Category: Article Archives

Gear We Love: Issue 109

Goodies for your active lifestyle

Bontrager Blaze WaveCel MTB Helmet

Earlier this year — and to much acclaim — Bontrager unveiled groundbreaking helmet technology called WaveCel. This revolutionary material is proven to be up to 48 times more effective than standard EPS foam at preventing concussions from common cycling accidents.

Standard foam helmets are designed to protect against direct impacts. But most cycling accidents actually result in angled impacts. WaveCel takes this important distinction into account. Its collapsible cellular material absorbs energy in multiple ways and then disperses it in a remarkably effective way resulting in much safer cycling protection. Is it comfortable? Indeed it is. And with several colors and styles to choose from, you’ll look smart no matter what type of cycling you do.

MSRP: $299 • bontrager.com

Nemo DragonflyTM 2P Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Nemo recently released the Dragonfly™, a freestanding ultralight backpacking tent boasting plenty of …

Read More

Outdoor Afro

Expanding access to adventure

By Leonie Sherman

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery, escaped to Philadelphia, and then promptly turned around to rescue her family. She made 13 missions that delivered 70 enslaved people to freedom, traveling by night and using a network of houses known as the Underground Railroad. At Combahee Ferry she became the first woman to lead an armed raid in the Civil War and helped liberate more than 700 enslaved people. She’s remembered as an icon of courage and freedom, but rarely as a wilderness leader. The Oakland-based organization Outdoor Afro aims to fix that by changing the way we view black history and inspiring a new generation of black outdoor leaders.

Ten years ago, Outdoor Afro founder and CEO Rue Mapp noticed there weren’t a lot of people in the outdoors who looked like her. To find out if others shared her passion and …

Read More

Stand Up or Sit Down

A Paddler’s Guide to California Classics

By Roger Schumann

Whether you prefer to paddle securely seated in a kayak or favor the enhanced view and balance challenges while standing tall atop an SUP, or both, California offers an outstanding variety of world-class waterways to explore. 

From renowned seashores to picturesque Sierra lakes, many of the state’s classic paddling destinations conveniently have rental and tour operations nearby. They are suitable for giving first timers and dabblers a nice taste of the wild and scenic nature that makes each unique. More experienced paddlers with their own boards or boats—along with the skills, gear, and savvy to do so safely, can venture further afield to experience the full flavor of the watery best. 

Assessing Skill Levels

Like whitewater rafting, skiing or rock climbing, paddling has its own rating systems, such as the five-level system used by the American Canoe Association, the nation’s largest …

Read More

Gigi McBee

Crusading for whitewater safety

By Deanna Kerr • Photos by Jason Bates

Based in Lotus near the American River, kayak and swift water rescue instructor Gigi McBee has been on a campaign to keep herself and other paddlers safe on the river for over 20 years. Through commitment and hard work she has become a role model and an inspiration, making many in the kayak community safer in whitewater.  

McBee has been passionate about rivers for as long as she can remember, but her fascination with whitewater kayaking began when she was 13 years old.  She was living in Santiago, Chile with her ex-patriate family when she noticed a group of campers learning to roll in the Maipo River. She knew at once it was a sport she had to do. Kayaking would become the way she would always stay connected to the magic of rivers.  

McBee spent the …

Read More

Bikepacking Catalina

How to escape to SoCal’s tropical island

Words and photos by Parker Amstutz

It’s hard for some to believe that Los Angeles has a tropical escape rivaling that of France’s Côte d’Azur. Sailboats nestled in private coves of deep blue water, subsurface terrariums teeming with marine life. A quaint island town with both luxurious seaside resorts and comfy bed and breakfasts, it’s no wonder that Catalina has long been a favored getaway for the rich and famous (not to mention it’s less than 30 miles off the coast of LA). Known to adventurers
as a dream destination for the outdoor community, Catalina is poised to be the home of your next great escape. With coastal campgrounds, panoramic views, and several places to refuel your body with a bison burger (more on that later), there’s no reason not to love this land of opportunity. Though the 38.5 mile Trans-Catalina Trail is …

Read More

Riding The Lost Coast

Usal Grasshopper connects cyclists to local history

By Leonie Sherman

The Wrong Way

I thought it would be a shortcut.

After 500 miles of bike touring I stopped to visit an old friend in Arcata. We took off for Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, where we camped on a rolling meadow perched a few hundred feet above the pounding surf and wandered the ridges enchanted by birdsong. I thought I could resume my bike tour at Highway 1, but the ranger informed us that traveling Usal Ridge Road required a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle and a winch. I realized impassable to cars probably meant a joy ride for bikes. Getting to Highway 1 would either involve hours in a car or an adventure along an unknown 25 mile stretch of dirt road — not a difficult decision.

Usal Ridge Road skirts the eastern edge of one of California’s most …

Read More

Event Profiles: Issue 109

Featured upcoming events


Mammoth Bar Enduro

June 15, Auburn

The Mammoth Bar Enduro offers a fun and challenging course that includes trails in the Auburn State Recreation Area (SRA) and Mammoth Bar OHV.

In Auburn SRA, racers will take on two stages: one on Confluence Trail which runs along the Middle Fork American River and features a gradual descent featuring rock gardens and narrow sections; the other on flowy Culvert Trail which features banks, berms, jumps, drop offs and a tunnel under Foresthill Road. The other two stages of the day will take place at Mammoth Bar OHV: Eastside Trail which has been brushed and graded for a fast black diamond technical thrill run; and Stonewall/Rocky … a stage that starts out steep on Stonewall then leads into the double black diamond Rocky Trail with a crowd favorite finish at the venue.

A post-race party with a full BBQ lunch, …

Read More

Ear to the Ground: Issue 109

News & notes from the outdoor industry


SuperTopo Forum is Pulling the Plug

The online climbers’ community known as the SuperTopo Forum is pulling the plug. For climbers, it’s the end of an era.

“It is with a sad heart that I announce that normal operation of the SuperTopo Climbers’ Forum will cease June 1. The Forum has been an amazing digital campfire, with more than two million posts over the last 18 years. It has reconnected many climbers with old friends and helped many climbers make new friends. And, there have been many amazing and compelling posts on the site, especially those on climbing-related topics that have been enjoyed by millions of people,” wrote SuperTopo cofounder Chris McNamara in his final post to the site.

“For climbers, the SuperTopo Forum has been the virtual Camp 4. Located in the heart of Yosemite Valley, Camp 4 was the birthplace of …

Read More

The Real Impact of Mountain Biking

MBOSC’s Matt De Young on the recently released MTB Impact Review

By Michele Charboneau

Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC) recently released its Mountain Biking Impact Review, a comprehensive study that addresses the environmental and social impacts of mountain biking. We had some questions about the report and asked the organization’s executive director Matt De Young for answers.

>> What prompted this project?

MBOSC has been involved with a lot of land use planning processes and we have heard a lot of conflicting statements about the impacts of mountain biking from land managers, the public, and other stakeholders. In these various discussions there has been a distinct lack of evidence for statements being made both in favor  of and against mountain biking. As mountain bike advocates we felt that it was on us to be the experts on the subject. This led to the formation of our Science Committee, an

Read More

Earn Your Beer: MTB Prescott and Sedona

Mountain Biking in Arizona

By James Murren


There is Fruita/Moab. And there is Brevard-Pisgah/Dupont. Perhaps we can say Tahoe/Truckee. What about all the good riding spots on the Keweenaw Peninsula? Places on the map that are good for a week’s worth of riding, is what I’m getting at. You get me?  One mountain biking (MTB) destination combo that I have not heard much about is Prescott/Sedona. After going there for a week of riding, I thought I might help put it on someone’s map, if it’s not already there. It is now on my list of destinations for MTB getaways.

The locations

>> Prescott Mile high pine forests on the edge of the desert, with hundreds of miles of cross-country trails that encircle the old cowboy town of yore, complete with a big courthouse sitting smack dab in the middle of town. This was my first go-round riding a bike …

Read More
Loading