The New Natural: Finding Fabric Innovation in Food Waste and Farming

There’s been a long-held belief that the subtext of “sustainable” is “brace yourself for sub-par performance.”

But as brands throughout the outdoor industry experiment with food waste, bioplastics, and other non-traditional natural fibers, they’re quickly finding incredible performance qualities inherent to organic materials that consumers have always tossed. From oyster, coconut, and macadamia nut shells to coffee grounds and scraps of cotton literally rescued from the cutting room floor, the next generation of outdoor product innovation isn’t invention—it’s reuse.

Read the full story from Outdoor Industry Association.

Bavarian Backpacks: Deuter Does it Again with Aircomfort Sensic System

Bavaria has the world’s most perfect snowflakes. If you hold out your mitten while hiking, you’ll have to do a double-take to make sure you haven’t accidentally collected tiny glass flakes carved by an artist.

Everywhere you look, there is storybook perfection in the shadow of Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain, amid an outdoor culture a bit different from our own. You will, of course, find the stunning vistas you imagine when you think of the Alps: tree branches sagging under the weight of snow, castles jutting out of mountainsides, fog that adds an air of mystery to it all. But, you’ll also often find creature comforts we don’t associate with hiking.

Read the full story, sponsored by Deuter, at Backpacker.com.

Get Green or Die Trying: The Future is PFC-Free

One day in July 2017, the shake machine, which tests water resistant properties of hydrophobic down, had been going for 2,000 minutes. Samantha Lee, a then 21-year-old intern at bulk down supplier Sustainable Down Source (SDS), knew she was onto something. So far, the test results indicated that 33 hours of rain wouldn’t rob the feathers, which had been treated with a eco-friendly Durable Water Repellent (DWR), of their insulating properties.

Read the full story at OutsideOnline.com.

Editor's Note: Why We Need to Tell Women's Stories

When I was asked to guest-edit a series of stories about women for BACKPACKER, I hesitated. At first glance, “women’s months” and “women’s issues” sound like the answer we’ve been looking for, chipping away at the backlog of stories that should have been told years ago. It’s best, I think, to commit to telling women’s stories all year, not on special occasions, and without qualifying an incredible athlete by gender—just calling her a backpacker or adventurer the same way we’d reference a man who achieved the same feat.

But the truth is, there is a backlog, and these talented adventurers deserve to tell their stories. So this week, we're putting them front and center.

Read the full story at Backpacker.

In Search of the Do-It-All Travel Shoe

I have terrible feet. I did not know this until last fall, when I found out that some persistent heel pain was actually plantar fasciitis, which I didn’t even know you could get if you weren’t a runner. Turns out, I’ve also been wearing terrible shoes.

Around this time, I was planning a monthlong trip to Europe, where I knew I’d constantly be on my feet. I started looking at lists of travel shoes and was disappointed to find espadrilles, heels, ballet flats, and sneakers—nothing that was a do-it-all kind of shoe. I wanted to pack one pair, not seven. So I set out to find the best shoes for the traveler who wants to bring one or maybe two pairs on any adventure abroad.

I didn’t quite find the single “unicorn” pair of shoes I was looking for, but I did get pretty darn close. Here are the best, rated on a scale of one to five horns, where one is a one-trick pony and five is a magical, versatile unicorn.

Read the full story at Outside.

Why Yellowstone is Better in the Winter

If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone National Park in the summertime to see Old Faithful, you probably remember the crowds even more than the geyser. There’s no shortage of tourists with selfie sticks and GoPros, and to get a view of your own, you’ve got to constantly shuffle around and stand on your toes.

In July, the park’s busiest month, about a million people file through the entrance stations. They stop, in the middle of the road, at every possible sighting of wildlife. And if there’s a bear? Forget it—you could inch along in traffic for hours.

But here’s a secret to getting all the best of Yellowstone without having to share it with hundreds of thousands of strangers: Go in the winter.

Read my full story at Travel Channel.

First Look: Wenzel's Shenanigan Teepee

I’ve never been much of a big tent kind of person. The idea of having some extra space is really nice, but big tents are usually heavy, bulky and complicated. Plus, who goes camping to hang out inside, anyway?

Enter Wenzel’s upcoming Shenanigan Teepee, available in both five-person and eight-person version models, in two hipster-friendly geometric patterns. I have been converted.

The Shenanigan isn’t an all-season tent, so it’s not a replacement for a waterproof option that will keep you dry and shield you from the wind in a rough storm. But on clear – and mostly-clear nights – it’s a great shelter regardless of how many people you’re putting into it.

Read my full review at Gear Institute.

The Next Outdoor Heirloom

I was commissioned to write this sponsored piece for Backpacker.com and Climbing.com.

Think about the most important object you own. How old is this thing? Who gave it to you?

It might be a pocketknife with a worn leather sheath, well-loved over years of DIY tent fixes and whittling sticks for marshmallow toasting. It might be a pair of your mom’s old hiking boots that you adopted and resoled after she hiked the AT. Or it might be a wallet your dad passed down to you when you were old enough to start adventuring on your own.

Whatever it is, it’s been durable enough to withstand years of memories. It might even be older than you.

Outdoor heirlooms like that are harder to come by now, in an age of mass production where “more” often beats “better.”

“Products are made to fail these days,” says Mark King, founder of Trayvax, which makes wallets, belts, and lanyards. “Products today are made of plastic, and they’re made to break. They never last long enough to take on meaning.”

Read the full story here.

Ibex Outdoor Clothing Could Get Second Chance

Ibex Outdoor Clothing, which plans to close its doors in February, might be revived under the leadership of Terry Bicycles CEO Liz Robert. She confirmed Thursday that Vermont Works, a private equity firm of which she is a director, is exploring a bid on the Vermont-based apparel brand.

Robert says she sees potential in Ibex, which has a strong, loyal customer base and a good product. There’s synergy between Terry Bicycles and Ibex that she hopes to be able to leverage to keep the brand—and its jobs—within the state of Vermont. Robert formerly ran Vermont Teddy Bear Co. and purchased Terry Bicycles in 2009, moving it from Rochester, New York.

“People thought I was kind of crazy to do that,” she said Thursday. “People talk about the high cost of doing business in Vermont. But I’m a big believer that we need to try to support economic development in the state. I have a particular passion for Vermont, and a particular passion for keeping jobs in Vermont.”

Read the full story at SNEWS.

Why Tuscany is More Than Just Wine And Cheese

When you think "adventure travel," Tuscany, Italy is probably not the first place that comes to mind. It might not even be the last place that comes to mind. Even though it's one of the world's premier destinations for food, wine, art and history, somehow the secret isn't yet out that it's a great place for outdoor adventure, too.

Here's why Tuscany should be your next adventure travel destination.

Read the full story at Travel Channel.

Gifts for Hikers & Campers

Whether you’re shopping for a seasoned backpacker or a high schooler who’s just starting to venture outdoors and get into camping, we’ve got gift ideas to make everyone on your list psyched to head out on the trail before they’ve even finished opening the box.

Read my full guide, of 40 products for men and women, at gearinstitute.com.

Photo courtesy of Glerups.

Cotopaxi's Libre Sweater Doesn't Stink

You’ve no doubt heard of all the benefits merino wool has to offer, and you can likely recite them from memory. You’ve probably even have merino socks or baselayers in your closet. But llama wool? That’s not something you see every day.

Cotopaxi’s Libre Sweater has three key features that set it apart from other wool midlayers: First, it’s made entirely of llama wool. Second, it has wide perforations on the back, which open enough that whatever you are (or aren’t) wearing underneath shows through. And third, Cotopaxi actively discourages washing it.

Read the full story at Gear Institute.