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Bear Country 101

For more than a few hikers and campers in Canada and the USA, there’s no greater fear than an encounter with a bear. Bears are the classic bogeymen of the North American wilds: the go-to explanation for any thump in the night outside the tent or crash in the underbrush along the trail. The danger they pose, however, is vastly overrated, and every outdoorsperson should appreciate the ecological value and brawny spirit represented by these intelligent, resourceful beasts. Your average bear will normally go out of its way to avoid a run-in with a human being. Many bad bear/human encounters … Continue reading

Traveling Over Snow: Tips on Safe Snow Travel

Snow can be both boon and bane for outdoor travelers. When nice and firm, it can be a pleasure to scuff along, above all the terra firma messiness of brush, gravel, or deadfall. When soft and powdery, it invites long cross-country ski or snowshoe outings. But then there’s the flipside: the half-melted slush absolutely exhausting to traverse for long distances, the rock-hard, ice-glazed slopes, the deep, brittle-crusted drifts you maddeningly posthole your way through. Not to mention, of course, all the outright hazards of the snowscape: crevasses, cornices, avalanches, weakly frozen-over bodies of water, etc. Here we’ve rounded up a … Continue reading

The Principles of Leave-No-Trace

Entering the backcountry in the 21st century demands responsibility. Many postcard-perfect wilderness destinations in North America are at risk of being loved to death (or at least degradation); truly remote, pristine sites are all the more precious in the context of our never-so-great human footprint. Leave No Trace (LNT) is a philosophy every outdoorsperson should adopt. Naturally, human beings are going to leave some traces in the woods—when we’re out hunting or fishing, sure, but also simply backpacking. Comes with the territory—and totally natural. But the LNT idea about aiming for as light-handed and soft-footed a touch as we can: … Continue reading

The Best Hiking Apps – Offline Outdoor Navigation Apps

The use of smartphones out in the wilderness is controversial, but there’s no question the technology has real utility. Even if you personally eschew the regular use of a smartphone on your backpacking or paddling or hunting adventures, it’s not a bad idea to have one stowed away in the pack: If nothing else, it’s another emergency tool in case you run into trouble.  But there’s much else to take advantage of, outdoors-wise, with today’s immensely powerful mobile devices. (And, incidentally, a 2013 report by the Outdoor Foundation suggested close to 40 percent of all Americans do take advantage of … Continue reading

Hiking for Beginners

Hiking is a pastime open to people of all walks of life: young and old, athlete-level fit and…err, not so much. Requiring no special training, skills, or fancy equipment, it’s a downright democratic pursuit that serves up enjoyment, scenery, exercise, and mental stimulation all in one deeply satisfying package. If you’re considering dipping your toes into the perambulatory waters, we say—DO IT! Hiking connects you to your primal roots and to the natural world, provides a hearty physical workout, and sharpens your senses and cognition alike. It’s also a wonderful bonding activity and social outlet among family and friends, and … Continue reading

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