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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.

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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).

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Remembering a true adventurer

For Alistair Farland: A Special Thanks

Remembering the life of Alistair Farland.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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11 States, 15 Hikes

15 Best Hikes of the South

We found the 15 best day hikes near major cities in the South.

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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.

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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.

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No Service, No Problem

Adventurer or Assassin, GoTenna Takes Peer-to-Peer Communication Off the Grid

What do hikers, disaster survivors and Walter White have in common? They all need to communicate without a cell tower. The goTenna is a portable long-wave radio emitter (the walkie talkie of 2014) that allows users to text and share GPS information without cell service.

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Shaming Your Old Man's Pop-Up

Seven Off-Road Trailers For Your Next Adventure

If you’re worried your 4×4 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Maximizing the bare minimum

Farther, Faster: A Primer on Ultralight Backpacking

A guide to ultralight hiking: rethinking pack weight, preparedness, safety and more.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Fear No Trail

5 Best Backpacking Boots of 2014

Whether you’re out for a marathon day hike, or fine tuning your kit for a week long adventure, a pair of comfortable, sturdy boots will keep your feet in working order for the duration.

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Comfort in the High Country

10 Best Sleeping Bags of 2014

These 10 sleeping bags make your duvet look like a washrag.

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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.

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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.