Camping

The Pros and Cons of Abandoning Europe's Hiking Hut System

Hiking the Alps, Sans Huts

Dan had mentioned his novel idea before our summer trip to Switzerland: we’d go backpacking, in the Alps -- no huts. Bring your sleeping bags and bivy sacks, he said. Brilliant, I thought.

Roughing it ain't so hard

Tested: Sea to Summit Sleeping Mat

A soft, supportive sleeping pad turns going-to-ground into camping and sleep into slumber. Sea to Summit’s Comfort Plus Insulated Sleeping Mat promises big comfort and insulation without sacrificing portability. We took one for a few nights under the stars to find out if it delivers.

Seeking The Gods' Delight

Photo Essay: Heli-Hiking British Columbia’s Tantalus Range

As far as recreation goes, heli-hiking is expensive. But it's also a means for everyday folk to access remote, sometimes impossible-to-reach parts of the world -- like the peaks of the Tantalus Range in British Columbia -- in a four-minute helicopter ride, instead of a four-day slog. It's only when you see the other side of the ridge that you realize you'd never tasted a wild berry or truly seen the color blue (reserved only for the types of lakes hidden in the mountains).

We asked and you answered.

15 Best Day Hikes: Readers’ Choice Edition

Here they are: the 15 best day hikes, as told by our readers. All of the words and images below are straight from your submissions to our GP best hikes competition. We edited and condensed as necessary (some of you really like to type) and shot for widest possible range of locations and types of stories. What we were left with is a diverse hodgepodge of outdoor activity, organized from west to east, starting with Hawaii in the Pacific and ending with St. John in the Atlantic. Without further ado: 15 favorite hiking destinations, as told by GP readers, for GP readers.

Gear for an Open-Wheel Beating

Kit: Taking on Baja

Packing perfectly for the Baja Peninsula in Mexico means being prepared for everything -- because anything can, and will, happen.

Exploring an Unwelcoming Gem

Exploring the Harsh Beauty of the Cascades

The North Cascades aren't exactly user friendly. There are no drive-up views for the minivan crowd. Plush lodges and charming hamlets are few and far between. Rangers usually spend a lot of time telling you what a miserable time you’ll have if you put yourself at the mercy of the park’s capricious and violent weather. But with some grit and serious sweat, adventurers who press through those barriers reap major rewards. Photographer Chris Burkard covered our own recent trip.

Because you can

How To Make a Beer Can Camp Stove

A good camper is self-reliant and packs the skill set necessary to do cool shit when cool shit’s called for -- like making stoves out of cans. Here’s how.

Pick Your Heated Poison

Tested: Trangia Backpacking Stove, Three Ways

For hikers, cyclists, and backpackers, a Trangia spirit (alcohol) burning stove is a proven option for any number of different overnight excursions. But even so, the variety of sizes, materials and accessories within Trangia's product line is burdening for anyone in the market, or simply in consideration of an upgrade. We put three different versions through their paces.

The Little CampStove that Could

Talk Shop: A Look Inside the BioLite Burn Lab

The clean energy stove company BioLite is built on more than just a trendy charging device. We paid their Brooklyn HQ a visit to see firsthand what they're all about.

Slightly Less than Roughing It

Car Camping Done Right

Car camping is all about possibilities, whether it’s in the Adirondacks out East, the lakes of the Midwest or the empty spaces of the BLA land out West. Getting to a campsite on four wheels means you can take along a mountain bike, kayaks, hardcover pulp fiction and a cooler of microbrews. This is the camping you remember from childhood, replete with great, cushy gear -- a hissing propane lantern, creaky camp chairs and someone strumming a guitar.

Pat's Backcountry Beverages Supplies Passable Camp Beer and Excellent Soda

For Happy Hour in the Backcountry, Just Add Water

Leave it to an Alaskan to invent a new way to drink alcohol outdoors. Pat Tatera, the founder of Pat’s Backcountry Beverages, developed a system for carrying concentrated forms of both alcohol and soda into the wild for hikers to make their own carbonated beverages in minutes with the help of stream water and small carbonation pouches.

Shaming Your Old Man's Pop-Up

Seven Off-Road Trailers For Your Next Adventure

If you're worried your 4x4 doesn't have enough room for your essential gear and creature comforts on a weekend off-road getaway, there's no need to trade up to a custom overlanding vehicle -- all you have to do is hitch up a trailer. We've picked our seven favorite off-road capable trailers that range from stripped-down simplicity to excessive luxury.

Pouches For The Pack

Backcountry Cuisine: 5 Best Dehydrated Meals

Dehydrated meals are the camping food industry’s apex predator. They’re lightweight, simple to make and sold at every outdoor retailer; all that’s required is hot water. But history's taught us that convenience and quality usually have inverse relationships. We tasted five of the industry's top brands to see whether an easy, delicious fireside meal was a marketing ploy or a reality.

12 States, 15 Hikes

15 Best Day Hikes in the Midwest

With the Appalachians to the east and Rockies to the west, the relatively flat American Midwest doesn't call to mind a hiking destination. But that's dead wrong. Instead of coastlines there are lakeshores. Instead of continuous mountain ranges, there's rolling loess higher than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. In the north, terrain varies from the Badlands of the Dakotas and the Pictured Rocks of Lake Superior; in the south are lush forests nestled between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Rethink the flyover states and hit the trailheads of the American Midwest -- these fifteen are your starting points.

The two-pound wilderness bed

Tested: Kammok Roo

Hammocks are supposed to call to mind carefree days of swinging lazily in the shade of coconut trees, while gentle tropical breezes toss sea-green waves onto sugar-white sand beaches. We tested the Kammok Roo to see if the lightweight hammock delivers on this age-old promise.

Live From Salt Lake City

Best of Outdoor Retailer, Summer 2014

You know it's time for another Outdoor Retailer show when South Main Street in Salt Lake City is populated by fat bikes, single-wheeled skateboards and tan people with good beards. We had boots on the ground at the Salt Palace Convention Center for the summer 2014 edition of the biannual product show; of everything we touched, tasted and saw, this gear stood out most.

15 Hikes, 13 States

15 Best Day Hikes of the West

The beauty of the West isn’t up for debate: it’s ubiquitous, grandiose and unchallenged. But hidden within these 13 states are secrets that can’t be seen driving an SUV through the “scenic” route. Only a true day hike can do the region justice. Consider this list your trailhead.

The Beauty of Bare Minimum

Kit: Ultralight Backpacking

Obsessive weight-trimmers with less than 10 pounds strapped to their backs are considered "ultralight" hikers, a term as ubiquitous and unregulated in the hiking retail market as "organic" and "grass fed" are in the food industry. But trust us: the following gear truly is ultralight, perfect for those faithful to the church of long trails and little gear.

Where family hordes are far away

10 Forgotten National Parks

10 destinations for untouched landscapes without the crowds or bustle of Yellowstone -- you know, the stuff you were looking for in the first place.

The Bear Essentials

An Everyman’s Guide to Survival Gear

You never know when things might take a turn for the worse. Match up to your skill level and ensure you've got the right basic survival gear with our survey.

Deadly Salmon, Banana Rafts, and other

GP Tales of Near Death in Nature

We love outdoor adventures, but sometimes they don't love us back. Five GP staffers discuss their scariest run-ins with the elements.

Catch Some Backcountry Zzzs

10 Best Tents of 2014

For the outdoorsman, home is wherever the ground is flat and somewhat free of rocks. These tents make those spots more comfortable than ever.

Bring An Enemy

10 Most Dangerous Hikes

Stick anyone next to a cliff and they'll inch forward and peek over; put anyone in a supercar and they'll double the speed limit. We all want to stay safe and comfortable, sure, but in those moments when we lose our footing and time slows to a crawl, we are undeniably living in the moment. Call it suicidal or call it truly living. Here are ten trails that return hikers to their baser need: staying alive.

15 Hikes, 15 Days

15 Best Day Hikes in the Northeast

These day hikes are not pretenders. We surveyed the northeastern U.S. to find the best 15 hikes, spread out across 9 states. If you have a car (in some cases you don’t even need one), you can find an accessible 10 miler with manageable distances, notable views and unique trails for a long, fulfilling Saturday.

Embrace your baggage

10 Best Daypacks for Every Adventure

While the lifetime warrantee on your North Face pack from grammar school is meant to be honored, there’s something to be said for retiring before things unravel. Today’s daypacks will haul your climbing gear or your laptop over mountains and through airports. These are our favorites.

Lighting the way, from Yellowstone to Haiti

Tested: Goal Zero Lighthouse 250

Goal Zero's latest rechargeable lantern, the LightHouse 250 ($80), is a versatile light source suited for all regions of the globe. But does its on-paper usefulness translate to the real world? We tested it, from hand-cranking to device charging.

Live From Salt Lake City

Best of Outdoor Retailer, Winter 2014

We like to get our hands on new gear early, and short of theft and corporate espionage one of the best ways to do that is by checking out Outdoor Retailer, a biannual product show for retailers, manufacturers and other industry pros. We were on hand at the Winter Market 2014 show at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT, where every brand with a stake in the great outdoors showed off their future cold-weather wares. Of everything we touched, tasted and saw, this gear stood out most.

Comfort and sturdiness, put to the test

Tested: ECCO BIOM Terrain Plus

Over the years we've owned a number of different hiking boots in a continuous search for just the right balance of sufficient support, stability, and grip without being so rigid and heavy that they feel like Tony Soprano concrete specials. Recently we had the opportunity to try the BIOM Terrain Plus ($230) from ECCO, a brand we knew only as the maker of grandpa's "most comfortable shoes you'll ever wear!" Of course we were skeptical about where they would rate on that scale of comfort and stability -- and, equally as important, whether we'd want to be seen wearing them on the trail.

Gear for the Granite State

Kit: Hiking Hut-to-Hut in the White Mountains

Even when you're sleeping in huts every night, hiking in the White Mountains requires considerable planning. With New Hampshire's notoriously unpredictable weather, it's wise to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That means shells for rain, layers for warmth and good footwear for all that granite. Here's what we took on the final part of our Mountain Series, a three-day hut-to-hut excursion.

Own Your Wilderness Overnight

Kit: Multi-Day Hiking

It doesn’t take much to pack for a day hike: throw on a coat, pull on your boots and tuck a beanie in your back pocket in case the weather turns chilly. But if you’re heading into the woods for more than a stroll, a little preparation goes a long way, whether it be technical fabrics to combat inclement weather, a portable stove to heat your three square, or dominos to entertain companions after the sun sets. We’ve got a selection of gear to get you started on your next multi-day hiking adventure.

Lofty Goals

Kelty Ignite Dridown

We won’t all climb Everest. In fact, most of us won’t. That’s not to say that we don’t enjoy a good weekend under the stars -- we certainly do. But, while there are sleeping bags made for extreme conditions (and even ones that hang from trees or that you can wear), you're probably after something more straightforward. You want something that’s built well, that’ll keep you warm on a cool night and that you can take anywhere: Kelty Ignite DriDown ($200). Hands down, the Ignite DriDown is the best of the best, a versatile, quality, bang-for-your-buck sleeping bag.

Home away from home

Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 DP

A tent can be your portable backcountry palace or can just as easily feel like a nylon coffin with a view. Unless you're looking to shell out a few thousand dollars to set up a basecamp in the Himalayas, the Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 ($550) is your best bet for logging serious miles and catching serious Zs during your down time.

The log, upgraded

GP100: Helinox Chair One

When you're heading off the grid, a proper chair usually ranks pretty low on the list of gotta haves. Still, even the most hardened of campers can appreciate supportive seating when the fire is roaring and the back is aching from a seven-mile portage. Weighing in at less than your Nalgene (32oz), and fitting into a Dopp Kit-sized pouch, the Helinox Chair One ($90) is the latest innovation for cranky campers looking for a place to rest.

(Power) tenting tonight

Breakdown: Eddie Bauer Power Katabatic Tent

When you're hauling loads of climbing gear above twenty thousand feet, shaving weight is of the utmost importance. Multipurpose gear gets loaded up before any creature comforts even cross a serious climber's mind. The designers at Eddie Bauer and Goal Zero had this in mind when they teamed up on the new Power Katabatic Tent. We break it down.

Tomorrow's Gear, Today

The Best of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013

Every summer the outdoor industry gets together to show off their latest products and innovations for the next season -- and every summer we drool over the best climbing, hiking, and outdoor gear money can buy. If you spend hours researching your next ultralight backpacking kit purchase, geek out over climbing shoe rubber, or spend late nights planning your next backcountry camping trip, the Outdoor Retailer show is a mecca. We were on hand to scope out the best gear for this fall and next spring so you can be first in line when the time rolls around.

Pack it in

The 10 Best Backpacks for Every Adventure

From easy day hikes to multi-day treks, a good pack on your back can make carrying a load a joy (relatively speaking), especially if you draw the short straw and have to carry the extra beer on a five day expedition through Zion National Park. The perfect pack is a simple one: it carries everything you need and nothing you don't. In practice, this is much harder than it seems and involves careful planning and design. Beware of the old trap. If you have the space, you'll try to fill it with something. Whether you're throwing gear together for a short hike to your favorite fly fishing spot or taking a month-long stroll down the Continental Divide, less is more. With that in mind, we've picked the best backpacks to put a few miles on this season. Features like load distributing-straps, rainflys and easy access to hydration all made the cut. Heavy materials, unneeded space, and dead weight? Not so much.

Not exactly roughing it

Airstream Land Yacht

The vintage polished aluminum of Airstream Trailers is as recognizable as the curvaceous body of a 'Vette. Nowadays, they transport everyone from happy families to celebrities; Felix Baumgartner even holed up in one before his stratospheric leap. Previously unchanged in its 82-year history, the newly released Airstream Land Yacht ($140,000) brings a new level of sophistication in materials and design to this classic roving hotel room.