Category Archives: Backpacking Gear

New & Improved Backpacking Gear!

What’s Up With That?

It’s that time of year. Back in June the big European Outdoor Gear Retailer Show was held. At the end of July the big US show was in progress in Utah. I’ve never been to one of these events, but I’ve been to trade shows in other industries, which usually are not open to the public. So I have a very good and probably accurate perception about what goes on at the outdoor gear shows.

So what are these show? Manufacturers show off their “New” and often “Improved” gear in hopes retailers will place orders.

Out in the world of consumers, backpackers are waiting impatiently for newest and greatest offerings. On Internet forums the gear faithful are posting, “Anyone hear what is new at the show?” Folks with press credentials roam the floors of the shows taking pictures, grabbing brochures, and talking to sales reps, so they can run home and share all this wonderful information on their blogs for the panting public to lap up.

What’s not to be excited about? And of course everyone can’t wait until these products are released, usually in the fall or next spring, so their favorite blog or magazine can review all the new and improved stuff, and of course tell us what is best, what we must have, and where to buy it. It’s AWESOME!

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Set Up Your Compass Faster & More Accurately With A Map Protractor, Part 2

In this post we will learn how to determine our location on the map using any compass and a map protractor. But first let’s review Part 1, with a little different spin so the concepts will start to become clearer.

Part 1 discussed the many steps needed to read a bearing on a map using a typical baseplate compass. It also discussed how many fewer steps were needed to read a bearing using a map protractor. In both cases, we are adjusting our compass by compensating for variance between Grid North and Magnetic North on the compass. The only difference being that using a map protractor requires the user to truly understand how magnetic north relates to the map so the bearing can be adjusted using 3rd grade math.

In Part 1, we described how to take a bearing from a map using a map protractor and transferring it to a compass utilizing the


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PopUpBackpacker’s Headlamp Buyer’s Guide

Here we go again…

A frequent question I see on the Internet is, “What headlamp should I buy for backpacking?”

And of course, as the modern technology obsessed society that we are, it turns into a debate with a focus on such things a lumens, regulated output, reverse polarity, etc., etc. etc.

jesus h. christ. Its just a frickin’ light.

How to boggle your mind

I did an Amazon search for “flashlight” and got 134,831 results. “Headlamp” yielded only 89,472 results. How can something so simple be so difficult?

So, I am going to simplify things for you. However, I have no credentials that would make me some sort of subject matter expert. I do hike and camp a lot using headlamps and flashlights.

So, caveat emptor.

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Furoshiki Shoes

This isn’t a review…

My kids gave these to me as a gift. My son, Joe, is a runner so he picked them out knowing I have a preference for minimal shoes. I think they’ve been around for a couple of years, but I don’t spend my time reading about shoes.

Furoshiki is a type of wrapping cloth used in Japan for centuries to carry stuff, sort of like a poor man’s duffle bag.


But obviously more elegant

By katorisi – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

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Set Up Your Compass Faster & More Accurately With A Map Protractor

I am going to show you how to navigate quicker and more accurately with a map and any compass, by using a map protractor.

Few subjects elicit more debates among hikers and backpackers than the subject of map and compass. Nowadays the subject includes GPS units, smart phones, base plate compass vs. fixed compass vs. lensatic compass, what map to use, etc. Then there is the fact electronic solutions (GPS and smart phones) can fail or end up with a dead battery. Many of the electronic persuasion carry and map and compass as a backup, which means duplicate items to do the same task, meaning unnecessary weight. Some of the backup maps and compasses in use are less than optimal and in a no-shit-need-to-have situation might be poor options (think button sized compass and a large scale general map).

We need to keep in mind that the goal of using a map and compass is to always know where you are, not figure out your location because you are lost. Of course, with practice you can use a map and compass to figure out your location if you do get lost.

Most backpackers bring a map and compass whether or not they know how to really use it. One piece of navigation equipment I rarely see in use by backpackers is a map protractor. In this post the protractor will be presented as a serious tool that backpackers may want to consider, and for those who have used and then abandoned a map protractor, perhaps a re-visit might be worthwhile.

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