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Outdoors & Gear

Guide to camping, hiking and other outdoor sports and adventures. Includes buying guides for tents, camping gear, sleeping bags and other outdoor equipment.

How to cook an oyster

Q. What equipment do you need to cook an oyster? I caught one on my fishing pole. Hope you write back!

Budget BMX bike

Q. Hey Gear Guy, I have a problem: I’m getting a little too “old” for my BMX bike. I’ve had it for three years, but now I need a new one. My saddle is too low, and when I stand on the pedals for a while, my back begins to hurt. There’s one big problem: I’m kind of low on the green stuff (if you know what I mean). Any suggestions?

Buttons on waterproof watch

Q. Hi Gear Guy, I’m a swimmer and our coach has us time our laps with wristwatches, but every waterproof watch I try, the buttons don’t work underwater. What can I do?

Warm gloves on a budget

Q. Yo Gear Guy, I’m about to go on a winter camp-out and I need some good warm gloves but my budget is just $15. What could I do?

Best skateboards

Q. What skateboards are best for kickflips, grinds and ollies? Which board goes the fastest?

Barbless fishing hooks

Q. Dear Gear Guy, Where can you find unbarbed fishing hooks? I keep on catching pumpkin seed fish, and they have sharp teeth. I think unbarbed hooks would help.

Advanced first-aid kit

Q. I’m looking for an advanced first-aid kit that has everything I will ever need at a low cost with quality stuff for wilderness, desert, cave, boat, home, camper, car, etc.

Stuff We Like: One Tough Txter

If you’re like most guys I know, you’re tough on your stuff. Problem is, most electronics like cell phones can’t stand up to your kind of abuse. That’s why you’ll be stoked to hear about this super-durable mobile phone.

Breathable camping shoes

Q. I have some old camping shoes, but they’re winter hunting shoes. I need a pair of warmer-weather shoes that can get wet and still be dry on the inside; and so my feet won't stink. Can you help me?

Which CamelBak?

Q. I've had a lot of people tell me I should get a CamelBak for outings. Can you help me pick the right one? How much water should it hold and how much space should it have?

Stuff We Like: Graphic Dry Sacks

Waterproof dry sacks are among the most handy things to bring along on a backpacking trip. They are perfect for stuffing in your sleeping bag, clothes, a down jacket, whatever you want to keep dry.

Stuff We Like: Wenger EvoWood

While there are so many cool knives on the market, I was really excited to come across this unique wooden-handled one.

Barefoot in shoes?

Q. I’ve heard some people talking about barefoot shoes lately. What are those? And what are they used for?

Stuff We Like: Kodak PlaySport

If you like capturing your outdoor adventures, this waterproof pocket high-definition camcorder might just be what you need. The Kodak Playsport is about the size and shape of a cell phone but it shoots great quality HD video and 5 megapixel JPEG photographs.

Alternatives to wool

Q. Dear Gear Guy. My Scout leader says that when hiking in the winter you should always wear wool because it keeps you warm even when wet. But I am allergic to wool. Any ideas?

Stores We Like: Axl’s Closet

When it comes to buying cool clothes for school, shopping online is one of the best ways to save your parents some cash. And one of the best new sites we’ve found is

Rust-proof knife

Q. When I was packing for summer camp, I had a hard time choosing the pocketknife to take. Almost all my knifes have wooden handles, and if they get wet, they rot and the blades rust. And the knife I took did rust. Can you tell me of a good rust-proof knife?

Boots hurt my feet

Q. On every camp-out, my boots always hurt my feet -- sometimes from wet socks but mainly for reasons unknown. Is there anything I can do?

Hiking boot brands

Q. I want to buy some hiking boots and I was looking at some different brands. What boot brands do you like and what else should I consider when shopping for hiking boots?

Waterproof headlamps

Q. Dear Gear Guy, I was on a hike last weekend with my troop and accidentally dropped my flashlight in a stream. By the time I fished it out of the water it was dead and still doesn’t work. I need a new one and am wondering if anyone makes waterproof headlamps?

Finding a good hiking staff

Q. I am looking for a good hiking staff for my height (I’m about 5’9”). I need a long, quality staff but all the ones I have found are either short but good quality, or long but cheap. Help Gear Guy?!

Lightweight, affordable tent

Q. Please help, Gear Guy! I like to camp and hike but I always get slowed down by my heavy tent. Can you help me find a lightweight AND affordable backpacking tent?

8 Fishing Knots to Know

Can you imagine going fishing without knowing how to tie an improved clinch knot? Or a double surgeon's loop? Neither can we.

Stuff We Like: Coleman SkinSmart

Summer is mosquito season. So what better time to tell you about our new favorite insect repellent. It’s called Coleman SkinSmart.

Buy a boat on a budget

Q. Gear Guy, I want a boat that is less than 8 feet and no smaller than a five-horsepower motor. The problem: My budget is $500. Do you have any ideas?

Non-inflatable sleeping pad

Q. Dear Gear Guy, My son and I are making plans for his first official summer camp as a Boy Scout. He has a problem and hopes you can help. Could you recommend a quality non-inflatable sleeping pad to help with that stiff back he wakes up with every morning after camping?

Turn sweat into energy

Q. Hi Gear Guy. One time, I saw a TV ad about a special type of garment—particularly for athletes—that turns your sweat into energy. Is there really such a product and will it work?

Cheap alternative to Camelbaks

Q. Hi Gear Guy, Some of my friends have Camelbaks, the backpacks with the built-in water bottle. I would love to have one for camps but my dad says they are too expensive. Is there any cheap alternative?

Stuff We Like: Byrd Robin knife

Readers are always writing in asking about what’s the best knife for the money. Well, there are plenty of good options out there but one of my favorites right now is the Byrd Robin.

Two Keys to Successful Fastpacking

It's possible to carry less weight and still have everything you need (or at least everything you really need) on a backpacking trip. Here's how.

Large sheath knives

Q. I’ve been looking at buying a new knife. I found a sheath knife with a 5-inch blade. If I did get one could I carry it?

Keeping cool in the desert

Q. Hey Gear Guy, I went out on a desert trip to the Sahara Desert last weekend and I had a hard time keeping cool. I was in a tank top and shorts but I still got hot and sweaty. Can you tell me what would be better to wear?

Sporty pocket watches

Q. Hello Gear Guy, I really want to buy my son a durable pocket watch. He found one in an antique store but it didn’t work. We want the type that flips open—do you have any ideas for a sporty pocket watch. Please help!

Stuff We Like: Waterproof daypack

While there are lots of cool daypacks on the market with tons of handy features, you’ll be hard pressed to find one that’s truly waterproof. But we found one: the DaKine Cyclone Roll Top Backpack.

Caring for leather boots

Q. I have some old leather boots that are dry and stiff. I polish them, but it doesn't seem to help. Is there a way to get them smooth and more durable?

Don’t forget anything

Q. When I go camping with my den I always forget some piece of my gear. How can I make sure I don't forget anything?

Stuff We Like: Xtreme Sports ID

I’m sure you’ve heard the good advice about always having your emergency contact info on you when you’re playing in the great outdoors. But what do you do when you can't take your wallet? Xtreme Sports ID might be the answer.

Waterproof clothing for the snow

Q. Hey Gear Guy, I went to a cabin in the snow a few weeks ago with my Scout troop. I wore my snow jacket and pants but I still got soaked. Can you recommend good waterproof clothing for the snow?

Stuff We Like: JakPak

It’s a jacket. Wait, it’s a sleeping bag. No, it’s a tent. Actually it’s a JakPak, an interesting new waterproof jacket with a built-in, deployable pack that converts the thing into a bivy sack (a tiny one-man tent).

Stuff We Like: Gerber Curve

Bigger isn’t always better. Especially when it comes to a heavy knife crammed in your pocket. That’s why we dig the new Gerber Curve.