Poll: Bear Bells – Effective or Gimmick?

I was recently contacted by a reader who had a very specific question regarding the effectiveness of bear bells vs. whistles in the back country. Here is the full question: “Brian I wanted to get your opinion on the use of whistles to alert bears in the area as opposed to using bells. I fish […]

Reader Poll: What Sunglasses do you Wear?

Did you ever hear of the term ‘form blindness’ used for people who have trouble filling out forms? Well I’ll admit to having ‘sunglasses blindness’ – no pun intended. For some reason I have never been able to spend more than a few bucks on a pair of sunglasses. Which is borderline ridiculous considering I […]

Reader Poll: Do you carry a compass?

I’ve written several posts recently about how to use a compass and how even to navigate effectively without a compass. It got me wondering, how many of us carry a compass on a regular basis? I thought I’d conduct a unscientific reader poll to see. Do you always carry a compass with you, only take […]

Reader Poll: Home-Made Gear?

I like to make a lot of my own gear, like the Cuben Fiber stuff sack shown above. It saves me money for one thing, but it also tends to give me a much better understanding and appreciation of how something is made and how it functions. I not talking about hacking, tweaking, or modifying […]

Why Do You Go Backpacking?

I’m actually quite serious. What is it that drives you to get outside and go backpacking? I’m asking because a recent email submission from Joe B. got me thinking about the real reason why I got started with backpacking in the first place. Quite simply, it was because I like being outdoors. I like the […]

Your Most Recent Gear Purchase?

Today is a wet and rainy day in North Carolina, but the warmer, dryer weather is definitely on the way. Like most of you I’m starting to plan as many of my weekend hikes as I can. This time of year also coincides nicely with REI membership dividend time and that means new gear purchases […]

Reader Poll: Headlamp or Flashlight?

I’m a big fan of using a headlamp for backpacking. I made the switch from flashlight to headlamp several years ago and will probably never switch back. The benefits are pretty obvious; lightweight, let you keep your hands free, most utilize super-bright LEDs, the direction of the light automatically follows where you are looking, etc. […]