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 L I V E B R AV E LY

ENCYCLOPEDIA

ofGEAR

{187 A M A Z I N G S TO R I E S about e v e r y t h i n g WE USE } the

FOUR

YEARS THAT revolutionized

CYCLING

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MILLENNIALS

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CARBON FIBER,

SPORTS BRAS, SPORKS & MORE

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PANAMA ODYSSEY PART III

RUNNING DOWN A DREAM ON THE CHIRIQUI Sometimes the hardest thing about whitewater paddling is getting to the river BY THAYER WALKER

t was 11 A.M. on a blazing Tuesday morning in the Panamanian state of Chiriquí and the plan had been to put in on the Class III-IV section of the Chiriquí Viejo for a breezy day of paddling. But an hour into our shuttle, we learned that the government decided to suspend its usual daily dam release, leaving us high and dry. That bad news was, naturally, punctuated by a flat tire. Fortunately, I was standing on the side of the cratered-out blacktop with Hector Sanchez, who pioneered Panama’s whitewater industry as the founder of Chiriquí River Rafting. Even after the tire was fixed, it became obvious we wouldn’t be paddling, so Sanchez suggested I explore the region’s waterfalls by foot instead. “That’s how I first scouted this area,” he told me. “You don’t need a boat to find adventure on a river.” Rivers breathe life into Chiriquí, a region of high-altitude jungle home to monkeys, jaguars, and even an exotic creature called the resplendent quetzal, a Technicolor bird that looks like it flew out of a fantasy. Despite its dramatic coloring, Sanchez warned, it’s not easy to find. There was one place where I might get lucky. A few miles outside of the coffee town of

I

Boquete stood the 200-foot-tall San Ramon waterfall. The trail to the cascade happened to cut through prime quetzal territory—a wet mountain jungle between 5,000 and 8,000 feet. All I needed to do was follow the river. I cinched up my laces at the trailhead and within minutes mud had swallowed my shoes, covering so much of my feet and legs that I might as well have been wearing it as an accessory. After a two-mile slog past a QUETZAL HABITAT sign

in a window of otherwise dense understory. Emerald head, bright ruby breast, and a two-foot-long sapphire tail; he was a feathery jewel, a bird ancient Mesoamerican civilizations considered divine. Unimpressed by its two-legged gawker, the quetzal sat still on its perch. I remained, entranced. A creature so stunning it needed to do nothing else but exist to captivate. It let out a sonorous chirp, the call of romance. Quetzals are generally solitary, except when

“I FELT A PANG OF MELANCHOLY, QUICKLY SUPPLANTED BY GRATITUDE. DON’T ALLOW ME TO DISTURB YOUR COURTSHIP LITTLE BIRDS, I THOUGHT TO MYSELF. THE WORLD NEEDS MORE OF YOUR BEAUTY.” that seemed to be deliberately taunting me, hazy mist began to fill the air; a mix of rainy drizzle and waterfall spray. The 20-story cascade tumbled off the slopes of Volcán Barú, at 11,398 feet the highest point in Panama, on its way to the Pacific. It was stunningly beautiful, but still no quetzal. Passing through a clearing on the way back, I caught a flash of red, a fireball floating through the jungle. A male resplendent quetzal landed on a mossy branch

mating. On a nearby branch a female answered. The two birds disappeared into the jungle. I felt a pang of melancholy, quickly supplanted by gratitude. Don’t allow me to disturb your courtship little birds, I thought to myself. The world needs more of your beauty. With dusk approaching, I continued my muddy trudge to the car, marveling at the fact that the most unexpected gifts are almost always the most gratifying.

Meet Thayer Walker. A regular Outside contributor, Thayer has written about walking with jaguars in Bolivia and paragliding in the Indian Himalayas.

To help celebrate 80 years of adventurous spirit, Sperry is inviting some intrepid souls to each embark on an odyssey. To places unfamiliar, and to experiences unexpected. Our hope is that the stories they come back with will inspire you to embark on your own odyssey. To see more odysseys like this, visit sperry.com/odysseyproject


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 9 Zero 7, 40 45North, 40 ABS, 16 Adidas, 58 Airbnb, 92 Airstream, 14 Alaska Wilderness Classic, 66 Alchemy Goods, 76 Alite Designs, 92, 96 Alpacka Raft, 66 Alpina, 57 American Giant, 28 AMP Research, 81 Anderson, Lloyd and Mary, 14 Anderson, Neil, 83 Anderson, Simon, 42 Apex, 60 Appeal, Mainstream, 14 Apple Inc., 48, 62, 64 iPod Nano, 62 Watch, 62 Arc’teryx, 58 ASICS, 58 Asolo, 57 Atomic, 38 Authenticity, 14 Avalanche Safety, 16 Aviators, 16 Baby Jogger, 52 Backcountry .com, 16, 26 Baechler, Phil, 52 Balance Bar, 71 Bar Mitts, 40 Barthel, Fritz, 82 Base-Camp Duffel, 18 Bauer, Eddie, 72 Bausch and Lomb, 16 Bell Biker, 48 BeneďŹ t Corporation, 61 Biddulph, Jennifer, 71 Big Agnes, 92 Fly Creek, 78 Billy Goat, 76 BioLite, 61 Black Diamond Equipment, 16, 51, 58, 76, 90 JetForce, 16 Blake, Tom, 42 BMW GS, 18 BOB, 52 Boeing, 83 Boole, James, 96 Bowerman, Bill, 18, 53, 82, 86 Boy Scouts, 78 BPA, 62 Bra, Sports, 20 Bradner, Hugh, 64, 86 Bramani, Vitale, 85 Braungart, Michael, 76 Breeze, Joe, 51 Brower, David, 82 Browne, Mark, 68, 70

6 Outside

ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR : INDEX

Brunton Optics, 28 Budweiser, 22 Buell, Susie, 83 Burkner, Elizabeth, 76 Burroughs, John, 83 Burton, Jake, 79 Burton Snowboards, 78 Byam, Wally, 14 CamelBak, 20 Camouage, 22 Camp 4 Collective, 43 Campagnolo Gran Sport, 74 Canned Beer, 22 Capture Camera Clip, 28 Carabiner, 14, 22 Carhartt, 83 Cascade Designs, 83 Catalog, 22 Chaco, 83 Chain Reaction Cycles, 40 Chamois, 26 Channel Islands Surfboards, 58 Chapstick, 54 Chevron, 38 Chip Timing, 26 Chouinard Equipment, 51 Chouinard, Yvon, 51, 76, 83 Clif Bar, 71 Clinton, Bill, 77, 79 Cloudveil, 14 Cody, Samuel, 53 Coleman, 79 Columbia, 58, 70 Connery, Gary, 88 Converse, 60 Coolest Cooler, 26 Coomer, Sven, 60 Coors, 22 Corliss, Jeb, 88 Cotopaxi, 61 Cousteau, Jacques, 26 Crispi, 57 Crocs, 58 Crowdfunding, 26 DAC, 78 Dacron, 71 Daiber, Ome, 72 DaimlerChrysler, 86 Dalbello, 57 Decker Outdoor, 58 Denali Jacket, 28 Dial, Roman, 66 Direct to Consumer, 28 Disney, 79 Dithering, 28 Dolomite, 59 Dory, Whitewater, 30 Double Plastic Mountaineering Boot, 32 Down, 34, 72 DPS Skis, 58 Dropper Post, 32

Duct Tape, 32 Duluth Pack, 32 Duncan, Alex, 90 Dutch Oven, 32 DynaďŹ t, 58, 60, 82 Early Winters, 26 Easton Aluminum, 78 Eidson, Michael, 20 Elements of Adventure, 34 Elsener, Karl, 53 Esprit, 83 Evans, Ross, 84 Evingson, John, 38 Fat Bike, 36 Fatback, 40 Fendi, 92 Filson, 42 Fin, Surfboard, 42 FireďŹ ghting, wildland, 72 Fischer, 58 Fisher, Gary, 42, 51 Fitbit, 44, 62, 64 Fixx, James, 77 Flint, William “Kim,â€? 80 Fly Rod, 43 Footie, Sick, 43 Founders Brewing Company, 22 Fox Air Vanilla Float, 81 Fox River Mills, 64 Fuller, Buckminster, 78 G3, 82 Gallatin, 30 Garmin, 44, 48 Garmin Forerunner 201, 44 Garmont, 60 Gatorade, 44 Gayardon, Patrick de, 90 Gel, 44 General Motors, 48 Gerber Gear, 58 Giant, 81 Gill, John, 35 Gloves, Elk Skin, 44 Goal Zero, 58 GoLite, 58 Google, 51 GoPro, 43, 51 Gore-Tex, 22, 26, 51, 85, 92 Gore, Al, 77 Gore, Bob, 35, 51 GPS, 28, 44 Graham, Mike, 71 Grand Canyon, 30, 82, 84 Graphene, 35 Gray, Dave, 36 Griffith, Dick, 66 Grilamid, 60 Gu Energy Labs, 44 Gump, Forrest, 79 Hamilton, Laird, 80 Hamm’s Brewing, 22

MAGAZINE

Hanebrink, 37 Haney, Peter, 70 Hanson, Chris and Denny, 60 Hardy, 43 Head, Howard, 46 Headphones, 46 Heart-Rate Monitor, 46 Helly Hansen, 54 Helmet, 48 Hinault, Bernard, 74 Hipcamp, 92, 96 Hogard, Dustin, 66 Hoka, 40, 58 Honey Stinger, 44 Horst Link, 81 Hubble Space Telescope, 66 Hummer, 48 Hunt, Graham, 90, 96 Hurley, 58 Hypalon, 66 Ibis, 81 Icebreaker, 64 Icons, 50 Ingebrigtsen, Henrik, 77 Instant coffee, 54 Jabra, 46 Jeep, 52 Jensen, Beth, 70 Jetboil, 79 Jewell, Sally, 96 Jogging Stroller, 52 Johnson and Johnson, 32 Jones, Jeremy, 52 K2, 58 Keen, 58, 76, 83 Kelly, Charlie, 43 Kelty, 58 Kennedy, John F., 104 Kialoa Paddles, 76 Kickstarter, 28 Kim, Tae, 92, 96 Kite, 52 Knife, Swiss Army, 53 Knight, Phil, 18, 53 Koach, 32 Kona, 84 Koss, 46 La Sportiva, 57, 58 Land, Edwin, 70 Lange, Bob, 59, 60 Law, Kara Lavender, 70 Lea, Jim, 83 Leatherman, 54, 58 Leitner, Horst, 81 LeMond, Greg, 75 Lennon, Boone, 75 Lewis and Clark, 32 Lewis, Carl, 77 Lifa Shirt, 54 Lifetime Warranty, 54 Light My Fire, 79 Lincoln, Abraham, 104 Lindahl, Lisa, 20

Lip balm, 54 Little Things, 54 Litton, Martin, 30 L.L.Bean, 26, 55, 86 Look, 74 LĂłpez, Abraham Cubo, 90 Lowa, 57 Lowe, Greg, 55, 71 Lowe, Jeff, 71 Lululemon, 55 Lumbersexual, 55 MacArthur, General Douglas, 79 Maestrale, 59 Magne-Traction, 79 Mammut, 16, 58, 82 Manduka, 76 Marker, 82 Marmot Force, 78 Martin, Hans, 60 Maven, 28 Maxwell, Brian, 71 McDonald’s, 77 McDonough, William, 76 Merino, 64 Mestral, George de, 85 Military Russian, 72 U.S., 48, 52, 66, 82 Millet, 82 MisďŹ t, 64 Molina, Ray, 37 Montebelluna, 56 Morgan, Bev, 86 Mountain House, 61 Mountain Lab, the, 92 MountainBikes, 43, 51 Mountaineers, the, 79 MSR, 79, 83 Murphy, Joannie, 88 Mycoskie, Blake, 61 Nalgene Bottle, 14, 62 National Outdoor Leadership School, 82 Nau, 58 Nebelkopf, Jeff, 96 NestlĂŠ, 71 New Belgium, 22 Newton Running, 58 Nike, 18, 53, 58, 60, 62, 64, 77, 82, 86, 92 FuelBand, 62 Nike+, 62 Nixon, Richard, 104 Noble Fiber Technologies X-Static, 64 Nordica, 59, 60 North Face, The, 14, 18, 28, 70, 83, 86, 92 Oval Intention, 78 Ocean Conservancy, 70 Odor Control, 64 Ogwyn, Joby, 88, 96 Olson, Scott, 76

Olympics, 77 O’Neill, Jack, 64, 86 Oregon Freeze Dry, 61 Orvis, 26 Otto, Shaun, 90 Outdoor Foundation, 96 Outdoor Industry Association, 70, 81 Outland, 81 Outside Knife, 64 Pack Raft, 66 Parisotto family, 56 Patagonia, 14, 26, 51, 58, 68, 76, 82, 86, 92 P-Cord, 66 Peak Design, 28 Pearl Izumi, 58 Pebax, 60 Penberthy, Larry, 79 Petty, Richard, 70 Petzl, 35, 58 Petzoldt, Paul, 82 Phantom Guide, 60 Plastics, 68 POC, 58 Polar, 46 Polarization, 70 Polaroid, 70 Polartec, 68, 70, 86 Poler, 58, 92, 96 Portaledge, 71 Potter, Dean, 90, 96 Pour-Over Coffee, 71 Powell, Major John Wesley, 84 PowerBar, 71 Prefontaine, Steve, 53, 77 Primaloft, 35 Primus, 79 Pro Bar, 58 Protect Our Winters, 52 Puffy, 72 Pulaski, 72 PVC, 66 Quality Bicycle Products, 36 Quantum Leap, 74 Quiksilver, 58 Rainier Brewing Company, 22 Ray-Ban, 16 Reagan, Ronald, 104 Recall, 76 Recon, 62 Red Digital Cinema, 28, 43 Redington, Joe, 36 REI, 14, 18, 61, 79, 83, 92 Reilly, P. T., 30 Repurposing, 76 Revelate, 40 Rip Curl, 58 Ritchey, Tom, 51 R. L. Winston Rod Company, 43 Robbins, Royal, 76 RockShox, 81

Rojas, Ramon, 90 Rollerblade, 60, 76 Rubbermaid Bin, 77 Rumpl, 92 Running Shorts, 77 Salomon, 58 Salsa, 36 Santa Cruz Bicycles, 81 Sanuk, 58 Säynäjäkangas, Seppo, 46 Scarpa, 58 Ladakh GTX, 59 Nangpa-La XCR, 60 Schoberer, Ulrich, 74 Schwinn, 36, 43 Scott Fly Rod Company, 43 Scott Sports, 58, 75 Sea to Summit, 58 Shelter, 78 Sheppard, Joshua, 90 Shimano SIS, 74 Shorter, Frank, 77 Shotover, 43 Sidi, 60 Sierra Designs, 58 Clip Flashlight, 78 Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, 22 Skadi, 16 SmartWool, 58, 64 Smith, 70 Snowboarding, 52, 78 Snurfer, 78, 79 Sorel, 82 Specialized, 81 Spork, 79 Spyder, 16 SRM power meter, 74 Stanley, 76 Stio, 16 Stove, Portable, 79 Strava, 28, 44, 80 Sunski, 92 SUP, 76, 80 Surly, 36, 84 Suspension, Mountain Bike, 81 Sutton, Mark, 96 Suunto Vector, 82 Taft, William Howard, 104 Tech Binding, 82 Tecnica, 58, 60 Teon, 51 Tenth Mountain Division, 82 Teton Gravity Research, 43, 52 Teva Sandal, 14, 58, 82 Thatcher, Mark, 82 Therm-a-Rest, 83 Thomas, Rick, 81 Thule, 83

Timberland, 14 Tingey, Sheri, 66 Toad&Co, 58 Tompkins, Doug, 83 Toms Shoes, 61 Tony Suits, 88, 96 Tough-Ass Pants, 83 Tour de France, 75 Treinish, Gregg, 68, 70, 92 Trek, 75 Turner, Paul, 81 Ugg, 58 Ultimate Direction, 58 Under Armour, 76 UnTapped, 44 Uragallo, Tony, 88 Urban OutďŹ tters, 92 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 76 U.S. Forest Service, 72 USGS Topographical Map, 84 Utility Bike, 84 Vacuum, Double, 85 Vans, 58 Vasque Sundowner, 85 Velcro, 85 Vibram, 83, 85 Virtual Pivot Point, 81 Volkswagen, 86 Vuitton, Louis, 92 Waffle, 86 Walkman, 46 Warshaw, Matthew, 86 Weiher, Beau, 90 Westfalia, 86 Wetsuit, 86 Wheel, The Perfect Size, 87 Whittaker, Jim, 79 WildďŹ re Designs Bicycles, 38 Wilson, Chip, 55 Wingsuit, 88 Woodman, Nick, 51 Woods Canada, 72 X Games, 77 Xtracycle, 84 Xtratuf Boot, 90 Yeti (bike company), 81 Yeti (cooler company), 90 YKK, 90 Yosemite, 76 Youth, 92 YouTube, 51 Yuba, 84 Yulex, 87 Yurbuds, 46 Zamberlan, 58 Zarda, Donald, 90 Zip-Off Pants, 104






ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR : BETWEEN the LINES

DRAWN AND QUARTERED

Gear Nuts In the middle of our ďŹ fth week of working on our Encyclopedia of Gear, I got embroiled in an e-mail thread that now, with 24 hours of distance, seems a little fanatical.The other parties involved were copy chief Sean Cooper, senior executive editor Michael Roberts, and senior editor Jonah Ogles—the latter being the designated point guard, dishing out sidebars and revisions for three months to make this issue a reality.The debate, which spanned 800 words, involved whether we should cut what seemed—to Sean and me—like an extravagant amount of verbiage on kite design to make room for what seemed—to me, at least—a criminally overlooked entry: Knife, Swiss Army.The exchange wasn’t heated, but I think fervent and sweeping are fair descriptors. Which side won isn’t important. (Check out page 53. Pwned!) The point is that, at Outside, we obsess over gear. But you knew that already. If you’re a subscriber, you’re aware of our two exhaustive Buyer’s Guides. If you read us online, you’ve seen our steady stream of reviews, lustful product shots, and campervan porn. So why dedicate

8 Outside

an entire additional issue to the stuff? Because there’s an untold story behind every piece of gear we use.That was the organizing principle behind all 119 entries—and what makes our coverage this month different from our normal review-and-drool approach. Many of the items we cover may seem banal: Nalgene bottles. Vibram soles. Energy gels. Jogging strollers. But we celebrate these things because either their origins are fascinating or their arrival in our world miraculously opened up new possibilities, improved our ďŹ tness, helped athletes set PRs, saved lives, or simply made being outside more fun. (For me, the jogging stroller did every one of those things.) Also: you won’t ďŹ nd a single photograph inside. When our creative director Hannah McCaughey oated that idea, I initially thought I needed to start looking at rĂŠsumĂŠs. As usual, however, her vision was way ahead of mine.The gorgeous artwork provides the issue with a seamless quality that, combined with its timeless stories, we think will make it worthy of your coffee table for the next decade or more. — C H RIS TO PH E R KE Y E S (@KE Y E SE R)

MAGAZINE

Flipping through this issue, you might wonder why we illustrated an entire issue about gear. The answer, according to creative director Hannah McCaughey: “It was the most organic way to do it, because the stories themselves were going back in time to show where and how some of the most essential pieces of gear were invented. Doing the same for the design, art, and type was only natural.� But producing it was no small task. McCaughey started laying out the issue in February and soon enlisted seven illustrators:

Kent Barton (“Birth of the Boots,â€? page 56), Danilo Agutoli (Mycoskie, Blake, page 61), Laszlo Kubinyi (“Fleeced,â€? page 68), Steve Noble (Quantum Leap, page 74), Kevin Sprouls (Tech Binding, page 82), Rory Kurtz (“The Young and the Tentless,â€? page 92), and Tim Tomkinson. Tomkinson drew 66 of the 93 illustrations in the issue, putting in 12-hour days and giving up the majority of his Memorial Day weekend. “Normally, I’d be working on ďŹ ve projects at once, but I’ve had to narrow my focus to this one job for the past two months,â€? he says. Tomkinson sketched each

Tim Tomkinson

piece by hand, twice—a draft for McCaughey, to conďŹ rm that he was showing the right thing, then a ďŹ nal detailed drawing ďŹ t for publication. His favorite? The American Gothic–style portrait of REI founders Lloyd and Mary Anderson (page 15). “It took me about a day and a half of nonstop work to do that one,â€? he says.

LIFE IN THE FAT LANE

BIRTH OF COOL

Contributing editor Nick Heil is an expert on all things plump. He wrote “Runaway Inationâ€? (page 36), about the booming popularity of fat bikes, carves mountains on Ăźberwide skis, and runs in ultra-cushioned shoes. Just as important, he’s known for making this delicious, artery-clogging queso dip from Cooking with JohnnyVee (Gibbs Smith).

Mountain biking’s history is controversial—which we discovered when talking with pioneers like Gary Fisher (page 42), Joe Breeze (51), and Charlie Kelly to deduce who did what when. Here’s our unassailable* timeline.

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons butter 6 green chiles, seeded, roasted, and chopped 4 jalapeĂąos, seeded and diced 1 chopped medium onion 3 minced garlic cloves 1 tablespoon toasted ground cumin 1 tablespoon pepper 3 tablespoons flour 1 cup vegetable stock 1 cup cream 3 cups grated sharp cheddar 1 cup grated parmesan 8 ounces cream cheese 1 tablespoon salt 2 tablespoons tequila 2 diced roma tomatoes

1933 Cyclists ďŹ nd that they can go farther off-road with Schwinn’s double-tube balloon tires.

1974

Directions: Melt butter in a dutch oven or medium saucepan. Add chiles, jalapeùos, onion, and garlic. SautÊ on medium until soft and slightly brown. œ Add cumin, pepper, and our. Stir. Add stock and cream. Simmer on low for ten minutes. œ Add cheeses; stir until smooth. œ Stir in salt, tequila, and tomatoes. Serve in the pot with dippers of choice.

Californian Gary Fisher modiďŹ es a Schwinn to ride Mount Tamalpais.The Larkspur Canyon Gang follows suit.

1976 Crested Butte, Colorado, riders take pieced-together “clunkers� over Pearl Pass, sparking an annual event.

1977 Joe Breeze constructs the ďŹ rst purpose-built mountain bike.

1979 Fisher and Kelly start MountainBikes, the ďŹ rst company to sell them. It folds four years later; Fisher founds his eponymous brand. *Or not.

I L L U S T R AT I O N S b y DA N I L O A G U T O L I [ K E Y E S ] and T I M TO M K I N S O N [ S E L F I E , DU TC H OV E N ]


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LIVE YOUR ADVENTURE ®

Available only at Eddie Bauer stores and on eddiebauer.com






ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR Lindsey, Joe

OUTSIDE ENCYCLOPEDIA, MAKING OF THE What it took to create this issue

TEN

Minutes after his wife, Nicole, went into labor that then executive editor Sam Moulton hit send on his e-mail memo for the issue.

ONE HUNDRED

Fedarko

an d

NINETEEN Entries that made it into the issue.

Solomon, Christopher

one

53 13 Entry on duct tape.

Individuals who contributed the remainder of the ideas.

281

Ideas submitted for consideration.

Years creative director Hannah McCaughey has tried to get such an article in the magazine. (Read it on page 32.)

Longtime contributor and serious cycling geek. Lindsey wrote Quantum Leap (page 74) and Suspension, Mountain Bike (page 81). OLDEST PIECE OF GEAR: A 20-year-old Wild Country Quest rucksack.

CONTRIBUTORS Dickman, Kyle

Former editor of our Essentials section. Dickman wrote the entries for letters S through V (pages 78–85). OLDEST PIECE OF GEAR: An heirloom Chuck Box cooking kit.“A wedding gift from Dad.�

Fedarko, Kevin Contributing editor and former Grand Canyon dory guide. Fedarko wrote “The Best Little Boat in the West� (page 30). OLDEST PIECE OF GEAR: Kootenay wool hat.“Low-tech, humble, and utterly, earthshakingly indispensable.�

Contributing editor. Spends a lot of time each winter in ski boots and thus was a prime candidate to write “Birth of the Bootsâ€? (page 56). OLDEST PIECE OF GEAR: “A pair of extreme skier Mike Hattrup’s K2 TNCs that he wore in the classic 1988 ski ďŹ lm The Blizzard of Aahhh’s.â€?

Streep, Abe Contributing editor and former senior editor. Streep wrote “The Founding Fathers of Fun� (page 50). OLDEST PIECE OF GEAR: A Filson oilcloth jacket.

I L L U S T R AT I O N b y DA N I L O A G U T O L I


 BETWEEN the LINES 

W





 ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

WINGSUIT

Fly Guy

STAYING GROUNDED

What do world-famous pilots like Jeb Corliss and Joby Ogwyn have in common? They all wear suits sewn by Tony Uragallo, a garden-loving grandfather who helps daring men zoom through the sky. by M A T T H I G G I N S

“I’m a trial and error dude, not a mathematician,â€? Tony Uragallo tells me in a bright Cockney accent. It sounds harmless enough, until you consider that Uragallo, a short 61-year-old with thinning white hair, skin freckled by the sun, and a hitch in his gait from a skydiving accident decades ago, is the world’s preeminent wingsuit maker. His suits have been used to set world records for the longest, farthest, and fastest ights. If

hunched over a Juki sewing machine in the back room of his workshop in Zephyrhills, Florida. His guiding lights: decades of sewing experience and what he’s read about Bernoulli’s principle, the scientific law explaining how uid dynamics create lift. He never attended college and has no formal training in aeronautics, design, or even sewing. It’s mostly intuition. “He visualizes a shape in his mind, and he’s a genius about creating

modifications. “It’s almost like a guy who spends his days folding paper airplanes,� says Joby Ogwyn, a 40-year-old climber and wingsuit pilot. “Some might look like a glider, some might look like a rocket or an arrow. He’s always playing around with different folds.� Long before the wingsuits, Uragallo was a skydiver. He learned in 1970, while serving as a gunner in the British army reserve, and he kept it up after he was

Once he has f inished sewing a suit , H E U S E S A L E A F B L O W E R T O I N F L A T E I T , o b s e r v e s i t s s h a p e , and

examines how well the wings which is critical to

88 O u t s i d e

MAINTAIN AIR PRESSURE,

GOOD GLIDE.

it with a sewing machine and thread,â€? says Corliss, a 39-year-old Californian and one of the world’s leading wingsuit pilots. Uragallo is a bit more modest. “I just make prototypes,â€? he says. “Sometimes, before I’ve even finished one, I’ve got another idea.â€? Once he has completed sewing a suit, he uses a leaf blower to inate it, observes its shape, and examines how well the wings maintain air pressure, which is critical to good glide. Then he drives a few hundred yards down the road to Skydive City, one of the busiest drop zones in Florida, performs a test f light, and returns to the shop to make more

MAGAZINE

discharged in 1972.This was in the early days of the sport, and everyone wore surplus military f light suits when they jumped. Then, one weekend in 1976, Uragallo spotted a skydiver who had a black jumpsuit with a rainbow design. He wanted one of his own, but the money he earned laying bricks and working in the family chip shop wasn’t enough for him to special-order one. So he biked across London, bought a quiver of cotton fabrics, and sewed it himself on his mother’s machine. “I broke a needle every foot,� he recalls. The results were impressive enough that other skydivers commissioned him to make suits. His fam-



P

89

 ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR



PLASTICS

Washing a single polyester soft shell can send 1,900 tiny synthetic microfibers into waterways, where they can soak up toxins and get eaten by fish. So what is the outdoor industry doing about it? by M A R Y C A T H E R I N E O ’ C O N N O R thetic ďŹ bers, mostly polyester and acrylic, in sediments along beaches the world over, with the highest concentrations appearing near wastewater-disposal sites. That strongly suggested that the microďŹ bers came from apparel, a hunch he checked by filtering 1,900 fibers found in the wastewater from washing a single eece jacket. A similar study at VU University Amsterdam in 2012 estimated that laundry wastewater is sending around two billion synthetic microďŹ bers per second into Europe’s waters. Of course, wool and cotton clothing sheds fibers, too. But those materials biodegrade. Plastics contain

rivers than microbeads from shampoo and body wash, which have been banned in seven states. “We tested effluent from wastewater-treatment plants and found that 85 percent of the plastic it contained was fibers, whereas beads and other fragments only made up 13 percent,â€? says Sherri Mason, a professor of chemistry at the State University of New York at Fredonia. “Is it rocket science to assume those ďŹ bers are going to end up in some body of water?â€? So while Treinish’s halffull Ball jar might not seem like a big deal, it represents a very thin slice of an incalculably large pie. And he believes that manufacturers

“Hey, I live in Maine and I could not live W I T H O U T M Y F L E E C E ,� s a i d o n e s c i e n t i s t . “The big

question is: W H E R E

Fig. (52) Scientists are just now learning how dirty our laundry is.

MAGAZINE

Fleeced

Gregg Treinish is dismayed about what is coming out of his washing machine. “What I’m seeing is shocking. Every couple of weeks, I clean out the ďŹ lter and put the contents in a 32-ounce Ball jar,â€? says the founder of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), a nonproďŹ t that trains outdoor enthusiasts to collect data for environmental researchers. After roughly two months, Treinish says, “the bottle is more than half-full of the crap that would have otherwise been shed right into the waterway.â€? That crap is thousands of synthetic ďŹ bers shed from Treinish’s clothing during

68 O u t s i d e

Outside

ILLUSTRATION by TIM TOMKINSON



Fig. (87) Uragallo in ight

you’ve seen the 2011 YouTube video “Grinding the Crack� (29.3 million views and counting), in which Jeb Corliss dives from a cliff in Switzerland and f lies directly over an accomplice who is holding a bunch of party balloons above his head, you’ve seen an Uragallo creation. Or maybe you’re familiar with Englishman Gary Connery’s jump from a helicopter in 2012, when he made a historic landing without a parachute into a pile of cardboard boxes. Connery was wearing an Uragallo suit, too. While aviation engineers utilize wind tunnels and computer modeling, Uragallo spends most of his days

ily wasn’t supportive of his new hobby, at least at ďŹ rst. “My old man hated the idea of men sewing,â€? Uragallo says. He persevered, though, buying a top-end sewing machine and cranking out 400 jumpsuits over the next two summers. His creations were popular for their wild designs—lots of stripes and abstract shapes—and loud colors. Increased sales funded travel to compete in international skydiving competitions, where his results—he won the 1978 Australian four-way formation championship—helped grow both his business and his reputation as a skydiver. In 1979, Uragallo competed in Zephyrhills, a rural, conservative town an hour east of Tampa that had a burgeoning skydiving scene. When he realized that Florida’s warm, sunny weather meant he could skydive year-round, he sold his parachute and harness, got an apartment and car, and set to work. “Everything was boring until Tony came along,â€? says Joannie Murphy, who owns local skydiving shop Sunshine Factory. Uragallo, who had chaotic red hair and thick glasses, “was always the life of the party,â€? Murphy says. “The city wasn’t thrilled with the wild and crazy, Hell’s Angels kind of image we had.â€? In a largely Christian town, the antics of free-spirited skydivers tended to clash with social norms. Uragallo was once

wash cycles (he captures them in an aftermarket ďŹ lter), and the waterway is Montana’s Gallatin River. Treinish, whose organization receives financial support from a number of outdoor-gear companies, recently launched a campaign to track the ow of those ďŹ bers into fresh water. He plans to share that data with his funders. What’s so bad about a few plastic threads? In 2011, British ecologist Mark Anthony Browne published a study describing the discovery of micron-scale syn-

MAGAZINE

SHOULD WE BE potentially harmful additives and can absorb toxins, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), that they encounter oating in waterways—and then get ingested by small organisms, crustaceans, and ďŹ sh. These particles can accumulate in the animals’ guts and tissues, potentially weakening immunity or disrupting their endocrine systems. Less is known about how that payload may accumulate up the food chain. New research shows that microďŹ bers are even more abundant in our lakes and

using plastic?â€? are going to have to address their role in microďŹ ber pollution, sooner rather than later. “Apparel companies are realizing that once news about microďŹ bers hits the mainstream media,â€? Treinish says, “they’re going to have some major issues to contend with.â€? In 2013, Browne tried to form a coalition with big outdoor-industry brands, including Patagonia and Polartec, to track microďŹ bers to their manufacturers. Most of the companies that responded declined to

join Browne’s effort, saying they wanted to learn how serious the problem—and their role in it—was. That’s a hard question to answer. According to 2010 ďŹ gures from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly half of all the clothes bought in developed countries—and 68 percent in the developing world—are synthetic. Your home is likely festooned with synthetic ďŹ bers as well, from carpeting to couch covers. But how often do you wash those items, compared with your polyester base layers, ski socks, eece jackets, and pullovers? Much of the clothing in question isn’t gear at all— hello, jeggings! But outdoor brands have long relied on the performance attributes of synthetic fabrics. Combined with chemical coatings and membranes, they can be both waterproof and breathable. While warm, odor-resistant wool has recently seen a bump in its use in outdoor apparel, the market’s dependence on synthetics hasn’t changed. As one industry source pointed out to me, so far there is no miracle fiber that is both high performing and environmentally benign. Conventionally grown cotton, for instance, consumes signiďŹ cantly more water than the production of synthetics, requires far more land, and relies heavily on fertilizers and pesticides. And some manufacturers, environmentalists, and scientists, including

ILLUSTRATION by LASZLO KUBINYI

Outside

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For “Fly Guyâ€? (page 88), writer Matt Higgins traveled to central Florida from his home outside Buffalo, New York, to meet wingsuit designer Tony Uragallo, a 61-year-old British pilot who has spent the past decade making suits for a cadre of the sport’s top athletes. Higgins is plenty familiar with the subject—his book Bird Dream is all about the men who pilot the suits—but that doesn’t mean he’s ever been tempted to try it himself. “I’ve never own a wingsuit, and I probably never will,â€? he says. “When I was writing my book, I thought that I would eventually progress to BASE jumping, but I’m very clear-eyed about the

risks involved.â€? Why the fascination then? “You’ve got these incredible characters. They’re risking everything for personal gratiďŹ cation. There’s no million-dollar bonus if they land safely.â€?

CAN’T SHAKE IT Every time you put your favorite polyester eece through the spin cycle, it may be shedding thousands of microďŹ bers that get into the waterways and are eaten by ďŹ sh. That’s the

story that Mary Catherine O’Connor dug into for “Fleecedâ€? (page 68). Or at least that’s the short version. The long one is that the environmental effects of synthetic fabrics aren’t fully known—and there aren’t many worthy alternatives when it comes to performance layers. “I was hearing all these researchers saying terrible things,â€? says O’Connor, “but then telling me, ‘Oh, by the way, I wear eece all the time.’ â€?

IF WE HAVEN’T REVIEWED IT, THEN IT’S NOT WORTH GETTING If this month’s Encyclopedia isn’t proof enough of how much we love the equipment we all use, we recently rebooted the Outside Online gear channel.The new page includes an improved Gear Finder search tool, where you can peruse every review we’ve ever done by sport. outsideonline.com/ outdoor-gear

I L L U S T R AT I O N S b y T I M T O M K I N S O N [ W I N G S U I T ] a n d L A S Z L O K U B I N Y I [ WA S H I N G M A C H I N E ]


 ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR



Personal Best We asked Outside staffers what their most indispensable piece of gear is.

CHAIRMAN/EDITOR IN CHIEF LAWRENCE J. BURKE

EDITORIAL

ADVERTISING

Follow us on Twitter VICE PRESIDENT/EDITOR CHRISTOPHER KEYES @keyeser

DynaďŹ t tech bindings.

DESIGN + PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR HANNAH MCCAUGHEY DEPUTY EDITOR MARY TURNER @marylturner EXECUTIVE EDITOR, DIGITAL DEVELOPMENT MICHAEL ROBERTS @ultimateeditor FEATURES EDITOR ELIZABETH HIGHTOWER ALLEN @ehightowerallen COPY CHIEF SEAN COOPER @scooperoutside SENIOR EDITORS JONAH OGLES @jonahogles GRAYSON SCHAFFER @graysonschaffer ASSOCIATE EDITORS MEAGHEN BROWN @meaghenbrown, MATT SKENAZY ASSISTANT EDITORS CHRIS COHEN @chris_cohen_ WILL DIETRICH-EGENSTEINER, REID SINGER @reid_singer COPY EDITOR ALETA BURCHYSKI EDITORIAL FELLOWS JAY BENNETT @jaybenn91, BEN YEAGER @benbiggsyeager

Dick Brewer longboard.

Pappa’s Old Town canoe

O’Neill 3/2 wetsuit.

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR ALEX HEARD @alexheard

Atlanta

Leatherman Style—I use it every day.

Editors at Large TIM CAHILL, DAVID QUAMMEN, HAMPTON SIDES, RANDY WAYNE WHITE

La Roche--Posay Anthelios Mineral SPF 50.

Contributing Editors

BRUCE BARCOTT, DANIEL COYLE, KYLE DICKMAN, KEVIN FEDARKO IAN FRAZIER, BILL GIFFORD @billgifford, AARON GULLEY, JOSHUA HAMMER ERIC HANSEN @_emh, NICK HEIL @nickheil, PETER HELLER, ROWAN JACOBSEN MARK LEVINE, PETER MAASS, BRIAN MOCKENHAUPT, STEPHANIE PEARSON @stephanieapears, MARC PERUZZI, STEVEN RINELLA, MARSHALL SELLA BOB SHACOCHIS, CHRISTOPHER SOLOMON @chrisasolomon, ABE STREEP @abestreep, PATRICK SYMMES @patricksymmes, ANDREW TILIN @atilin TOM VANDERBILT @tomvanderbilt, BRAD WETZLER, FLORENCE WILLIAMS @owill

Contributing Photographers HARRY BORDEN @harrybordenuk, CHRIS BUCK, JAKE CHESSUM JIMMY CHIN @jimkchin, DANNY CLINCH, ANDREW HETHERINGTON @ahetherington, SAM JONES, ANTONIN KRATOCHVIL, JEFF LIPSKY MATT MAHURIN, PAOLO MARCHESI, KURT MARKUS, ROBERT MAXWELL CHRIS MCPHERSON @chrismcpherson_, SEAMUS MURPHY, DAN WINTERS

Correspondents

( ED KOBYLUS (THE DICARLO GROUP) SOUTHEAST SALES ASSISTANT TRACIE GARREN 320 Maxwell Road, Suite 400, Alpharetta, GA 30004 770-667-9500, fax 770-667-9700

Boston ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER JENNIFER PALMER @jpalms 79 Blue Hills Parkway, Milton, MA 02186 617-690-3212, fax 617-690-3267

Boulder ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER CICI SHICK ACTIVE TRAVEL/FIRST GEAR/DR DIRECTOR SANDRA AVEIL DIGITAL ADVERTISING MANAGER ANNA HORSCH DIGITAL ADVERTISING COORDINATOR ANNIE ENGLER DIGITAL ADVERTISING COORDINATOR CAITLYN MOORE WEST COAST ADVERTISING COORDINATOR KATIE FIER 2601 31st St., Suite 200, Boulder, CO 80301 303-440-2722, fax 303-440-3517

Specialized Camber 29er mountain bike.

I’ve used Shimano SPD mountain-bike pedals for the past 25 years.

Chicago

My Bern snowboarding helmet— safety ďŹ rst!

Headlamp.

MARK ANDERS, KATIE ARNOLD, JON BILLMAN @jonbillman W. HODDING CARTER, SARA CORBETT @yocorbett, JASON DALEY JOSH DEAN @joshdean66, CHRISTIAN DEBENEDETTI @aletrail DAVE HAHN, JACK HITT, BARRY LOPEZ, BUCKY MCMAHON, GORDY MEGROZ @gordymegroz, BRAD MELEKIAN @bradmelekian, TIM NEVILLE @tim_neville KATE SIBER, TIM SOHN @tfsohn, PETER STARK, MIKE STEERE @ipaterfamilias ROB STORY, MARK SUNDEEN, WELLS TOWER, THAYER WALKER @thayerwalker ELIZABETH WEIL @lizweil, TIM ZIMMERMANN @wetass

New York DIGITAL SALES DIRECTOR CECELIA MAGNANII NEW YORK ADVERTISING DIRECTOR TJ RAAB TRAVEL DIRECTOR ABBE SIMMONS PUBLISHER’S ASSISTANT DIANA QUINTANILLA 420 Lexington Ave., Suite 440, New York, NY 10170 212-972-4650, fax 212-949-7538

A pair of no-longer-made, tangle-eliminating Shure SE420 short-cord earphones, scored on eBay from a guy in Thailand. Bright orange Patagonia duffel bag.

VICE PRESIDENT/PUBLISHER SCOTT PARMELEE

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER JANET MCKEVITT SALES + MARKETING COORDINATOR PARKER HEAPS 444 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 3350, Chicago, IL 60611 312-222-1100, fax 312-222-1189

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Hawaii

Big Agnes Wyoming Trail 4 tent. The kids get their own bedroom, and the gear and dog get a spot out of the rain.

DEBBIE ANDERSON @dmh2200 (DESTINATION MARKETING HAWAII) 3555 Harding Ave., Suite 2C, Honolulu, HI 96816 808-739-2200, fax 808-739-2201

Los Angeles

ART

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER NICOLE OZMAI 43 Oakcliff Dr., Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 949-464-5776, fax 949-607-4951

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PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR AMY SILVERMAN @silvermanamy ASSISTANT PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR MADELINE KELTY

The Olympus OM-D EM10 camera. Tons of features, old-school looks, weighs nothing.

San Francisco

STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHER INGA HENDRICKSON

OUTSIDE ONLINE

Powder skis— ’nuff said.

SITE DIRECTOR TODD HODGSON @toddhodgson EDITOR SCOTT ROSENFIELD @scottrosenďŹ eld SENIOR GEAR EDITOR AXIE NAVAS @axie2020 ASSOCIATE EDITORS MATT BELL @mrmattbell, ERIN BERESINI @eberesini NICK KELLEY @nicwitit, GREGORY THOMAS @gregrthomas SOCIAL MEDIA/NEWS EDITOR ABIGAIL WISE @abigailwise EDITORIAL ASSISTANT JON GUGALA @jongugala VIDEO PRODUCTION MANAGER BRYAN ROGALA @bryanrogala WEB PRODUCER ERIN BERGER @erineberger WEB DEVELOPERS TJ PITRE @tpitre, BEN VORAN @bgreater

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Texas/Oklahoma KAILEY LATTERI (WNP MEDIA) 750 North St. Paul Street, Suite 1525, Dallas, TX 75201 214-824-9008, fax 214-824-9009

Latin America

My Goal Zero portable charger.

Winston DL-4 y rod with my name on it—I worked an entire high school summer for it.

PRODUCTION

My Hoka running shoes. They never let me down and require almost no maintenance.

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER KATE PARKER MULLER 120 Alta Vista Rd., Woodside, CA 94062 650-529-1350, fax 650-529-1352

Big Agnes tent with LED lights.

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Spot Honey Badger single-speed mountain bike.

PATRICIA ECHENIQUE (PLANMARKETING) Sonora 1030, Colonia El Manglito, La Paz, Baja California Sur CP 23060, MĂŠxico; tel 011-52-612-145-1061, fax 011-52-55-5004-4450

MARKETING CONTENT MARKETING DIRECTOR SAM MOULTON @moultonsam RESEARCH DIRECTOR TIM BROWN MARKETING ART DIRECTOR JOHN MCCAULEY @jm_mccauley

The SUP in my office.

ADMINISTRATION HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR MARY LOU ORTEGA-SHAW ACCOUNTING MANAGER CYNTHIA THORNTON ACCOUNTS PAYABLE MANAGER SHERRI GUARNIERI DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY PATRICK MONTOYA INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ADMINISTRATOR ADAM JENNÉ BUILDING MANAGER MARCOS GUERRERO EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT NICOLE MARTINEZ SECURITY CHIEF POLO MAXIMUS

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Adidas Gazelle sunglasses. I’ve used them for trail running and mountain biking for eight years and have never had a complaint.

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Advertising OfďŹ ces: 420 Lexington Ave., Suite 440, New York, NY 10170; 212-972-4650. Submissions must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Outside cannot be held responsible for unsolicited material. Subscriber Service: For the fastest service, visit us online at outsideonline.com and click on “Subscriber Servicesâ€? on our home page. Or write to Outside, Box 6228, Harlan, IA 51593-1728 and enclose a copy of your mailing label, or call 800-678-1131 (outside U.S., 515-248-7680; fax 712-623-5731). A scent-free subscription is available upon request. Back Issues and Special Issues: Call 800-678-1131 or enclose a check or money order for $7.95 per issue and mail to: Back Issues, Outside, Box 6228, Harlan, IA 51593-1728. Copyright Š2015 by Mariah Media Network LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Views expressed herein are those of the author exclusively.

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A





Up for the Downstroke

While U.S. retail sales faltered during the recent economic downturn, the Andersons’ gear co-op just kept growing. U.S. RETAIL SALES (TRILLIONS)

$5 $3.9

$4

$3.8 $4.1

$4

$3.6

$3 $2

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

$1

REI SALES (BILLIONS)

$2

$1.8 $1.66 $1.46

Fig. (1)

2011

2010

$1.4

2009

2007

$1

$1.3

2008

$1.5

AIRSTREAM Fig. (1) The original American road-trip trailer, designed in 1931 by Wally Byam, was inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. Byam’s initial design involved a tent built atop a Ford Model T chassis, but the tent leaked. He then came up with the iconic teardrop shape, opened a factory in Ohio, and produced many aluminum models, like the Cruiser and the Wanderer. Airstreams were the ďŹ rst travel trailers to have kitchens, heating, insulation, and plumbing for bathrooms. Unlike some breakdownprone camping vehicles (see Westfalia, page 86), about 75 percent of the Airstreams ever made are still on the road. The rest have been converted into spare bedrooms in Portland, Oregon.

ANDERSON, LLOYD AND MARY Fig. (2) Founders of the Recreational Equipment Co-op (REI), which the couple started in their West Seattle home in 1938 as a way

A 21-foot Airstream Globetrotter

14 O u t s i d e

to help climber friends gain access to cheaper ice axes and harnesses by ordering bulk gear from Europe. The two rented shelf space in a nearby grocery before eventually opening their ďŹ rst store, in 1944, near Seattle’s Pike Place Market. There are now more than 140 retail stores in the U.S., including a new agship just off Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle, and REI sells more than $2 billion worth of outdoor equipment each year. It’s one of the top 100 sporting-goods retailers in the country yet still holds ďŹ rmly to its cooperative roots. The Andersons never wanted a private company. “REI is a co-op, and it oughta stay that way,â€? Lloyd was once quoted as saying. “I never thought a man should make money off his friends.â€? Lloyd died in 2000 at 98; Mary, still living near Seattle, is 105.

APPEAL, MAINSTREAM The surprising tendency for technical products and trends from the outdoor world to ďŹ nd their way

into mass culture. Here are a few recent examples. 1995: The North Face’s Nuptse puffy jackets, made to withstand Himalayan-level cold and wind, begin blanketing the streets and subways of New York City and its outer boroughs. They are typically paired with Timberland boots. 2002: Nalgene bottles can be found on nearly every backpack on every college campus, attached with a carabiner. 2011: A craze for long hackle feathers in women’s hair extensions and earrings leads to shortages among y tiers, and some tackle shops refuse to sell them to young, fashionable women. 2014–15: Hipsters and fashionistas go crazy for all things outdoorsy. To the shock of rafting guides everywhere, Teva collaborates with highfashion retailer Opening Ceremony on a line of sandals that show up on runways.

AUTHENTICITY The most valuable currency in gear marketing of the past 40 years. In

the outdoor industry, the credibility of a company’s product line is equated with its real-life performance value among true enthusiasts in the ďŹ eld. It’s why so many gear companies fund athlete teams—what better way to prove that their products can withstand the torture of extreme expeditions?—and why brand catalogs, led by Patagonia, have long featured “real people doing real thingsâ€? instead of models. (See Catalog, page 22.) Âś Without authenticity, outdoor brands lose their cachet, something that frequently happens when small upstarts run by core enthusiasts get gobbled up by larger holding companies. Consider the fate of Cloudveil. Founded in the mountain town of Jackson, Wyoming, by former ski-shop veterans Stephen Sullivan and Brian Cousins, the company entered the crowded apparel space in 1997 with a small batch of soft-shell garments made for backcountry touring. That year its products were carried in about 13 stores, but word-of-mouth buzz quickly spread through race sponsorships and the bro grapevine. By 2002, Cloudveil had more than 100 products, becoming one of the industry’s most successful startups. Then growing pains hit. In 2005, after several years of cash-ow problems, the partners reluctantly decided to sell. First they were acquired by Sport Brands International, which left the existing staff in place, and Cloudveil’s success trajectory continued. But eventually

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 ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

 Fig. (2)

REI founders Mary and Lloyd Anderson

I L L U ST R AT I O N S by T I M TO M K I N S O N

Outside

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ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

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I L L U ST R AT I O N by T I M TO M K I N S O N


MIKE RUT T – HOK A ONE ONE ELITE 800 METER RUNNER

THIS IS NOT A SHOE.

T H I S I S A N I N V I T A T I O N . YO U R

P R E S E N C E I S R E Q U E S T E D T O G O P O U N D T H E PAV E M E N T, G I V E T H E H I L L S A L I T T L E H E L L , A N D P U T YO U R DA I LY A M B I T I O N TO T H E T E S T. TO G O U P TOW N, D OW N TOW N, CROSSTOWN, AND, FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES, TO GET OUT - OF - TOWN. TO GO EXPRESS. TO BE A LOCAL. TO GO WITH THE CLIFTON 2 – 8.3 OUNCES OF SMOOTH RUNNING THAT

HOK AONEONE.COM

SHOWS THESE STREETS WHO’S BOSS. LET’S GO.




B 

ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR Fig. (5) An early-eighties BMW GS

transplants to Park City, Utah—paid retail for an avalanche beacon and then sold it online for a little bit more. The beacon-arbitrage scheme

launched ďŹ rst at TheBackcountryStore.com and BCStore.com, before the two could afford to buy the Backcountry.com domain name in 2004. The company has since blossomed into an approximately $300-million-peryear empire that rivals REI (see Anderson, Lloyd and Mary, page 14) for online dominance among outdoor enthusiasts.

BASE-CAMP DUFFEL Fig. (4)

Fig. (4)

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A large, 155-liter bag often seen loaded on yaks in Nepal’s Khumbu region for a few simple reasons: it can take a beating, it has straps that convert it into a backpack, and mountaineers know that it can carry all their gear. First launched in 1986 by the North Face, it’s made

of heavy canvas layered with a thick protective coating and is similar in construction to a whitewater raft.

BMW GS Fig. (5) An iconic adventure motorcycle introduced in 1980 to compete in the Dakar Rally race, the famed long-distance off-road endurance event. As a result, BMW’s GS bikes are perhaps the best on the market for crossing rugged terrain over bad roads. The GS won the Dakar in four of its ďŹ rst ďŹ ve appearances. BMW has since released the R 80 GS Paris Dakar, which features tall suspension, an eye-catching orange saddle, and an oversize 8.4-gallon fuel tank for racing across empty expanses.

BOWERMAN, BILL Fig. (6) A legendary Oregon track coach who cofounded the shoe company Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964; 14 years later, it became Nike. Sick of importing expensive European running shoes in the ďŹ fties, Bowerman designed and built his own pair for his athlete Phil Knight. (See page 53.) “They were a white, rubbercoated fabric, the kind you’d use for a tablecloth you could sponge off,â€? Bowerman recalled in Kenny Moore’s biography, Bowerman and the Men of Oregon. Famously, in 1971 Bowerman invented the modern running-shoe tread by molding a rubber sole using his wife’s waffle iron. (See Waffle, page 86.) The ďŹ rst Blue Ribbon shoe to become

ILLUSTRATIONS by TIM TOMKINSON


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ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

C

Fig. (7) The jockstrap original

CAMELBAK Fig. (8)

Fig. (8) Just Hold Me These three sports-bra innovations have made life immeasurably better for active women. Encapsulation Cup structure gets rid of the compressed uniboob effect. Back closure A rear clasp allows for precise ďŹ t adjustment, accommodating more breast sizes and smaller rib cages. Seamless construction No more chaďŹ ng!

popular was the Cortez, a black and white runner that today seems surprisingly fashionable. Bowerman died in 1999 at 88.

BRA, SPORTS Fig. (7) A groundbreaking invention that lets women participate comfortably

in a range of vigorous athletic activities. The ďŹ rst sports bra was created in 1977 by three Vermont women, including Lisa Lindahl, who sewed together two jockstraps for a more supportive alternative to wire-andcloth options. Today there are thousands of them in

hundreds of different colors and fabrics, with improvements from seamless construction to wicking materials to high-impact support. One current trend sees women exercising in a sports bra sans T-shirt. The original prototype currently resides in the Smithsonian.

A hands-free hydration system that can be carried in a backpack. In 1988, cyclist and paramedic Michael Eidson competed in the Hotter’N Hell Hundred, in Wichita Falls, Texas, using an IV bag for a water bottle. He put the bag in a tube sock, clipped the hose to his jersey with a clothespin, dropped the bag into his pocket, and sipped from the tube. So many riders were curious about his invention that he decided to produce them. The ďŹ rst CamelBak was called the ThermoBak and was sold to bike shops by sales rep Jeff Wemmer, who traveled the country by motorcycle. Members of the military began using CamelBaks, known for their patented bite valves, during the ďŹ rst Gulf War. The bladder bags are now issued throughout the armed services.

Fig. (6) The Nike Moon, the ďŹ rst with Bowerman’s waffle tread

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ILLUSTRATIONS by TIM TOMKINSON


MAKE SUMMER EPIC #LETSCAMP

ADAM & SARAH’S CHILL ZONE REI members since 1991 and 2003. Kent, WA

Find gear and inspiration at REI.com/letscamp


C





Carried Away

Nothing caps a day in the wild like an adult beverage. But some travel better than others.

P O R TA B I L I T Y >

x Busch Light, camo cans Hardys x boxed wine

x Flask of Bowmore 25-year Islay single-malt Scotch

Growler of Bell’s x Two Hearted ale x Handle of Canadian Mist

QUALITY>

ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

CAMOUFLAGE Fig. (9) A varying pattern of earth-colored prints designed to obscure the wearer from view, worn by hunters and members of the U.S. military. Army-surplus jackets have long been a popular urban fashion trend, and a dark green camo pattern can now be found on everything from yoga pants to high-end bags. As for hunters, in 2009 Gore-Tex launched the Optifade pattern with its hunting-clothes company Sitka, bringing sharplooking performance wear to hook-and-bullet dudes.

in 1958. In the early 1960s, Budweiser and Hamm’s followed suit. Craft brewers such as Founders, New Belgium, and Sierra Nevada have recently joined the fray, drawn by aluminum’s portability and recyclability, while legacy brands like Rainier never stopped offering its beers in cans.

CARABINER Fig. (11) A gated aluminum fastener used with rope and other equipment to arrest rock climbers’ falls. Shortened from the German karabiner-haken (“carbine hookâ€?), carabiners were ďŹ rst used by soldiers to attach equipment to their belts. According to the

Oxford English Dictionary, the ďŹ rst usage of carabiner was in the 1932 American Alpine Journal.

CATALOG A magazine-like print presentation of a company’s or retailer’s products. Before the Internet, customers would ďŹ ll out an order form from the

CANNED BEER Fig. (10)

Fig. (11)

A usually cheap, thirstquenching alcoholic beverage in a durable package, now commonplace on rafting and camping trips. The world’s ďŹ rst cans were made in 1810 and owed their corrosion resistance to a thin layer of tin that, when used later for beer, turned it cloudy and sour. Coors, in partnership with Beatrice Foods, developed the aluminum beer can in the 1950s, and the Hawaii Brewing Company, a Beatrice subsidiary, began using it

Fig. (10)

Fig. (9)

22 O u t s i d e

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ILLUSTRATIONS by TIM TOMKINSON


Many of our achievements happen with paper and paper-based packaging. Achievements both great and small. Discover how paper and packaging help us reach so many of our life goals. HowLifeUnfolds.com Š 2015 Paper and Packaging Board. All Rights Reserved.


We are not made to stop. We are made to keep going. To relentlessly pursue new levels of fast. To go beyond what has been done before. By always pushing. And always evolving. We are Always in Beta.

newbalance.com/beta


Emma Coburn U.S. Champion


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TMI If there’s one thing cyclists love talking about online, it’s their chamois. “After the ride get out of your shorts ASAP. You don’t want to start growing mushrooms down there.� —David Zabriskie, founder of DZ Nuts chamois cream “[We wear] Carhartt cutoff bottoms—no shammy, because if you’re from New Hampshire, you have balls of steel and a taint of gold.� —Kirk Carlsen, former pro “Checking out Lance Armstrong’s Twitter is something most cyclists do whether they admit it or not—kind of like sniffing their own chamois.� —Bike Snob NYC

ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

catalog and mail it back to the company with a check or money order. A brief history. 1861: Charles Orvis sends out America’s ďŹ rst gear-oriented catalog, advertising ďŹ shing tackle. 1912: Leon Leonwood Bean launches a four-page catalog featuring his agship Maine hunting boot, the leather-topped rubber duck boot that’s still among L.L.Bean’s most popular products. 1948: REI’s ďŹ rst mailorder catalog goes out to about 3,000 people. 1972: The Early Winters catalog debuts and in 1976 offers the ďŹ rst GoreTex product: a tent called the Light Dimension. 1980: Patagonia launches its catalog. According to the 2010 anthology Unexpected: 30 Years of Patagonia Catalog Photography, founder Yvon Chouinard tells the catalog’s ďŹ rst editor, Rick Ridgeway, “Hey Rick, I think I’ve got it ďŹ gured out. We’ll run photos of real people doing real things.â€? 2015: Most catalogs have migrated online, but many companies still use them to drive sales.

CHAMOIS A diaper-like pad ďŹ rst used by cyclists around 1900 to prevent saddle sores and chaďŹ ng on their nethers. Named for the antelope whose hide provided the original material, the pads are now made out of polyester and are often paired with lubricating cream.

CHIP TIMING

26 O u t s i d e

The practice of using a small wearable transmitter to track race participants’ times at regular check-

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Fig. (12)

points along a course. Chip timing has allowed race organizers to admit far more competitors to events, since it eliminates the need to track racers via a stopwatch or video feed. It also has the added beneďŹ t of cracking down on cheaters.

COUSTEAU, JACQUES Fig. (12) A French explorer and arguably the most proliďŹ c marine scientist and ocean conservationist of the 20th century. Cousteau coinvented the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, or scuba, and developed

waterproof camera housings that allowed him to shoot footage for his documentaries. He made 120 ďŹ lms, three of which won Oscars; authored 50 books, including his masterpiece, The Silent World; and started the Cousteau Society, a conservation NGO. The motto of his ship, the Calypso, which was damaged in 1996 and has never been relaunched, was “Il faut aller voirâ€?— “We must go and see for ourselves.â€? Cousteau died in 1997 at 87.

CROWDFUNDING A method of raising capital to launch commercial ventures in which

small individual donations are made through an online platform. Instead of equity in the company or project, donors get beneďŹ ts like being ďŹ rst in line to buy the product or receiving a T-shirt. Among the most successful projects on Kickstarter, the largest crowdfunding site, is the Coolest Cooler, an ice chest that features a built-in blender and stereo. In July 2014, Portland, Oregon, inventor Ryan Grepper posted the project to Kickstarter for the second time. (A 2013 iteration failed to raise the $125,000 that he requested.) This time

ILLUSTRATION by TIM TOMKINSON


WINE ENTHUSIAST RATINGS SCORE OUT OF 100 POINTS

STILLE DI

AUS

PTS

D

TEXTAIN S

USA

B

O

TT

LED

2015


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Coulda Been a Contender As these choice entries from the Kickstarter recycle bin demonstrate, not every brilliant idea gets crowdfunded. Petphones Headphones for your furry friend. $200K

$196,000

$150K $100K $50K

$10,112 GOAL

FUNDING

E-Shark Force An anklet that emits radio waves to deter sharks. $60K

$45,000

$40K $20K

$40 GOAL

FUNDING

Snap Spork A convertible bracelet-spork combo. $10K

$7,672

$5K $0 GOAL

FUNDING

ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

the Coolest Cooler went viral, netting $13.2 million in funding from 62,642 people, none of whom will make a penny from the product. Around the same time, Zack Brown of Columbus, Ohio, got a potatosalad recipe funded for $55,492, offering backers such incentives as “a bite of the potato salad.â€? Âś While it’s easy to knock crowdfunding for sending heaps of cash toward questionable gag projects, it has revolutionized entrepreneurship and enabled the large-scale development of some exceptional niche ideas. Take Peak Design, which in 2011 raised $365,000 for the Capture Camera Clip, a contraption that allows a camera to be clipped onto a belt or pack strap with the same kind of quick-release found on tripods. Subsequent versions of the Clip have netted as much as $819,000, allowing the company’s founders to bring new products to market based on the desire of prospective buyers—and their willingness to throw down a few bucks to see something cool get made.

D

DENALI JACKET Fig. (13)

28 O u t s i d e

A popular performance eece garment made by the North Face and commonly seen on moun-

MAGAZINE

Fig. (13)

taineers and college students. While the company doesn’t divulge sales data, anecdotally the Denali jacket—easily identiďŹ ed by its large blocky shoulder patches—has been one of the North Face’s bestselling pieces of outerwear since it was ďŹ rst issued in 1989.

DIRECT TO CONSUMER A business model in which a company sells its products via its own website, catalog, or store, reducing retail markup and passing the savings along to the consumer. While a number of large, established brands

have direct-to-consumer channels, a wave of smaller companies are experiencing success with the approach, among them apparel makers American Giant and Stio and camera maker Red Digital Cinema. The strategy is to appeal to customers by eliminating the cost increases accrued by third-party brick-andmortar shops or online intermediaries. Last year, for example, engineers at Brunton’s optics division spun off a company called Maven, a direct-toconsumer binocular outďŹ t that sells $2,000 optics for about $1,000.

DITHERING The intentional degrading of a satellite’s signal to discourage unauthorized use, which deterred citizens from tapping into the Department of Defense’s Global Positioning System, or GPS, for ten years. In May 2000, President Clinton turned off dithering on navigation satellites in the U.S., ushering in the era of GPS tools, from devices that can lead you through wilderness to the perfect campsite to ďŹ tness apps like Strava that allow people to compare their run and ride times with other users.

ILLUSTRATION by TIM TOMKINSON


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ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR D O R Y, W H I T E WA T E R

The Best Little Boat in the West H ow a h u m b l e wo o de n f i s h i n g c raf t b e c ame t h e quintessential Grand Canyon ride by K E V I N F E D A R K O To the untrained eye, a whitewater dory is a modiďŹ ed version of a traditional New England dory: the small boats (rarely longer than 20 feet from stem to stern) that were used by 19th-century cod fishermen to ply the gale-wracked sea waves off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. That rich North Atlantic heritage, however, is cheerfully cast aside by the ďŹ shing guides who live and work along a pair of rivers in the PaciďŹ c Northwest, where the shape of the classic whitewater dory (known as a drift boat on the McKenzie River and a river dory on the Rogue) is said to have been conceived, from scratch, right there in Oregon during the twenties and thirties.

According to this story, credit goes to local boatwrights who invented a wickedly lively boat that guides could use to place their high-end clientele— celebrities like Babe Ruth, Ginger Rogers, and Herbert Hoover—over the best pockets of steelhead. What no one can dispute is that it was the Oregon drift boats that ďŹ rst caught the eye of Martin Litton, the whitewater-rowing conservationist who, together with a vinegary river rat named P. T. Reilly, began adapting these craft to the Colorado River in the summer of 1962. ( John Wesley Powell had used wooden boats, too, in 1869, but those were roundbottomed, keeled, and noto-

riously hard to turn.) Litton’s boats evolved to incorporate a host of new features—a wider beam for lateral stability, closed decking to shed the waves, self-bailing footwells and watertight compartments for storage and buoyancy—into what is now called the Grand Canyon dory. Regardless of their provenance or what they’re made of (wood, fiberglass, even Kevlar), all whitewater dories share three key attributes: ared sides, a sharply pointed bow that extends high above the waterline, and a at hull with no keel. That last item calls for an added word of clariďŹ cation, because while it’s true that a dory’s bottom is absolutely

On a fast-moving river, a F L I C K O F A N O A R B L A D E IS ENOUGH TO SPIN A DORY ON A HOT DIME o r a r r o w IT

BRISKLY

THROUGH

A

MINEFIELD

of exposed boulders.

at from side to side, the hull curves upward and out of the water at the bow and stern. It’s the shape of that hull—a feature known as rocker— that imparts a dory’s signature quality: responsiveness. On a fast-moving river, a ick of an oar blade is enough to spin a dory on a hot dime or arrow it briskly through a mineďŹ eld of exposed boulders. Beware, however: such dexterity comes at a price. Whitewater dories are ďŹ nicky. They are unstable. And they are so outrageously fragile that they will break into pieces if you so much as think about irting with a rock. In effect, you are the skipper of a oating eggshell. Remove any of this boat’s signature traits and you’ve got something more elegant than a scow but less fair than a dory. Combine them all and you are staring at a thing of grace, a tool in which form and function blend with such uid tact that, regardless of whether you are an angler on the Gallatin or a commercial rowing guide on the Colorado, each element of the oarsman’s equation— the river, the rocks, and the rowboat—seems incomplete without the other.

Fig. (14) A Grand Canyon dory

30 O u t s i d e

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ILLUSTRATION by TIM TOMKINSON


Liberty Ridge The Liberty Ridge is the uncompromising pinnacle of our American Built Performance Series. A full-grain waterproof leather upper, our proprietary Million Step Comfort™ midsole technology, and a full-length stability shank are just a few of the premium features that define this icon-in-the-making. Hiking never felt, or looked, so good.


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Fig. (15) An early Koach mountaineering boot

Silver Mettle

Three historical highlights that demonstrate duct tape’s universal impact.

1940s

Fig. (17)

USC students begin wrapping the campus’s Tommy Trojan statue to prevent UCLA vandals from trashing it before the rivals’ football games.

1970 During a mission, the crew of Apollo 13 fashion two makeshift CO2 ďŹ lters from duct tape to keep from asphyxiating. Two years later, Apollo 17 astronauts use it to repair the fender of a damaged lunar rover.

2003 A “duct-tape alert,� issued by the Department of Homeland Security, advises citizens to seal windows in the event of a chemical or biological attack.

DOUBLE PLASTIC MOUNTAINEERING BOOT Fig. (15) A highly reliable style of footwear that prevents frostbite in alpine environments. Early mountaineering boots were crafted from hobnailed leather, which freezes. The solution was to use a plastic shell ďŹ tted with an easily removable synthetic liner that can be taken into your sleeping bag at night and kept warm. The ďŹ rst double boot to reach the U.S. was the Koach Ultra, in the 1980s. These days, double boots are frequently paired with lithium-powered heaters to keep a climber’s feet toasty in temperatures down to 60 below.

DROPPER POST

Fig. (18)

32 O u t s i d e

A mountain-bike component that can be raised or lowered with a button mounted on the handlebars. The hydraulic system

MAGAZINE

allows rider to quickly switch between low positions (for technical descents) and high (for climbing).

DUCT TAPE Fig. (16) A cloth-backed metallic gray adhesive that ďŹ xes anything worth saving. Oddly, it was not invented to seal ducts; Johnson and Johnson developed the tape during World War II to keep moisture out of ammunition cases.

DULUTH PACK Fig. (17) A heavy canvas rucksack, patented in 1882 by French Canadian Camille Poirier in Duluth, Minnesota, along the shores of Lake Superior. The waterresistant, waxed-canvas design—at, wide, and low, with multiple straps and a high storage volume—is popular among canoeists. The packs are still made by Minnesota’s

Duluth Pack company, and a smaller version has become trendy among young, bearded urbanites. (See Lumbersexual, page 55.)

DUTCH OVEN Fig. (18) A large cast-iron pot and the campďŹ re cooking vessel of choice for pioneers, cowboys, and river guides. The term goes back to the early 1700s, when heavy metal pots from the Netherlands made their way to Britain and its colonies. There has been precisely one technological advancement to the Dutch oven since Lewis and Clark took it on their 1804 expedition across America: the advent of an aluminum model in the 1980s, which is good for packing light. The original Dutch oven stands as a monument to the idea that some things need no improvement.

ILLUSTRATIONS by TIM TOMKINSON


 ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

Fig. (16)

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33






E 

WL

10,000 B.C. Fibers from the coats of various mammals. Makes warm and breathable socks, eece jackets, blankets, and ski sweaters.

ELEMENTS OF ADVENTURE The raw materials that make up the tools for hiking, running, paddling, skiing, and cycling.These 36 building blocks are indispensable to the design and function of gear, from mankind’s ďŹ rst wool layer to the latest lab-born membranes.

SILK

EXAMPLE

3500 B.C. A quick-drying ďŹ ber produced by moth caterpillars. Long used as a base layer and to line socks and gloves to prevent blisters.

EX

Approximate year first used in outdoor products

2000

STEEL

1863 A strong yet pliable alloy composed primarily of iron and carbon. Applications include bike frames and knife blades.

LITHIUM

1991 A substance that, when passed in ion form between an electrode of carbon and another of lithium cobalt oxide, creates electricity.

1890s The most common metal in the Earth’s crust; used in camping cookware, tent poles, and bike frames and components.

NS

1937 A man-made rubber that has steadily replaced the treederived stuff; a sticky variety is used in climbing shoes.

SPANDEX

DURABLE WATERREPELLENT

SILICONE

1954 A rigid relative of Styrofoam. Often used to absorb shock and help prevent brain injuries. (See Helmet, page 48.)

1955 A hydrophobic substance applied to the fabrics of most waterproof shoes and technical outerwear.

1955 A heat-resistant, waterproof polymer. Outdoor uses include camping dishes and sealants for tents, boots, and tarps.

CARBON FIBER

CF

34 O u t s i d e

1973 A ďŹ ber made from a chemical element that’s 18 times thinner than human hair yet up to ten times stronger than steel.

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1960s A metal that’s 60 percent heavier than aluminum but twice as strong. Frequently alloyed with its lighter, weaker cousin.

RB

1997 Minuscule particles of silver woven into textiles to keep active folk stink-free. (See Odor Control, page 64.)

DWR

TI

RUBBER

EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE

EPS

DN

TITANIUM

AL

NANOSILVER

LI

3500 B.C. The tanned hide of an animal, most often a cow, goat, sheep, pig, or elk. (See Gloves, Elk Skin, page 44.)

1936 The soft feather underlayer of waterfowl such as ducks and geese; a mainstay in winter jackets. (See Puffy, page 72.)

ALUMINUM

ST

LE

DOWN

SK

Name Use Symbol

LEATHER

WOOL

SI

SX

1958 A highly elastic polyester ďŹ ber. Often sewn into bathing suits, cycling apparel, and, increasingly, underwear.

ROTOMOLDED PLASTIC

ETHYLENE-VINYL ACETATE

1973 A synthetic material placed into a mold and spun to create hard goods like helmets, canoes, and kayaks.

1975 A foam made up of hundreds of thousands of cells containing air or gas. Provides cushy, springy padding in shoe midsoles.

RP

EVA






ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

CARBON DIOXIDE

Types ANIMAL METAL SYNTHETIC GAS NATURAL

BUTANE

BT

CO2

1879 A colorless, odorless gas compressed into canisters and used to inate bike tires and avalanche airbags.

Uses SOFT GOODS HARD GOODS POWER SOURCE PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT

WOOD

FB

WX

1868 A moldable substance that keeps your skis gliding, your skin from chapping, and your coat from getting waterlogged.

PC

1963 A polymer that tolerates wide temperature changes, impacts, and electrical current. Used in phone and camera cases.

CH

1954 A boon to sweaty-palmed climbers since legendary boulderer John Gill stole some from the Georgia Tech gym.

POLYURETHANE

NYLON

1942 A plastic resin reinforced with glass threads to deliver a better strength-to-weight ratio than aluminum. Often used in boats.

POLYCARBONATE

1608 A transparent solid made of melted sand. Used to shield eyes from the sun and watch mechanisms from rain.

CHALK

FIBERGLASS

1941 Durable, hydrophobic plastic threads that can be woven into almost anything. In garments it harbors odor-causing bacteria.

GL

600 B.C. A variant of the cannabis plant with strong stem ďŹ bers that can be made into rope, clothing, and, more recently, plastics.

WAX

1782 An extremely strong, proliďŹ c grass with countless applications, including paddleboard veneers and y rods.

PE

HP

6000 B.C. A natural product of trees still used in many skis and surfboards. Recently de rigueur in artisanal bikes.

BB

POLYESTER

GLASS

HEMP

WD

BAMBOO

1949 A highly ammable, colorless gas compressed into liquid form for use in camping stoves. (See Stove, Portable, page 79.)

PU

NY

1953 A plastic developed to replace rubber. As a liquid it’s used to waterproof fabric; as a solid it makes hardy outsoles for shoes.

1948 A strong, durable ďŹ ber created shortly before World War II. Replaced canvas in tents and linen in apparel.

KEVLAR

EXPANDED POLYTETRAFLUOROETHYLENE

POLYPROPYLENE

1969 A waterproof-breathable membrane created by Bob Gore of W. L. Gore and Associates. (See page 51.)

1970 An intrinsically antimicrobial synthetic ďŹ ber used in base layers; similar to polyester but more water-resistant.

EPTFE

PP

1971 A superstrong, versatile synthetic ďŹ ber that, depending on how it’s spun, can be used to make bike tires, shoes, or boats.

SYNTHETIC FILL

LIGHT-EMITTING DIODE

GRAPHENE

1986 Polyester insulation developed by Primaloft to mimic down. It’s cheaper and easier to care for but also heavier.

2001 A small, bright, ultra-efficient light used in headlamps. First adopted by Petzl, it’s now the standard.

2014 The strongest, lightest material on earth. Made from a singleatom layer of carbon, it’s now being used in skis and helmets.

SF

LED

KV

GR

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avxhome.se


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FAT B I K E

Runaway Inflation Blimp-tired bicycles were developed for one of the most grueling endurance races in the world. But this is the stor y of how they became the hottest trend in cyc l i n g . by N I C K H E I L The boys on the clown bikes ash ahead, with oversize tires making easy work of the serpentine trail beside the Minnesota River. I’m chasing my trio of guides on a borrowed Salsa Beargrease carbon fat bike, its tires more than twice as wide as those on my regular mountain bike. The bulky rubber eases through muddy hairpins and f loats across lengthy sand traps. I track smoothly through rock gardens and over intestinal tangles of roots. I haven’t had this much fun on new gear since I ďŹ rst strapped on fat skis and pointed them into fresh powder. Aren’t these rigs supposed to be piggish and slow? Weren’t they built only for snow?

wonk-o-sphere were it not for the efforts, about a decade ago, of Dave Gray, a designer at Surly and a selfdescribed garage tinkerer. In 2005, Gray produced the Pugsley, a squat machine painted purple and kitted with bulbous four-inch tires—the first massproduced fat bike. “When I saw the Pugs, it blew my mind,� says Nick Johnson, a product-launch coordinator at QBP and one of my riding companions on the river-bottom trail. “It was like a humanpowered monster truck. I had that feeling you get when you’re a little kid: This bike is freedom.� If necessity is the mother of invention, then the need

The Pugsley was an epiphany. T H E

with winter, not against it. Fat bikes evolved slowly, and then quickly. After the Pugsley was released, pockets of enthusiasts sprang up around the country, particularly where snow was prevalent. Cyclists who had been quarantined indoors could now ride outdoors year-round. For a few years, people referred to fat bikes as snow bikes, because oversize tires really excel in winter conditions. In some areas, like Grand Targhee, Wyoming, or Marquette, Michigan, riders and organizations began maintaining snow trails specifically for fat bikes—packing them down with cross-country grooming machines, snowmobiles, or snowshoes.

FAT T I R E S F L OAT E D

O N T H E H A R D P A N a n d p l owe d t h ro u g h n ew p ow.

T H E B I K E worked with winter,

36 O u t s i d e

While the origin of fat bikes is widely debated, with deep ties to Alaska and the desert Southwest, it’s here, in the Minneapolis suburbs—home to bike makers Salsa, Surly, and their parent company, Quality Bicycle Products (QBP)—where this particular design has grown from an obscure novelty to mountain biking’s newest big thing. The fattie phenomenon might well have stayed conďŹ ned to the winter-sports

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A G A I N S T

around these parts was for a bike that could roll over the Midwestern snowpack, which can linger for five months or more. At the time, Johnson had been working as a bike messenger in downtown Minneapolis, skidding and squirreling around icy roads on an ill-suited, skinny-tired cyclocross bike. The Pugsley was an epiphany. The fat tires oated on the hardpan and plowed through new pow. The bike worked

I T.

Races and club rides materialized. Big players like Specialized and Trek saw the growing market and brought out their own models. Soon the use of fat bikes began to expand beyond wintertime. When I arrived in Minneapolis in midApril, there wasn’t a smear of snow within 100 miles. But that didn’t seem to matter: nearly everyone I saw on the river trail—on a sunny, 70-degree day—was aboard a fat bike.

“The equipment has gotten so much better,â€? says Joe Meiser, product manager at Salsa and another member of our group. “We went from piecing a bike together to buying a complete bike to solving drivetrain issues. We made lighter tires, rims, and frames and improved the geometry. Basically, we used all the technology that any mountain bike has.â€? That may sound simple, but it hasn’t been. In the beginning, all mountain bikes were fat bikes—or, as the retroďŹ tted Schwinn cruisers of Marin County were called, klunkers or ballooners. (See Joe Breeze, page 51.) The modern fattie splintered off from those early models in the 1980s as mountain biking opened up new and more varied terrain and ignited riders’ imaginations. In 1986, Alaskan Joe Redington, the guy who had dreamed up the Iditarod sled-dog race, suggested a cycling version of the event. Dubbed the Iditabike (now the Iditarod Trail Invitational), the race required bikers to navigate 210 miles out and back along the ďŹ rst section of the sledding course on the day after the mushers passed through. The ďŹ rst winner, Minnesotan Dave Zink, took nearly 34 hours, pushing, pulling, and dragging his relatively narrow-tired mountain bike for half the distance. When word spread about the epic nature of northern




 Fig. (19) Surly designer Dave Gray

bike racing—a popular slogan at the time was “Cowards won’t show and the weak will die�—it began to attract an elite field of participants, including, over the years, Mountain Bike Hall of Famer John Stamstad

and Mike Curiak, a 24-hour bike-racing champion. It also prompted some wild innovation. Early hacks for snow riding were garish and strange, including the “six pack,� a mountain bike with multiple wheels placed

ILLUSTRATION by TIM TOMKINSON

side by side, three in front and three in back; and custom frames mounted with ATV wheels, like the freaky Hanebrink X1. By the end of the nineties the solution had settled, not surprisingly, on a traditional frame with

a simple set of wider rims and high-volume tires. Problem was, only one guy made such wheels. And he lived in New Mexico. Ray “El Remolino� Molina was an inventor and guide who led dune tours around

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Fat Skis Fig. (20) Skis that are at least 115 millimeters underfoot. In 1988, Rupert Huber of Atomic made the ďŹ rst pair, using a band saw to cut a snowboard in half lengthwise and putting ski bindings on the pieces. His invention was intended to be a powder ski for amateurs and was sold as the Atomic Powder Plus. For ten years, it was considered a crutch for people who lacked the required skill set, similar to wide-body rackets in tennis.The stigma was ďŹ nally broken when extreme skier Shane McConkey showed that fat skis, thanks to their stability and speed, were the ideal tool for rushing big-mountain, off-piste lines.

38 O u t s i d e

the American Southwest and Mexico. His Remolino rims and 3.5-inch Chevron tires were initially developed to ride on sand, but they also became coveted components for snow cycling. If there was any doubt about the effectiveness of these products, it was settled in 2000, the debut year for the Iditasport Impossible— a thousand-mile version of the original Iditabike. Mike Curiak won the race in 15 days, riding Molina’s wheels fitted to a custom Willits frame. As interest in massproducing fatties began to percolate, other wheel and frame builders cropped up, chief among them Mark Gronewald of WildďŹ re Designs Bicycles in Palmer, Alaska. Gronewald helped reďŹ ne fat-bike design with offset wheels and improved symmetrical frames. But the bikes were still cum bersome, finicky, and difficult to spec—either because stock parts didn’t work quite right or because they couldn’t be found. Only the most committed enthusiasts were willing to invest the time and money (a complete bike from WildďŹ re ran $5,000) to ride one. Th e n, i n l at e 2 0 0 1 , one of those riders, John Evingson, showed up at Surly in Minneapolis. Evingson had grown up in Minnesota but now lived in Alaska, where he worked with Gronewald at Wildfire. John’s brother, Matt, had worked at QBP and put him in touch with Dave Gray. John had expert welding skills—he’d done a stint on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline—and applied them to building fat-bike frames. Evingson arrived with a few fat bikes he’d put together

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himself, and he told Gray to give them a test drive. Surly had launched in 1998, and the company quickly acquired a reputation for edgy product development. It worked exclusively in steel, and its bikes had names like the Troll, the Ogre, and the Karate Monkey. For a few years, Surly made an off-road unicycle called the Conundrum. “Basically, they’re punk rock,� laughs Mike Reimer, PR director at Salsa. “They build the bikes they want to ride.� If anyone could bring fatties to the masses, it was Surly. And when Dave Gray rode Evingson’s fat bike, he wanted to do just that. “We sort of bounced around the parking lot a little bit and banged into curbs, like most people do when they get on these, just because the novelty factor is so high,� Gray recalls. “Then we went back to our desks and called a meeting, and we were like, ‘Yeah, there’s something to this.’ � Gray took the project under his wing, at first intending to produce only rims, a low-risk way into the market. He made a prototype by welding together two standard 32.5millimeter mountain-bike rims and shaving off the abutted inner walls. He dubbed his rim design the Large Marge and sent it to his manufacturer in Taiwan. Within a year demand was surging, and Surly was creating not just rims but tires and a frame—the Pugsley. It wanted its products to work well, and fat bikes were notoriously finicky, given the Frankenstein-like history of bolting various parts together to make a complete machine. Even apparently simple things,

Fig. (20) Blizzard’s 2015 BonaďŹ des are 133 millimeters at the tip.

ILLUSTRATION by TIM TOMKINSON


e c ir c le th p la s ti c to h g e u w o d n dump e s deman year we r ia ls . L e t’ y te r a e IO N ! m v e w t a E X T B IL L c a ll r ES. B u N L e T E T w H O T t B a O h T B IL L IO N r e th in k w . H E R E ’S T H AT ’S 1 e s . L e t’s een used m b ti y 0 d 0 a 2 e lr ver w h a t’s a p la n e t o r use of e tt e b e a ll m a k

POLARTEC.COM /


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like getting the chain to run past the wide tires, proved challenging. If Surly wanted the Pugsley to live up to consumers’ expectations— it now had to compete with light, reliable conventional bikes—the company needed to ensure that the pieces all matched up. “The nature of our brand was to design around as standard a component group as

turning out their own highquality frames and routinely found demand outpacing supply. Salsa, QBP’s other in-house brand, ramped up efforts to bring out its own fat bike, the Mukluk. By the end of 2010, both Surly and Salsa were delivering the ďŹ rst complete fat bikes to retailers. And specialty bike shops were discovering an eager market for them.

Between 2013 and 2014,

middle of winter, and it’s beautiful.� Between 2013 and 2014, the number of companies making fat bikes doubled, creating the fastest-growing market segment in the cycling industry. People were using them for everything, and no longer just during winter. As Molino had done in the Southwest, riders explored sandy surfaces, be it

T H E N U M B E R O F C O M PA N I E S

making fat bik es doubled, creating the F A S T E S T –

G ROW I N G

S E G M E N T in the we could,� says Gray. “We wanted our parts to mesh with components that you have lying around or that you could cannibalize from another bike. We just had to get it all to play nice.�

Fat Shoes Fig. (21) Shoes with roughly 20 millimeters of foam underfoot. In 2009, at the peak of the barefootrunning craze, Frenchman and adventure racer Nicolas Mermoud had an idea: What if shoes could absorb a runner’s pounding like shocks on a bike? Mermoud and business partner Jean-Luc Diard tapped a Chinese chemist, who used a proprietary compound to create a shoe with 29 millimeters of foam—three times the average—without adding weight.The Hoka One One was born. Since then fat shoes have been on a tear: every major running-footwear company now makes one, and Hoka’s 2014 sales were up 350 percent over the previous year.

The popularity of the Pugsley helped stabilize technical specs for fat bikes, which in turn encouraged other manufacturers to enter the game. By 2007, Alaskan companies like Fatback and 9Zero7 were

cycling industr y.

“We couldn’t get ahead of orders,� Bill Fleming, co-owner of Chain Reaction Cycles in Anchorage, told attendees at the 2014 Global Fat Bike Summit in Ogden, Utah. “People just loved these bikes. It changed the way they look at winter. These die-hard nordic skiers would get on them and realize it’s an easier sport. You don’t have to wax, you can ride out your front door. You’re on a little singletrack trail in the

desert beaches or shorelines. Others rode dirt singletrack. Tony Fischbach, a wildlife biologist in Alaska, deployed a fat bike to study walruses, because the bike efficiently covered a lot of ground and didn’t disturb the animals. In Australia, a few intrepid riders used fatties to navigate the entire 1,150-mile Canning Stock Route, a remote, deep-sand track that was unridable on conventional bikes. As more people rode, an

increasing variety of fat bikes appeared. Beginners liked the stable platform; experts liked the year-round versatility. When Salsa released the carbon-ďŹ ber Beargrease at the end of 2013, it exceeded sales predictions by a factor of four. At the beginning of 2015, Surly had ďŹ ve fat bikes in production, including the Moonlander (with whopping ďŹ ve-inchwide tires), and the Krampus (a “29-plusâ€?—29-inchdiameter wheels with wide rims and tires). Salsa was up to 11 different fat bikes, including a full-suspension carbon model called the Bucksaw that immediately garnered rave reviews. Other companies such as 45Nrth, Bar Mitts, and Revelate Designs sprang up, dedicated to fat-bikespeciďŹ c components, accessories, and apparel. Ten years after the Pugsley appeared, fat bikes have transcended their novelty. As the folks at QBP kept reminding me: “Fat bikes are mountain bikes.â€? Before I left Minne sota, I headed north in search of snow. The region

Fig. (21) Hoka’s thick-foamed Conquest

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Fat Is Where It’s At

U.S. sales of fat bikes have grown exponentially.

4,000

3,000

2,000

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2012

2014

2010

2008

2006

1,000

F AT B I K E C O N T ’ D.

had emerged as the epicenter of fat-bike fun, with hundreds of miles of groomed winter trails, like the Noquemon Network, near Marquette. I wanted to experience “white velcro,â€? local patois for the kind of traction that big tires provide on groomed snow trails. Alas, at the tail end of an uncommonly mild winter season, there wasn’t a snowake to be found. Of course, fat bikes are fun on dirt, too. I made it as far as Duluth, where I met up with Hansi Johnson, a photographer and director of recreational lands at the Minnesota Land Trust. Johnson gave me a sneak peek at the Duluth Traverse, 40 miles of multiuse single- and doubletrack that spanned the length of the city limits and had just helped net the town $20 million in development money. The mucky shoulder season didn’t faze our fat bikes, and Johnson and I navigated technical descents and woodsy cross-country trails. I was riding Salsa’s Bearclaw, which handled everything we encountered: damp, rock-studded singletrack, mellow jeep roads, a swampy meadow. It struck me why fat bikes were so immediately appealing. What traditional mountain bikes offered in nimbleness, fatties made up for in versatility. “Fat bikes have helped address a problem that both the bike industry and bikefriendly communities have struggled with,â€? Johnson told me. “And that’s bringing in new riders.â€? He explained that Duluth was going through a broad transition from light industry to recreation. Trails like the Traverse were helping

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link communities that were struggling to revitalize. “These folks probably wouldn’t give a second thought to riding a bike,� Johnson told me. “But the funny thing about fat bikes is how inviting they are. There’s this big, stable platform that can go in almost any conditions. People get on them and it’s instantly fun.� He told me another story, about a private group from the East Coast that had come out for a deer-hunting trip a few years earlier. Johnson had joined them to take pictures. He rode a fat bike, which drew laughs and ridicule from the hunters, at least initially. “But then they saw how much ground I could cover,� Johnson says, “and how quiet it was, and that they wouldn’t waste time shuttling in, one by one, on an ATV.� The next year, two of them returned on Cogburn fat bikes, which had camo paint jobs and were fitted with gun racks. When I mention this phenomenon back at QBP— how fatties seem to have broader appeal than your garden-variety mountain bike—it’s met with earnest nods. Are fat bikes going to reinflate collapsed economies? That’s probably too much of a stretch. But are they going to have an impact beyond a little extra winter fun? Dave Gray thinks so. “The thing I take most heart in is when I hear about the bike shop that can stay open and viable all winter,� Gray says. “That they can keep all their employees year-round, and that they have something they can turn to even if snow is unreliable. That’s when you really feel like you’ve contributed something to the greater good.� O

Fig. (25) GoPro’s Hero3

FILSON Fig. (22) Seattle-based maker of high-quality leather goods, Filson was founded in 1897, originally to supply prospectors heading to Alaska for the Klondike Gold Rush. The brand graduated from blankets and sleeping bags shortly after but has continued to make gear for hunters, anglers, and gentlemen with country estates. Classic pieces like the work coat and the company’s bomber duffels are reminders that well-made gear will always ďŹ nd an audience. The brand has also gained recent favor among young urban “lumbersexualsâ€? (see page 55).

haphazardly sliding down a wave’s face, led to modern surďŹ ng as we know it. Âś Perhaps more than any other factor, it’s the number, angle, base width, and rake of a surfboard’s ďŹ ns that determine how it rides. In the late 1940s, Bob Simmons stuck two parallel ďŹ ns on the bottom of his board, creating a looser, more squirrelly ride. Three decades later, in 1981, Australian Simon Anderson assembled the ďŹ rst “thrusterâ€? setup by adding a third ďŹ n behind two forward ďŹ ns, combining the best of singleand twin-ďŹ n approaches. Today it’s by far the most popular design.

FISHER, GARY FIN, SURFBOARD Fig. (23) A structural element, usually made of wood or ďŹ berglass, attached to the bottom of a surfboard to aid maneuverability. Fins were ďŹ rst introduced in 1935 by Tom Blake, who fastened a speedboat keel to the tail of his board. The modiďŹ cation, which prevented the board from

Fig. (24) A major ďŹ gure in the development of mountain bikes. Fisher began competing in road and track races in 1963 at age 12. In high school, he rode ďŹ re roads in Northern California’s Marin County with his friends. “You could get a bike at Goodwill for ďŹ ve bucks,â€? Fisher says. “The heaviest-duty thing you can ďŹ nd, then just




 Fig. (22) Filson’s Guide jacket

Fig. (24)

Fig. (23)

FLY ROD A skinny stick, usually 6 to 13 feet long, used in conjunction with a reel, a line, and hand-tied simulations of insects to catch ďŹ sh. Of all the gear

owned by the modern adventurer, the y rod is notable for changing the least over time. In 17th-century England, where the sport ďŹ rst gained favor among a particular type of contemplative boob, rods were made of bamboo— a material still used by companies like Hardy, R. L. Winston, and Scott. Though ďŹ berglass and graphite are now more popular, the y rod’s shape, length, and use have remained the same: cast and don’t miss the strike.

ILLUSTRATIONS by TIM TOMKINSON

FOOTIE, SICK Fig. (25) A visual recording worth replaying for others. Today, professional outďŹ ts like Camp 4 Collective and Teton Gravity Research have sophisticated tools for capturing great shots. The Epic Dragon, created by Red Digital Cinema, allows ďŹ lmmakers to craft theater-quality footage with a small, relatively cheap ($35,000) camera that mounts on a helicopter using Shotover’s gyro-stabilizing platforms for the cleanest, most

creative angles imaginable. Âś As top-end tech trickles down, the gear available to amateurs is making a big difference in online videos. A midrange drone costs under $1,000—1080p camera included—and GoPros are the top-selling cameras worldwide. (See Nick Woodman, page 51.) “You’ll see clips that make you say, ‘Wow, that looks like something Hollywood produced,’ â€? says Teton cofounder Todd Jones. “And it’s a kid with $5,000 worth of gear.â€?

Outside

Hocus Focus There’s magic to getting quality footage.

FORCED >>

go out and trash it.â€? Âś In 1974, Fisher overhauled a Schwinn Excelsior X, adding a wider gear range and durable brakes. It was the ďŹ rst bike designed to go up mountains as well as down. Five years later, Fisher and Charlie Kelly started MountainBikes with $600.

DOG CAM BUDDIES TOASTING “EPIC� ANYTHING TIME -LAPSE OF SPACE

THE LINE TIME -LAPSE FROM SPACE BUDDIES CRASHING HARD EAGLE CAM

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Fig. (26)

Fig. (27)

Hunger Games Gels are just one fuel option. Here’s what 2,000 competitors consumed at the 2014 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

98,046 Bottles of water

10,848 Packets of Gu Roctane gel

9,600 Bonk Breaker bars

8,220 Packets of Gu Chomps

147 Pounds of pretzels

75 Cases of bananas

Too Much Cattle colostrum (a coveted performance enhancer among tri geeks)

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Fig. (28) GARMIN FORERUNNER 201 Fig. (26) The world’s ďŹ rst all-inone GPS-enabled running watch, released in 2003 by Kansas navigation company Garmin. A major breakthrough in training technology, the watch calculated pace, speed, and distance in real time, paving the way for Fitbit, Strava, and other ďŹ tnesstracking companies.

GATORADE Fig. (27) A sports drink formulated in 1965 for the University of Florida Gators football team and currently produced by PepsiCo. Scientists at the University of Florida

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determined that a beverage with electrolytes like sodium and potassium would optimally hydrate athletes during long bouts of exercise; they added sugars to replace calories. Gatorade’s popularity took off, forever changing the way we think about exercise hydration—and tripling the size of convenience-store beverage cases. More recent sportsdrink brands have targeted endurance athletes with low-carb alternatives.

GEL Fig. (28) A sugary fuel used during races and serious training, typically packed into sealed foil pouches. Endurance athletes must ingest

large numbers of calories in the ďŹ eld to avoid bonking, the sudden loss of energy that results from depleting glycogen stores in muscles. Solid food can be difficult to stomach during exertion, and drinking enough calories can lead to bloating and frequent elimination. Gels were developed to occupy the middle ground. Tim Noakes, an exercise scientist and author of 1985’s authoritative Lore of Running, concocted prototypes in the eighties. Gu Energy Labs introduced the original consumer gel in 1993 and became synonymous with the category. Early on, gels went for a straight-from-thelab mystique; these days

the trend is headed in the other direction, with companies like Honey Stinger and UnTapped touting ingredients like honey and maple syrup.

GLOVES, ELK SKIN Fig. (29) Hand protection made from the skin of the great wapiti. Long favored by farm laborers and cowboys, these understated accessories have become de rigueur among hardcore ski bums. (Pro tip: prep them with Sno-Seal.) Compared with cowhide, elk skin is thinner, tougher, and more exible. Ski companies have started to ape the look of elk skin gloves, but their upscale,

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MEGA GRIP.

MEGA ADVENTURE. THE NORTH FACE ULTRA MT Powered by Vibram MEGAGRIP

VIBRAM庐 MEGAGRIP The new high performance rubber compound. 路 Unparalleled grip on wet and dry surfaces 路 Rugged longevity 路 Optimal ground adaptability

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Fig. (30)

Audio File

Fig. (29)

How you listen speaks volumes about you. Headphones WHAT THEY ARE: Over-the-noggin pads that rest on or cover the ears. WHAT THEY’RE GOOD FOR: Comfort, big sound. WHO USES THEM: NBA players, ďŹ lm editors, subway commuters. Earphones WHAT THEY ARE: Narrow nubs inserted directly into the ear canals. WHAT THEY’RE GOOD FOR: Ambient-noise cancellation, staying put during activity. WHO USES THEM: Runners, road cyclists. Earbuds WHAT THEY ARE: Hard buds that sit just outside the ear canals. WHAT THEY’RE GOOD FOR: Portablility, lean budgets. WHO USES THEM: HyperďŹ t professionals on walking conference calls, too many Whole Foods shoppers.

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insulated versions cost a lot more than the ones at your local feed store.

H HEAD, HOWARD Fig. (30)

The founder of ski brand Head, born in 1914 in Philadelphia. An aircraft engineer by trade, Head learned to ski in Vermont

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in the forties on the then standard wooden equipment. He set out to make a better ski and, after much experimentation— early models were prone to snapping—developed superior planks with metal layers sandwiching a wood core. Most modern skis are still made this way. After retiring, Head took up tennis and continued introducing new materials into athletics. He joined Prince to develop the oversize graphite racquet that’s now common in the sport. He died in 1991.

HEADPHONES Any device used for playing music close to or within a wearer’s ears. Headphone-like apparatuses were developed alongside the telephone and camera in the late 19th century, but the ďŹ rst models designed explicitly for music were produced by the Koss Corporation in 1958. They became a standard jogging and roller-skating accessory in the eighties with the rise of the Walkman. Since the introduction of the iPod and other portable MP3 players,

athletes have largely converted to smaller, snugger, action-friendly earbuds and earphones from companies like Jabra and Yurbuds.

HEART-RATE MONITOR A device that measures a wearer’s heart rate; particularly useful for monitoring exertion in athletes. Finnish professor and nordic skier Seppo Säynäjäkangas invented the ďŹ rst wearable wireless monitor, the Polar Sport Tester PE2000. It debuted in 1982 and was

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Numb Skull

1,000

G’S

Still not convinced you should wear head protection? Consider the G-force delivered to your brain by these events.

900 800 700 600 500 400 300

>300: PERMANENT INJURY OR DEATH

200 >100: PROBABLE CONCUSSION

NONHELMETED BIKE OR SKI CRASH, 22 MPH HELMETED BIKE OR SKI CRASH, 35 MPH HELMETED BIKE OR SKI CRASH, 22 MPH HARD TACKLE IN THE NFL HEADING A SOCCER BALL BOXING-MATCH PUNCH CAR CRASH, 40 MPH SNEEZE

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made up of two pieces: a simpliďŹ ed EKG- and radio-equipped strap worn around the chest, and a wristwatch that received the data and displayed an athlete’s pulse in real time. The PE2000 is credited with giving rise to high-intensity interval training—and launching decades of R&D to ďŹ nd some alternative to eliminate the dreaded chaďŹ ng that comes from wearing the strap (a.k.a. the “man braâ€?). The most promising solution, the optical heart-rate sensors embedded in watches from Apple, Garmin, and others, uses LED lights to illuminate blood vessels and a sensor to detect the volume of blood ow. To date, these devices have proven far less accurate than Säynäjäkangas’s original, though many offer users the ability to unobtrusively gather heart-rate data around the clock.

HELMET An apparatus designed to protect the wearer against head injuries. Cyclists have worn cranial protection since the late 19th century, though the padded leather “hairnetsâ€? seen in vintage photos of Eddy Merckx did little to safeguard heads. The ďŹ rst commercially successful modern bike helmet was the Bell Biker, released in 1975. Constructed from hard foam, it was designed to dissipate the force of a single catastrophic impact by breaking (and, it seemed, to make cyclists look like spelunkers). That basic concept didn’t evolve much, even as aesthetics improved and features like ventilation, soft plastic covers, and superior aerodynamics were added. But recent advances in helmet technology are enhancing protection. MIPS is a duallayer system that allows interior pads to slide rel-

ative to a hard shell on impact, reducing rotational forces. Last year, Smith Optics began making helmets that replaced foam with Koroyd, a polymer that compresses on impact, dispersing energy. œ Skiing, whitewater paddling, and, to a lesser degree, climbing followed similar paths of helmet development and adoption. The deaths of Michael Kennedy and Sonny Bono, who skied into trees within a week of one another in 1997–98, caused a sudden mass embrace of helmets; today 73 percent of U.S. skiers and snowboarders wear them. Still, the number of head injuries suffered at mountain resorts has increased—there were 15,000 in 2010—and the severity of injuries has also been on the rise. Many analysts suspect that helmets provide a dangerous sense of invincibility that leads to riskier behavior. Meanwhile, better

snowsports equipment enables inexperienced skiers and riders to reach higher speeds, terrain parks offer ever bigger features, and resorts unveil increasingly gnarly inbounds slopes in response to surging demand.

HUMMER Fig. (31) The civilian version of the military’s Humvee off-road vehicle, which was produced by AM General from 1992 to 2006. Some of its critics saw the truck, which got 12 miles to the gallon, as a middle ďŹ nger to environmentalism. In 1999, AM General sold the brand to General Motors, which modiďŹ ed the hulking original to produce the smaller and less capable H2 and H3 models favored by rap moguls and Texas oilmen. GM ceased production in 2010, after years of rising gas prices contributed to shrinking sales.

Fig. (31) The original civilian Hummer from AM General

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ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR ICONS Fig. (32) From left: Chouinard, Breeze, Woodman, and Gore

The Founding Fathers of Fun These innovators-in-chief changed the way we play Yvon Chouinard

Nick Woodman

A 76-year-old climber, blacksmith, yďŹ sherman, and—as founder of Patagonia— conservation and business guru. Chouinard began climbing as a teenager so he could look into cliffside bird nests with the Southern California Falconry Club. Then, in the mid-1950s, he and some fellow climbers (see Robbins, Royal, page 76) lived in Yosemite’s Camp 4, scaling the park’s big granite walls. At the time, climbing was done using soft-iron pitons; hundreds were needed for Chouinard’s multipitch ďŹ rst ascents. So in 1957, he bought a coal-ďŹ red forge from a junkyard and started making his own. In 1965, he partnered with fellow climber Tom Frost to found Chouinard Equipment, redesigning nearly every climbing tool of the time. He founded Patagonia in 1973, introducing the iconic Synchilla eece jacket in 1985. Although Chouinard Equipment went bankrupt (it was reincarnated as Black Diamond), Patagonia thrived, pioneering a sustainable business model (see Repurposing, page 76), donating 1 percent of sales to environmental causes, and spending millions on R&D to develop greener materials.

A 40-year-old entrepreneur who developed and founded GoPro cameras, the small waterproof, wearable devices that turned everyone into an adventure ďŹ lmmaker. When Woodman’s dot-com business, FunBug, went belly up in 2001, he took a ďŹ ve-month surf trip to the South PaciďŹ c. While there, he wanted to get water shots of friends surfing, so he jury-rigged a surf leash to attach disposable waterproof cameras to his wrist. In 2004, with a $235,000 loan from his parents, his mom’s sewing machine, and a drill, he released the ďŹ rst GoPro, a 35mm camera that he bought from a Chinese company and modiďŹ ed with a strap. In 2007, GoPro released the Digital Hero3, with standard-deďŹ nition video. The timing was perfect: Google had just bought YouTube, and the demand for user-generated video was exploding. Today, GoPro is the world’s best-selling camera brand, and a GoPro clip is uploaded to the Web every minute. (See Footie, Sick, page 43.) Woodman now has a net worth north of $2.3 billion.

Joe Breeze A 61-year-old bicycle designer who created the ďŹ rst mountain bike built from the ground up. Many people credit Gary Fisher or Tom Ritchey, but while those two men popularized riding on dirt, the ďŹ rst true mountain bike was made by their soft-spoken buddy Joe. In the late seventies in Marin County, California, all three were part of a crew of bike freaks who slid around Mount Tamalpais on modiďŹ ed 1930s Schwinn balloon-tire bicycles. Breeze, one of the group’s best craftsmen, was riding with a friend named Charlie Kelly when Kelly offered him $300 to build an off-road bike. It took Breeze almost a year—“Joe’s a little bit of a perfectionist,â€? says Kelly—to complete the ďŹ rst Breezers, which featured diamond-shaped steel frames rather than the Schwinns’ curved tubing. Soon, Fisher and Kelly teamed up to launch the MountainBikes company, creating the beginnings of Fisher bikes and a three-decade-and-counting craze. Breeze still designs coveted Breezers, though he sold the brand to Advanced Sports International in 2008.

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Bob Gore The man who keeps us dry in rain and snow without overheating. Gore’s discovery of his eponymous waterproof-breathable shell material is part of outdoor legend: In 1969, at 32, he was a chemical engineer whose family business, W. L. Gore and Associates, developed technological applications for polytetrauoroethylene (PTFE), also known as Teon. Gore was working late at the lab, trying to extend the surface area of heated-up rods of PTFE. Light pulling didn’t work, so he gave the Teon a hard tug. It stretched out rapidly, extending into a tough, ďŹ lm-like surface that water couldn’t pass through but water vapor could. VoilĂ : Gore-Tex, the ďŹ rst waterproof-breathable membrane, which Gore patented in 1976. Soon after, Gore succeeded his father, Bill Gore, as CEO, running a company that was relaxed on the inside but tough on outsiders, demanding that those using its material adhere to strict standards. Some have accused Gore of bullying brands that use competitors’ waterproof-breathable fabrics, but Gore-Tex remains the dominant—and most trusted— shell in existence.

Outside

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J 

Fig. (33)

ger in 1984, and his ďŹ rst consumer model, released during the eighties jogging boom, was an instant hit. The category took another leap forward in the aughts when brands like BOB began manufacturing trailready strollers.

JONES, JEREMY Fig. (35)

JEEP Fig. (33) A four-wheel-drive vehicle ďŹ rst produced for the U.S. Army during World War II. In 1940, the Army requested prototypes for a

lightweight off-road vehicle; it gave contractors just 49 days to turn theirs in. Willys-Overland Motors won the job and manufactured 330,000 jeeps over the next ďŹ ve years, con-

Fig. (34) The trail-ready BOB Revolution

JOGGING STROLLER Fig. (34) A stroller that allows parents to run and, theoretically, get their toddlers to nap. It was invented in 1983 by Phil Baechler when attempts to run while pushing his son, Travis, were thwarted by poor handling. He set about creating a highperformance alternative from metal tubes and bike parts. Early prototypes had two wheels and were frighteningly unstable, but Baechler soon hit on a three-wheeler that did the job. He launched Baby Jog-

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tracting out about the same number to Ford. After the war, WillysOverland began producing the CJ series (for “civilian jeep�), which quickly became popular with farmers and outdoorsmen. Willys was soon renamed Jeep, and in 1963 the brand debuted the Wagoneer, which added features like automatic transmission and power steering, thus inventing the SUV.

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A pioneering bigmountain snowboarder and snowboard designer. (Not to be confused with snowboarding’s other Jeremy Jones, a luminary in the urban-jib scene.) Jones raced as a teenager in Maine, then switched to big-mountain riding after failing to make the 1998 Olympic team. He made a name for himself helicoptering onto Alaskan peaks and sending enormous lines while being ďŹ lmed by Teton Gravity Research (cofounded by his two brothers). Burnout and concern for the environment led him to swear off copters and chairlifts in 2009, when he founded Jones Snowboards to produce splitboards, which can be separated into two pieces for uphill use. In 2007, he founded Protect Our Winters, a nonproďŹ t that lobbies the snowsports industry to address climate change.

K

KITE

A lightweight aircraft— often erroneously considered a toy—propelled by the wind and con-

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ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

Fig. (36)

BLADES OF GLORY The Victorinox Swisschamp XAVT contains 80 tools— some more vital than others.

A Jones splitboard

KNIFE, SWISS ARMY The world’s ďŹ rst consumer multitool, designed by cutler Karl Elsener with two blades, a screwdriver, and a can opener. It was ďŹ rst distributed to Swiss soldiers in 1891. Thirty years later, Elsener branded his company Victorinox, combining the name of his late mother, Victoria, with inoxydable,

French for “stainlessâ€? (as in stainless steel). Later versions have featured an altimeter, an alarm clock, and a USB ash drive.

KNIGHT, PHIL Fig. (36) Cofounder of athleticshoe company Nike, born in 1938 in Portland, Oregon. Knight ran under famed track coach Bill Bowerman at the University of Oregon, where Knight was a guinea pig for some of the coach’s homegrown footwear designs. (See Bowerman, Bill, page 18.) Later, Knight enrolled in Stanford’s business school and worked on a plan to sell Japanese running shoes. Knight formed Blue Ribbon Sports with Bowerman to execute his concept, securing a contract with Onitsuka Tiger. Soon the duo began marketing Bowerman’s creations under the Nike name, introducing the Waffle Racer at the 1972 Olympic trials and signing Steve Prefontaine to wear them in 1974. Nike was recently ranked the most valuable apparel brand in the world.

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USEFUL >>

Fig. (35)

trolled by a user on the ground via a line or set of lines. The ďŹ rst kites are believed to have been constructed out of silk and bamboo in sixthcentury China, where the monoplane was used for military purposes like signaling. In 1903, Wild West showman Samuel Cody got in a small boat, attached it to a “manliftingâ€? kite—an item that most closely resembled a biplane—and crossed the English Channel. Many innovations followed. Kite surfers now y over the water behind inatable designs, while Arctic explorers use lightweight and packable foil designs to pull themselves on skis across vast stretches of ice.

LARGE BLADE BOTTLE OPENER SCREWDRIVER

THE LINE PARCEL CARRIER BAROMETER PHARMACEUTICAL SPATULA

OVERKILL

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Fig. (37) Fig. (38) The pit zip

Humble Heroes There are countless little things that make a big difference on a mission. Here are four.

Zip ties Ratcheting plastic straps that enable innumerable quick ďŹ xes, such as reattaching a derailleur to a mountain bike mid-ride.

Lip balm A substance applied to the lips to prevent them from drying out. Forget your Chapstick on a high and dry hike? Earwax will get the job done.

Sharpie A pen with ink that, when given time to set, will make long-lasting marks on plastic bags, all manner of clothing, and human skin.

Instant coffee Ground beans that create a caffeinated solution when dissolved in hot water. Does exactly what you need it to when the real thing isn’t available.

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LEATHERMAN Fig. (37) A multitool invented by Tim Leatherman after wishing he had a pair of pliers while working on a rust-bucket Fiat with a pocket knife during a 1975 European road trip. Dozens of companies rejected Leatherman’s pitch, so he resolved to pursue it himself, producing his ďŹ rst models in 1983. A couple of catalogs

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agreed to carry them; he sold 30,000 the next year. Leatherman and other brands have since developed tool combinations for every possible type of outdoorsman.

LIFA SHIRT The ďŹ rst commercially available base layer made from polypropylene, released in 1970 by Helly Hansen. It had a lining that wicked moisture

away from the body, while its outer face aided evaporation. The Lifa freed outdoorsmen from wool, ushering in the “polypro� era of base layers.

LIFETIME WARRANTY A company’s promise to repair or replace an item that breaks. It signiďŹ es a certain pride and conďŹ dence in a product. Though the warranty is

not meant to cover normal wear and tear, some unscrupulous consumers take the guarantee to mean “free ďŹ xes and upgrades!â€?

LITTLE THINGS Fig. (38) Those items that mark the difference between a miserable experience and a joyous one—pit zips on jackets being a prime example. They are

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ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

often taken for granted and usually the work of a brilliant designer.

LOWE, GREG Fig. (39) Inventor of the internalframe backpack. An avid climber and backpacker, Lowe became frustrated with the packs available in the 1960s. Classic framed models positioned weight high over the shoulders, making it difficult to balance during technical scrambles, while frameless

in 1998. Wilson started making butt-attering yoga pants in an effort to capitalize on what he saw as women’s desire to look good while working out. Lululemon’s apparel was an instant hit and soon had a fanatical following in the U.S. Women took to wearing the stuff to coffee shops, on the subway, even at work, spurring a larger athleticwear-as-style movement. Though Lululemon has experienced a handful of

options were too small for lengthy backcountry treks. So Lowe designed a exible internal frame that contoured around the body, bringing the wearer’s center of gravity closer to the hips. Every internal-frame pack ever since has derived from his basic concept.

LULULEMON Fig. (40) A yoga-apparel brand founded by Canadian entrepreneur Chip Wilson

Fig. (39)

PR setbacks—including see-through pants, which Wilson initially blamed on women’s inner thighs rubbing against the material—its growth has continued. The brand has added men’s apparel and an outdoor line, and now has a market cap of almost $10 billion. Wilson resigned from the board this past February to launch a technical cashmere brand called Kit and Ace.

Fig. (40) Lululemon’s athletic style

.

LUMBERSEXUAL Fig. (41) A fashion-conscious male urbanite whose clothing and accessories project an aura of rugged manliness. Lumbersexual staples include plaid shirts, work boots, axes, and craft beer (preferably served in mason jars). The look is part of the larger heritage wave, a series of trends that aim to achieve a pre-digitalera affectation. Outdoor brands with strong lifestyle lines have beneďŹ ted massively. L.L.Bean, for example, went from selling about 100,000 of its Bean boots in 2004 to 450,000 in 2014.

I L L U S T R AT I O N S b y T I M TO M K I N S O N [ 3 9 , 4 1 ] a n d DA N I L O A G U T O L I [ 4 0 ]

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Fig. (41) L.L.Bean boots

A Brief History of Dudes Doing Yoga 400 A.D. Patanjali compiles theYoga Sutras, a foundational text.

1849 Henry David Thoreau becomes an intermittent practitioner.

1998 Lululemon launches; offerings include a small menswear collection.

2012 Events company BrewAsanas pairs yoga with beer.

2014 Brogamats designs a mat bag that looks like a burrito.

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MONTEBELLUNA

Birth of the Boots

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The world’s leading design center for outdoor footwear—ever ything from feather weight climbing shoes to hard-shelled mountaineering stompers—is a small city in northern Italy where craftsmanship reigns. C H R I S T O P H E R S O L O M O N went there to see how it’s done.

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ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

.

Take off your fo otwear and look inside. What does it say? If you’re reading this while wearing rock-climbing shoes, mountaineering boots, ski-touring boots, hiking boots, nordic ski boots, or telemark boots, chances

are good you’ll see some variation of Made in Italy printed on them. Which means that what’s on your feet was either designed, molded, glued, or sewn in or around one place—a northern Italian town called Montebelluna. Here, where

ILLUSTRATION by KENT BARTON

the Venetian Plain bunches like a door-stopped carpet against the foothills of distant white mountains, is the cradle of alpine craftsmanship for the foot. These days, thanks to the globalization of manufacturing, we rarely know where

our stuff comes from. Yet Montebelluna and its scarperi (bootmakers) have endured. The generations-deep wisdom that abides here has made this place the Alexandria of technical-shoe knowhow. Alpina, Asolo, Crispi, Dalbello, La Sportiva, Lowa,

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Fig. (42) From far left: Antonio, Francesco, Luigi, Cristina, Piero, Davide, Andrea, and Sandro Parisotto

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Gear Hubs America has a few of its own Montebellunas.

Boulder, Colorado American Rec (Kelty, Sierra Designs, and Ultimate Direction), Crocs, DynaďŹ t, GoLite, La Sportiva, Newton Running, Pearl Izumi, Sea to Summit, SmartWool

Santa Barbara, California Channel Islands Surfboards, Decker Outdoor (just north; owner of Hoka, Sanuk, Teva, and Ugg), Patagonia (30 minutes west),Toad&Co

Salt Lake City Black Diamond, DPS Skis, Goal Zero (in nearby Bluffdale), Petzl, POC, Pro Bar, Salomon (in Ogden), Scott Sports USA

Orange County, California ASICS, Hurley, Quiksilver, Rip Curl, Vans,Volcom

Portland, Oregon Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Gerber Gear, Keen, Leatherman, Nau, Nike, Poler Stuff

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Mammut, Scott, Tecnica, Zamberlan, and others—all still perform at least some of their work here, whether that involves ďŹ rst sketches or full-on assembly. Those Dynafit ski-touring boots in your closet? Made in Montebelluna. Your Scarpa climbing slippers? Ditto. That pair of Fischer crosscountry ski boots? Yup. Even the machines that make the machines that make the shoes are created here. So the companies keep coming. When Canada’s Arc’teryx designed its cutting-edge line of mountain shoes and boots, it hired Montebelluna native and former Dynafit product manager Federico Sbrissa. Today’s hottest running shoes, Hokas, initially bubbled up inside the brain of a Tecnica employee. And before K2 unveiled its ďŹ rst line of ski boots a few years ago, what did it do? The New World looked to the Old, and to the town that lies where Italy’s boot meets the Alps. To reach Montebel luna (population 30,800), you take the autostrada north from Venice and exit before getting to the mountain foothills, passing names that most Americans know from gourmet delis, like Piave and Bassano del Grappa. You drive past vineyards and 16th-century villas and factories—often seeing them all bunched together, the concept of zoning having come late to Italy. Downtown Montebelluna, 40 miles northwest of Venice, looks clean and feels prosperous, with its wide main square, Piazza Negrelli, surrounded by gelato-hued buildings. There are an inordinate number of shoe stores here. In the industry,

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Fig. (43)

though, “Montebellunaâ€? is really shorthand for a constellation of 28 surrounding towns and villages that all make things for your feet. The Scarpa shoe factory sits just down the road in Asolo, on a street named for Enrico Fermi. Today, Scarpa is run by the second generation of the Parisotto family: Sandro is CEO; Cristina, his sister, heads design and product development for the mountaineering, trekking, and lifestyle lines; cousin Davide monitors production and R&D. Over the years, la famiglia Parisotto has tallied a rĂŠsumĂŠ of firsts: The first GoreTex-lined hiking shoe. The first plastic mountaineering boot. The first plastic telemark boot, the gamechanging Terminator. But something else also made me want to knock on Scarpa’s door: at a time when the supply chain has scattered across the planet, the company still makes 65 percent of its footwear right here. Davide Parisotto is 52, with close-set eyes and steel-colored hair that he sweeps back from his face

The Columbia River near Portland, which is home to industry giants like Adidas and Nike

with practiced worry. The production oor is Davide’s domain, and most days he can be found wearing a blue factory smock with the company’s logo over his heart, along with a pessimistic expression on his face, his eyes always scanning for new problems. By necessity and temperament, Davide is blunter than his front-office cousins. When I asked how many models of footwear Scarpa makes, he replied, “Too many.â€? (Actually, there are about 220.) Standing in the warehouse among boxes of bootlaces made down the road, along with pallets of incoming Vibram soles from China, Davide gave me a thumbnail company history, which began with beer. A century ago, Italy was fashionable with vacationers from Britain, including an Anglo-Irish businessman named Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness, second Earl of Iveagh. (Yes, he was part of that Guinness family.) Guinness owned land around Asolo and saw that there were a lot of poor, skilled shoe makers and

laborers in the vicinity who needed work. In 1938, he put up the money to start a company called SCARPA, the letters standing for an association of footwear manufacturers from the mountain area of Asolo. In 1956, the three young Parisotto brothers—Francesco, Luigi, and Antonio—bought the company from the mayor and the local prior. They started small, making ďŹ ve shoes a day and peddling them to shops in neighboring towns on weekends. Shoemaking here goes back much further than that. Venetian shoe artisans formed a collective in 1278. Later the craft divided: ďŹ ne shoes migrated to the banks of the nearby Brenta River (where Prada and other bigticket shoes are still being made), while the makers of laborers’ wooden clogs followed clients and materials to the forested foothills to the north, where Venice harvested the timber to build its famed f leet. By 1872, according to local historian Aldo Durante, there were 55 shoe shops in the Montebelluna area. At the start

ILLUSTRATIONS by KENT BARTON






ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

Fig. (44) The Flatiron Mountains near Boulder, which has a growing reputation as a gear hub of the 20th century, there were 200. Shoes built for play evolved from shoes built for work. After World War I, as people started to head into local mountains in pursuit of fun, the caulked, Norwegian-welt boots designed by the Montebellunesi for foresters were developed into hiking boots, which soon doubled as ski boots. Shoemaking families were established: The Garbuios of Dolomite. The Caberlottos, later of Caber ski boots, and after that the founders of Lotto. The Vaccaris of Nordica. The Parisottos. After World War II, Montebelluna took off by doing what it does best, capitalizing on tradition while embracing innovation. At the Museo dello Scarpone e della Calzatura Sportiva—a museum of outdoor footwear housed in a 15thcentury villa—you can see a knee-high boot made of deer fur and opossum liners, created by Dolomite and worn on the ďŹ rst ascent of K2 in 1954. There’s also a 1968 Nordica Astral Super, the ďŹ rst ski boot made using

the modern method of injected plastic. Bob Lange had fashioned the first plastic boot in the U.S. in 1962, but Montebelluna’s improvement on his castmold method soon made this area the world leader in ski-boot production. Millions of pairs were cranked out annually. “Montebelluna,� the saying went, “makes the world ski.� By the end of the 1970s, the area boasted 12,000

ing. Every bit of air was ďŹ lled with a low, productive clamor. He pointed to a wall where thousands of things that looked like cookie cutters were racked on shelves. These were patterns used to stamp all the pieces— tongues, uppers—that make every shoe, in every size. Sitting near us, an employee was using a laserguided cutter, which reduces waste. A few steps away, a dozen women in

veyor belt laden with halfformed shoes inched past, looking like one of those devices that trundles unagi at a sushi-go-round joint. Then I saw the artiďŹ cial “feetâ€?—thousands of them, bins of green and gray lasts, or molds, around which every shoe is shaped. As much as anything, the curves and volume of these lasts determine whether your shoe ďŹ ts well. They’re made here, and there’s a precise art to doing it properly. “Norwegian feet are very big,â€? Davide said. “Asian is completely different. Japanese feet are very large here, in this part,â€? he added, grabbing the widest part of his foot. A company like Scarpa can produce a popular boot like the Kailash to cater specifically to markets in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. The lasts stay in the shoes for 24 hours. Removing them too early, Davide said, is like taking wine from the bottle prematurely. Near the assembly line, an old man, nearly bald and owlish in his eyeglasses, slowly took shoes from a

Davide is blunter T H A N H I S F R O N T - O F F I C E C O U S I N S . W hen I asked how many models of footwear S c a r p a m a k e s , h e r e p l i e d , “ TO O

M A N Y . � ( A c t u a l l y, t h e r e a r e a b o u t 2 2 0 . )

employees in more than 500 footwear-related companies, resulting in one of the highest per capita incomes in Italy. Davide pushed through a door that opened onto a single large room: Scarpa’s factory f loor. There were big machines and ventilation fans and tubes that reached toward the ceil-

blue smocks bent over sewing machines beside bins of freshly cut pieces. One guided material carefully past the needle, marrying the gusset of a chocolate Ladakh GTX backpacking boot to its upper. Around the corner, men dipped small paintbrushes and applied glue to half-shaped climbing and mountaineering boots. A slow green con-

rack, looked each one over, then placed it on the conveyor. This was Francesco, Davide’s 88-year-old uncle. (Luigi, 85, Davide’s father, sat around the corner, watching Scarpa’s bestselling Maestrale ski boot come off the line.) The two live in apartments above the original factory, just a twominute drive away, where Scarpa molds those boots.

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A Brief History of the Ski Boot 1880s

In New England, industrial sewing machines mass-produce a thick-soled boot with a thin upper shell of leather.

1955 The ski-boot buckle is invented in Switzerland by Hans Martin.

1962 Bob Lange creates the all-plastic boot. More than 50 years later, the ’62 Lange is still the standard boot design.

1969–70 Australian Sven Coomer creates the customizable boot liner. Nordica’s Olympic boot is the ďŹ rst to use the feature.

They still show up nearly every day. When I asked why, the sons shrugged. “When they have come to the factory their whole life, you cannot tell them to stay home,â€? Sandro told me. At the other end of the row sat three dozen racks stacked high with pumpkincolored Phantom Guide mountaineering boots, Marmolada trekking shoes, and Nangpa-La XCR trekking boots, their tongues hanging open like dogs ready to go outside. A full day’s work? “Just this morning,â€? Davide said. “We make different shoes every hour, or even every ďŹ ve minutes.â€? He laughed. “This is a big problem for me. This is why I have gray hair.â€? I asked Davide how many people touch a pair of the company’s shoes. He thought and said, “Probably 50.â€? He made a heavy sound. “People have no idea.â€? Over the past 30 years, manufacturing has changed dramatically, and that’s had

During a long career with Garmont, DynaďŹ t, and others, he has designed 80 to 100 ski-boot models, about 50 trekking boots, and upwards of 60 cross-country ski boots—most recently, Dynafit’s popular TLT 6 boots. In his free time he makes wine. People call him Super Mario. The design offices where Sartor and his younger colleagues work are almost spare. That’s because DynaďŹ t doesn’t produce its own boots anymore, that work having been outsourced to multiple factories down the road. To see it, we got in a car and drove ďŹ ve minutes to an anonymous industrial park. Inside a boxy, windowless building, the place was filled with machinery, the smell of warm plastic, and the sounds of banging and wheezing. This space was home to one of a series of suppliers that produce and assemble Dynafit’s line of 14 ski boots. The owner showed us how hail-size pellets of

“The secret of the right project is always to choose the right supplier,� said Sartor, ribbing the owner. “Unfortunately, he costs like gold. If you want a beautiful woman, you have to pay for her.� Some of Montebelluna’s production started to migrate to Eastern Europe before the Berlin Wall fell. Assembly lines have since moved all over the world. A few days earlier, visiting Tecnica, I found that the R&D rooms were still full of folks sketching up shoes but that the huge factory building had nearly gone dark. Today, Hungary builds the conglomerate’s Nordica and Tecnica ski boots; Slovakia, Romania, and Vietnam rivet its hiking shoes; and Vietnam and China box up Rollerblades. “It became a cost issue,� said Alberto Zanatta, whose grandfather and father built the company. In northern Italy, it’s expensive to make things that require a human touch. As Scarpa’s Sandro

wear, told me. “You take advantage of the best available expertise on the market,� he said. “The expertise is always Italian.� When I ask about the prospects for Montebelluna, the Italians, being Italians, all had strong opinions. To stay relevant, the skeptical among them said, this place needs better roads, a better tax structure, and a modern research facility. The optimists still see a bright future. The towns long ago stopped leaning solely on the fortunes of mountain shoes. Today they are a mecca for all kinds of footwear. Sidi makes its cycling shoes not far from Scarpa. Alpinestars motorcycle boots is next door, Nike designs its soccer shoes here, and Converse has offices in the area. Even so-called “brown shoe� companies have set up shop. I thought of the last stop on our tour. It was yet another nondescript industrial park. Hundreds of goblin green Dynafit Neo

1972 Michigan brothers Chris and Denny Hanson develop the ďŹ rst commercially viable rear-entry ski boot.

By the end of the 1970s, T H E A RE A B OA ST E D 1 2 ,0 0 0 E M P LOY EES I N M O R E T H A N 5 0 0 fo o t we ar- re late d c o m pan i es, r e s u l t i n g in one of the highest

P E R CA P I TA I N C O M E S

i n I t a l y.

1987 More than 80 percent of boots sold worldwide are rear entry. By the 1990s, the design will lose ground in favor of better-ďŹ tting, overlap-closure boots.

2009 The Apex Sports Group in Boulder, Colorado, introduces the Apex Boot System: boot, chassis, and custom liner.They’re as comfortable as snowboard boots without sacriďŹ cing performance.

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a big impact on Montebelluna. I went down the road to meet a man who’s seen it all, from the old days of leather to the modern era of carbon ďŹ ber. Mario Sartor is 69, with a push-broom mustache and bifocals that dangle from a cord around his neck. He started sewing moccasins with his father at age 11. Today he oversees design for Salewa’s trekking shoes and DynaďŹ t’s trail-running shoes and ski-touring boots.

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Pebax or Grilamid plastic are fed into a silo and mixed to Sartor’s specifications to create a shell that’s the ideal blend of stiffness, comfort, and affordability. The pel-lets were heated to 464 degrees Fahrenheit, and the molten goop was then injected into a mold by what looked like a giant screw. On the far end of an assembly line, a worker collected the results: sky blue boot cuffs for next winter’s women’s TLT 6.

Parisotto told me later, if a worker makes 1,200 euros per month, a company must pay roughly 2,000 euros in payroll taxes. If you want to make a trail-running shoe today, you almost have to produce it in China, the reigning king of EVA, the stuff that cushions the soles. (See Elements of Adventure, page 34.) “The brain has stayed here but the hands have left,� Andrea Nalesso, Salewa’s general manager for foot-

PX-CP boots were being assembled—gussets glued to boots, tongues and buckles riveted into place, stickers affixed that read Made in Italy. Mario called us over to admire a machine that attached soles to ski boots by drilling all eight screws without human input. Zip. Zip. Zip. The little Italian grandfather who’d once built boots of leather at home admired it for a while. Finally, Super Mario said, “Bella, eh?� O






ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

Fig. (45)

Just Add Water The top-selling Mountain House meals. 1. Scrambled Eggs with Bacon

MOUNTAIN HOUSE Maker of 33 varieties of tasty freeze-dried meals packaged in polyester, aluminum, and nylon pouches. In 1964, Oregon Freeze Dry, the parent company of Mountain House, opened its ďŹ rst plant in western Oregon. Three years later, the company won a military contract to replace the heavy, wet-packed C rations developed during World War II but still in use by soldiers in Vietnam. OFD helped create

the Long Range Patrol ration, an 11-ounce package with cigarettes, gum, and 1,000-calorie entrĂŠes like chicken and rice or spaghetti with meat sauce. By the end of 1967, OFD had delivered nine million LRPs to the U.S. military. Extras wound up at Armysurplus stores and were soon discovered by backpackers. In 1969, OFD partnered with REI to develop 14 avors of LRPstyle foods speciďŹ cally for outdoorsmen. Each Mountain House meal has a shelf life of 30 years.

ILLUSTRATION by DANILO AGUTOLI

MYCOSKIE, BLAKE Fig. (45) A 38-year-old philanthropist and entrepreneur who founded Toms Shoes (originally Shoes for a Better Tomorrow) in 2006. The concept: donate one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. The idea was so successful that the company has since expanded into eyewear (a pair of glasses helps pay for eye care in the developing world) and coffee (each bag supplies a week of clean water to a family

in a coffee-producing region). Mycoskie was one of the ďŹ rst to extol the virtues of BeneďŹ t Corporation status, a designation for companies considering societal or environmental impact. It’s a path since followed by everyone from gear and apparel maker Cotopaxi, which funds nonproďŹ ts with every item sold, to Biolite, which distributes a larger version of its biomass-burning camp stove to communities that would otherwise rely on dirtier fuels.

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2. Biscuits and Gravy 3. Beef Stew with Noodles 4. Beef Stroganoff 5. Breakfast Skillet

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NALGENE BOTTLE Fig. (46) A durable, wide-mouthed vessel originally designed to hold chemicals. In the mid-1970s, scientists at Nalgene, a Rochester, New York, maker of plastic laboratory equipment, including petri dishes and hard polyethylene containers, began sneaking

bottles out of headquarters for camping trips. Shortly after, the company’s president, Marsh Hyman, gave some to his son to use on Boy Scout outings. Soon Hyman directed Nalgene to start promoting them to the outdoor community. More recently, metal and glass bottles have made incur-

sions into the market, in response to concerns over chemical leaching. Nalgene switched to BPA-free plastic in 2008, but we salute the original 32-ounce bottle—the one you layered with duct tape, clipped to your belt loop, and, if you were dumb enough to believe the myth, drove a car over.

NIKE+ Fig. (47) The original wearable technology for athletes. Long before Fitbit and the Apple Watch, there was the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, a pedometer that ďŹ t into a shoe and transmitted data to an iPod Nano. Introduced in 2006, the pioneering device was the ďŹ rst in a series of products released under the Nike+ banner, and it marked the beginning of the brand’s ongoing partnership with Apple. By 2012, when competitors were still asking consumers to clip or pocket their trackers, the world’s largest sneaker company had migrated its hardware to the wrist—a move that the industry has since followed. The Nike+ FuelBand was an LED-lit wearable that tracked activity in “fuel pointsâ€?—a companyderived metric for acceleration. “Nike could have easily owned the activitytracker space,â€? says Tyson Miller, design director for Vancouver-based Recon, maker of heads-up display units for cycling and snowboarding. “There was a fashion component to it. They made all their supporting software simple for mainstream, nontech people. We

Fig. (46)

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Fig. (47)

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Right hand caught in the ropes? You can always use your left.

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Fig. (49)

It’s What’s Inside That Counts While countless wearable ďŹ tness gadgets have hit the market since the Nike+, the same core tech drives them all.

Accelerometer Measures vibrations associated with nongravitational acceleration to detect movement and speed.

Gyroscope Determines orientation by indicating rate of rotation around an axis.

GPS receiver Communicates with satellite networks to track geographical location, speed, and elevation.

Optical sensor Measures heart rate by detecting the volume of vascular blood ow.

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looked at them and said, ‘They’re doing it right.’ â€? Âś Within a year and a half, Nike’s FuelBand was competing against a new wave of more versatile devices. Products like the Fitbit Flex and MisďŹ t Shine also collected exercise data, but their smaller size and additional features like sleep tracking broadened their appeal to non-athletes. By 2014, Nike claimed that 24 million people were using the device but still opted to retreat in the face of explosive growth in the category, focusing instead on software for other companies’ hardware, most notably the Apple Watch. “That tightness between Apple and Nike was probably what led to the downfall of the FuelBand,â€? says MisďŹ t CEO Sonny Vu, noting that the tracker was originally sold only through Apple and Nike stores and wasn’t initially offered in the potentially lucrative Asian markets. “We had more distribution than Nike as a oneyear-old startup.â€? Today, Nike+ lives on as a suite of apps (for both Android and iOS devices) and online tools. In the category it launched, it’s now just running with the pack.

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ODOR CONTROL

The relentless attempt by apparel makers to tame human stink. One of the fundamental axioms of playing outside holds that sweat leads to odor. But the culprit isn’t perspiration; it’s the bacteria that feed on it. Smooth surfaces like cotton are friendlier to bacteria than rough ones like wool: its ďŹ bers are scaly, with a lot of surface area, preventing bacteria from bonding. (Wool is also hot and itchy, since the ďŹ bers are short and hard to weave smooth.) Endurance athletes, however, spent most of the 20th century pickled in funk, thanks to their predilection for cotton and polyester. Then, in the early 1990s, two outdoor-apparel companies, SmartWool and Icebreaker, started experimenting with wool from merino sheep, which have longer, nonitchy ďŹ bers, to create soft, relatively odor-free products. The drawback? Sweaty merino can become heavy, losing shape. So in 1997, a Pennsyl-

vania company called Noble Fiber Technologies developed X-Static, a silver coating applied to nylon ďŹ bers that are woven into technical apparel. (The metal’s antibacterial qualities have long been known, though recent concerns have emerged about silver’s effects on aquatic environments if it gets into water systems.) Fox River Mills introduced X-Static liner socks in 1998, and X-Static ďŹ bers made their way onto the feet of U.S. soldiers and the backs of Olympic athletes. Soon other companies began weaving silver particles into polyester fabrics, starting an anti-stink arms race that continues today. Merino brands blend wool with Lycra to reduce bagginess, while others are looking into materials like zinc, which kills bacteria, and even coffee grounds, which can be incorporated into recycled polyester to absorb odor molecules.

O’NEILL, JACK Fig. (48) A former commercial ďŹ sherman widely credited with inventing the neoprene wetsuit. The attribution is incorrect—most historians now believe California

physicist Hugh Bradner came up with it. (See Wetsuit, page 86.) But no one did a better job of making the wetsuit cool than Denver native O’Neill, a water-loving businessman who opened his ďŹ rst surf shop near San Francisco in 1952. O’Neill offered essential additions, including a stretchy nylon laminated onto the neoprene. More crucially, he popularized the image of the wetsuitclad surfer, including one memorable ad that read “It’s Always Summer on the Insideâ€? and featured a topless woman pulling on one of his suits. “He was a bearded one-eyed NorCal Don Draper,â€? says Matt Warshaw, author of The Encyclopedia of SurďŹ ng.

OUTSIDE KNIFE Fig. (49) A yellow knock-off Swiss Army knife (see page 53) given away by Outside to new subscribers from the early nineties through 2008. The corkscrew was as stout as cooked fusilli. The saw struggled to get through Brie. The knife read, simply, Stainless China, which raises the question: Just what was the official Outside magazine pocket knife made of? We’re still not sure.


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Fig. (48)

ILLUSTRATIONS by TIM TOMKINSON

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Lifeline

If you believe survivalist bloggers, p-cord can save your skin in all kinds of scenarios. 1. Stem bleeding with an improvised tourniquet. 2. Set up a trip wire to alert you to intruders.

3. Hang a makeshift hammock when ďŹ re ants raid your campsite. 4. Jury-rig a knife into a spear to fend off feral pigs. 5. Repair a ďŹ shing net using the cord’s inner ďŹ bers.

Fig. (51) PACK RAFT Fig. (50) A small inatable raft that can be rolled up to ďŹ t in a backpack. In 1982, Roman Dial, a pioneering backcountry explorer, was competing in the Alaska Wilderness Classic, an early adventure race

coated nylon stitched or glued together, tended to bust apart in rapids. Tingey, a former skiapparel designer, decided to build a better one in 2000, when her son tried to travel the Brooks Range with a stitched and glued raft that deated, she says, “every hour on the hour.â€? She toyed with fabrics that would allow for big tube frames: PVC (too heavy), Hypalon (required gluing), and, ďŹ nally, urethane, which could be welded together to create a durable seam. In 2002, she sold the ďŹ rst Alpacka rafts, opening up the sport to a wider market of adventure crazies.

P-CORD Fig. (51) Parachute cord, also known as paracord, the world’s most versatile survival tool. Amid a silk shortage during World War II, the U.S. military began using

four-millimeter-thick suspension lines made from nylon, a recent DuPont invention, to connect a parachute’s canopy to a jumper’s pack. P-cord is now the go-to item to repair torn clothing in the ďŹ eld, bind together tent poles, or construct webbing for makeshift hammocks and snowshoes. Pull apart the inner strands and you have ďŹ shing line, dental oss, or thread that’s good enough to suture a wound. In 1997, astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery famously used p-cord to repair damaged insulation on the Hubble Space Telescope. The latest application is the p-cord bracelet, a wearable survival multitool with builtin implements. “They’re easy to make, so everyone and their grandmother is making them,â€? says Dustin Hogard, who claims that his company, Wazoo Survival Gear, was the ďŹ rst.

Fig. (50)

66 O u t s i d e

on the Kenai Peninsula. As Dial was scouting the Moose River for a good place to swim across, Dick Griffith, another legendary hardman, came up behind Dial, took off his pack, and unfurled a pilot’s survival raft. Griffith donned a Viking hat and oated across, leaving Dial and his competitors behind. “After that, about 30 Alaska crazies formed this hardcore group of people who wanted boats to get around on their adventures,â€? says Sheri Tingey, founder of Coloradobased Alpacka Raft, the ďŹ rst large-scale commercial pack-raft company. Âś Early rafts were based on Griffith’s model, which he’d also used to descend Mexico’s Copper Canyon. (Huzzah, Dick!) But those pilot bail-out boats were designed for the ocean, not whitewater. Subsequent models, made using thin, urethane-

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PLASTICS

Fleeced Washing a single polyester jacket can send 1,900 tiny synthetic microfibers into waterways, where they can soak up toxins and get eaten by fish. So what is the outdoor industry doing about it? by M A R Y C A T H E R I N E O ’ C O N N O R Gregg Treinish is dismayed about what is coming out of his washing machine. “What I’m seeing is shocking. Every couple of weeks, I clean out the ďŹ lter and put the contents in a 32-ounce Ball jar,â€? says the founder of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), a nonproďŹ t that trains outdoor enthusiasts to collect data for environmental researchers. After roughly two months, Treinish says, “the bottle is more than half-full of the crap that would have otherwise been shed right into the waterway.â€? That crap is thousands of synthetic ďŹ bers shed from Treinish’s clothing during

thetic ďŹ bers, mostly polyester and acrylic, in sediments along beaches the world over, with the highest concentrations appearing near wastewater-disposal sites. That strongly suggested that the microďŹ bers came from apparel, a hunch he checked by filtering 1,900 fibers found in the wastewater from washing a single eece jacket. A similar study at VU University Amsterdam in 2012 estimated that laundry wastewater is sending around two billion synthetic microďŹ bers per second into Europe’s waters. Of course, wool and cotton clothing sheds fibers, too. But those materials biodegrade. Plastics contain

rivers than microbeads from shampoo and body wash, which have been banned in seven states. “We tested effluent from wastewater-treatment plants and found that 85 percent of the plastic it contained was fibers, whereas beads and other fragments only made up 13 percent,â€? says Sherri Mason, a professor of chemistry at the State University of New York at Fredonia. “Is it rocket science to assume those ďŹ bers are going to end up in some body of water?â€? So while Treinish’s halffull Ball jar might not seem like a big deal, it represents a very thin slice of an incalculably large pie. And he believes that manufacturers

“Hey, I live in Maine, and I could not live W I T H O U T M Y F L E E C E ,� s a i d o n e s c i e n t i s t . “The big

question is:

Fig. (52) Scientists are just now learning how dirty our laundry is.

68 O u t s i d e

WHERE SHOULD WE BE

wash cycles (he captures them in an aftermarket ďŹ lter), and the waterway is Montana’s Gallatin River. Treinish, whose organization receives financial support from a number of outdoor-gear companies, recently launched a campaign to track the ow of those ďŹ bers into fresh water. He plans to share that data with his funders. What’s so bad about a few plastic threads? In 2011, British ecologist Mark Anthony Browne published a study describing the discovery of micron-scale syn-

potentially harmful additives and can absorb toxins, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), that they encounter oating in waterways—and then get ingested by small organisms, crustaceans, and ďŹ sh. These particles can accumulate in the animals’ guts and tissues, potentially weakening immunity or disrupting their endocrine systems. Less is known about how that payload may accumulate up the food chain. New research shows that microďŹ bers are even more abundant in our lakes and

using plastic?â€? are going to have to address their role in microďŹ ber pollution sooner rather than later. “Apparel companies are realizing that once news about microďŹ bers hits the mainstream media,â€? Treinish says, “they’re going to have some major issues to contend with.â€? In 2013, Browne tried to form a coalition with big outdoor-industry brands, including Patagonia and Polartec, to track microďŹ bers to their manufacturers. Most of the companies that responded declined to join

Browne’s effort, saying they wanted to learn more about the problem—and how serious their role in it is. That’s a hard question to answer. According to 2010 ďŹ gures from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly half of all the clothes bought in developed countries—and 68 percent in the developing world—are synthetic. Your home is likely festooned with synthetic ďŹ bers as well, from carpeting to couch covers. But how often do you wash those items, compared with your polyester base layers, ski socks, eece jackets, and pullovers? Much of the clothing in question isn’t gear at all— hello, jeggings! But outdoor brands have long relied on the performance attributes of synthetic fabrics. Combined with chemical coatings and membranes, they can be both waterproof and breathable. While warm, odor-resistant wool has recently seen a bump in use for outdoor apparel, the market’s dependence on synthetics hasn’t changed. As one industry source pointed out to me, so far there is no miracle fiber that is both high performing and environmentally benign. Conventionally grown cotton, for instance, requires signiďŹ cantly more water to produce than synthetics, utilizes far more land, and relies heavily on fertilizers and pesticides. And some manufacturers, environmentalists, and scientists, including Browne, suggest

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P L A S T I C S C O N T ’ D.

that the appliance industry should bear some of the responsibility, since washing machines don’t filter out small particles and add-on ďŹ lters like the ones Treinish uses, which are designed to keep lint out of septic tanks, still don’t catch the tiniest ďŹ bers. That said, the performance-apparel community is beginning to look inward. The Outdoor Industry Association’s Sustainability

Fig. (53)

“ E v e r y t h i n g w e l e a r n w i l l b e u s e f u l ,� S A Y S A D A M F E T C H E R , Pa t a g o n i a ’s c o m m u n i c a t i o n s

d i re c to r, “ wh et h e r we f i n d t h at we a re

p a r t o f t h e p r o b l e m o r n o t. � Macro Mess Maine researcher Abigail Barrows is testing water samples from the world’s oceans, collected by members of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. Almost every one has contained plastics.

426 One-liter samples Barrows has tested.

94% Percentage containing microplastics.

84% Percentage of those that were microďŹ bers.

316 Pieces of microplastics found in one sample from the North Atlantic.

98% Percentage that were microďŹ bers.

70 O u t s i d e

Working Group, which represents 250 companies, has started to examine the issue, with cooperation from marine-debris specialists at the Ocean Conservancy. The investigation is still in its infancy, cautions Beth Jensen, OIA’s director of corporate responsibility. “You can’t mobilize an industry around an issue until you have all the facts,â€? she says. “But we do recognize the urgency around microďŹ bers, and we want to move forward.â€? Among individual brands, Patagonia has taken the most concrete steps in that direction. Though it declined Browne’s request to work together, the company is collaborating with the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara to identify which synthetic materials in its supply chain shed ďŹ bers. “Everything we learn from this project will be useful information,â€? says Adam

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Fetcher, Patagonia’s communications director, “whether we ďŹ nd that we are part of the problem or not part of the problem or somewhere in between.â€? Other brands I called, like Polartec and the North Face, elected not to comment. Columbia Sportswear, which was the target of an online petition initiated by anti-plastics group the Story of Stuff, provided a statement from Peter Haney, its manager of corporate responsibility. “Columbia is in the early stages of reviewing Dr. Browne’s initial research,â€? he wrote. “We will continue to be involved through industry-wide collaborations like OIA’s Sustainability Working Group.â€? For now, the most signiďŹ cant progress is taking place in Europe, where a new research consortium called Mermaids, funded by the European Commission and promoted by the Netherlands’ Plastic Soup

Foundation, is dedicated to reducing microfiber shedding by 70 percent.The ďŹ rst step is to identify the worst culprits. Browne and others are working to develop a process that can trace a polyester or nylon thread back to its point of origin by identifying the ďŹ ngerprint left behind by manufacturing dyes and chemicals. The plastics in medical implants go through a battery of certifications before they’re used in human bodies, he argues. Why shouldn’t consumer plastics undergo equally rigorous trials to determine their impact on aquatic ecosystems? That may be a long way off. “Hey, I live in Maine, and I could not live without my fleece,â€? says Kara Lavender Law, a microplastics researcher at the Sea Education Association. “The big question is: Where should we be using plastic? It’s clearly a very useful, beneďŹ cial material, but maybe it’s time to reconsider wool or other materials that were replaced with synthetics.â€? In the meantime, Treinish’s citizen scientists will begin taking to the waters of Montana this September, sampling tubes in hand. None of them, he says, will be wearing eece. O

POLARIZATION A lens technology that cuts glare created when light reects off materials like plastic and glass. In 1929, the founder of Polaroid, Edwin Land, wanted to ďŹ gure out how to cut glare in car windshields, so he built a huge ďŹ lter: a layer of stretchedout polyvinyl alcohol and iodine crystals whose pattern of parallel lines blocked glare-producing polarized light waves while allowing other light waves to pass through. This layer was sandwiched between layers of tint, UV ďŹ lters, and antiscratch treatment. The company added polarization to the sights for American tank gunners in World War II, fashion designers started using it in sunglasses in the ďŹ fties, and Nascar drivers like Richard Petty popularized it in the seventies. In the eighties, companies like Costa and Smith began selling polarized ďŹ shing sunglasses that allowed anglers to see beneath the surface of the water, and the concept spread to other sports. Today it’s difficult to ďŹ nd a pair of sporty shades that aren’t polarized.

I L L U ST R AT I O N by T I M TO M K I N S O N






ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

boiling water through grounds held in a paper ďŹ lter. The process is said to extract more avor than most other methods because the coffee’s oils and essences are retained, which is the reason pourovers have gained such traction with the hipster set. But pour-over brewing is also arguably the fastest and tidiest way to make a cup of coffee in the ďŹ eld. All that’s required is a drip funnel, a number four ďŹ lter, and a heat source.

POWERBAR

Fig. (54)

PORTALEDGE Fig. (53) A collapsible sleeping platform for climbers. Alpinists doing multiday, big-wall climbs used to sleep in hammocks, which they hated, because they’d wake up every few hours with their shoulders scrunched. In 1969, brothers Greg and Jeff Lowe designed the

ďŹ rst portaledge out of aluminum tubing and Dacron nonstretch fabric. Greg used the “LURP tentâ€? on his ďŹ rst winter ascent of the northwest face of Yosemite’s Half Dome in 1972, but portaledges didn’t become ubiquitous until 1977, when climber Mike Graham started selling his nylon and aluminum “cliff dwellingsâ€?

I L L U ST R AT I O N by DA N I L O AG U TO L I

out of a van. Today, portaledges are “pretty much the same,� says Ken Yager, founder of the Yosemite Climbing Association, “with improved designs and stiffer corners.�

POUR-OVER COFFEE Fig. (54) A method of brewing coffee by passing near

The ďŹ rst portable energy bar. In 1983, Canadian distance runner Brian Maxwell was leading a marathon when he developed stomach problems and lost the race. So he and his wife-to-be, nutrition student Jennifer Biddulph, began cooking up energy foods in their Berkeley, California, kitchen, looking for a mix of carbs and protein without a lot of hard-todigest fat. In 1986, they settled on a concoction that included oat bran, milk proteins, and fructose syrup, and released two avors, Chocolate and Malt-Nut. Rubbery and full of multisyllabic ingredients, PowerBars tasted a bit like cardboard but undeniably started a revolution. By the time NestlĂŠ acquired PowerBar in 2000, grocery shelves were stacked with alternatives like Clif Bar and Balance Bar. Spurred by competition, PowerBar, since bought by Post Holdings, has added dried fruits and nuts to some of its bars, consigning its original taffy-like creation to the dustbin of history.

Outside

Stuck When the weather gets bad and you’re high on a wall, there’s only one thing to do: wait it out in your portaledge. Some stays are worse than others.

1998 Mike Libecki and two others are trapped for six days during their ďŹ rst ascent of the Walker Citadel on Canada’s Baffin Island.

2000 Roxanna Brock and Brian McCray are stranded by weather for 40 hours during a 25-day mountaineering competition in Russia.They take home the bronze.

2007 Dave Turner spends 34 days alone on Cerro Escudo in Patagonia, trying to ascend 25 pitches with 250 pounds of gear. He celebrates his 26th birthday on the wall.

2015 Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson take 11 and 8 portaledgebound rest days, respectively, while completing the ďŹ rst free ascent of Yosemite’s Dawn Wall.

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Golden Geese

Premium insulation comes at a price—a steadily rising one. COST PER POUND OF 900-FILL DOWN

2015 2014

Fig. (55)

2013

Down pioneer Eddie Bauer

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 $125

$100

$75

$50 $25

PUFFY Fig. (55)

Fig. (56)

72 O u t s i d e

A lightweight jacket insulated with duck or goose down or synthetic ďŹ ll. In 1935, 35-year-old Eddie Bauer, who owned a Seattle sporting-goods store, went on a winter ďŹ shing trip on the Olympic Peninsula. Hauling steelhead out of a steep canyon, Bauer became hypothermic when his perspiration froze. He recognized the need for a material lighter and more breathable than wool but equally warm— and thought back to something his uncle, a Russian soldier, had told

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him about troops using coats stuffed with feathers during the RussoJapanese War in 1904. Bauer took a prototype to climber and designer Ome Daiber, who initially made the coats. They weren’t the ďŹ rst of their kind—Woods Canada claims to have outďŹ tted a 1913 Arctic expedition with down parkas—but Bauer, who died in 1986, patented the ďŹ rst puffy, the Blizzard Proof.

PULASKI Fig. (56) A wildland-ďŹ reďŹ ghting tool that combines an ax and an adze and is

used to clear brush and small trees. The tool appeared in the 1800s but was perfected by the profession’s ďŹ rst hero, U.S. Forest Service ranger Ed Pulaski. In 1910, Pulaski and his 50-man crew were ďŹ ghting the Big Burn wildďŹ re near Wallace, Idaho. A wall of ames trapped the men in a canyon, and Pulaski forced them into a mine shaft. As the ďŹ re raged outside, some tried to ee the stiing mine. But to leave meant certain death. Pulaski blocked the entrance, drew his .44, and said, “The next man who tries to leave

the tunnel I will shoot.â€? Âś When the inferno passed, ďŹ ve men were dead from the smoke and heat. To exit, the survivors crawled over Pulaski’s body. “Come on outside, boys,â€? said one. “The boss is dead.â€? “Like hell he is,â€? Pulaski said, regaining consciousness. Âś After the Big Burn, grief overwhelmed Pulaski. He spent his ďŹ nal years in his Wallace blacksmith shop, reďŹ ning the tool that is now found in nearly every ďŹ re cache in America. But the inventor, who never patented it, made almost nothing. He died in 1931, nearly broke, in the town he’d risked his life to save.

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QUANTUM LEAP A rapid sequence of radical innovations, such as appeared in cycling between 1984 and 1987, the sport’s Age of Enlightenment.The following advances, all of which debuted within the same four-year span, permanently altered how we ride. Look PP65 clipless pedals (1984)

Fig. (57)

See Change Cycling isn’t the only sport to experience a period of hyperspeed advancement.

Skiing 1995–1998, 2002–2007 In 1995, ski manufacturers introduced sidecuts (called parabolics), allowing riders to carve turns more easily. In the following decade, freeskier Shane McConkey rode superwide boards with reverse camber (called rocker)—kicking off the era of powderhungry fat skis.

Running 2005–2012 Vibram debuted its glove-like FiveFingers, Born to Run became a bestseller, and suddenly every company in the industry was making minimalist shoes that let runners feel the ground beneath their feet.

Paddleboarding 2010–Present SUPs took off when companies realized they could sell them to inlanders.Though there are still just two basic kinds—V shaped for speed, U shaped for stability—designs now exist for everything from navigating whitewater to racing to multi-day expeditions.

74 O u t s i d e

Look didn’t invent the clipless pedal (a rudimentary version arrived in 1885), but the PP65 was the ďŹ rst big improvement in foot platforms since the turn of the century. Its genius was to borrow from ski-binding technology, allowing for safer entry and exit. Prior designs required riders to reach down and fumble with a locking mechanism, causing crashes. Bernard Hinault won the 1985 Tour de France while mashing PP65s, leading to their widespread adoption.

Shimano SIS drivetrain (1984)

Fig. (58) After the 1950 debut of the Campagnolo Gran Sport—the ďŹ rst modern derailleur— gear shifting remained a primitive technology for another 34 years. A frame-mounted lever pulled a cable and shifted the derailleur position on the gears, but if you under- or overshifted, the chain would skip. Shimano Index System (SIS) perfected the design of indented clicks that pull a ďŹ xed amount of cable and move the derailleur into alignment. Without index shifting, there would be no STI, the integrated braking and shifting levers used today on road and mountain bikes. There’d also be no electronic

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shifting, which could one day make mechanical shifting obsolete among serious cyclists.

SRM power meter (1986)

Fig. (59) In 1986, when athletes were still adapting to heart-rate training (see Heart-Rate Monitor,

page 46), German engineer Ulrich Schoberer realized his vision of attaching strain gauges to a bike’s drivetrain to measure a rider’s realtime power output. In contrast to heart-rate numbers, power data is uncorrupted by variables like terrain, weather, or a hangover, allowing for

more precise information to craft workouts. The SRM led to the biggest advances in training design since the interval.

Kestrel 4000 (1986)

Fig. (60) Who built the ďŹ rst production carbon-ďŹ ber bike? The answer to this bit of bar trivia is—wait






ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

Fig. (61)

Fig. (60)

Fig. (59)

Fig. (58)

Fig. (57) for it—Exxon. The oil giant’s 1975 Graftek, essentially a PR-motivated science project, was cycling’s ďŹ rst foray into the magical material, but since Exxon didn’t really care about sporting goods, its novelty item quickly disappeared. A decade later, Kestrel set the mold for almost every

carbon bike to follow. The fat-tubed 4000, adopted by triathletes, challenged conceptions of what a bike should look like and hinted at today’s aerodynamic shapes. Trek’s traditionallooking tube-and-lug 2500, which appeared the same year, introduced carbon to a mass audience.

ILLUSTRATION by STEVE NOBLE

Scott DH aerobars (1987)

Fig. (61) Scott’s Boone Lennon, a former U.S. Ski Team coach, created the ďŹ rst handlebars to approximate a downhill ski racer’s aero tuck—hence the DH—and reduce drag. They were designed for triathletes, but two

years later Greg LeMond showed up with aerobars (and a futuristic-looking aerodynamic helmet) for the ďŹ nal time trial of the Tour de France—and erased a 50-second deďŹ cit to bring home the maillot jaune. The lesson: if you don’t have aerobars, you’ll be outclassed in any race against the clock.

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Many Unhappy Returns

When gear designs fail, consumer-safety recall alerts cut right to the chase. “The head can separate from the shaft, rendering the tool useless for climbing or self-arrest.� —Black Diamond recall of Black Prophet Bent Shaft ice tool (1996) “The handle on the thermos bottles can break, causing the vacuum seal to fail and release organic, nontoxic charcoal powder insulation into the air. This can cause consumers to suffer short-term vision problems and temporary breathing problems.� —Stanley recall of 45,000 thermoses (2005) “When the bike arm bracket is moved to its down position, the pinch point has the potential to cause severe personal injury, including lacerations and/or amputations.� —Thule bike-rack recall (2007) “The cups can break if hit, posing a risk of serious injury hazard to athletes.� —Under Armour recall of 211,000 athletic cups (2009)

76 O u t s i d e

RECALL A request by a manufacturer, and usually the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), to return a product after the discovery of safety issues. When a company ďŹ nds a defect, it usually has 24 hours to alert the CPSC, which often investigates and collaborates with the brand to inform the public. There have been thousands of recalls of sports and recreation products since the CPSC began watchdogging in 1972. In April, Trek elected to recall the front-wheel release levers on close to a million bikes sold between 2000 and 2015, following the revelation that the vendorsupplied lever (which has been used by many other brands as well) can catch in the disc brake, causing the bike to come to a sudden stop—an extremely rare set of circumstances that tragically paralyzed one rider.

REPURPOSING Taking a product and adapting it for a different use. A cousin of reuse and recycling, repurposing is a design principle similar to the one described by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their 2002 book Cradle to Cradle, in which materials are reborn again and again, often in new forms. Patagonia, the most prominent example, repurposes plastic bottles to make eece for new jackets, a practice that started in 1993. Over the past decade, dozens of other companies have followed. Alchemy Goods makes

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Fig. (62)

wallets and bags out of old bike tubes. Kialoa Paddles makes blades out of diaper-manufacturing scraps. Manduka uses old yoga mats to make ip-ops. NSP makes SUPs from discarded coconut husks. Keen’s Harvest III backpack is made from automobile airbags that were never installed. And Indosole makes spent tires into sandals. Patagonia even took repurposing a step further with its experimental Truth to Materials Collection, a seven-piece line that included sweaters made from cuttingroom scraps and jackets fashioned from respun wool ďŹ bers.

ROBBINS, ROYAL Fig. (62) Climber, businessman, and archetype for the modern clean-climbing ethic, which espouses the use of removable protection instead of pounding pitons into rock. Robbins made numerous contributions to the gear world, importing European nuts and designing a climbing shoe with a steel shank for better rigidity. His best move may have been marrying Liz Burkner, who worked at Yosemite’s Ahwanee Hotel when Robbins climbed in the park in the early 1960s. (See Yvon Chouinard, page 51.) In 1965, the couple launched Moun-

tain Paraphernalia, which became Royal Robbins; Liz designed the ďŹ rst belay seat and the classic Billy Goat shorts, a precursor to both cargo shorts and 5.11 tactical pants, now ubiquitous among law enforcement.

ROLLERBLADE Fig. (63) A roller skate with soft, linearly arranged wheels offering fast, smooth glide. Inline skates existed as early as the 19th century, but they lacked shockabsorbing wheels and a means of stopping. The Rollerblade was born in 1979 when a 19-year-old Minnesota hockey player named Scott Olson modi-






ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

A Brief History of Running Shorts 1972 The Munich Mustached U.S. distance runners Frank Shorter and Steve Prefontaine compete in skimpy split shorts, cajoling millions into believing they’ll look just as cool.

1977 The Fixx

Fig. (64)

Former two-pack-a-day smoker James F. Fixx’s The Complete Book of Running features his legs in a pair of split shorts on the cover, igniting the American running craze.

1992 The Secret Service ďŹ ed an old pair of skates, adding softer wheels and a heel brake, to use as an off-season training tool. The sport was part of the ďŹ rst X Games, in 1995, and by 1997 it was a halfbillion-dollar industry.

And then—overtaken by skateboarding and the forces of cool—it wasn’t.

RUBBERMAID BIN Fig. (64) A polyethylene storage container commonly used

for gear. Rubbermaid’s company history touts the introduction of the rubber dustpan (1933) and the plastic garbage can (1962) as seminal moments in the history of American convenience. We’d argue

that nothing compares with the introduction of the Rubbermaid bin, which provided a storage unit, dresser, and portable kitchen for generations of dirtbags.

RUNNING SHORTS

Fig. (63)

ILLUSTRATIONS by TIM TOMKINSON

An instrument of mass exhibitionism. Whereas runners at the 1908 Olympics were required to wear “complete clothing from the shoulder to the knees,â€? the need for speed eventually threw modesty to the wind, and running shorts would gradually retreat to the hem of the wearer’s tighty-whities. Today, elite sprinters have embraced the spandex speed suit, after coaches successfully argued that loose fabric adds wind resistance. But split shorts—which, with their loose ďŹ t and divided outer seam, offer a wide range of motion—have held their place with longdistance fanatics and connoisseurs alike.

Outside

Bill Clinton and Al Gore exit a McDonald’s wearing matching short-shorts, designed to strike fear into the hearts of America’s enemies.

1992 The World Record Carl Lewis is among the last U.S. Olympians to sport shorts before sprinters started wearing speed suits to decrease wind resistance.

2007 The Tribute Nike releases a Prefontaine-era vintage collection; someone on eBay releases a pair of shorts embroidered with P RE L IVES .

2012 The Flasher Olympian Henrik Ingebrigtsen breaks a Norwegian record—and a few crucial crotch seams in his speed suit—during the 1,500-meter ďŹ nals in London, making fans pine for good ol’ shorts.

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SHELTER

Ban Together

Three resorts still prohibit snowboarding, but there are ways around that. ALTA, UTAH Poach It: Uphill trafďŹ c isn’t allowed during the resort season—but is before and after.

DEER VALLEY, UTAH Poach It: The heavily enforced ban on skinning up is easier to out when the resort is closed for the season. MAD RIVER GLEN, VERMONT Poach It: Uphill traffic is allowed when the lifts aren’t running.

Caves, tepees, wall tents, those green canvas triangles that caused hypothermia in so many Boy Scouts—in one form or another, ideas borrowed from these awed shelters appear in their modern descendents. But designs didn’t move forward until the late 1970s, when freethinking engineers at the North Face started toying with futuristic concepts. Here’s a look back at a few signiďŹ cant breakthroughs. The North Face Oval Intention

Fig. (65) Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes inspired the 1975 Oval Intention, but its construction was made possible by Easton Aluminum, a baseball-bat manufacturer that pro-

Fig. (65)

Fig. (70)

duced the tent’s revolutionary exible poles. For the next 20 years, dome designs reigned supreme. Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight

Fig. (66) In 2001, the Korean company DAC came up with plastic sockets that could be welded onto a tent’s exterior. This allowed poles to be attached to the tent rather than held in place by sleeves and grommets. Designers used the innovation to vary the lengths of poles and make new

architectural choices that saved weight. An iconic example: Sierra Designs’ nonfreestanding Clip Flashlight, weighing just under four pounds. Big Agnes Fly Creek

Fig. (67) After years of experimenting with increasingly light but tough materials, Big Agnes stunned tentmakers in 2009 with the two-pound, weatherproof—and mostly minimalist—Fly Creek backpacking tent. It remains a paragon of fast-and-light design.

Fig. (66)

Fig. (67) Fig. (68)

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Marmot Force

Fig. (68) This three-person, threeseason tent arrived in 2015 and was a welcome backlash to decades of spartan minimalism. Though the full-featured abode still weighs in at under four pounds, it makes numerous concessions to comfort, including side pockets for phones and a fully functioning vestibule to keep, say, a generator dry.

SNOWBOARDING Fig. (69) A snowsports alternative to skiing. In 1977, after adding bindings to his Snurfer, Jake Burton founded Burton, the ďŹ rst snowboard company. For the next decade, the former Wall Street investor led the upstart sport’s expansion by expertly cultivating snowboarding’s counter-culture image and simultaneously courting mainstream acceptance. (Free Taos! Free Alta!) By the nineties, snowboarding rivaled skiing in popularity, and as the sport siphoned away potential skiers, it also spurred its rival to modernize. Twin-tipped, rockered, and powderspeciďŹ c fat skis, which started appearing in 2002, all owe their existence to ideas developed by snowboard designers. Today, skiing, which has nearly eight million participants, has reclaimed its domi-

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 nance over snowboarding, which has six million, but the sport continues to take design cues from its rebellious cousin. Recently, snowboard ideas like Magne-Traction (a serrated-edge design) and a variety of cambers— the convex or concave shapes on the bottom of boards, intended to maximize performance in everything from ice to powder—have been adopted by ski shapers.

SNURFER A bindingless monoski invented in 1965. The skateboard for snow gave dedicated snurfer Jake Burton (see Snowboarding, opposite) the idea for the snowboard and nearly went extinct soon after.

SPORK Fig. (70) An eating utensil that adds fork tines to a spoon and never fails to amuse its users. The imperfect hybrid of unknown origin ďŹ rst appeared in the dictionary in 1909; it has since enjoyed a front-row view of history to rival Forrest Gump. A few highlights: General Douglas MacArthur allegedly gave sporks to Japanese prisoners to prevent them from attacking Allied soldiers with the pointed ends of forks or chopsticks (1940s); the utensil made a cameo in Disney’s Academy Award– winning Wall-E (2008); an independent musical—Spork—featured a hermaphrodite protagonist (2010); President Bill Clinton, in a nationally televised speech, compared the dual nature of his administration to a

ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

spork (1995); and, in a bizarre incident, a wouldbe robber attempted to hold up a bank in Anchorage, Alaska, with a spork from a local fried-chicken restaurant (2008). Âś One might assume, in the age of the expansive multitool (see Leatherman, page 54), that the implement’s cultural signiďŹ cance is on the wane, but recently the Swedish manufacturer Light My Fire reimagined it by positioning a fork at one end of a utensil and a spoon at the other. Though its creation does not meet MerriamWebster’s strictest deďŹ nition—“a spoon-shaped eating utensil with short tines at the front and that is usually plasticâ€?—Light My Fire has sold more than 20 million of them in 52 countries.

STOVE, PORTABLE A packable device producing ďŹ re for camp cooking. With all due respect to the Coleman two-burner, the Primus OmniFuel, and the Jetboil Flash, MSR’s Model 9, a lightweight, liquid-fuel burner, set the standard for the category. The stove dates back to the winter of 1969, when Larry Penberthy, an eccentric inventor, average mountaineer, and owner of a multimilliondollar industrial-glass company, penned a newsletter for his Seattlebased climbing club, the Mountaineers. He called his publication Mountain Safety Research, and though the tone could be hyperbolic, Penberthy was the rare advocate for accountability in

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the edgling outdoor industry. He and other club members stresstested products—ropes, carabineers, ice axes— and Penberthy would then publicly lambast any company whose equipment failed to meet their rigid safety standards. At one point, he raged about awed helmets that he said a local retailer, REI, and its CEO, American mountaineering legend Jim Whittaker, knew had problems. “Why doesn’t REI level with its customers?â€? Penberthy wrote. “Omission of such important information is concealment.â€? Âś Penberthy zeroed in on stoves after a number of area climbers came down with high-altitude pulmonary edema. Medical professionals had only recently diagnosed dehydration as a cause of HAPE. Meanwhile, the best portable stoves of the day took between 16 and 24 minutes to melt snow and boil a quart of water at altitude, a potentially fatal delay for climbers. Through testing, Penberthy made two key observations: (1) the era’s stoves wasted huge amounts of fuel by not trapping heat around the pot; and (2) most ran off heavy butane canisters—and the ones that didn’t were so inefficient that they had to be refueled after every use. He calculated that for mountaineers to boil a quart of water in just three minutes, they needed a stove that burned nine uid ounces of fuel per hour, almost 30 percent more than the best-performing backpacking stoves of the day. But rather than simply

rant about the problem, Penberthy decided to solve it. Âś Though many of his employees considered building climbing gear a lunatic endeavor for a glass company, Penberthy

Outside

Fig. (69) Jake Burton with a 1979 BB1 snowboard

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Strava Mining

Here’s what hundreds of millions of uploads have to say about our training habits.

Sunday The most popular day for riding and running.

Friday The least popular day.

8 A.M. The most common time for men and women to start a ride.

9 A.M. The most common time for women to start a run.

6 P.M. The most common time for men to start a run.

1 IN 4 Rides that are done with a group.

1 IN 2 Runs that are completed on routes that users have done before.

dedicated one corner of his manufacturing shop to stove development. Engineers were pulled off proďŹ table projects and told to design pumps to pressurize white gas and build ugly but functional heavy-duty heat shields out of aluminum foil. After three years and countless modiďŹ cations, early versions of the Model 9 had earned the nickname Krakatoa. At one point, a tester sparked the pressurizedgas stove on his front porch and his screen door went up in ames. On another occasion, a doctor and fellow Mountaineer accidentally burned down his house with a Model 9 prototype. Âś Eventually, the safety concerns were resolved. The resulting stove put off a “psychologically pleasingâ€? roar, according to Penberthy, and the featherweight 12-ounce unit, surrounded by a unique foldable aluminum wind shield, boiled a quart of water in just over three minutes at altitude. Penberthy brought it to market under the brand name MSR, and in 1981, having repaired his relationship with REI, he sold his new gear company to his old nemesis. The Model 9 still exists today, in the form of MSR’s XGK stove, which runs on anything from diesel to jet fuel.

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A pioneering social-ďŹ tness app released in 2009. Strava tracks a user’s performance on a bike ride or run, then posts the data to a public forum— resulting in either local glory or motivational shaming. There were

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dozens of social-ďŹ tness platforms tracking workouts at the time of Strava’s launch; the app’s signature genius was in developing the King of the Mountain feature. Competitive users attempt to achieve KOM status and bragging rights by logging the fastest ride on a route or a section of a route, called a segment. (The rabid pursuit of KOMs was infamously cited in a 2012 lawsuit ďŹ led against Strava, in which the family of Bay Area cyclist William “Kimâ€? Flint claimed that he was killed as a result of reckless riding while he was attempting a new fastest time; the suit was dismissed.) The app is also credited with the rise of virtual racing. In 2014, the Strava Climbing Challenge, which encouraged users to “climb the cumulative elevation of Mt. Everest in 20 days or lessâ€? attracted 47,611 cyclists from around the world. The app credits the winner with 330,715 feet in 23 rides.

SUP Fig. (71) Short for stand-up paddleboard, a stable oating platform that combines the cool of surďŹ ng with the practicality of a spin workout. SUP has its roots in Hawaii, where native people have used paddleboards for centuries and modern versions began to appear in the 1940s. How it became a worldwide phenomena 60 years later depends on who you ask. Two competing narratives persist: The ďŹ rst has Laird Hamilton adopting SUP during Hawaii’s Buffalo Big Board contest

Fig. (71) Boga’s El Rey bamboo SUP

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 in 2003; when the surf media picked up a photo of the moment, the sport had its fertile seed. The second, more Hollywoodfriendly version stars a little-known Vietnam vet named Rick Thomas who brought an enormous 11-foot SUP from Hawaii to California in 2000. He then had a friend handcraft a paddle so he could surf waves “the old way.� Whichever is true, the resulting interest from mainstream media (this magazine featured Hamilton on a SUP on its cover in 2002) and passionate practitioners made the sport a rare growth area during the recession. In just eight years, SUP went from being a fringe pursuit with effectively zero participants to a widely uttered acronym with 1.9 million devotees. In 2013, paddleboarding grew 29 percent, outpacing all other sports tracked by the Outdoor Industry Association, with oft ridiculed offshoots like SUP yoga continuing to thrive as well.

SUSPENSION, MOUNTAIN BIKE Telescoping front forks and articulating rear frame triangles that absorb bumps and shocks. Inspired by motorcycle design, the 1989 advent of mountain-bike suspension allowed riders to go harder and faster; it also spawned nearly every signiďŹ cant bike evolution that appeared in its wake, including the tapered steerer tubes and powerful disc brakes that are now rebounding back into road bikes. Here’s how the category evolved.

ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

Suspension fork (1989)

Fig. (72) Invented by Paul Turner, the original RockShox RS-1 had a then astonishing 1.9 inches of travel. Haters complained that it was inefficient, unreliable, and heavy (over three pounds), and they were probably right, but the RS-1 was proof of concept. Within two years, at least nine competitors vied for market share as the mountainbike-suspension category exploded. Today’s forks can have eight or more inches of travel. Horst Link rear suspension (1994)

Fig. (73) Perhaps no problem bedeviled bike designers more than efficient rear suspension. In early designs, all the force put into pedaling also went right into the rear suspension, creating a maddening inchworm effect. The Horst Link did a passable job of isolating pedaling and braking forces. Inventor Horst Leitner’s AMP Research licensed the patent, then sold it to Specialized in 1998, which promptly made bajillions on it as the Future Shock Rear (FSR) design. Although the main patent expired in 2013, it still forms the basis for rear suspensions on Specialized bikes and a host of others. Virtual Pivot Point rear suspension (1995)

Fig. (74) In 1995, around the same time that FSR was cementing itself as the best suspension design of the era, Outland’s

ILLUSTRATIONS by STEVEN NOBLE

Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) arrived as a challenger. The idea was simple: since the best location for a suspension linkage’s main pivot can vary depending on conditions, that point should oat (hence “virtualâ€?), depending on the alignment of the secondary pivots in the linkage. (Or maybe the idea wasn’t so simple; the design, after all, was revolutionary.) The 1995 Outland VPP might have killed FSR had the Outland bike company not died instead. Santa Cruz revived the design for 2001’s Blur, making that bike the ďŹ rst fullsuspension rig that performed as well as bikes with the Horst Link did. A galaxy of similarly inspired designs have since appeared, including Ibis’s DW-Link and Yeti’s Switch InďŹ nity. Fox Air Vanilla Float shock (1999)

Fig. (72)

Fig. (73)

Fig. (74)

Fig. (75) Prior to Fox’s Air Vanilla Float shock, most rear mountain-bike suspension featured a metal-coil design borrowed from motorsports. It rode well, but the spring added a pound or more—an unacceptable penalty in a human-powered sport where weight considerations drive nearly every design decision. Lighter air-sprung shocks existed, but they had complicated internal workings, were difficult to adjust, and were prone to failure. The Float was the ďŹ rst shock to seamlessly integrate two air-compression chambers, making it both lighter and the best performer on the market.

Fig. (75)

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SUUNTO VECTOR

Fig. (77)

It’s Pronounced TEH-vuh There are a few other company names you’re probably saying wrong. V I B R A M: VEE-brum DY NA F I T: DEE-nuh-ďŹ t MA MMUT: Ma-MOOT MI LL E T: Me-YAY S O R E L: SORE-ul PATAG O N I A : Pa-tuh-GOO-chee

The original smartwatch. Before the Vector, there were watches that could tell you the temperature, watches that featured a compass, and watches that could measure altitude. The Vector, unveiled in 1998, was the ďŹ rst to do all three (and added a barometer), becoming the alpinist’s timepiece of choice and paving the way for modern multitasking wrist jewelry.

T TECH BINDING

Fig. (76) A lightweight binding system that transformed backcountry skiing and put telemarking on the path to obsolescence. The Tech was developed by Austrian Fritz Barthel and introduced in Europe in 1984 by DynaďŹ t, though it was slow to catch on in North America. The relatively barebones binding, which includes a front piece with two small pins that lock into a user’s boot, allowed alpine skiers to free their heels for touring and then lock them in for descents. DynaďŹ t held the patent on the bindings until 2007, and now G3, Marker, and others have joined the fray.

TENTH MOUNTAIN DIVISION

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An Army outďŹ t specializing in mountain warfare,

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Fig. (76)

devised during World War II around the idea that it was easier to make troops out of skiers than skiers out of troops. Though the elite Tenth Mountain helped oust the Nazis from Italy six days before the Germans officially surrendered, its legacy is most visible today on U.S. trails and ski slopes. Gear developed and used by the division is still relevant, and, says historian David Little, “The sale of [Tenth Mountain Division] surplus tents, stoves, and sleeping bags spawned the hiking and backpacking industry.â€? Âś During the two years that they were actively engaged in World War II, Tenth Mountain soldiers were among the ďŹ rst troops to carry state-of-the-art outdoor gear, including synthetic lightweight tents and rain ies, highaltitude stoves, mummystyle down sleeping bags, ski wax, and metal-edged skis. The Tenth Mountain

Division also famously employed the ďŹ rst portable tram. The gondola was key to breaking through German lines planted in the hard-to-reach crags of Italy’s Mount Cappel Buso in February 1945. At night, 700 Tenth Mountain troops used nylon ropes—also developed during the war—to scale a 1,500-foot cliff face. At the top, they overtook 70 stunned Germans who were defending a position that was considered impenetrable. While under ďŹ re from continuous counterattacks, Tenth Mountain engineers erected a tram that evacuated injured soldiers and shuttled more than ďŹ ve tons of ammunition and supplies to the precarious ridgetop position. Âś After the war, members of the Tenth Mountain Division combined their expertise with the tram and their passion for the outdoors to revolutionize skiing. Lifts, including the world’s

ďŹ rst double chairs, were designed and erected by Tenth Mountain veterans at ski resorts in Colorado and throughout the American West, including Aspen, Loveland, and Mount Bachelor. Among the division’s veterans were David Brower, who would become a Sierra Club president; Bill Bowerman (see page 15), who cofounded Nike; and Paul Petzoldt, the famed alpinist who established the National Outdoor Leadership School.

TEVA SANDAL Fig. (77) A water shoe that came to deďŹ ne a generation of river athletes. The shoe was developed in 1983 by Mark Thatcher, a Grand Canyon rafting guide, after he got tired of losing his ip-ops in the river. His solution was a rugged, rubber-soled platform with Velcro straps hefty enough to clench your feet while swimming

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 in rough whitewater and survive the day-today abuse of rafting and hiking. Teva sandals are now ubiquitous among outdoor enthusiasts. The company also spawned more than a dozen brands vying for space in the new footwear category— including Chaco and Keen—and launched the unfortunate cottonsocks-with-sandals look.

THERM-A-REST The ďŹ rst mass-market inatable sleeping pad. Perhaps a billion decent nights’ sleep in the backcountry owe a debt of gratitude to a once slumping aeronautics ďŹ rm. In 1971, when Seattle-based Boeing laid off 15,000 employees, two of its newly jobless engineers, Jim Lea and Neil Anderson, took refuge in a garage and tinkered until they invented the selfinating air mattress. (A third founder, John Burroughs, managed to hold onto his Boeing job.) The product’s ďŹ rst run was produced in a machine shop out of the same bright yellow material used to make life jackets. Machine grease still coated the pads when they were delivered to REI, where they went for $17, but they sold out anyway. Today, Therm-a-Rest pads come in dozens of shapes and sizes and remain a top-selling product for parent company Cascade Designs, which now owns MSR as well (see Stove, Portable, page 79).

THULE A company founded by Swedish outdoorsman Erik Thulin, originally to make ďŹ shing gear. It rose

ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

to prominence in the 1960s after producing equipment that enabled people to carry gear atop their vehicles. While that transition began with the ďŹ rst ski rack, in 1962, Thule now makes cargo boxes, hitch-mounted bike carriers, and even technical backpacks.

TOMPKINS, DOUG Businessman and crusading conservationist who cofounded the North Face and Esprit. Relying on knowledge gained through decades of rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, and mountaineering, Tompkins created TNF in San Francisco as a mailorder gear company that produced cutting-edge tents and hard goods beginning in the 1960s. Like his expedition partner and contemporary Yvon Chouinard (see page 51), Tompkins helped shape the technology-andperformance mission of the modern outdoor industry. In the seventies, he founded women’sapparel-and-footwear company Esprit with then wife Susie Buell. Today, the North Face moves more than $2 billion in product every year, and Esprit’s public stock is valued at more than $14 billion. Tompkins has since disavowed capitalism and lives in Patagonia, where he puts his efforts into conservation.

example is Carhartt. First created by Hamilton Carhartt for Michigan railroad workers in 1889, the pants have always prioritized durability over style and are most often covered in stains

paired with a strong work ethic and the aroma of chopped wood or motor oil. They are also prized by climbers, who appreciate their aptitude for holding up in a variety of conditions.

Fig. (78) Carhartt’s Duck Work dungarees

TOUGH-ASS PANTS Fig. (78) A term for rugged work trousers that are particularly good at handling abuse. While it can apply to any long-lasting britches, the most notable

I L L U ST R AT I O N by T I M TO M K I N S O N

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Totally Loaded The 2015 Xtracycle EdgeRunner has a 400-pound carrying capacity. That opens up a lot of possibilities. The Stoked Dad Two 10-year-olds (140 lbs) Two skateboards (10 lbs) Launch ramp (35 lbs) The Block Partier Propane grill and tank (155 lbs) Suckling pig (20 lbs) Trussing string and spit (10 lbs) The Cinephile HD projector and screen (15 lbs) PA system (210 lbs) The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration on Blu-ray (1 lb)

USGS TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP A detailed representation of a landscape, created by the United States Geological Survey, and a rare example of something every bit as beautiful as it is useful. The charts were the brainchild of Major John Wesley Powell, the explorer who made the ďŹ rst European passage through the Grand Canyon in 1884. Trading on his newfound inuence, he successfully persuaded Congress to establish a corps of topographic engineers to draw up a national system of maps. From 1884 to 1894, Powell’s division mapped over 600,000 square miles of territory. The original topographical maps (called “toposâ€?) were primarily made in the ďŹ eld using tape, a compass, and an aneroid barometer, which measures air pressure to

detect changes in elevation. By the 1940s, aerial photographs were used. Survey teams documented man-made and natural features, hiked mountains and trails, and even veriďŹ ed place names by interviewing local residents. The resulting maps were richly detailed, valued by those who frequented the backcountry, and occasionally hung on dorm-room walls. Âś In 2008, the USGS phased out these labor-intensive methods in favor of computer-generated renderings that used satellite data in place of ďŹ eldwork. The new maps are faster to produce, but they’ve been criticized for inaccuracy and lack of detail. (Satellites tend to miss things like power lines and railroad tracks.) Furthermore, serious adventurers scoff at the new shaded-relief versions of the maps. A contour map can be read

upside down or sideways, allowing users to match a map’s position to their own, whereas the hillshaded versions depict all slopes from a northwest aspect, which can cause peaks to look like valleys unless looked at from that orientation. œ Paper maps can still be bought at most outdoor stores or through the USGS online database (ngmdb.usgs .gov). The digital versions are available through the Topo Maps app, which allows users to navigate even without cell service—at least until the battery runs out.

UTILITY BIKE Fig. (79) A bicycle built for hauling children, gear, or grocery bags full of organic quinoa and local honey. Bikes have been used for practical uses around the world since their creation; while that’s still the case in many developing countries, in

the United States the vast majority are used purely for recreation. That began to change in 1998, after Ross Evans returned to the Bay Area from Nicaragua, where he worked for the nonproďŹ t Bikes Not Bombs and became convinced that bicycles could replace automobiles for many everyday errands. He set about building a model suited to the purpose, extending the frame and adding a platform over the rear wheel to carry passengers and goods. Thus began Xtracycle, a company whose success spurred a wave of cargo-bike frames by Kona, Surly, Yuba, and others. Increasingly, cargo bikes are being outďŹ tted with electric pedal-assist motors, enabling riders to transport small-batch broods up steep inclines like those encountered by hipster parents in adventurous burgs like Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco.

Fig. (79) Xtracycle’s EdgeRunner 24D

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VACUUM, DOUBLE Fig. (80) A technology dating back to 1892 that suspends one container inside another, leaving a small amount of

Fig. (80)

ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

air between the two to insulate the inner contents from external temperature changes. (Shorter: Your coffee stays hot.) A modern thermos can keep cocoa steaming for hours in the backcountry. More important, the emergence of double-vacuum steins have doomed the beer koozie to irrelevance.

VASQUE SUNDOWNER Fig. (81) A svelte hiking boot that serves as a testament to how well-made products can endure despite evolving design trends. Launched in 1984, today’s Sundowner is nearly identical to that ďŹ rst boot, with an outer made of a single piece of 2.6-millimeter-thick leather, a Gore-Tex liner, and a rubber outsole. Its loyal fans know it as simply “the best boot ever.â€?

VELCRO Fig. (82) A two-piece fastening material that features hooks on one side and a swath of loops on the other. When pressed together, the sides entwine like a weed’s spiked seedpod clutching your wool sweater. Indeed, Swiss George de Mestral got the idea from burrs sticking to his pant legs in 1941, making it an early example of biomimicry in industrial design. Velcro’s outdoor applications include hard-shell cuffs, ski-boot power straps, and messenger-bag closures. One drawback: the stuff is loud.

VIBRAM Fig. (83) A vulcanized-rubber sole that revolutionized footwear. In 1935, Italian designer Vitale Bramani witnessed a mountaineering accident that left six close friends dead after they slipped on ice. Like all climbers of the day, they were wearing hobnail boots, which achieved traction and durability through a pattern of short nails pounded into the boot sole. Climbing

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Fig. (83) Vibram’s FiveFinger

in hobnail boots was good for some conditions, terrifying and painful for others. Bramani spent two years developing a rubberized lugged sole that could hold crampons. His Vibrams eventually eclipsed hobnail boots in mountaineering, and the soles are now ubiquitous in all kinds of footwear. In 2006, the arrival of minimalist running prompted mass interest in the company’s FiveFinger water shoes. Five years later, however, Vibram paid $3.8 million to settle a lawsuit claiming that the company exaggerated the shoes’ health beneďŹ ts.

Outside

Fig. (82)

Fig. (81)

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W

WAFFLE Fig. (84)

The Money Pit Westfalias are notoriously breakdown prone. Still thinking of getting one? A cost-beneďŹ t analysis.

$120 Leaky fuel line (frequent cause of engine ďŹ res).

$160 Failed rubber coolant line.

$700–$1,200 Worn-out canvas pop-top tent.

$3,000 Blown head gasket.

Priceless Sense of superiority at the trailhead.

A repeating inverted cube shape adopted by sporting-goods manufacturers, beginning with Nike, which used the pattern on the sole of its iconic waffle trainer. (See Bowerman, Bill, page 18.) The shape was originally intended to replace common track spikes with a more efficient sole, but runners found that the springiness lent itself to all manner of terrain. In 2000, Polartec created a “symmetrical grid pattern� (the company calls it Power Grid) that’s fast-wicking, breathable, and lightweight. The material is now used by L.L.Bean, the North Face, and Patagonia.

WESTFALIA Fig. (85) A breed of Volkswagen camper van prone to expensive repairs, yet beloved by those who own them and coveted by road-trip dreamers everywhere. According to legend, the prototype was developed in 1951, when automotive contractor Westfalia-Werke retroďŹ t-

Fig. (84)

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ted the ďŹ rst Volkswagen camper for a British army officer who hoped to turn his transit van into a home. The result: a double-doored “camping boxâ€? with built-in furniture and decorative curtains. The camper was such a success that Westfalia followed it with a full production run, adding a kitchen, optional AWD (on Syncro models), and, in 1965, a pop top. Thousands were sold before Daimler-Chrysler purchased Westfalia-Werke in 2001 and ceased collaboration with VW. A subsequent cottage industry of repair and refurbishing shops has developed, with rebuilt vans selling for upwards of $90,000. Icons of the heritage movement, Westfalias are among the most popular subjects on Instagram.

WETSUIT An insulating garment that allows individuals to spend more time in cold water. It has been especially inuential in the history of scuba diving and surďŹ ng. “Take away the wetsuit and you’ve lopped off 70 percent of the places where people surf and 90 percent of the hours they can put in,â€? says Matt Warshaw, who runs the website EncyclopediaOfSurďŹ ng .com. The ďŹ rst wetsuit was created in the 1950s out of neoprene, an invention some attribute to surfer Jack O’Neill (see page 64) and others to University of California at Berkeley physicist Hugh Bradner. The new creation was surprisingly slow to catch on. “Back then there was a ma-

chismo attached to surfing. You went out there, froze, lit some tires on the beach to get warm, and did it all again,â€? says Warshaw. “The sport was for tough guys. If you wore a wetsuit, you were mocked for being a sissy.â€? According to legend, that all changed when surfer and diver Bev Morgan enlisted board manufacturers to outďŹ t

their athletes in the new neoprene suits, branded with company logos. A week later, the best surfers in California were all wearing them. The suit has also been useful in activities like kiteboarding and triathlon, allowing individuals to work in open water in varied seasons. Over time, designs have become more diverse, ranging

ILLUSTRATIONS by TIM TOMKINSON






ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

Fig. (85) A 1975 VW Westfalia

from one-millimeterthick, torso-only versions (called shorties) to tenmillimeter-thick, fullbody suits for submersion in polar seas. Though most suits are still made with neoprene, companies like Patagonia are working with more eco-friendly materials—like Yulex, derived from the guayule plant—that don’t rely on petroleum.

WHEEL, THE PERFECT SIZE Fig. (86) An elusive and controversial hoop that allows mountain bikers the ability to optimize progress over rocky terrain. For decades, mountain-bike wheels were 26 inches in diameter—light and agile but inept on larger obstacles. The late aughts and early teens saw the

sudden rise of bikes with 29-inch wheels (so-called 29ers), which effortlessly clear large rocks and logs but are unwieldy for smaller riders. Recently, the 650B, 27.5-inch wheel has come into favor for occupying the Goldilocks-style middle ground—not too big, not too small, just right. At least for now. (See “Runaway Ination,â€? page 36.)

Fig. (86)

26"

27.5"

Outside

29"

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87






W

WINGSUIT

Fly Guy What do world-famous pilots like Jeb Corliss and Joby Ogwyn have in common? They all wear suits sewn by Tony Uragallo, a garden-loving grandfather who helps daring men zoom through the sky. by M A T T H I G G I N S

“I’m a trial and error dude, not a mathematician,â€? Tony Uragallo tells me in a bright Cockney accent. It sounds harmless enough, until you consider that Uragallo, a short 61-year-old with thinning white hair, skin freckled by the sun, and a hitch in his gait from a skydiving accident decades ago, is the world’s preeminent wingsuit maker. His suits have been used to set world records for the longest, farthest, and fastest ights. If

hunched over a Juki sewing machine in the back room of his workshop in Zephyrhills, Florida. His guiding lights: decades of sewing experience and what he’s read about Bernoulli’s principle, the scientific law explaining how uid dynamics create lift. He never attended college and has no formal training in aeronautics, design, or even sewing. It’s mostly intuition. “He visualizes a shape in his mind, and he’s a genius about creating

modifications. “It’s almost like a guy who spends his days folding paper airplanes,� says Joby Ogwyn, a 40-year-old climber and wingsuit pilot. “Some might look like a glider, some might look like a rocket or an arrow. He’s always playing around with different folds.� Long before the wingsuits, Uragallo was a skydiver. He learned in 1970, while serving as a gunner in the British army reserve, and he kept it up after he was

Once he has f inished sewing a suit , H E U S E S A L E A F B L O W E R T O I N F L A T E I T , o b s e r v e s i t s s h a p e , and

examines how well the wings which is critical to

Fig. (87) Uragallo in ight

88 O u t s i d e

you’ve seen the 2011 YouTube video “Grinding the Crack� (29.4 million views and counting), in which Jeb Corliss dives from a cliff in Switzerland and f lies directly over an accomplice who is holding a bunch of party balloons above his head, you’ve seen an Uragallo creation. Or maybe you’re familiar with Englishman Gary Connery’s jump from a helicopter in 2012, when he made a historic landing without a parachute into a pile of cardboard boxes. Connery was wearing an Uragallo suit, too. While aviation engineers utilize wind tunnels and computer modeling, Uragallo spends most of his days

MAGAZINE

MAINTAIN AIR PRESSURE,

GOOD GLIDE.

it with a sewing machine and thread,â€? says Corliss, a 39-year-old Californian and one of the world’s leading wingsuit pilots. Uragallo is a bit more modest. “I just make prototypes,â€? he says. “Sometimes, before I’ve even finished one, I’ve got another idea.â€? Once he has finished sewing a suit, he uses a leaf blower to inate it, observes its shape, and examines how well the wings maintain air pressure, which is critical to good glide. Then he drives a few hundred yards down the road to Skydive City, one of the busiest drop zones in Florida, performs a test f light, and returns to the shop to make more

discharged in 1972. This was in the early days of the sport, and everyone wore surplus military f light suits when they jumped. Then, one weekend in 1976, Uragallo spotted a skydiver who had a black jumpsuit with a rainbow design. He wanted one of his own, but the money he earned laying bricks and working in the family chip shop wasn’t enough for him to special-order one. So he biked across London, bought a quiver of cotton fabrics, and sewed it himself on his mother’s machine. “I broke a needle every foot,� he recalls. The results were impressive enough that other skydivers commissioned him to make suits. His fam-

ily wasn’t supportive of his new hobby, at least at ďŹ rst. “My old man hated the idea of men sewing,â€? Uragallo says. He persevered, though, buying a top-end sewing machine and cranking out 400 jumpsuits over the next two summers. His creations were popular for their wild designs—lots of stripes and abstract shapes—and loud colors. Increased sales funded travel to compete in international skydiving competitions, where his results—he won the 1978 Australian four-way formation championship—helped grow both his business and his reputation as a skydiver. In 1979, Uragallo competed in Zephyrhills, a rural, conservative town an hour east of Tampa that had a burgeoning skydiving scene. When he realized that Florida’s warm, sunny weather meant he could skydive year-round, he sold his parachute and harness, got an apartment and car, and set to work. “Everything was boring until Tony came along,â€? says Joannie Murphy, who owns local skydiving shop Sunshine Factory. Uragallo, who had chaotic red hair and thick glasses, “was always the life of the party,â€? Murphy says. “The city wasn’t thrilled with the wild and crazy, Hell’s Angels kind of image we had.â€? In a largely Christian town, the antics of free-spirited skydivers tended to clash with social norms. Uragallo was once

ILLUSTRATION by TIM TOMKINSON


 ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR

Outside

MAGAZINE

89








W X W I N G S U I T C O N T ’ D.

The Toll Wingsuit ying is one of the most dangerous activities on earth. In the past year alone, at least nine pilots have died at jump spots around the world. DEAN POTTER, 43 Yosemite National Park, California GRAHAM HUNT, 29 Yosemite National Park, California JOSHUA SHEPPARD, 31 Jackson, Michigan DONALD ZARDA, 44 Anzère, Switzerland RAMON ROJAS, 35 Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland BEAU WEIHER, 22 Glacier National Park, Montana ALEX DUNCAN, 26 Evionnaz, Switzerland SHAUN OTTO, 33 Chamonix, France ABRAHAM CUBO LÓPEZ, 38 Arco, Italy

90 O u t s i d e

evicted for having a child while unmarried. Late nights and wild parties notwithstanding, by the mid-1990s, Tony Suits had more than 20 employees and distributed its wares in North America, Europe, and Australia. It was around then that a member of the French national skydive team, Patrick de Gayardon, took one of Uragallo’s suits and sewed wings under the arms and between the legs, incorporating principles of parachute design to create the modern wingsuit prototype. “He was everybody’s hero,â€? Uragallo says of Gayardon, who once exited a plane, caught up with it again in ight, and reentered it. Wingsuits had been around since the earliest days of aviation, but without design standards or adequate training, they were frequently deadly, and most drop zones banned them outright. But Gayardon’s suit was safer and offered superior glide. Over the next decade, a number of other manufacturers began producing them. Uragallo was wary of the dangers, especially after Gayardon was killed in 1998 while ying in Hawaii, but he kept an eye on the market. In 2006, after he sold off the parachute division of Tony Suits, Uragallo felt there was ďŹ nally enough demand for him to make money on wingsuits. He took to it immediately. The creative problem-solving of making prototypes appealed to his restless mind, and piloting them made skydiving seem boring. “Flying a wingsuit is more like Peter Pan than skydiving ever was,â€? he says. “Flying around big clouds is the best fun of all.â€? British BASE jumper C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 9 6

MAGAZINE

XTRATUF BOOT

A sturdy, purposemade ďŹ shing boot that has become the gold standard of footwear in the 49th state. Known as the Alaskan slipper, the Xtratuf is, for many who live in extreme climes, a symbol of divine utility. First created in the 1960s, the waterproof, insulated, slip-resistant rubber boots are worn by everyone from longline ďŹ shermen to little kids playing softball. (Some Alaskans get married in them.) Though many consumers have voiced concerns that the Xtratuf isn’t so tough anymore— Xtratuf’s parent company, Honeywell, moved the factory from Illinois to China in 2012—it’s still the most common boot in our wildest state.

Y YETI

A cooler company whose two-inch-thick, doublewalled products are so effective that its creation, in 2006, began a new era in rafting. Before Yeti: bacon may be warm in the morning. After Yeti: steaks are fresh seven days into a oat.

Fig. (88)

YKK Fig. (88) The brand of zipper that is likely keeping your britches up at this very moment. Headquartered in Tokyo, 81-year-old YKK (short for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha, which translates as Yoshida Company Limited) was founded by Tadao Yoshida, who started making custom zippers to take advantage of breaks and alignment aws in other products of the time. To maintain Yoshida’s exacting standards, the

company kept every stage of the zipper-making process in-house, from smelting its own brass to forging the teeth to spinning the thread. (In Japan,YKK even makes the packaging the zippers are shipped in.) The company now produces over one million miles of zippers each year; they’re used in everything from fanny packs to expedition tents. “No other zipper manufacturer comes close for consistent quality,� says Tara Latham, apparel design manager for Black Diamond.

ILLUSTRATION by TIM TOMKINSON


Y





YO U T H

The Young and the Tentless The outdoor industry knows how to make packs lighter, jackets more waterproof, and skis burlier. The only problem: millennials couldn’t care less. by M I C H A E L R O B E R T S On a fall evening in San Francisco, roughly 1,000 twentysomethings are mingling inside the Folsom Street Foundry, a former industrial warehouse that now houses an event and performance space. Gatherings like this are everyday occurrences in the Bay Area, but tonight the attraction isn’t an IPO party or a meetup for Stanford programmers. This is Outdoor SF, an event put

the fact that the outdoor lifestyle is experiencing a historic moment of trendiness. Adventure couture is hitting high-fashion runways, with labels such as Fendi and Louis Vuitton creating eece goods that pay homage to classic Patagonia pieces. The lumbersexual look (see page 55) is ascendant in menswear. Last year, youthminded retailer Urban Outfitters launched an activewear brand called Without

a single-point-adjustment hood, but the 25-year-old occasional hiker sees an ugly, overpriced jacket. “Traditional outdoorproduct development and marketing has focused on people who want to be at the peak of their sports,� says Scott McGuire, founder of the Mountain Lab, a brandstrategy firm. “That led to huge developments in gear, but things have become so specialized that they’re not

They see the outdoors not as a proving ground to be ATTACKED WITH ICE AXES

to be enjoyed

Fig. (89) Gear companies’ new goal: engage a generation raised on social media

92 O u t s i d e

AND

G O R E -T E X ,

BUT AS A

playground

W I T H P O R T A B L E S O U N D S Y S T E M S A N D B E E R KO O Z I E S .

on by a group of small Bay Area outdoor brands. For $15, attendees get a beer, locavore appetizers, and the chance to hang with the founders of new companies like Rumpl (maker of “highperformance blanketsâ€?), low-cost sunglasses upstart Sunski, and Hipcamp, which offers an Airbnblike interface for campsite reservations. Later, a young ex plorer named Gregg Treinish, who founded the nonproďŹ t Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, will give a slide show about his trips to the Andes and Botswana. A packed house of kids geeking out over gear—it’s the stuff of dreams for most outdoor brands, which to date have struggled mightily to connect with anyone under the age of 35, despite

MAGAZINE

Walls. All this, yet young consumers remain decidedly uninterested in traditional adventure brands. “The window of opportunity is closing to get the attention of millennials�— broadly, those born in the eighties and nineties— “before they move on to the next thing,� says Jeanine Pesce, a fashion consultant who has advised brands including Nike and Patagonia. The great challenge— and great irony—outdoor brands face is that they’ve spent so many years competing with each other to develop technically superior products that they’ve forgotten how to talk to new audiences. A middleaged former ski bum might get excited about a $400 sub-nine-ounce waterproof-breathable shell with

welcoming to folks who aren’t hardcore.â€? The post-college set in particular is turned off by the go-for-the-summit ethos that deďŹ nes so many legacy brands. Many of them camp out mostly at festivals like Coachella or Burning Man. As such, they see the outdoors not as a proving ground to be attacked with ice axes and Gore-Tex, but as a playground to be enjoyed with portable sound systems and beer koozies. The outdoor industry has been wringing its hands over its inability to engage youth for a decade, funding studies to understand the issues and paying consultants to point the way forward. But few brands have actually changed their ways. Instead, a new wave of startups have had tre-

mendous success reaching younger, more metropolitan consumers whose idea of an outdoor adventure is swapping stories around a campfire. Poler, launched in 2011 in Portland, Oregon, and hailed for its vintage aesthetic, bills itself as a company that makes gear “for people that wonder why everyone is trying to pretend they are going to do ďŹ rst ascents on alpine peaks.â€? Five-year-old San Francisco brand Alite Designs’ tagline is Outside Made Simple. Its bestselling products include camp chairs and colorfully printed picnic blankets. You can even rent introductory kits of camping essentials at its San Francisco store. Whereas traditional brands have ambassador teams made up of elite athletes, Alite, founded by Tae Kim, a former equipment-design director at the North Face, promotes the stories of urban professionals who make time for microadventures on a relatable scale. The startups’ successes (Alite has grown by at least 25 percent each year) are ďŹ nally pushing the outdoor industry to evolve in ways that focus groups and internal memos never did. REI has recently become a dominant force in the tent market with simpler, inexpensive designs. This spring, Big Agnes introduced a line of tents that have integrated LED lighting. This summer, the North Face partnered with Hipcamp on a series of campouts that C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 9 6


 ENCYCLOPEDIA of GEAR



ILLUSTRATION by RORY KURTZ

Outside

MAGAZINE

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James Boole and American Dean Potter had suggested that Uragallo create a suit for BASE jumping that incorporated a parachute container within the suit rather than outside of it, which can disrupt flight. Uragallo created one that featured more surface area than his competitors’. He called it the Apache, and it allowed pilots to fly faster and farther than any suit previously developed, though many sneered at the square silhouette and thick profile. “People made fun of them for looking like flying carpets or dog beds,” says Ogwyn. But Uragallo, and others flying his suits from cliffs, kept winning competitions. In Switzerland, a jumper approached Boole, who by then was working as a salesman for Tony Suits, and said, “If this suit can make that little fat guy win the fastest competition in the world, it must be really good.” Uragallo’s new generation of suits transformed the BASE-jumping world. “That was the beginning of proximity flight,” says Ogwyn, referring to the technique in which pilots scream along mountain terrain just feet from the surface. Soon others were making suits with proportions that mimicked Uragallo’s. “They all bloody criticized it for years,” he says. “Now they’re fucking copying it.” Today, Tony Suits makes approximately 1,500 jumpsuits (which sell for $300 to $500) and 500 wingsuits ($1,000 and up) per year. “I try to tell my employees, ‘You’re not making handbags here,’ ” Uragallo says. “Especially wingsuits. People can die if you mess it up.” Uragallo has seen that kind of tragedy firsthand. In 1978, he was floating under his parachute when another skydiver in free fall collided with him. Uragallo broke his right leg in five places; the other man was killed. In August 2013, Uragallo was flying in the Swiss Alps with fellow Englishman Mark Sutton when Sutton struck a ridge and died. And in May 2014, Jeff Nebelkopf was killed while flying in Florida. He opened his parachute low and couldn’t correct a malfunction in time to keep him from spinning to the ground. Most recently, in May, Uragallo’s longtime friend Dean Potter died with fellow pilot Graham Hunt in Yosemite National Park. The added dangers with BASE—the proximity to objects, the lower altitude at the beginning of a flight—can result in tragedies that occasionally overwhelm Uragallo. “I’m sick of people dying,” he says. “You meet them and they’re dead the next week.” Combine that with the physical toll and there are times when Uragallo considers putting away the needle and thread for good. “At my age, it’s more fun to read or work in the garden,” he says. Ogwyn has considered Uragallo’s absence; he decided it was best to stockpile every suit Uragallo had ever made for him. But retirement is probably years away. Tony’s bright blue eyes still flicker with fresh ideas, the kind that could make his suits even faster and more agile. Sometimes it seems he may never quit. “Trying something new is too exciting,” he says. O

featured live music, and in 2016 the megabrand will release a car-camping line that includes a retro A-frame-style tent, superwide sleeping bags, and an oversize cooking shelter. “It’s the party house,” explains product director Andy Coutant, “the center of the community, where everyone is hanging out near the fire.” As Alite’s Kim sees it, younger generations are set up nicely to engage with the old guard. “It didn’t take much for this market to blossom,” he says. “This group in their twenties and early thirties are so primed to connect with nature.” Kim also notes that Alite’s customer base is actually quite broad. At his San Francisco store, he sees lots of families looking for advice on outdoor activities. McGuire echoes that sentiment. “So much of this conversation is about millennials, but Gen X and the tail end of the boomers are in the same place,” he says. “We may still want to charge hard sometimes, but at this stage the emotional draw is simply being outside.” If that’s really the case, the legacy brands may be better positioned for the future than one might think. The nonprofit Outdoor Foundation, which is funded largely by industry companies, is five years into an aggressive effort to connect with younger generations, sponsoring an ongoing series of national youth summits, project grants, and outreach efforts. Interior secretary Sally Jewell has pushed bold initiatives to fund outdoor recreation and education for young people from diverse backgrounds. Meanwhile, the industry still has another decade of selling gear to boomers to help ease the transition. And it may just convert some of those coveted consumers who have developed a thirst for adventure, thanks to the likes of Alite, Hipcamp, and Poler. The optimistic view is that even when the current consumer fetishizing of the lifestyle wanes, it will leave in its wake a large number of young people who have been turned on to spending time outside by posting Instagram shots of their day hikes and watching movies on their iPads in their tents. “The gateway has opened and we’re at the start,” says Kim, who thinks that people who get interested in the outdoors by a car-camping cookout—or, say, a gear and beer event in a San Francisco warehouse—could become more invested over time. “If you just get people outside having a good time, Mother Nature takes over. They’re hooked for life.” O

96 O U T S I D E M A G A Z I N E

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