After a few cold nights at high elevation I interested in investing in a 0-degree bag. My research has directed me towards a down bag, possibly with a Pertex or DryLoft shell. I have been considering the Feathered Friends Tern, but know little about the company. I've also looked into the Mountain Hardware Universe SL, but don't know the effectiveness of the shell. I would greatly appreciate your input. Carissa Colorado Springs, Colorado

When out hiking, I'm tired of getting my good-quality boots soaking wet when crossing knee-high stres. Worse still, repeatedly taking off my boots and putting on sneakers or water shoes is a drag, not to mention time consuming. So what's the solution, gear sage? Are there any "water boots" that are sturdy enough to handle trail hiking with a 25 to 35 pound pack, but that can also withstand multiple stre crossings and total immersion? Surely I'm not the only soggy hiker out there. Mitchell Fountain Valley, California

I have a Gore-Tex Mocha jacket, which is about seven years old and seems to repeatedly lose its water repellency. I have treated it with Gore Revive-X several times, but there are only a few areas on the coat where water beads up, and even then not for long. As a result, I often feel clmy if it's raining hard, although I don't think I'm actually getting wet from the outside. Does Gore-Tex have a lifespan, after which it's not that great even if you keep treating it? Basically, is it time for the old Mocha to be replaced? Karen Wellington, New Zealand

I'll be skiing in the Austrian Alps this winter. What's the essential gear for avalanche safety? We're not all supported by James Bond-level technology, but I was wondering what sort of equipment you'd recommend for going off piste. Brian York, United Kingdom

What's your opinion of the Trailstove wood burning stove for backpacking? Bill Stell Charlottesville, Virginia

I've heard that under non-extreme conditions my hiking pole can be used as a self-arrest tool when crossing steeply inclined snowfields. As much as I would love to buy an ice axe and add it to the chaos of my gear closet, I don't want to purchase an item when an existing tool would work just as well. Should I indulge my gear habit or stick with what I've got? PG Hancock Littleton, Colorado

After spending all my life camping in the mountains of the eastern United States, I've fallen in love with the southwest Texas desert, and I'm in the process of learning about those techniques and equipment that will work in that very different environment. No trees, blazing sun, the ground too hard to set stakes, fairly constant strong winds... The first problem to solve would be creating some shade... My Integral Designs Siltarp, which works great in the forests of Virginia, is useless as a sunshade, being almost transparent. Are there any tarps out there that would be suitable for sunshade duty, or is a piece of black six-mil poly my best bet? Bill Stell Charlottesville, VA

What's your take on Backpacker's Pantry Outback Oven? Does the Outback Oven really bake well and also conserves fuel for cooking traditional grub? After a zillion meals of mac and cheese, ren, gorp, and dried fruits, the Ziplocs carrying the food start looking more appetizing then the food within. The idea of dining on hot cinnon rolls, fresh pita bread, pot pies, or (gasp!) brownies does make me wonder if the Outback Oven really works or if it's just another ravenous hikers delusions? Ed Beaudry Laurel, Maryland

Because of a small fire in our house I need to have three down sleeping bags, a jacket, and a vest cleaned. I need some suggestions of companies that will handle this operation and do it correctly. I may find other equipment and clothes as the clean up process progresses that need cleaning also. The smell smoke and soot of a house fire is not the se as that of a campfire! Gary Johnson Collegeville, Pennsylvania

Will boiling or adding chlorine dioxide to water neutralize all organic chemicals (i.e., industrial waste)? Also, should you filter water after using iodine or chlorine dioxide to purify it? Does ViralStop (from SweetWater) kill anything other than viruses? Basically, what's the simplest, lightest way of neutralizing EVERYTHING? Seyil Toronto, Ontario

I would like your opinion on the Grigna 2800 trekking boots by an Italian company ned Armond. My main concern is the long-term quality of the boots since Armond is not a well-known brand and their boots cost about a third less than those made by more popular companies. I intend to trek to the top of Kilimanjaro this year. Ngoc Dung Phung Montreal, Quebec

I'm in the market for a decent down jacket but don't want to fork over the money for a Feathered Friends Rock & Ice Parka, as good as it is. What do you know about the Frobisher 700 Parka from Mountain Equipment Co-Op (a Canadian company)? It's stuffed with about 16.5 ounces of 700-fill down, has a Dryloft shell, and sells for about $285. It seems like deal to me! But I'm curious how it stacks up against Mountain Hardwear's Sub Zero SL Parka. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Michael Gebhardt Chattanooga, Tennessee

I have one of the new MSR MiniWorks EX water filters, my first, and it works great. One of my buddies tells me to filter water from a still pool, but another says to filter from fast-moving water: Do you think it matters much? Personally, I just try and go for the clearest water I can find. Mike Eldorado, Illinois

I'd like to invest in a pair of waterproof-breathable pants for one- or two-week treks where I might encounter rain and snow. Ideally, the pants would not be too bulky as they might spend quite some time in my backpack (I hope). If possible, please note any brands that I can find in Europe! Nicolas Heverlee, Belgium

I enjoy weekend hiking and overseas travel. At the se time, I want to look good when I dress casually. Because of this, I spent $400 on a Patagonia XCR Gore-Tex jacket when Patagonia opened its first branch in Hong Kong last year. It's a very expensive outfit, but I do like it. However, after reading all your gear recommendations, it seems I could have bought something similar or even better. So, I'm now thinking of buying a fleece jacket for cold weather. Do you have any cheaper recommendations? June Hong Kong

I have been contemplating hiking the Appalachian Trail. Having spoken to a number of through-hikers, I'm told that many are using homemade alcohol stoves made from soda cans. Can you give me your take on alcohol stoves? Have you had any dealings with an alcohol stove known as the Trangia? Mark New York City

I looking into buying a soft-shell jacket and interested in the Cloudveil Serendipity, the Arc'teryx Gma, and another jacket from Salomon. What are your opinions on these jackets and are there any others that I should consider? Mike Kane Rock Island, Illinois

Recently, I bece aware of the cruel process of obtaining down feathers and I don't want to buy down products if I can help it. Please recommend a synthetic fill jacket that can keep me as warm as a regular down jacket does. Megan Singapore

Do you think the Bibler's Tempest is too much tent for Oregon's Mount Hood? I'm looking for a four-season tent in the $400 to $500 price range. I plan to live in it for a while (at least three to four months) as a volunteer. Joe Venice, California

What do you think of the Yashica T4 Zoom camera? In the past, you often recommended the now-discontinued non-zoom Yashica T4 Super; the T4 Zoom is advertised as its replacement. What is your verdict on the T4 Zoom? Worthy successor to the T4 Super, or an imposter with a trendy zoom lens that has unfairly appropriated the respected T4 moniker? Jock Washington, DC

I in search of a backpack with a volume of 6,000 to 7,000 cubic inches for a month-long expedition that departs on November 29! Price is not an issue—I'm seeking a good fit for my five-foot-six fre and 17.5-inch torso. The Arc'Teryz Bora 75 women's pack fits well, but the volume is too small. I have also tried the Gregory Denali Pro, which has the capacity but not the fit. Cecilia Canmore, Alberta

I'm a middle-aged backpacker trying to lighten my load. I'll will be "climbing" Mount Shucksan in Washington this summer with a guide. A member of our group maintains that Stubai makes a pair of multi-purpose, lightweight crampons that are great for any boot. I'm wearing Asolo Fusion 95 GTX, which I really like, and these crampons are supposed to be okay for these boots. At best, I'll only be doing one climbing trip per year, but would like a pair of lightweight crampons for crossing the occasional snowfield in the Northwest. What are your thoughts about the adequacy of these crampons (and boots) for a non-technical climb such as the one on Mount Shuksan? Don Uslan Seattle, Washington

Are soft shells for real, and can they adequately replace a 300-weight fleece as an insulating layer for mountaineering? Would they give me the benefits of a windproof, waterproof, and breathable layer before the hard shell is donned when the weather gets really nasty? Matt San Ron, California

Is DryLoft on a down sleeping bag worth it? I've noticed that it's not appearing as often as it used to on down winter sleeping bags. David Morlock St. Paul, Minnesota

Dear Gear Guru, Each year I spend more and more time engaging in technically demanding backpacking, backcountry skiing, and mountaineering trips into the remote backcountry. Due to my exposure, the natural dangers of the mountains, and the probability of accidents, the need for a reliable and durable communications system has arisen. Do you know of a system that has long-range communication capabilities and can withstand the needs of being both portable and durable? Is a satellite phone the answer? As always, I look forward to the wisdom of your responses. Sean Constine

I'm looking for an ultra-lightweight three- to four-season ski touring tent for spring in the Sierra, though it'd be nice if it could handle some winter weather also. I HATE carrying a lot of weight ski touring. Any ideas? David Hunn Long Beach, California

Are there any materials that can offer reasonable rain protection and still breathe well? I can't use Gore-Tex in anything but the coldest conditions without getting significantly dp. How does REI's Elements line stack up? Ken Johnson Hollister, California

I'm looking for a mountaineering boot for tackling some of the Lower 48's fourteeners. I've reviewed the Koflach Degre and the Asolo Guide, but I'm also interested in some of the newer leather boots, like the Scarpa Cerro Torre Thermo. Have the new insulated leathers finally become an acceptable solution, or should I stick with doubles? Matt San Ron, California

I looking for an internal fre pack that will handle solo weekends, and group week-long outings, but most importantly, comfortably fit my petite (105-pound), feminine fre without breaking the bank. What do you suggest? y Walsh Tallahassee, Florida

What's a good trail-running/adventure-racing shoe for an over-pronating runner like myself? I need to buy a new pair of shoes quickly! Rob Indianapolis, Indiana

What is the best hat for summer backpacking? Cotton baseball hats are too hot, too sweaty; synthetic caps are a little cooler. But how about a straw hat? In particular, the L.L. Bean Summer Straw Hat that supposedly folds up and packs easily? By the way, your reviews are probably more useful and readable than all the others. Congratulations, and thanks! Marshall Atlanta, Georgia

My 2003 hiking season shall henceforth be known as the "Summer of the Bee," for all the stings I got. The long spell of dry weather was suggested to me as a reason, which I liked better than bad karma! Anyway, I quickly used up the three sting wipes in my first-aid kit and now own both REI's Sting Eze and After Bite. To my surprise, these two products use completely different active ingredients. Which one works best on stings? Chris Silverdale, Washington

Great burning bush of the gear desert, Marmot Precip hat or urban sombrero? I want to buy a good waterproof hat; hoods are cool and all, but they're sometimes a pain in the fanny pack. I have read that you often prefer hats to hoods. So, would you choose the Marmot Precip Safari Hat, the Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero, or something different altogether? Please help me before I do something dumb—like ask someone else. Jay Eugene, Oregon

I'm so frustrated by how much boot sizes vary, even within the se model! I'm a woman, narrowing my options to begin with, and I'm a woman with narrow feet. I've tried several different La Sportiva and Salomon models, but still can't find the perfect fit. I don't have the option of trying boots on in stores as nobody around here has anything in women's sizes, so I've been mail ordering, to no avail. Can you help me? BJ Guilderland, New York

I bought a Canon Rebel 2000 kit in July to take with me to Alaska. I fully expected the picture to be crystal sharp—you know, the azure sky with white clouds and glacier and stuff. But after I came back and got them developed, I was very disappointed. Seems like the pictures are pretty grainy (like those taken using an APS camera), especially those sky/clouds and glacier ones. I used 200 speed Kodak Gold and the weather was sunny, but not too bright. What can I do to make the pictures turn out better when I go to AK again next year? Should I change the lens, the film, or the camera? If so, could you make some affordable suggestions? I'd rather not change the camera, unless of course, it'll give me great advantage. Oh, I got them developed at Ritz Camera, if that helps. Maybe their equipment just can't handle it. Please help me out here, I'm desperate! No Name Given

I'm going to a mountainous part of New Mexico this summer. On a previous six-day trip I took a pair of Asolo 535s, but this time I'll be trekking for about 12 days, in addition to a couple of shorter hikes to get acclimated. Since my old pair will need to be put to pasture (they deserve it), I'm wondering if the Asolo 535 will be tough enough for a longer trek, and also whether a pair of thicker Montrail Vercors boots might get too hot in New Mexico. Dave Charlotte, North Carolina

I am looking for a tent that will repel dew, especially as I hate the damp feeling that comes from wet grass. Which tent do you recommend? I don't do much camping, but I do like to be comfortable when I do. Tara Bowler, Wisconsin

My husband and I are neophyte campers who need a tent that is reasonably priced, waterproof (Florida's thunderstorms are sudden and legendary), roomy, well ventilated (humidity here reaches 99 percent most of the year), and useful for both forest and beachside camping. Did I mention that we have only $150 to spend? Lynn Orlando, Florida

I a member of Vail Mountain Rescue Group and have been nominated the "gear girl" in charge of finding a good windstopper fleece jacket for our te. We are looking for something comfortable, flexible, and warm, but that's not too bulky and stands up well in the cold (one of our members complained that the Lowe Alpine version gets very stiff in the cold). Any suggestions? Leslie Vail, Colorado

I need to buy a pair of boots that will work well on Mount Rainer and Mount McKinley. They need to be waterproof and crampon compatible. I don't need them to be overly heavy but they have to keep frostbite away in a storm. What are some options for both plastic and leather boots? Jeremy

My fiancC) has an old REI dome tent that she loves and always insists on bringing, though I'm convinced, because of its age, it's destined to soon become just some tattered prayer flags along the trail and leave us shelterless. She doesn't like any of the current tent designs because their vestibules completely protect the door and prevent you from being able to easily watch the rain. The REI dome is great because its door has two parts—a screen door and ripstop nylon door that you can zip part of the way up to keep rain out. Does anybody still make a dome tent like this? Mark Scantlebury Portland, Oregon

Where can I find a waterproof video camera, for filming surfing and other stuff? Luke Ft. Myers, Florida

My girlfriend has had problems finding a boot for her narrow foot. In particular every boot she has tried so far has caused blisters on her heels due to slippage. Can you suggest a backpacking/hiking boot for women with narrow heels? Jon Rauer Charleston, West Virginia

I'm looking to get a lightweight and compact pair of binoculars to carry with me on hikes. Do you have any general tips and some recommendations for good buys? Joe Voelcker Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In one of your long-ago columns, you gave the scoop on the well-known Cascade Designs Chair Kit and the Therm-a-Rest Chair Lounger. But in the spirit of "discovering" unknown, neglected products, does the Gear Guy have a take on the Sling-light chair (naturally, at Does this alternative, lightweight product deserve our consideration? Marshall Atlanta, Georgia

Oh Gear God, I've eschewed "wind-blocking" fleece over the years in the belief that something like Marmot's Driclime Windshirt is more efficient. But then I went to Patagonia and discovered their oh-so-tempting R4 jacket. Of course, having disdained wind-blocking fleece for so long, I know nothing of the advantages and disadvantages of Gore Windstopper, Polartec Windbloc, and Windbloc-ACT. Can you enlighten me? And, while you're at it, do you think the ever-so pricey Patagonia version is worth the extra dough? Finally, is it gilding the lily to put a windbreaker over one of these wind-blocking whatchacallits to keep them dry in a light rain? Mark San Francisco, California

I'm moving in two weeks' time to a small island in Micronesia to teach for a year, and I've been told we will have no running water or electricity. Could you recommend an air mattress or cot that will last nine months and be pseudo-comfortable? How about reliable solar-rechargeable batteries? Or a sturdy water purifier/filter? Or anything else for that matter, as I'm at my wit's end! I will mail you coconuts and other treats from the Marshall Islands. Jourdan Mii, Florida

As the years go by, my wife and I find ourselves looking for lighter and lighter hiking and camping equipment, especially in terms of our shelter which takes up a significant portion of our pack weight. What's the word on Henry Shires' Tarptents? Their Squall weighs only 24.5 ounces and offers two people a roomy 44 square feet of space. Could this be the lightweight remedy to aching backs and our three-season shelter needs? V. Tran Galveston, Texas

I'm planning a through-hike of the Continental Divide Trail this summer, and I want to go ultra-light. What's the best tarp to use—the easiest to set up, the best in wind, and so on? Syd Seattle, Washington

Man, I confused! I want to purchase a synthetic-fill jacket for an upcoming canoe trip in Big Bend National Park. But it seems that all the major brands employ a different type of fill, running the gut from Polarguard HV and 3-D to Heatshield and Primaloft. So, Doug, I turn to you for expert guidance. Which is the best synthetic fill for warmth and compressibility? If there is not a "best", then what are the advantages of each? Finally, what jacket would you take? Steve Hurst, Texas

Oh Gear Guide, you have failed us! Over and over I have heard you espouse the quality of the Yashica, so I decided that the T4 was the camera for me. Unfortunately, after hours of searching, I find out that the T4 has not been made for years! Just recently, you suggested the camera but didn't mention that it would be impossible to find. With the T4 no longer on the market, what kind of camera would you suggest? Mike Newark, Ohio

I've got a Bibler Betid tarp, and looking for some extra protection for my Mountain Hardwear sleeping bag (down with Conduit SL shell). I don't want to carry the Betid's floor since it is a bit heavy, and doesn't offer the protection I want. Please suggest a sleeping bag cover or bivy that will allow my bag to breathe, yet shed any moisture from condensation or the occasional exposure to rain. I'd prefer not to break the bank on this, as well. Dennis Staley Englewood, Colorado

What's the best handheld altimeter for mountaineering? I have looked at the Suunto, Brunton, and Thommen models, but not sure which has the best features for high-altitude Alaskan climbing? Ron Toronto, Ontario

What's a good, moderately priced tire for mountain biking in the snow? I'm not looking to spend a fortune for a studded snow tire, just something with better traction that I can use in the spring as well. Paul Patterson, New York

I want a chest pack to carry my Pentax 67II camera and its lens. It will need to have padded shoulder straps and a strap to hold it tight around my waist. Any ideas? Kiim Clackas, Oregon

Dear gear swi, I'm looking to get back into mountain biking but have absolutely no clue about mountain bikes these days. I haven't ridden one nor done any research in about six years. If you could reach into the vast knowledge that you call a brain and offer some advice on bikes in range of about $1000, I would be in great debt to you. (And I would prefer a hardtail.) J.R. Venice, California

Hola Señor Gear: After ten days of tromping in the Peruvian rainforest in borrowed rubber boots, my insteps are bruised from roots and stumps and my toes want to grip the inside of my shoes for stability. Yet, I'm convinced that rubber boots are the only way to go in jungle conditions. Are there rubber boots with hiking boot soles and at least a little support for the ankles? Bob St. Louis, Missouri

Backpacks are a bit of a problem for me because I rather well endowed and the straps get pushed out onto my arms when walking—with all the consequent chafing. Can you recommend a pack with front crossover straps, or an alternative that leaves me unchafed? Deborian Boca Raton, Florida

I'm planning a summit attempt on Mount Rainier this August and a possible bid for Denali in May 2004, so in the process of upgrading my gear, particularly boots and sleeping bag. My budget may not allow for separate gear for each climb. I've been looking at Millet's Everest Boot and the North Face Inferno bag as my options, but prices are steep! Do you have any other suggestions, and is this gear suitable, or even overkill, for both climbs? Michael Stoneh, Massachusetts

Oh Great Gear Voice of the Heavens, What's a nice, dry, two-person, three-season tent with two doors and vestibules? My current tent is a Sierra Designs Orion AST. It's a very well built tent and stayed completely dry in a very wet trip to Deer Lake in Olympic National Park. I like being able to use only the rain fly and ground sheet as well as the window in the fly. The problem is that the very slanted door lets stuff collect in the tent entrance and makes zipping and unzipping tough. It also makes the vestibule useless for anything but boots. I hope to get a new tent with two doors that are straight up and down, but don't want to lose the high quality and rain-proofness. I willing to give up a little in weight if I could get a ground sheet that covers the floors of the vestibule as well. Chris Barnes Bremerton, Washington

On a recent winter excursion in the Adirondacks, my Whisperlite stove failed. The fuel was pressurizing, but it wasn't reaching the ignition wick due to a blockage in the fuel line. Why does this happen in cold weather (our temperature was in the single digits), and how can it be prevented? John Buffalo, New York

I just read Outside's review of the new light technical shells coming out on the market and I realized that none of them are using W.L. Gore's PacLite material. A few years ago this stuff was the rage, but now I don't see any big ne manufacturers using it. Why is PacLite going off of the market? Is it a crummy material? Aaron Provo, Utah

I'm 55 and like to ride bikes. Here near Lake Michigan in late spring, it's often sunny and cool. I see a lot of die-hard bikers wearing tights, but I'm not there anything else I can wear? I tried tennis warm-ups, but they're too slippery on the bike seat. Stu Highland Park, Illinois

My wife and I are going bike camping this summer. Are there any light two-person sleeping bags, or single bags that zip together? We need the bag(s)—preferably down-filled—to also fold down as small as possible. The cheapest we've found is about $500 for two. Do you have any better suggestions? Harvey Davis, California

Do you have any tips for taking a dog on trail? I'm taking my dog on her first trip and want to protect my gear without constantly worrying about it. Are those packs dogs wear a good idea? Will she dage the inside of my tent? Kieran Hosey Frankfort, Kentucky

I want to buy some new cross-country skis that I can use for both touring and downhill, maybe something along the lines of the Karhu Catounts. While these seem to work well for touring on ungroomed trails, would these also suit for telemarking on blue-square trails? Rusty Cresco, Pennsylvania

Not really a gear question, but can you tell me about all the pre-packaged trail food on the market? What have you tried? What's the best? Also, do you know of any Web sites with a good selection of trail recipes, especially vegetarian? Melissa Greenwood, Delaware

Dear Knowledgable one, I have a Twister 270 HPX backpacking stove that uses a butane canister for fuel. I've used it several times and quite pleased with its cooking ability. However, when I place it on uneven ground, I have to go through a balancing act to keep from dumping out my dinner. Is there is a tripod attachment or some other system that would help keep my canister level during cooking? Richard Kipphut Cheshire, Connecticut

Because I sweat at a moderate activity level in cold temperatures, my insulation gets dp and looses it effectiveness. Layering and reducing exertion does not eliminate the problem. I a human fire hydrant. I have heard that vapor barriers could really help. Any suggestions on what to look for and brands? Ed Eugene, Oregon

I planning a two-day, one-night hiking trip along the Appalachian Trail and looking for a gear list. Could you suggest what to pack and a couple of menus (with per person measurements)? The last time I took a trip, my girlfriend and I lugged so much food we could have fed five. Seth New York City

I have an aging Columbia anorak shell that I'd like to replace. The problem is that I'm having trouble finding any new anorak-style jackets. I don't mind pulling the thing over my head and love the big front pocket. Any suggestions for a replacement, something I can use when hiking, climbing, and skiing? Chris Albuquerque, New Mexico

I know you're not supposed to store your sleeping bag stuffed, but I need something to contain it in while I not using it. Will a garbage bag work, or should I buy some kind of mesh bag for it? Sarah New Canaan, Connecticut

Your Gearness, I started mountain biking about two months ago and bought a Gary Fisher Tassahara. I bought all of the needed accessories—Celbak, spd shoes, and clipless pedals—but have a question regarding shorts. I bought three pairs of six-panel Lycra shorts and love them. But, I see a lot of mountain bikers wearing baggy shorts. What do you think of them? I tried a pair of Zoic Vigor shorts and the Lycra liner's pad felt thin. What do you think about just using the six-panel short and putting knee length Cordura hiking short over them? Patrick Fetizanan Chicago, Illinois

Could you please tell me what you figure the efficiency of slicks versus knobby biking tires is? A local dealer says it is insignificant, and I figure it is ten to 15 percent. Bill Invermere, British Columbia

I have gotten into section hiking the AT and whenever I go and carry a fair load (more than 30 pounds) I come home with strawberries (abrasions) on my hips from the waist belts. HELP ME! Jeff Hatcher Mcleansville, North Carolina

This past summer I started running and now have continued into the winter. On the longer runs my privates get awful cold. Is there any underwear out there made of microfleece and/or windproof fabric? I run in tights and wear cotton briefs under them. The cotton is the problem. I don't like wind pants or wearing shorts over my tights, but are they the only answer? Tom Faherty Scituate, Massachusetts

I'm looking for a boot that is automatic crampon compatible. Also, I'd like it to be a very well rounded boot—I need it to be able to go on extended backpacking trips and even some vertical ice climbing. What is my best choice? Dan Charlton, Massachusetts

I have Scarpa T1 boots and have noticed that my ski edges are going to massacre my boots if I don't protect them. A solution I have heard of is to wear "supergaiters" with either Kevlar or other sturdy material on the instep to protect the inside of the boots. Unfortunately Black Diond (she on them) no longer makes a supergaiter and the Outdoor Research X-Gaiter is overkill in that it is expensive and so insulated that it will cook my feet. Any advise? Bill Hirshberg New York, New York

Can you shed some light on headlps for a well-intentioned fanny-pack kisser? I'm after a good, bright headlp for hiking and backpacking. I have an old Princeton Tec Solo, but thinking of upgrading to a Black Diond Gemini or one of the Petzl models. And there I was thinking that the days of headgear obsessions ended with high school. Jay Eugene, Oregon

We have a cabin tent that leaks, mostly from the bottom corners and stake-out loops. I have sprayed the tent and sealed the ses, but it still leaks. Is there anything else I can do besides trash this store-brand tent? As for new tents, the Eureka Getaway 9 or Coleman Sasquatch both fit size-wise; I don't want to spend over $250, though. Lastly, why do air mattresses always deflate while you're sleeping? Do they have a low life expectancy? Sarah Granite City, Illinois