Shelter from the Storm: Tips for Building Winter Shelters

In many parts of the world, finding solitude while camping in the backcountry is getting harder every year. But don’t fret; you just need to add two things to get what you’re after: cold and snow. While winter camping definitely adds some unique challenges, those extra few hurdles are precisely what filter the crowds, leaving vast swaths of the backcountry under-appreciated for months. Of those hurdles, one of the biggest is figuring out your winter camping strategy for shelter. Warmth, weight and ease are the primary benchmarks to judge your choice by, and there are two paths to travel: bring your own or use what’s there. Here’s a quick breakdown of four of the most common winter shelters and tips on how best to use and/or build them. Location, Location,…

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5 Awesome Alternatives to Ski Resorts This Winter

Let’s face it: resort skiing can be great, but it’s not for everyone (or the planet). With single-day lift tickets cracking the $200 mark and mile-long parking and lift lines at many mountains, maybe­—just MAYBE—sitting in a dank, humid lodge or getting turned away at the parking lot just aren’t on your to-do list for this year.  Lucky for us, winter is a total playground and there are a ton of alternatives to ski resorts for winter fun. Here’s a quick reminder of some fun to be had that doesn’t involve a chair lift. Snowshoeing I know, big surprise coming from MSR, but snowshoeing is arguably the easiest and most accessible way to embrace winter away from the crowds. You can literally go anywhere there is snow. A good dump…

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Best Gifts for the Outdoors Under 1 Pound

Gearheads can be hard to shop for (speaking for the many gearheads at MSR, including myself). But generally, if you choose a gear gift that’s light and high-quality you’ll hit a home run. We wanted to make your holiday shopping as easy as possible this year, so we’ve compiled a list of all our favorite gear that’s under a pound and sure to delight even the most discerning of outdoorspeople. E-Bivy™ Minimum Weight: 6 oz. Price: $199.95 The E-Bivy is some people’s emergency plan and other people’s shelter of choice—we’re here for both. Tiny enough to throw in any pack and weather-resistant for protection when you need it, the E-Bivy is a great gift for everyone who spends time in the backcountry. Thru-Hiker 70 Wing Minimum Weight: 12 oz. Price: $189.95…

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Furoshiki: Easy, Sustainable Gift Wrap for the Holidays and Beyond

It’s that time of year again—already. Just like clockwork, your local retail outlets are switching over from the Halloween decorations they put up right after Labor Day to the fancy glitz of Christmas, Kwanza, Hannukah, Solstice and any number of other winter-themed holidays before the last Jack-o-Lantern has even gone out. While we’re in party mode, attending holiday gatherings, eating too much food and hopefully getting in those first few turns or pitches of ice climbing, a darker side to the holidays emerges and it’s not just because the sun is setting at 3:30 pm. Gifts of Garbage That’s right, as much as you love them, you must admit that the holidays are a pretty wasteful time of year—it has been estimated that the average American’s waste stream goes up…

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​​How Much Does a Thru-Hike of the Appalachian Trail Really Cost?

When I first heard about the Appalachian Trail, I knew it’d be a tremendous undertaking. But I had no idea how to quantify it. With very little backcountry experience, I kept wondering: How much does a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail cost? Would it take five lost toenails, an injured knee and a sore ego to make it to the end of the trail? Would I have to exchange years of my life to make it to Katahdin? Or could I get by with my life’s savings, and call it complete? The internet told me that a standard hiker should expect to spend about $5,000 on their journey. But I didn’t want to leave my potential success to chance, so I stuffed $10,000 away before allowing myself to hike. By…

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