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"Outdoors 101"

8:13 p.m. on April 24, 2006 (EDT)
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Dave and Alicia -

The idea of an "Outdoor 101" is a good one to answer a lot of questions that keep coming up over and over. The question is how to implement it. There have been lots of good posts that have answered some of the frequent questions on the basics (maybe even one or two by me {8=>O ). These could be used as the basis of such a FAQ section. But they would need to be vetted and checked for accuracy (I, of course, never make misteaks or typfffs, and I never ahead type myself of). I would suggest that, for the most part, it should steer away from specific brand name suggestions or evaluations that are properly part of the gear review section.

Some topic headings -

Stove basics - types, pros and cons of types, how to prime and light, disposing of exhausted canisters, overcoming the low temperature problem of compressed gas, etc

Pack basics - internal vs external vs "day" packs vs ultralight packs, pros and cons, weight balancing (including ways to attach sleeping bags, pads, tent poles, other externally hung extras)

Tents - 3 season vs 4 season vs expedition vs tarp, footprints pro and con, single vs double wall, anchoring in sand/snow/on rock

Sleeping bags - down vs synthetic (may have to have some personal comparisons of different synth), "women's" vs unisex, sizing, temperature ranges (what do they mean or not mean)

Pads - inflatable (foam and down core) vs air mattress vs closed cell foam vs hammocks, fixing inflatables in the field or cold weather (finding the leak!)

Pots - stainless vs aluminum vs titanium, "non-stick" surfaces, sizes (carry one or carry a range), lid vs no lid in terms of boil times (and other hints for shortening cook time)

Clothing - fabrics, wind/waterproof and renewing DWR, ...

Hmmm, there's lots more, isn't there? Didm't even mention light and ultralight packing!?!?!?!?!?!

7:16 p.m. on April 25, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Outdoors 101

Hi Bill,

Having an "Outdoor 101" section (similar to a FAQ section) is an excellent idea, especially when many of the more basic questions have already been answered more than once in the forums. It would be interesting to go back through and see what have been the top five or ten questions.

One of the major items on my to-do list is writing and gathering content for a Trailspace.com Gear Guide. While we’ve already posted a few general articles on Trailspace (see below), we still need to develop a Gear Guide/Outdoor 101 section to the site to act as a clearinghouse for this type of information, expand the amount of info, and make it easier to find throughout the site.

Since there already is some great content in the forums from experienced outdoors-people like yourself, we should definitely utilize those discussions. Perhaps a section on tents would also point users to some of the more in-depth forum discussions on tents (like single wall versus double wall).

If you were willing, I could even edit some of your own in-depth posts (or new submissions) about gear topics near and dear to your heart to start expanding our Gear Guide. We could do something like say, here’s what Bill S has to say when choosing/or using a GPS. If so, what would you choose for your first topic? Maybe something to do with navigation or stoves?

By the way, below is a list of current Gear Guide info on Trailspace.

-Alicia


The 10 Essentials
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/ten-essentials.html

Guide to Hiking Boots
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/hiking-boots.html

How to Fit Boots
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/boot-fitting.html

How to Care for Your Boots
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/boot-care.html

Guide to Tents
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/tents.html

Guide to Backpacks
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/backpacks.html

Guide to Sleeping Bags
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/sleeping-bags.html

How to Sleep Warmly
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/sleep-warm.html

How to Choose Snowshoes
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/snowshoes.html

1:14 p.m. on April 26, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Outdoors 101

Feel free to use any of my posts. Well, the serious, non-curmudgeonly ones, anyway. Feel free to combine them with anyone else's (who is willing to be associated with me).

I don't actually have a lot of time to do editing and re-writing, thanks to being unable to "Just say NO!" to the various volunteer organizations I do workshops, courses, and other work for (Boy Scouts, Sierra Club, American Alpine Club, my professional organization, and too many more). But I will help where I can.

Check with Jim S, Ed G, Tom D, Tokyo Bill, and a bunch of the others who have made good contributions as well.

1:17 p.m. on April 26, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Outdoors 101

Oh, yeah, I forgot to add. I keep forgetting to just refer to the excellent descriptions you have on the Gear Review side for a lot of the common topics. Some people might not be willing to read through them, but might key on a FAQ, if they could spot a question relevant to what they want to know.

5:48 p.m. on April 26, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Outdoors 101

Thanks, Bill.

I'm planning on skimming through the forum archives soon, both for FAQ content and to see what other gear info has already been well covered and explained there. I'll be keeping an eye out for some of your posts, as well as those by other posters who've done excellent jobs of explaining more technical topics, like stoves and navigation.

I'll definitely let you know what of yours I'd like to post elsewhere on the site before I go ahead and make it live.

Thanks again,
Alicia

9:23 a.m. on April 27, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Outdoors 101 -- LNT?

How about a LNT Practices page? I think it’s something that many people overlook when they decide to get out to the BC. They focus on all the gear purchases (rightly so since this aspect can be quite expensive) but once they get the stuff they’ve no idea of where to set up the tent, where to relieve themselves, what to do with the food wastes, etc. When I used to regularly hike the southern sections of the AT I was amazed at the amount of trash left (especially at he beginning of through-hike-season). Now some of this I’m sure is from folks taking advantage of the accessibility to the road (hike 40 feet & camp with monstrous fires) and have no interest in keeping things clean, but a lot of it I feel is from people who are very new to the backcountry and are trying to do the right thing but just don’t know.

11:35 a.m. on April 27, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Outdoors 101 -- LNT?

Adam,

I completely agree that Leave No Trace principles should be much more widely followed and understood. I'm glad you suggested it since it's one of the topics I've been meaning to cover, but now I'll definitely add it to the top of my list.

-Alicia

3:29 a.m. on May 5, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Outdoors 101 -- LNT?

Alicia, Great idea. I post a lot over on TLB (www.backpacking.net)along with Jim S and we see the same questions over and over there as well-questions about particular brands of packs, tarps v. tents, what stove to buy, etc. That site is aimed at lightweight backpacking, so it is more focused on a particular style of camping and gear than this site, but the questions are often the same.

One suggestion for the FAQ would be a good book list. One solution to Outdoors 101 is just tell everyone to buy a copy of The Complete Walker, then come back after they've read it cover to cover with a detailed question that is more on point than just "I want to go backpacking, what should I buy?" As we say in my business, "well, that depends."

9:14 p.m. on May 6, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Outdoors 101 -- LNT?

Great idea about the book suggestion, Tom. You're right that a lot of people are looking for a quick answer to the question of what's the "right" gear, when really it's less about the gear and more about having the right experience and know-how.

I'd also add "Freedom of the Hills" to a Required Reading list that includes "The Complete Walker". Anyone who's read, or at least consulted, those two tomes should have a decent clue before they set off down the trail.

-Alicia

2:49 p.m. on May 16, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Outdoors 101 -- LNT?

I just wanted to let everyone know that there is now a Leave No Trace article in Trailspace's Gear Guide at
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/leave-no-trace.html.

The article outlines the principles of LNT, along with a few comments and suggestions.

-Alicia

April 20, 2014
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