Questions relating to any physical gear for engaging in those activities discussed in The Great Outdoors. Examples include packs, knives, bikes, kayaks, and climbing harnesses.

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7answers
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What is the ultimate car camping bed solution — for two people?

I've been camping since I was a teenager in the scouts, and I've never really had a very comfortable night out. As an adult with a girlfriend, 20 years later, I'd like to just throw some money at the ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

How to prevent fingers from freezing?

I am a traffic officer and in winter I always have issues with fingers freezing. Are there any hints besides hand warmers to keep my fingertips from getting so cold they hurt? I direct traffic so ...
15
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3answers
682 views

What makes a good head lamp?

I'm looking for a decent head lamp, with a bright light and good battery life. Most on the market these days seem to be LED based, but aside from those three (perhaps obvious) considerations are there ...
15
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5answers
7k views

How do I know what size ice axe I should get?

I'm going to start mountaineering. Is there a recommended size per height/weight for ice axes for general mountaineering?
15
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2answers
2k views

When should I retire my rope

I know there is a degree of "gray" in this question but: I have a Beal Top gun II 10.5mm, I've had this rope for around 4 years now and I'm starting to think about retiring it. It's been used ...
15
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6answers
1k views

How bright a flashlight would I realistically need for searching through terrain?

Modern flashlights have brightness up to several thousand lumens which is great. However it's not clear how bright a flashlight I might realistically need. Suppose I want to go on a search party such ...
15
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1answer
448 views

Difference when using twin or half ropes

There are three types of ropes according to the UIAA/EN norm for climbing ropes: Single, half and twin. While the distinction between single ropes and the other two is rather obvious (one strand ...
15
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2answers
880 views

John Muir's Gear List

What gear did John Muir actually take on long trips? I live in California these days, and around here we revere John Muir as a legend of the outdoors. But the legend seems larger than is possible. ...
15
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2answers
288 views

How much gear will the AT eat?

We're planning on hiking the AT, and this question prompted me to ask: What gear should we expect to replace, and how often, on the Appalachian Trail? Assume that we know basic gear maintenance and ...
15
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2answers
2k views

Making a Make-Shift harness from Tape-Slings

I have some common knowledge about knots used for Climbing and Rope-care. There was an incident last week, where I needed a Seat-Harness which I didn't have with me. I needed one for tying up a ...
14
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5answers
783 views

How can I keep my backpack safe?

I went on a hike with my wife the other day in Norcal. This place had a creek that led into a cave that you can swim in. We both left our backpacks at the cave entrance and then swam through it to the ...
14
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3answers
826 views

How precise is a pedometer for estimating on a backpacking trip?

In practice, how precise is a pedometer for estimating your progress on a trail? For example, if I'm to hike 10 miles, how far should I expect to be from the 10 miles marker? Is there data comparing ...
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4answers
3k views

How to choose a fire steel and use it most effectively?

Fire steels, ferrocerium rods -- oversized versions of the "flint" in a lighter or torch starter, are an apparently popular survival/backwoods fire starting method. Why would one want one of these ...
14
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1answer
2k views

What is the loop on the finger of my winter gloves for?

I have a pair of winter /climbing gloves. Each glove has a small loop on the ring finger, top of the glove. Why? What's it for?
14
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3answers
3k views

Any reasons not to use 30-year-old ice axe?

I'll be doing a guided tour which includes going up a steep slope on a glacier, therefore I need an ice axe. I could rent one for a couple of bucks from the tour organizers, but I was wondering if ...
14
votes
3answers
189 views

How did people make topographical maps in the pre-modern?

I've been getting into making maps with compass and a ruler and just triangulating positions of objects. I would like to start making topographical maps but how? How did they make them before the ...
14
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3answers
476 views

Stuff or roll a tent for storage?

When packing a tent, is it best to stuff it in its sack or roll/fold it? I always stuff my sleeping bag so I wasn't sure if it was the same for tents.
14
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4answers
1k views

Taking care of hiking backpack

I've had a 60 L backpack for almost seven years now. Nothing on it is broken and it fits my needs, so right now I don't have any thoughts about replacing it (Getting a light pack might be the only ...
14
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3answers
239 views

What are the key features to look for in mobile device apps for hiking/camping?

I've used EveryTrail and was satisfied but am looking for something better... What are the features I should focus on for selecting an app? What bells and whistles are really useful on the trail?
14
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2answers
557 views

How do I attach a hammock to trees?

On my next vacation, I will be camping in a tent on a designated campsite. I saw somebody use a hammock for lounging during the day last time, so quickly got a cheap hammock from eBay, with a "let's ...
14
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3answers
315 views

What should a rescue team be equipped with?

The last weekend when I was coming back home from a trek on Sunday noon, I got a news about this accident that took place. The place was on the way, so instead of choosing to rest at home, I chose to ...
14
votes
2answers
260 views

Is it practical to get a satellite phone for communication from remote areas?

When going into remote areas, it would be great to be able to communicate with the outside world, for emergency purposes or just to be able to call home on long trips. Is it practical for an average ...
14
votes
2answers
620 views

What equipment is needed for glacier hiking?

What is the exact equipment I need for walking safely on glaciers? The route I will be taking is the Hvannadalshnukur ascend from the ring road and same path descend. From what I could find out the ...
14
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1answer
922 views

Minimum equipment recommendations for hammock camping

I'm looking to try out some hammock camping on our next trip to the wilderness, but I don't have any of the gear yet. I could buy it all, but as it's a trial run it might not make sense to pour a ton ...
14
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2answers
1k views

Starting cross-country skiing off trails

I've done a bit of crosscountry skiing on trails at local mountains, but I'm more interested in getting off the trails and out into the woods. The terrain around here is pretty steep in general with ...
14
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2answers
2k views

Best type of rope for glacier travel?

What sort of rope would be ideal for glacier travel? I have a 10mm 60m rope, but this is quite heavy. Would a 9mm 50m rope be suitable for a team of three, crossing glaciers in the Swiss Alps?
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4answers
3k views

How to find new poles for old tent?

I have a nice and small tent I really like that is around 30 years old. It is from Sierra West, but I don't remember the model name. Here is a picture so that you can see the size and general ...
14
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1answer
455 views

Why do big wall harnesses have two belay loops?

I've been looking at big wall harnesses and I've been noticing that a lot of them come with two belay loops: I know that it isn't there as a back up. What's the advantage of having two belay ...
14
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1answer
682 views

Will Iodine Tablets Ruin My CamelBak?

In the past, I have gone backpacking with some fairly expensive, heavy water purification tools. But the more I read about water safety in California's Sierras (here and here), the less I think these ...
14
votes
2answers
590 views

How to sail a packraft

I would like to use the wind to propel my packraft on passages over lakes. Are there any lightweight and/or improvised sail systems? Especially: how do I erect a mast on the packraft without it ...
14
votes
1answer
271 views

What do I need to be aware of if I'm considering purchasing a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)?

Obviously, I can't just buy it, push the button and expect a helicopter to show up. Are there monthly or registration fees? Do I need to get a permit or register with someone? How does it all work? ...
13
votes
9answers
18k views

What is the fastest style of sled?

Winter is here and, like every year, I am still thrilled when the extended family rounds up all the little kids and we go sledding. This year we compared our sleds and found that some were ...
13
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5answers
1k views

How to make DIY ice axe protectors?

How to make ice axe protectors yourself? I have few ideas from using duck tape to 3D printing, but it would be nice to hear about methods proven to work. The reason I want to add protectors is a lot ...
13
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2answers
3k views

How much does a full/empty jetboil canister weigh?

I have a bunch of partially-full Jetboil canisters from various trips, and I'm trying to figure out approximately how much fuel is left in each of them. How much does a full canister weigh (fuel + ...
13
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4answers
278 views

When should you use gear to climb a tree?

After a long night of geocaching with some friends, one of them had a car full of climbing gear which he said he used for tree climbing - if the cache is up a tree. A couple of times now myself or my ...
13
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6answers
15k views

What are the benefits of a baitcaster over a spinning reel for bass fishing?

I have been looking at new rods and several people have suggested a baitcaster. I currently have a spinning reel that I am comfortable with but I would like to try a new rod/reel type. What am I ...
13
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6answers
5k views

What is the proper way to tarp tent to avoid condensation?

I tried pitching a tarp instead of a tent this weekend. In worked well, kept off the rain etc, except for the condensation. It was far worse than any condensation I've ever had in a tent. We had ...
13
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2answers
10k views

What makes nylon an effective material for hiking pants?

I often see 100% nylon pants a lot in stores. What properties does it have that make it effective when hiking? Is it effective in all seasons or just under certain conditions?
13
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2answers
1k views

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a paracord knife handle?

Whenever I browse knife shops or online stores I see many fixed-blade knives whose handles are essentially just a piece of paracord wrapped around the tang. From my anecdotal experience this also ...
13
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2answers
3k views

Pros and Cons of paracord

From a comment on the How to select paracord question I was curious, what is the benefit of paracord over hardware store yellow twisted poly stuff? The yellow stuff is cheap, readily available, ...
13
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4answers
464 views

Binoculars for nature reserves (birds etc) and for airplanes

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, apologies if not.. I'm after a pair of binoculars for visiting Nature Reserves to get a better view of colonies of birds on the water (at ...
13
votes
2answers
573 views

How should I correctly use poles and other equipment to avoid back pain on long hikes?

3 of my lower vertebra have irreparable damage, so I have various workarounds to minimise pain and swelling at home and in the office, and even on short term hikes (ibuprofen FTW) but on a longer hike ...
13
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2answers
1k views

What things should I look for when buying a compass?

Compasses seem to come in all shapes, sizes and (especially) prices! What sets a good compass apart from a bad one and what are some good characteristics to look for when making a purchase?
13
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3answers
6k views

Where can I find an iodine crystal water purification product?

For years I used a product called Polar Pure for water purification when weekend backpacking. It was an iodine based solution, so not great for a thru-hike, but fine for a week or less. Specifically, ...
13
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1answer
757 views

Kilimanjaro expedition - trousers - softshell vs. gore-tex

I am going on an expedition to Kilimanjaro and I'm going to buy new trousers specifically for this purpose. Some agencies recommend to take soft shell trousers and I'm not sure if it would be the best ...
13
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1answer
1k views

What is a good material to patch holes in backpack?

I have a backpack with rip-stop material that is quite beaten up from scrambling over granite boulders. What are some good materials for patching the holes, what kind of thread should I use, and how ...
12
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4answers
3k views

Is it ok to wear hiking shoes on street conditions?

I want to buy some comfortable shoes to wear while going to work. I have to walk 4 km every day. I want to use these shoes on rainy (not too heavy) days too. I am looking for shoes for all weather ...
12
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5answers
518 views

Why would I want a pressurized hydration pack?

I saw an ad today for a pressurized hydration pack. My first thought was "why?". I can't imagine a scenario would this would not lead to (a) more weight, or (b) greater risk of failure... neither of ...
12
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4answers
379 views

What sleeping gear should I use in a lean-to?

I have recently discovered the lean-to, a shelter with three walls. It seems considered as a shelter with more proximity to the nature. I have some worries though, regarding the wind and the ...
12
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4answers
951 views

Is it too soon to go family hiking with an infant? Packing tips?

It is almost summer here and me and my wife would like to get back to hiking after recently having a kid in September. He is almost 9 months old now and we would like to take him with us. I have a ...