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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
Savor views of the Sierra Estrella and Mazatzal mountain ranges on this close-to-home leg-burner up Sunrise Peak.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take it easy in these 15 accessible, mellow areas for some of the best backcountry skiing in the Lower 48.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.