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Last weekend, after two days at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in

Salt Lake City, I snuck off into the mountains to try out some new ski

gear on a big descent. Indeed, at more than 5,000 vertical feet, the

Banana Chute off the west side of Mt. Ogden is among the largest

sustained ski descents in the region.



I went with a group of locals, including blogger Kendall Card; J.T.

Robinson, a semipro Telemark skier; the photographer Steven Lloyd; and

Kevin Brown, a part-time ski patroller at Snowbasin Resort.

Our day started with a car swap at 27th Street in Ogden, where we left

Robinson’s stationwagon. It would serve as the shuttle at the day’s

end. We drove the 17 miles to Snowbasin, jumped on the lifts, then

skied off the back side of the resort into U.S. Forest Service land.

Mt. Ogden, a 9,570-foot peak, drops precipitously to all points of the

compass. The Great Salt Lake and the city of Ogden sit more than a

vertical mile straight down looking west. Our route of descent, the

Banana Chute, is a squiggle of snow through rocks, a 45-degree

avalanche path that pinches down to just 15 feet wide between rock

bands at points during the ski.

Needless to say, avalanche savvy is necessary for a trip like this. We

had transceivers, shovels, probes, and Avalung breathing apparatuses.

Card, Brown, and Robinson spent a half-hour assessing snow conditions

before making the leap into the top of the chute.

Once my edges were on the snow—which was mostly solid wind slab with

occasional powder—the descent went quick. I rode the Black Diamond

Kilowatt skis, mid-fat boards that handled the terrain with aplomb.

After making it past the maw of the chute, we weaved through trees and

experimented with runs off side ridges. At one point we skied a

blissful 50 turns through knee-deep Utah fluff. The ski ended with a

long and flat trail along a creekbed, branches whipping in our faces

for a half-hour or so as we pushed along.

Then the cars came into sight. I skied right to the pavement’s edge on

27th St., and clicked out. It’d been a couple hours and more than 5,000

vertical feet of skiing. Not a bad way at all to spend a Saturday


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I meant to lay down this blog on Friday after two days of snooping the halls of this year's Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show in Salt Lake City. But skiing, in the guise of big backcountry descents in the Wasatch Range, got in the way this weekend of me doing much of anything productive. So now, without further ado, here are a few more hot items from the show floor, backpacks, water booties, jackets, electrolyte-laced hot cocoa and all. . .




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     Today begins the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show in Salt Lake City, where hundreds of companies announce thousands of new products for the $289 billion outdoor industry. The Gear Junkie is on the ground in Utah, walking the show floor in search of the best and most intriguing new equipment and apparel. Here's update No. 1, direct from the halls of the Salt Palace convention center to you. . .









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In one week I head west to the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, a trade fair in Salt Lake City for apparel and gear buyers + journalists like me. The problem with reporting this show for a web site is that most of the gear featured on the show floor is for next season, i.e., autumn of 2008 or later.






Little of it is available for testing or purchasing for months out. But what about looking at last year's digs?


The following story, which I wrote at the 2007 winter show, highlights 10 product picks that should be on the store shelves now, including an "all-season" sled, a knife, crampons, trail runners with shock-absorbing lugs, and wool lingerie for the outdoors set. . .

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Winter Camping Gear

Posted by Stephen Regenold Jan 15, 2008


Few outdoor pursuits draw such strong reaction as winter camping. The idea of laying down in the snow, closing your eyes and going to sleep is a ridiculous concept for most of the population.




But modern equipment for winter camping, including puffy sleeping bags, pads, shelters and bivy sacks, makes the task more bearable. From the Gear Junkie Archives, here's my review of several winter camping products to keep you warm sleeping outdoors any time of the year. . .


Or, for a different take on winter camping, check out this Gear Junkie Adventures story on my trip a couple winters back to ski and camp (in January) in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park:



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The annual Winter Trails day is being held this upcoming weekend, on Saturday, Jan. 12th. This is a program that offers free snowshoe and XC ski equipment rentals at approximately 100 locations in 24 states.


Visit the Winter Trails website to find a participating resort near you:



In addition to Winter Trails snowshoe and cross country ski events, several state resort associations, including Ski Utah, Vermont Ski Areas Association, Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association, Colorado Ski Country USA, New Hampshire, Ski Areas Association and others, are offering free or affordable learning programs for alpine skiing and snowboarding. Many of these programs can be found at



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The Ultimate Fight

Posted by Stephen Regenold Jan 8, 2008

This post has nothing to do with the outdoors. Or gear. But you should read it simply for the Schadenfreude of it all, which is to say reveling in my misery as I went down on the mat for a story with a trained Ultimate Fighter named Austin Judge last month. This story describes a practice session where I learned -- and was the recipient of -- moves like the skip knee, the Thai clinch and a neck-tweaking hold called the guillotine. . .


For the past decade in America, the discipline du jour has been ultimate fighting, an anything-goes form of combat that mixes martial arts, boxing and wrestling to create matches made to mimic a real-world quarrel. "It answers the age-old question of who can beat who, and what fighting style will win," said Eric Aasen, owner of the American School of Martial Arts in Savage, Minn.


Dubbed "human cockfighting" by opponents, ultimate fighting has for years struggled for legitimization. Early fights matched such improbable opponents as massive sumo wrestlers against lithe kickboxers. The sport's bloody, bare-knuckled duels, which took place in octagonal cages, appalled public figures as prominent as Sen. John McCain, who contacted state governors in 1996 in an attempt to stomp support.


Ultimate fighting -- also called extreme fighting, no-holds-barred fighting, or, more generally, mixed martial arts or MMA -- was banned from broadcast and vilified by state sports commissioners. New York outlawed the sport completely in 1997, with a district attorney in Brooklyn threatening assault charges for competitors if fights continued.


But the sport has matured in recent years, with new rules, imposed weight classes, and industry consolidation that has helped to standardize competition format. Government sports-sanctioning bodies now regulate mixed martial arts matches in many states, including Minnesota, which last summer passed a law to put ultimate fighting under the jurisdiction of the state's Boxing Commission.


At the American School of Martial Arts, Aasen has 15 active fighters in training, including Derek Abram, a 23-year-old competitor from Savage who spends more than 35 hours a week in the gym. Last month, on a frigid Tuesday evening, I joined Abram and 10 other students in an hourlong mixed martial arts class. Aasen led the session, which focused on grappling moves and close-range clinches.


Go here for the full story:



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Long-time Gear Junkie readers might still remember when the column only appeared in newsprint. That's right, my efforts to review all the world's greatest gear began in the humble back pages of a sports section in Minneapolis.





Well, the column has grown, spurning a web site ( plus now 10 syndicate newspapers that spread the Gospel of the Gear Junkie to about 2 million readers a week, from Albuquerque to Seattle, east all the way to Greensboro, N.C. And today we welcome a new paper: The Twin Falls Times-News, an Idaho publication headquartered south a ways from Ketchum, east from Boise, and in the middle of some of the best undiscovered wilderness in the Lower 48s.


Here's one of my columns on the paper's web site:


Now, in total, here is the running tally of Gear Junkie syndicate publications: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Albuquerque Journal, Casper Star-Tribune, Spokane Spokesman-Review, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Greensboro News-Record, Cape Cod Times, Jackson Hole Star Tribune, Redding Record Searchlight, Billings Gazette, Twin Falls Times-News +

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The Primal Quest brand is synonymous with week-long kill-me-now adventure races through some of the wildest terrain on the planet. (I know: I saw God several times while doing the race in Utah during July of 2006.) But what about applying the Primal Quest structure to shorter races, indeed "sprints" that last just three to five hours.


In a conversation yesterday with Primal Quest CEO Don Mann, I was given some details on a developing new series of races that the company hopes to launch as soon as fall of 2008. The Primal Quest Adventure Race Sprint Series, as Mann preliminarily called it, would involve six to eight races a year spread around the U.S.

Teams of two, yes, two people per team, will race in the 3- to 5-hour events, marching through the common AR disciplines of cycling, trekking/trail running, orienteering, paddling and climbing.


Plus, Mann said he wants to bring back the "mystery challenge," those hokey team-building activities of AR yore where someone, say, puts an egg in their mouth and runs the 50-yard dash wearing a blindfold. But Mann's vision of the neo-mystery challenge actually sounds cool: He wants to incorporate military-style field exercises like cargo net climbs and "log drills," in which a team has to use muscle power and mind to move telephone poles over a wall or through the woods, and so on.

Mann said the Primal Quest Adventure Race Sprint Series will likely kick off with a race in "the Virginia area" in the fall of 2008. There will be 100 people allowed in each event. Up to eight PQ Sprint races could be on the calendar for 2009.


"The sport of adventure racing has taken a hit in the last couple years," Mann said. "I hope this can replace the void now that sprint race series like the Hi-Tec have gone away."


Monitor for more details.



1. Stephen Regenold's feature story on his experience in Primal Quest Utah (2006)


2. Primal Quest Video


3. Photo essay/slideshow on Primal Quest Utah (click on image)


4. Gear Review: Primal Quest Gear, part I: Trekking


5. Gear Review: Primal Quest Gear, part II: Biking


6. Gear Review: Primal Quest Gear, part III: Water Segment






1. Harvard studies Adventure Racing


2. The Adventure Easting Diet


3. Update on AR (Stephen Regenold writes on AR in the New York Times)


4. Gear Review: Mandatory Gear's Adventure Racing line


5. Gear Review: Salomon S-Lab XA Pro 3 shoes





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