Perhaps it was the face plant into ankle deep mud, my feet ensnared in slippery roots and grasping vines, my pack pressing me deeper into the sludge. Or maybe it was bushwhacking through a tunnel of needle-prick gorse, my arms and face cut by a thousand tiny, green swords. Or, no, it could have been the time an electric fence was stretched directly across the trail—when I realized New Zealand’s famed Te Araroa might not quite be what I was expecting.
For some, winter adventures in the backcountry mean snow camping, for others, backcountry skiing. Whether you see yourself building a snow shelter or checking snow conditions this season, you’ll need snow tools you can rely on to deliver unmatched performance in the field. Developing gear that’s safer and easier to use is something MSR has been doing for more than four decades, and it’s a focus that has led to innovations in snow tools, including our new snow saws. But first, a little history…
By Ali Carr Troxell Picture this: a bunch of svelte mountain athletes rabbiting between slack-lining, base-jumping, paragliding, and free-soloing…wearing clown shoes. All at a frenetic pace set to music that’s better suited to a big top than an outdoor film. This mash up of skilled athletes and acrobatic circus performers is the premise behind the French film, Petit Bus Rouge (or Little Red Bus, as it translates). It’s a sure audience-pleaser scheduled for this year’s Radical Reels tour.
As many winter hikers, snowshoers, skiers and splitboarders will attest, backcountry poles help you maintain stability and safety as you cross snowfields, navigate icy switchbacks, and traverse frozen hillsides. Plus, they help you reduce joint impact and minimize fatigue, so you can save strength and better endure the elements. Adjustable winter poles are especially useful for navigating steep inclines and descents, letting you shorten or lengthen poles to match the terrain for improved efficiency. Adjustable poles also pack up and stow away easily while in technical terrain, or when splitboarders are ready to ride down. Here are five frequently asked questions (FAQs) of our customer service department along with information to help you select and use MSR® backcountry poles that are right for you, for your environment, and for the…
More than 4,000 years in the making, modern snowshoes have migrated from their roots in Central Asia to become a popular form of recreation worldwide for all types of adventurers. Annually, millions of cold weather enthusiasts explore city parks to national parks on plastic and metal-framed footwear designed for snow flotation. And selecting the perfect snowshoes for the intended terrain and snow conditions will only heighten the experience for everyone.
Viruses take the cake as tiniest of the waterborne microorganisms that cause illness in humans—smaller than both protozoa and bacteria. These nasty little bugs are also the least understood by scientists, and cause the greatest range of symptoms across infected individuals. The good new is, in North American backcountries, viruses are typically considered much less of a concern than the other pathogenic threats.
Bacteria are everywhere—on you, in you, in the soil, and yes, even in the wilderness’ cool, refreshing water sources. In fact harmless species of these single-cell organisms exist naturally in the backcountry’s rivers and pools. But humans and animals can carry harmful bacteria as well, and spread these pathogens to the water, making it risky if you happen to drink from the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of these bacteria are the same notorious headline grabbers associated with foodborne outbreaks or epidemics after natural disasters. We’ll discuss those and others, but first a few general facts.
Research backcountry water treatment and you’re sure to be warned about cryptosporidium or “crypto.” And for good reason. This microscopic protozoan parasite is one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in humans in the United States. Like the parasite giardia, crypto is found in water sources worldwide, and affects individuals differently. Fortunately, the disease it causes is rarely life-threatening in healthy adults. In fact, some 80% of the U.S. population has had cryptosporidiosis at some time, according to the FDA. Still, its symptoms are nasty enough that you’ll want to take strides to avoid it on your next backpacking trip.
If you find the published information about Giardia confusing and inconsistent, it’s because the information is a reflection of the parasite itself. Giardia is a multifaceted protozoan that affects individuals differently. It can be prevalent in one small corner of a lake, and practically absent in other parts of the same body of water. In the context of backcountry water, cases of Giardia are rarely diagnosed or reported and there haven’t been enough scientific studies to understand the risks to backcountry travelers. To further complicate the matter, the symptoms of Giardia are difficult to distinguish from those of cryptosporidium, another parasite.