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Keep frostbite at bay There’s a saying: there’s no such thing as bad weather if you have the right gear. Because I run trips through the winter months to some of the most inhospitable places on Earth and have damaged a few piggy toes with frostbite, I’ve learned the hard way what it takes to stay safe and (almost) toasty in the frigid north. I photograph polar bears, auroras, and the Iditarod—all of which can be found above the Arctic Circle from October through March—when smart folks opt for the beaches of Hawaii and Mexico. But truly, those people are unnecessarily missing out—big time. I blame my frostbite on stupidity, of course, but also on the adrenaline and awe that numb my common sense. Despite jackhammer shivering and the icepick piercing stings of 30 below temperatures, I refuse to exchange what just might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a cup…

Gear Review The Meindl family began making footwear more than 300 years ago in a small village in Germany. Since then, the business, passed down from each previous generation of the family, has become recognized worldwide for making quality boots designed for hikers and hunters. Meindl designed a collection of wool socks specifically for rough and blister-prone types of travel. I tested three of their wool socks, the MT6 Midweight, MT8 Heavyweight, and the MT Jagd Heavyweight, last late fall and winter. I used my Meindl socks for wet hikes in the mountains and valleys in my home in southeast Alaska. They were also my go-to for the numerous sledding expeditions I made with my two young boys. While designed for rough travel and lots of miles, they are extremely comfortable. I’m not used to wool socks fitting so well. Even after a long day, they didn’t slip a millimeter. I live in…

Gear Review By Bjorn Dihle When it comes to backpacks, Mystery Ranch makes some of the toughest, most long-lasting on the market. The brand is known for hunting, climbing, firefighting, and military grade products, so I was surprised when I got my hands on their new Catalyst 22L backpack. It was more “urban” than I expected. Imagine a backpack you’d use for work or school, but that’s also a good day hiking pack, and you have the Catalyst. Mystery Ranch designed it for office work, coffee shop life, and whatever else the urban wilderness can throw at you. It has a padded sleeve for a laptop and organizing sleeves for a tablet or notebooks. However, it’s still built tough enough for a wet, nasty day-long bushwhack up a mountain in Alaska. The Catalyst comes in three different sizes: 18L, 22L, and 26L. It has Mystery Ranch’s well-regarded, handy three-zipper access…

Gear Review I got the Regatta Bell Tent intending to use it for glamping on an island near Juneau. My plan was to set it up in the spring on a piece of property my family owns, so my kids and other family members would have a nice shelter for the summer. It was late in the warm season when I got the tent and, since work had me out of town, I wasn’t able to make good on that dream. Instead, just as the late summer rains and winds were coming to southeast Alaska, I pitched it in my backyard. It was quick, easy, one-man set up. My four-year-old promptly moved in and insisted that we sleep in it for the next three weeks. During the day, he, his younger brother, and their cousins spent hours playing in it. White Duck uses a tent fabric they call DYNADUCK. The…

Gear Review By Bjorn Dihle When Ditale, an outdoors women’s clothing company, reached out to me about testing their Sofia Adventure Pants, my wife, MC, happened to be looking over my shoulder. I felt weird at the idea of reviewing women’s clothing, so, luckily MC was happy to take the task on herself. She loves Sofia Adventure Pants. They’re clearly high quality, and are warm in cool conditions, breathable, and rain-resistant—all prized qualities in southeast Alaska’s cool, rainy, temperate rainforest. She’s worn them hiking, sledding, foraging, fishing, and kid-wrangling (which is a part of most her activities) and is planning to wear them hunting when Sitka blacktail season kicks off. They have several big pockets, including the typical hand-sized front pockets and big, snap-closed pockets at about mid-thigh that are handy for things you might want easy access to and have proven handy multiple times. She was initially afraid they…