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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Toys of Summer

Now is the most popular time of year to take to the trails and campsites of America. Having the right gear will keep you outdoors in comfort and safety.

Mountainsmith Boundary

Serious outdoor photography tends to be a gear-intensive pursuit, not just with camera equipment, but also with the tools it takes to safely and comfortably scout the great outdoors. The shelter, footwear, clothing, gadgets and other outdoor accessories you choose can be just as important as your photo equipment in helping you get the right images—a fact to which anyone who has ever shivered themselves awake in a lousy sleeping bag or endured a leaky, drafty tent will attest. If you haven't shopped for outdoor equipment lately, you're in for a surprise. It's lighter and more functional than ever, even if there's the occasional associated sticker shock. When it comes to chasing the best outdoor photo situations, you'll be glad you're properly outfitted with items like these.


There aren't many external-frame packs hitting the trails these days. Internal frames lead the way for several reasons. They're lighter and more comfortable, with plenty of customized adjustment features to dial in precise fittings. And by their very nature, internals don't ride on your back so much, as they become part of your physique. That means they're better at keeping loads centered, which allows you to be more nimble on your feet.

Gregory BaltoroThe 4,577-cubic-inch Mountainsmith Boundary wilderness backpack has enough volume for a solo week on the trail. It uses twin concave aluminum stays to manage the load and a molded back panel for all-day comfort. The pack posts a respectable four-pound, 60-ounce weight, thanks to its light, but tough Velocity nylon body fabric and limited use of heavier ballistic-grade nylon at key wear points. List Price: $139.

Expect a superb fit with the Gregory Baltoro wilderness backpack. It comes in four sizes (4,000 to 4,600 cubic inches) based on a hiker's critical hip/back measurements, and additional adjustments from the Auto-Cant harness system let you fine-tune the pack for a best-ever fit. Weighing between five pounds, nine ounces and six pounds, seven ounces, the packs are designed with the company's Response suspension that uses compression-stiffening panels to stabilize loads. List Price: $147.


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