5 Top Gear Picks from Patagonia’s Clearance Sale

Patagonia is clearing out its 2018 gear, so now’s the time to get a bargain.

Want to snag a new backpack, jacket, or base layer at a low price? Right now, Patagonia is running a clearance on its 2018 apparel, packs, and accessories. We trolled the sale and picked our five favorite deals.

https://www.backpacker.com/gear/patagonia-clearance-sale-february-2019 Backpacker


Five of the Best European Adventure Cities

Rich culture and easy access to some of Europe’s most stunning scenery? Count us in.

For me, adventure isn’t limited to epic expeditions out in the backcountry. It also means spending a day navigating dynamic neighborhoods or hiking trails in nearby parks with the city’s skyline as your backdrop.

Living in vibrant Stockholm, Sweden, means endless opportunities for micro adventures. I’m never more than 10 minutes away from bodies of water in any direction and three miles away from a green park or nature reserve. Having a multipurpose travel pack that adapts as I flow from city to country within minutes makes it easier for me to mentally transition as well. I don’t have to dash home to repack. Especially since I could already be hiking around a downtown park faster than the 20 minutes it takes me to get home and change gear.

Lola accesses the daypack as she walks across a bridge in Stockholm. 

While exploring the city, a light daypack with solid security features and easy access to my phone, camera, notebook, and snacks on the go is important for me. Once it’s time to go hiking in nature parks or island hopping around Stockholm’s archipelago, I need a sturdy waterproof backpack that’s ergonomically designed to fit my spine. This lets me focus on enjoying my adventures, not fighting off discomfort.

Besides the rich wine color (Dark Bordeaux) of my 70L pack, what I aesthetically love about Thule’s Landmark travel collection is its streamlined design. Intricate attention has been paid to details so everything such as excess dangling straps and zippers can be tucked away and out of sight. The pack opens like a duffel bag which provides easy access to my gear. Its detachable daypack is excellent for urban adventures or short hikes.

The Thule Landmark collection is available now.

When it comes to security and warding off pickpockets while exploring cities, it has both locking systems in its main compartment and zippers you can lock. There’s also a “SafeZone” section on top – reminiscent of the hard-domed head of a Pachycephalosauria dinosaur – where I can store quick access essentials such as my wallet, phone, and small valuables I need to reach without worrying about theft. The daypack also comes with a built-in pocket inside which allows you to store items such as cash, credit cards, and ID cards, making it perfect for worry-free exploration.

Five European cities for adventures

With the Thule Landmark collection in tow, here are some cities around Europe which are prime for both micro and epic adventures.

Stockholm, Sweden

Built across 14 islands with 30,000 more in its outer archipelago, Stockholm is equal parts greenery, water bodies, and buildings, which means two-thirds of the city is nature, making it ideal for adventures. The government’s institution of a public law called “Allemansrätten” (“Every man’s right”) allows you to freely and responsibly camp, hike, and pick berries/mushrooms anywhere within the archipelago.

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France

Commonly known as Chamonix, this French resort city bordered by Switzerland and Italy is located at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest summit in the French Alps. From skiing and hiking to riding cable cars up peaks and exploring glaciers, it is a world-class ski resort and it attracts mountaineers of all levels.

Lucerne, Switzerland

Switzerland’s vibrant lakeside city, Lucerne, offers a mix of city exploration and outdoor living. The city is a quick 15-minute drive from Mount Pilatus, which is part of the Emmental range of the Swiss Alps, so you can be booted up and hiking within 30 minutes. Lucerne’s proximity to water also means you can take boat trips or go kayaking and canoeing along Lake Lucerne with stunning backdrop views of Pilatus.

Innsbruck, Austria

Few cities can boast being surrounded by the Alps. For picturesque Innsbruck, the capital of Austria’s Tirol region, this means access to all manner of mountain-related adventures. Leisure bikers and easy hikers can share space with hard-core cyclists and experienced trekkers all around the foothills of the Alps.

Turin, Italy

The Northern Italian city of Turin is your gateway to the Graian Alps which cut through the Piedmont region of the country and the Aosta valley. With Turin as your base, a 1.5-hour drive will take you to Gran Paradiso National Park with tons of hiking trails and scenic alpine views including Nivolet Mountain Pass.

https://www.backpacker.com/trips/five-of-the-best-european-adventure-cities-with-thule Backpacker

Barbados Travel Photos

Barbados Travel Photos
vacationrentalsexperts.pennistonemedia.com/your-bridge-to… The city was a key hub for commerce and trade with its harbor packed with trading vessels. The city was also often the first port of call for African ships making the trans-Atlantic journey. Owing to the abundance and prosperity most of the colonial powers viz. England, France, Holland and Spain were at war over the Caribbean islands. The fortification along with western coast of the country reflects the importance of protecting the colonies from invaders. Vacation Rental Homes | Vacation Rental Caribbean http://farawayvr.blogspot.com/2019/02/barbados-travel-photos_19.html

Barbados Travel Photos

Barbados Travel Photos
vacationrentalsexperts.pennistonemedia.com/your-bridge-to… Bridgetown has no dearth of sightseeing options with everything from historic sites to beaches to water activities. Typical of all Caribbean islands Bridgetown too boasts of pristine white beaches and plenty of sunny weather. Brighton Beach is a major attraction that is popular among tourists. The beach offers scuba diving opportunities alongside a beautiful coral reef.Other activities include water sports, jet skiing and more at The Carlisle Bay Marine Park. Bridgetown contains a high concentration of memorials, statues and important monuments honoring moments in history. Step back in time and rediscover Barbados at the Tyrol Cot Heritage Village or be awe struck by the colonial architectural beauty that is the St. Michael’s Cathedral. Vacation Rental Homes | Vacation Rental Caribbean http://farawayvr.blogspot.com/2019/02/barbados-travel-photos_18.html

Deal of the Week: L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Jacket

This Editors’ Choice-winning puffy shrugs off bad weather—and it’s extra-cheap right now.

“Who says high-tech always has a high price?” our reviewer wrote in 2012, when we gave the Ultralight 850 an Editors’ Choice Snow Award. While it costs less than many comparable jackets, this piece from L.L. Bean is stuffed with high-quality 850-fill DownTek, a technology which coats each individual feather in a water-repellant solution. Seven years later, the updated version comes with a Pertex Quantum nylon shell, adding an extra boost of weather resistance. Buy L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Jacket now starting at $189 (14% off). Bonus: L.L. Bean is offering customers 25% off their order through February 19.

https://www.backpacker.com/gear/ll-bean-ultralight-850-down-jacket Backpacker

Hike of the Week: Sunrise Peak, Scottsdale, AZ

Savor views of the Sierra Estrella and Mazatzal mountain ranges on this close-to-home leg-burner up Sunrise Peak.

Stay close to home, but land views of the big boys on our . Anyone been? 🙋 Juice worth the squeeze? 📸 @beauexplores

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 3.8 miles (lollipop-loop)
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: 2 out of 5


Hoof it 1,500 feet into the Scottsdale skyline to an aerie with a wraparound view all the way to the Sierra Estrella range to the west and the high peaks of the Mazatzal Wilderness to the north. Winter and early spring are the best times to tick off this 3.8-mile lollipop-loop to 3,056-foot Sunrise Peak when highs hang in the 70s. 

From the trailhead (33.5962, -111.7683), follow a gully up to the subpeak, climbing fairly consistently the whole way. At the top, tackle the short loop for a walking tour of the view. The McDowell Mountains are relatively low, but they open up wide to views of the state’s premier ranges—often dusted in snow in winter.


Tag us @backpackermag and #hikeoftheweek on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook if you do this Hike of the Week.

https://www.backpacker.com/trips/scottsdale-sunrise-peak Backpacker

Backcountry Skiing 101: Plan a Tour on CalTopo

Learn how to find a great backcountry skiing zone and create a custom map with this guide to CalTopo.

Maps have come a long way since the days of pre-printed USGS quads and compass navigation. With today’s technology, you can not only find any map you want, but also analyze one with much greater detail and accuracy, alter it for your needs, and navigate with it in the field. That’s good news for backcountry skiers because our whole discipline is “off-trail,” and maps are paramount to staying on-course and in safe zones.

Our favorite (free) web-based app for planning backcountry ski trips is CalTopo. It involves more than drawing a line on a map, and there is a learning curve, but master CalTopo and we bet it’ll set you up for a more successful trip—and maybe even help you find some hidden powder stashes from your couch. 

Step 1: Get acclimated.

Like a paper map, but better (c/o CalTopo)

Start with a base layer like the USGS or FSTopo maps (on the left-hand side of the screen). These layers are based off the classic USGS quads and will help you visualize the terrain. (Still don’t understand? Now’s a good time to learn to read a topo map.) You’ll see any preexisting trails, forest roads, and other routes that will help you move through the terrain better.

Slope Angle Shading (c/o CalTopo)

Next, turn on “Slope Angle Shading.” (Find it on the left-hand panel under “Preset Layers,” below the map overlays.) This feature is uniquely beneficial in the wintertime: It color codes the terrain based on its steepness, making it easy to visualize both the most skiable slopes, as well as the most avalanche-prone ones. (Not a substitute for actual snow safety training, but still helpful: Select a safe route.)

While you’re scoping lines, don’t be afraid to add additional layers, like satellite maps (listed in layers as NAIP), shaded relief, and even Google’s Terrain map to get an even better feel of the terrain. 

Step 2: Read the terrain.

Think you’ve found a good spot to go? Now it’s time to learn more about your objectives.

Right click the map and Add a Line. From the parking area, begin drawing your tour. Follow a preexisting trail or fire road if you know it’s the same in winter, or draw your line along terrain features like creeks and gullies that will serve as easy handrails. We like color coding the lines for out and back (or ascent and descent) and adding waypoints to mark trailheads, summits, and other landmarks.

Terrain statistics (c/o) CalTopo

Once you’ve drawn your potential route, click on it and select “Terrain Statistics.” You’ll see not only an elevation profile of the route, but also more detailed statistics including data on slope angle and aspect—important pieces of information when planning a trip around avalanche hazards. Average and maximum slope angles, as well as the abundance of particular slope aspects, can be compared to avalanche forecasts to help you steer clear of slide-prone areas. 

Step 3: Take it with you.

Print to PDF (c/o CalTopo)

When you have a map built that you want to take into the field, CalTopo allows you to create a Geospatial PDF with all the layers, lines, waypoints, and other features that you’ve designed.

After selecting “Print to PDF or JPG” (near the top, under “Print”), you can choose the size of the paper, as well as the scale of the map and any other features you want to include. Then, either print the map (use waterproof paper like Rite in the Rain’s All-Weather Copier Paper, laminate, or just keep it in a gallon-size plastic bag) or export it as a PDF.

Use can use the free Avenza Maps app to scan the QR code on the map PDF to import it directly to your phone. (That’s helpful if you want to view your location against your map in real time or add waypoints or a track.)

Note: Mapping software and smartphones are no substitute for the reliability of paper and compass (which don’t need batteries to run, or die in the cold), but they do give you a level of customization and resolution, both when you’re planning your trip and once you’ve clicked into your skis, to make your day go as smoothly as the powder you’re hoping to slash. 

https://www.backpacker.com/skills/how-to-plan-a-tour-on-caltopo Backpacker

The 15 Best Backcountry Ski Zones for Beginners

Take it easy in these 15 accessible, mellow areas for some of the best backcountry skiing in the Lower 48.

Backcountry skiers tour beneath Sunlight Peak in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.

Backcountry skiing isn’t all avalanche chutes and cliff drops. Once you have the necessary equipment and experience (don’t take avalanches for granted, even on easy slopes), head to these accessible beginner areas for some of the best backcountry skiing in the Lower 48, minus the pucker factor.

Johnson Canyon, Truckee, CA

Skip the crowds of the resorts and the popular Donner Summit without sacrificing lake views and low-angle glades. This amphitheater is a low-risk, high-reward basin for novice Tahoe backcountry enthusiasts.

Bigelow Mountain, ME

Bigelow Mountain was planned to be one of the bigger ski resorts in Maine and a contender to host the 1967 Olympics, but never got off the ground. Today, ski through pockets of hardwood forest and open slopes below the peak’s rocky summits.

Artist’s Point, Mt. Baker

Mt. Baker, WA

The massive backcountry surrounding Mts. Baker and Shuksan is a North Cascades playground for skiers of all levels, but Swift Creek’s drainage features mellow, short laps for the impatient. Climb higher toward picturesque Artist’s Point for the more difficult Blueberry Chutes.

Hidden Valley, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

A former ski area within Rocky Mountain National Park, Hidden Valley is one of the easiest-to-get-to spots in the Front Range. Stay low and in the trees for easier skiing or safer conditions, but on a good day head above Trail Ridge Road for an alpine feel.

Gulf of Slides, Mt. Washington, NH

This broad, mellow bowl features a handful of tree-lined slide paths radiating from the bottom up toward the Mt. Washington alpine zone. It’s perfect for days when the notorious weather is beating the mountain above treeline.

View from Skyline Ridge, Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass, WA

If you’re in need of a quick escape into the backcountry from Seattle, head to Stevens Pass’s Skyline Ridge to cut turns 800 feet down to an old logging road, which makes for a quick approach and exit to your car.

Mineral Fork Drainage, Wasatch Range, UT

Tucked between Kessler Peak and Santiago Ridge, the Mineral Fork drainage features everything from wide meadows to deep chutes, but its slightly longer approach keeps most of the crowds at bay.

Galena Summit, Ketchum, ID

While lots of the Sawtooth Mountains require long approaches, Galena Summit provides everything from easy glades to scary faces, all a short walk from the car. For the quickest laps, head to Cross or Titus Ridges.

View near Lookout Pass

Lookout Pass, ID

Take a one-time lift to the top of the ski area, then descend to a ridge that straddles the Idaho/Montana state line. From there, tour up the ridge to whichever treed slope you fancy before descending to the parking lot. (You need a permit yo ski in the national forest.)

Tony Grove, Logan, UT

Ski down toward Tony Grove Lake, hopping through meadows and cliff bands in this early-season hotspot. The Early Bowl is low-angle and free of rocks, making it a popular destination from late fall through late spring.

Edelweiss, Teton Pass, WY

The upper part of Edelweiss features a broad, grassy bowl, while the bottom includes a narrow gully, a handful of steeper faces, and a collection of glades, which means you can get everything in at this local hotspot.

DROPPING! On Gothic Mountain.

Snodgrass Mountain and Gothic Mountain, Crested Butte, CO

Crested Butte features a slew of backcountry terrain just outside the resort, but Snodgrass Mountain, with its series of northeast-facing chutes, are some of the easiest to access. If you’re looking to get a little farther out and see a Crested Butte icon up close, take a tour out to Gothic Mountain, which is cloaked in expert lines.

Wright Peak, Adirondack Mountains, NY

Climb up Wright Peak’s Ski Trail for a taste of traditional Northeast backcountry skiing: narrow, windy roller coasters through the trees. From higher up, more experienced skiers can head to one of the peak’s northeast-facing slide paths.

Telemark Meadows, Yellowstone National Park, MT

A fast skin and short climb yield gentle fields and easy terrain with views of the Gallatin and Madison Ranges. Spy the rest of Yellowstone while you skip from meadow to meadow.

Tumalo Mountain, Bend, OR

Climb one of Oregon’s smaller volcanoes to get views of nearly all the larger ones (including Mt. Bachelor, right across the highway) before you ski 500 feet down an east-facing bowl to your car, making the skiing here a good bang for your buck. 

https://www.backpacker.com/trips/best-backcountry-ski-zones-for-beginners Backpacker

Barbados Travel Photos

Barbados Travel Photos
vacationrentalsexperts.pennistonemedia.com/your-bridge-to… Bridgetown has no dearth of sightseeing options with everything from historic sites to beaches to water activities. Typical of all Caribbean islands Bridgetown too boasts of pristine white beaches and plenty of sunny weather. Brighton Beach is a major attraction that is popular among tourists. The beach offers scuba diving opportunities alongside a beautiful coral reef. Other activities include water sports, jet skiing and more at The Carlisle Bay Marine Park. Vacation Rental Homes | Vacation Rental Caribbean http://farawayvr.blogspot.com/2019/02/barbados-travel-photos.html

It’s Not Too Early to Book Your Summer Campsites

If you want a great family camping vacation in summer, better make reservations in winter.

Car camping is the gateway to outdoor family fun. While backpacking provides a pristine wilderness experience, it can be logistically daunting, especially for families with young kids.

Car camping, on the other hand, lets you load the family vehicle with your food and gear—with room for a cooler, that extra-thick sleeping pad, and your child’s stuffy, or three—and roll right up to a spot with a flat tent pad, fire ring, and grill. Developed campsites have camp hosts who sell firewood, bathrooms with toilet paper, and nature trails often start right there. Families with even the youngest kids can enjoy the great outdoors from such a home base.

That is, if you reserved a campsite.

In some parts of the country, you may be able to wait to book at least until the snow has started to melt. But in others, if you’re not booking summer campsites mid-winter, at least for weekend dates, you’ll be forced to either roll the dice on first-come, first-served sites or find undeveloped sites on public lands. (Both work, but can be challenging.) Skip the uncertainty by planning early.

Figure out where you want to go. Doing online searches for things like, “best campgrounds in YOUR-STATE-HERE” or “near YOUR-TOWN-HERE” will produce lists and ideas. Better yet, try searching, “best FAMILY campgrounds in YOUR-AREA-HERE.” Still, you’ll need to ask yourself a couple key questions: How far are you willing to drive—one hour, or five? Or is this a big road trip? What features/activities are you looking for in a campground—do you want one near a lake or stream for fishing or boating, and/or with trails leading directly out of the campsite? Do you want a paved area for kids to ride bikes, or an all-dirt campground for a more natural experience?

Go to booking websites like ReserveAmerica.com or Recreation.gov and enter your state (for instance, “Colorado”) when it asks “Where” or “Where to,” and then search by the Map function. Each option will have descriptions explaining if fishing and trails are available at that campsite, for instance, and most will have photos.

Determine your dates. In popular areas, weekdays are easier to book than weekends.

Research the booking window. Many campgrounds book-out six months—to the day—ahead of time. Some book-out four months to the day. For instance, if you’re looking to reserve a popular campsite with a six-month booking window for Friday, August 30th of Labor Day weekend, you’ll want to get online (likely at midnight, if it’s very popular) to reserve an ideal campsite in that campground on February 30th.

Put a reminder in your calendar, as some campgrounds fill up within minutes of the booking window opening. Be ready the moment the window opens, even if that means setting an alarm for just before midnight.

Double down on national parksUnfortunately, some of the best family campgrounds have the most complicated reservation systems. Don’t get discouraged—they’re worth it. For instance, Yosemite’s seven reserveable campgrounds are booked under the following protocol: “…in blocks of one month at a time, up to five months in advance, on the 15th of each month at 7 a.m. Pacific time.” Go to specific national park websites for detailed reservation info. Alternative: Missed the window or you’re simply not a planner? You’re not out of luck. Most national parks set aside a good portion of campsites for first-come, first-served visitors.

Some good national park campground options for families include:

YellowstoneMadison. Convenient location near attractions like Old Faithful; Flat, paved roads good for small kids on bikes. Booking for each season starts May 1 each year.

YosemiteUpper Pines. Two hundred thirty eight sites available in the heart of Yosemite Valley, near many famous hiking trails. Booking opens five months in advance on the 15th of each month at 10:00 a.m. (ET).

Grand CanyonMather. Located within Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim, this campsite has 327 available campsites. Booking opens five months in advance on the 15th of each month at 10:00 a.m. (ET).

Great SmokyElkmont. Waterfront sites available along the Little Front River. Booking starts six months to the day in advance, 10 a.m. (ET).

ShenendoahBig Meadows. Over 200 sites among thick trees and near waterfall hikes. Booking starts six months to the day in advance, releasing at 10 a.m. (ET)/7 a.m. (PT).

AcadiaBlackwoods. Wooded campsites with a 10-minute walk to the ocean, and five miles from Bar Harbor for easy resupplying. Booking starts six months to the day in advance, 10 a.m. (ET)/7 a.m. (PT).

Pick a site. In some campgrounds, you can reserve a specific campsite. With young kids, especially kids who are potty training, being close—but never too close—to the bathroom is usually a safe bet.

With kids of any age, it’s nice to have a site that has more privacy than not—both for you and for the sake of your neighbors. Look for tent or RV icons that aren’t butted right up against others on the map. And if photos are available, look for natural features like trees or rocky outcroppings that create natural boundaries. Natural features, like rocks and hillsides, also make for great “backyards” to individual campsites that kids can play on while remaining in sight.

Think tent versus RV. Campsites with RV icons have hook-ups for electricity and water. They’re perfectly fine for tent camping, but know that if you choose a campsite in the middle of a bunch of RVs, you might be listening to the sound of generators. If you’re tent camping, it’s ideal to find a tent site amidst other tent sites (most campgrounds separate tents and RVs). That said, if you’re camping in an RV or camper, you must camp in an RV site or be able to fit your camper in the parking spot of the tent site.

Don’t get discouraged. If any of the above doesn’t work in your favor—maybe you’ve missed the booking window for ideal sites this coming June or July—know that not all is lost.Even the most popular campgrounds tend to have openings midweek, and most campgrounds have at least a few first-come, first-served sites.

Remember that most, if not all national parks, have numerous first-come, first-serve campgrounds as well as reserveable ones.

Before summer, we’ll publish a guide for how to successfully grab first-come, first-served sites as an alternative, and for guidelines on what to pack for family car camping to make sure your kids (and you) have a positive experience in the great outdoors.

And once you’ve reserved a site, share this picture with your kids. 

https://www.backpacker.com/skills/book-family-campsites-now Backpacker