill­ing of its insu­lat­ing loft.

If your bag just needs spot clean­ing, make a paste with water and laun­dry deter­gent. Spread it onto the dirty area with an old tooth­brush, then wipe dry. If the whole bag needs wash­ing, zip it up com­plete­ly and turn it inside out. Place the bag in a front-load­ing wash­ing machine with a spe­cif­ic down clean­er (avail­able online or at out­door stores.) Wash on the gen­tle cycle with cold water, and make sure the bag is rinsed com­plete­ly at the end of the cycle. Either air dry and re-fluff with your hands or use a large dry­er on very low heat. For extra loft, add a clean ten­nis ball to the dryer.

Still ner­vous? There are a lot of com­pa­nies that will wash your sleep­ing bag for you. It’s more expen­sive than wash­ing it your­self, but if the bag gets dam­aged it’s on them.

Check the tags! Most Gore-Tex has wash­ing instruc­tions some­where on the gar­ment. If you can’t find the instruc­tions, machine wash on a warm set­ting using a tiny bit of liq­uid deter­gent. (Def­i­nite­ly avoid pow­dered deter­gents, fab­ric soft­en­ers, etc.) Hang your gar­ment out to dry, then stick it in the dry­er for 20 min­utes to re-acti­vate the durable water-repel­lent (DWR) treat­ment on the out­er fabric.

Avoid the wash­ing machine! Instead, wash your tent by hand in the bath­tub, using cold water and a non-deter­gent soap (or spe­cial tent wash). Wash the fly and tent body sep­a­rate­ly so that you can thor­ough­ly rinse both pieces. If the dirt doesn’t come out with rins­ing, use a soft sponge—nothing abrasive!—to gen­tly scrub the grime. Hang to dry, and make sure you air dry completely.

Store all gear in a cool, dry place away from direct sun­light. Always fol­low manufacturer’s instruc­tions when wash­ing or cleaning. 

While every­one can ben­e­fit from own­ing the items and skills on this list, this one was put togeth­er with the ladies in mind. Many of us out­door women were intro­duced to our more rugged pur­suits by the men in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we need to be depen­dent on them. It’s easy to let a guy take charge and be respon­si­ble for the items below, but it’s so much more reward­ing to have our own gear and know how to han­dle it ourselves.

There are women and girls who cer­tain­ly break this mold, but many of us grew up in a cul­ture that con­di­tioned us to defer to the exper­tise of a man­ly man when it comes to any­thing sports relat­ed. Here’s a list of sev­er­al must-haves for a seri­ous out­door­swoman inter­est­ed in gain­ing more trust and lead­er­ship expe­ri­ence. If you want to feel capa­ble, con­fi­dent and inde­pen­dent in the out­doors, stop bum­ming the gear and skills from the guys and get your own. 

Pock­et Knife
Whether we are spread­ing peanut but­ter or prepar­ing ban­dages for a lit­tle back­coun­try first aid, we def­i­nite­ly need our own pock­et knife. It’s com­mon to slide under the radar with this one for a long time because it’s an easy item to bor­row from a fel­low camper. Hav­ing a trusty knife, how­ev­er, sends a mes­sage to every­one else in your group that you are self-suf­fi­cient and wor­thy of their respect. This small item is a sig­nif­i­cant one in build­ing the self-con­fi­dence of an expert woodswoman. 

All out­doorsy ladies should have the full camp­ing set up, from sleep­ing pad to head­lamp, but even though I had all that for years, it wasn’t until I bought my own tent that I felt tru­ly inde­pen­dent on camp­ing trips. Being depen­dent on the rest of your par­ty, whether it’s one per­son or a whole group, to bring a reli­able tent with enough room for you to squeeze into can be risky. A mem­o­rable back­pack­ing trip I went on a few years back involved the split­ting up of the group gear only to real­ize when we went to set up camp that the tent poles had nev­er made it into a pack. The expe­ri­ence left me deter­mined to be more proac­tive in mak­ing sure I am ful­ly pre­pared for an enjoy­able expe­ri­ence and taught me to not blind­ly trust mem­bers of my group to have what I need.

This may seem pret­ty basic, but it’s impor­tant! How many of us ladies have set out with an apple and trail mix only to be insane­ly jeal­ous of your hik­ing com­pan­ion’s jerky and PB&J after a long climb? Or how about the same sit­u­a­tion in reverse, when your body craved some healthy treats and all you brought were processed snacks? The point is, know what fuels your body and the amount of food you need to con­sume for any giv­en amount of exercise. 

First Aid Kit and Skills
Invest­ing in a small kit is a great idea. An even bet­ter idea is tak­ing a basic First Aid and CPR class. Feel free to take it a step fur­ther even, and get your­self WFA or WFER cer­ti­fied. If you feel pre­pared to han­dle any sit­u­a­tion that might be thrown your way, you will have a huge burst of con­fi­dence on your next out­door adven­ture. Your group will val­ue your exper­tise and be thank­ful to have you around. This step is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ladies who feel out of their ele­ment and ner­vous about being in the outdoors.

Basic Knots
If you don’t know when you would use a granny knot instead of a fig­ure eight fol­low through, I would sug­gest grab­bing a line, doing a quick google search and prac­tic­ing some basic knot tying skills. While expe­ri­ence with knots is more help­ful for cer­tain sports than oth­ers, it nev­er hurts to have that knowl­edge handy. You might want to rig a ham­mock or hoist your food in the air to pro­tect it from crea­tures who might want a nib­ble, and noth­ing makes you feel more capa­ble than whip­ping out a com­pli­cat­ed knot that you can trust to hold. This skill can also be essen­tial in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions that are hope­ful­ly few and far between. There are always oppor­tu­ni­ties to show off and impress the peo­ple around you by being a knot expert. 

Com­pass, GPS and/or A Good Sense of Direction
I’ll admit that aside from the apps I use on my iPhone, the only one of these three that I cur­rent­ly pos­sess is the last. It’s easy to rely on the more expe­ri­enced or nat­ur­al lead­ers in any group to step up and take charge on the trail, but I try to mem­o­rize land­marks, trail junc­tions, names, and any oth­er sig­nif­i­cant details when I’m out­doors. Like the rest of the items on this list, a good sense of direc­tion is some­thing that will facil­i­tate a grow­ing trust in your­self and your own capa­bil­i­ties. Make an effort to be more self-reliant and you will reap the benefits. 

Invest­ing in your own gear allows you to be respon­si­ble for your own expe­ri­ence in the out­doors. It makes you more self-reliant and con­fi­dent, allow­ing you to progress in your cho­sen sport or pas­time far greater than you can in bor­rowed or rent­ed equipment. 

hiker with minimal outdoor gear

For adven­tur­ous folk, out­door gear is like skin­ny jeans to hip­sters; it’s essen­tial. In fact, you prob­a­bly have five brows­er tabs open to var­i­ous gear sites right now. How­ev­er, get­ting all the gear can get out of con­trol fast. So, below, we’ve list­ed the stuff you need and the crap you should skip, thus sav­ing your mon­ey for, well, more cool­er gear.

Take It With You

Hydra­tion Pack:
You need water. It’s super sweet to not have to car­ry it or attach it to var­i­ous parts of your body via cara­bin­er (I know you think this makes you look cool and rugged. It doesn’t. Stop it.)

Hik­ing Boots:
Whether you’re a hik­er, camper, climber, or canyoneer-er, the great out­doors demands a stur­dy, water­proof, high-top boot. Buy some. Now.

A blade can repair gear, help you build a fire, and make you look way cool­er and sex­i­er than you actu­al­ly are. A fixed blade is much sharp­er and stur­dier than your nails.

Gear that Keeps You Warm and Dry:
Even if it’s the most gor­geous, clear day you’ve ever seen in your life, it’s always a good idea to have this gear or, at least, keep it in your car.

  • Rain Shell
  • Gloves–waterproof, obvi­ous­ly
  • Wool Socks/Wool Hat–Smart Wool and Darn Tough are eff­ing awesome.
  • Syn­thet­ic Puffy Vest–more water­proof, and bound to keep you dry­er than down (think about the baby duckies…quack, quack)

Strike Any­where Matches:
As the name sug­gests, they work any­where. Just keep ‘em dry.

Duct Tape/Athletic Tape:
Repair gear, use as a makeshift ban­dage to stop bleed­ing (Seri­ous­ly, the ladies will eat that up when you cut your arm on a super sweet move while climb­ing some­thing epic and then cov­er it with duct tape).

It’s a lamp, but it goes on your head, so you can use your hands.


Of all the gear you’ll come across, there’s bound to be a few things that are just down-right exces­sive. Ultra­light pack­ers would refer to these items as “overkill.”

Leave It Home

Any type of Hik­ing San­dal / Road Run­ning Shoe:
Yeah, so your feet are gonna get hot in your hik­ing boots. Cry me a riv­er. Pic­ture this: you slip on a rock, you start to slide. Next thing you know, you’re in Yosemite Med­ical Clin­ic with a shat­tered ankle that broke your fall–you’re effed, and not in a good way.

Per­son­al sto­ry? Maybe. Do I make a point? Absolute­ly. Cov­er­ing and pro­tect­ing your feet whilst out and about in nature is one of the most impor­tant things you can do. Do it.

GPS Devices/Cellphones:
In some sit­u­a­tions, these elec­tron­ics can be help­ful but, by and large, they can’t be relied upon. Learn to read maps, leave a note detail­ing your where­abouts, and if you’re tex­ting on the moun­tain then you’re prob­a­bly doing it wrong. All of it.

Ear Muffs:
You lose a ton of heat through the ball of your head. You might as well light your ear­muffs on fire. They’re just that use­less. Invest in a wool hat that cov­ers your entire head, as well as your ears.

Bic Lighters:
Lighters run out of fuel, get wet, and mal­func­tion. Use strike any­where match­es or a firestarter.

Flash Light:
Head­lamps are way hot­ter and again, keep your hands free.

A Tent:
Yep, I said it. Tents are cool and can pro­vide you some shel­ter from the ele­ments but they aren’t 100% nec­es­sary. Instead, sleep in your sleep­ing bag, under the stars. Car camp if you’re at a site, or invest in a light­weight bivvy for emer­gency sit­u­a­tions. Many ultra­light pack­ers are also opt­ing for a light­weight tarp.

For those seek­ing qual­i­ty cycling in the win­ter, func­tion­al gear is a must. This week­end I test­ed out a slew of Castel­li prod­ucts on a long, win­ter ride just out­side the city lim­its of Port­land. I want­ed to see if the appar­el would suc­ceed in keep­ing me warm and dry through the cold con­di­tions of the pacif­ic northwest.



The Jack­et: Zon­colan Jacket

Zoncolan Jacket

As I geared up for the ride and zipped up the Zon­colan for the first time I became wor­ried the jack­et would be too warm, but a few min­utes lat­er I was pleas­ant­ly sur­prised to find that I was wrong. Though the jack­et is thick, lined with com­fort­able fleece, and keeps the full upper-body warm with a Ther­moflex flip-up full zip col­lar, the Wind­stop­per X‑fast 2 fab­ric breathes won­der­ful­ly while allow­ing my body to retain nice dry heat. An hour into my ride, as I bat­tled up steep hills and rode down quick windy declines, the jack­et was still keep­ing me con­sis­tent­ly warm and hold­ing a nice bal­ance of breatha­bil­i­ty. Though it nev­er out­right rained on my ride, the Zon­colan did a good job at keep­ing me dry dur­ing a few light driz­zles. I would high­ly rec­om­mend this Jack­et for weath­er 45 degrees and below. Not only does the Zon­colan per­form well, it looks incred­i­bly styl­ish to match. Con­tin­ue read­ing

Image cour­tesy of Eagle Creek

Hap­py Fri­day, Clym­bers. We’re excit­ed about tonight’s par­ty, where we’ll cel­e­brate The Clymb reach­ing one mil­lion mem­bers by clink­ing keg cups and attempt­ing to drop it like it’s hot on the dance floor with friends from the Port­land-area out­door indus­try. Colum­bia Sports­wear? KEEN? Which brand’s employ­ees are going to cut the mean­est rug? And will any of us be awake in time to go ski­ing on Sat­ur­day? It’s going to be a fun one. In the mean­time, we’ve got two great new events on the dock­et for you. Have a look and be sure to get out­side and do some­thing Clymb-wor­thy this week­end. If you stay con­nect­ed tomor­row, be sure to keep your eyes on your email around 9am—we have more great events in store for you.

Eagle Creek: World trav­el is hard on gear. Don’t let a bro­ken strap or a failed clip slow you down. The experts at Eagle Creek are ded­i­cat­ed trav­el­ers who design smart, com­fort­able, and near­ly inde­struc­tible trav­el gear for fel­low lovers of the open road. Whether wend­ing by taxi, tuk-tuk, martchut­ka, or hairy yak, trav­el­ers can rely on Eagle Creek to elim­i­nate their wor­ries about gear hold­ing them up. Mak­ing it down that sketchy moun­tain road is anoth­er sto­ry. Pre­pare to sati­ate your wan­der­lust with Eagle Creek trav­el duf­fels, bags, lug­gage and mul­ti-day packs, on sale today on The Clymb for mem­ber-exclu­sive pricing.

Neff: Neff is the first authen­tic core surf, skate, and snow head­wear brand in the indus­try. It is now worn by the biggest names in action sports and sold in over 40 coun­tries— a pret­ty impres­sive feat by Shaun Neff, who found­ed the com­pa­ny just 10 years ago and says, “We are like a gum­ball machine, spit­ting out end­less fla­vors for the world to con­sume.” Get a taste today on the The Clymb, with Neff head­wear, tech­ni­cal appar­el, and acces­sories for mem­ber-exclu­sive pricing.

PLUS… There’s still time to save on prAna, Craft, CELSIUS, Salomon socks, New Bal­ance, ISAORA, Spy­der, Sur­face Skis, CELTEK, & More. 

Before you go:

HOT TUB TRAVEL MACHINE: Did you know? Found­ed from a desire to equip hip­pie trav­el­ers with qual­i­ty gear, Eagle Creek was born dur­ing a series of infa­mous late-night hot tub plan­ning ses­sions in Idyll­wild, Cal­i­for­nia, in 1975.


Anoth­er Mon­day morn­ing and anoth­er amaz­ing brand event here at the Clymb. To all our mem­bers that asked for more gear, we have been work­ing hard on deliv­er­ing that to you. Today we are proud to announce our next brand event with Salomon Snow­boards kick­ing off at 9am PST today and run­ning until Thurs­day at 9am PST. Whether you ride All Moun­tain, Freeride, Park, Pipe or Jib — Salomon has you covered

Salomon spon­sored an amaz­ing com­pe­ti­tion right here in our back­yard of Port­land a few months ago. Here are some high­lights from the competition.

Clymb mem­bers can save up to 55% off of Salomon Snow­boards, if you aren’t a mem­ber and want to be one let us know via Face­book or Twitter.

We just want­ed to remind every­one that today is the last day of the Suun­to brand event. A cou­ple of mod­els have sold out so make sure you act quickly.

Sure we want­ed to remind you about the event but we also want­ed an excuse to post anoth­er Suun­to video.