How do you evenly redistribute the down in a sleeping bag? I was cold while backpacking recently and noticed that the down was not well distributed. It was clumped in some areas and bare in others. Sherry Parker, CO

What is the lightest two-person three-season tent? I define a tent as something that is big enough to lie down or sit in, and keeps the rain and bugs out. All the manufacturers are trying to confuse me by listing minimum weight, packaged weight, trail weight, fastpack weight, packed weight... Erik Rochester, NY

What portable solar panels will work best on the Greenland icecap? I plan to ski across Greenland for two to three weeks this May (west to East on the Nansen route). I need to charge a small laptop for work, and preferably a couple of iPods for mental hygiene. Bjorn Aune Oslo

I just got back from a backpacking trip and used my CelBak bladder in the pouch included in my backpack. I liked using this system instead of reaching back for a water bottle, but the bladder is hard to refill when buried in the pack and also takes up pack space. Is there another kind of bladder out there? Maybe a square one that can sit on top my gear, near the top of the pack? This would keep it out of the way and make it easy to access. Joseph Moraga, CA

Hi, I want to purchase a water filter or water purifier to turn my day hikes into some overnight trips. I have been doing a lot of research but can't seem to figure out which one I need. I'll primarily be hiking in the Northeast and only in North erica, so is there a need for an actual water "purifier"? Thanks in advance. Kane Red Bank, NJ

I have freakish feet. I a size 13 with AA width. I can't seem to find a boot that will fit. Any ideas? Bill Burlington, VT

I looking for the best backpack type child carrier. Any suggestions? Rudi Gardiner, NY

I still use cages on the pedals of my Bianchi. I find it easier to get in and out of the pedals than clips. However, I cannot find shoes that are designed for cages. Do such shoes exist? Andy St. Paul, MN

For hiking in the Andes, what four-season tent would you recommend? Looking for one that'll give me the best weight-to-strength ratio with least condensation and a proper vestibule? Christien Pretoria, South Africa

What type of apparel would you wear for backpacking to keep your burly legs warm in the Georgia and Tennessee mountains from November to March? Jason Calhoun, GA

What type of sunglass lens makes the transition from sun to shade the easiest for riding singletrack through the forest? Lynn La Grande, OR

The big breathability issue is making buying a jacket confusing. eVent has thrown a cat ong the pigeons and waterproof soft shells also change my options. Is there any clear thinking on this subject? I have the new Aegis jacket and that's just a proprietary fabric but seems to work fine. In other words, what are the "real" facts and how do you choose the "best" jacket for various applications? Ian South Africa

We have a great 20-year-old 14x14 Eureka family tent. This summer a branch came down and tore a 36 inch vertical rip in the tent. Can it be repaired? Is there a company here in Northern California that does that or a kit I can buy to repair such a long (clean) tear? Gloria Millbrae, CA

I'm going into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for a ten-day trip. On previous excursions I've taken too many clothes and too few clothes, but never found the perfect mix. How do you pack clothing for a long trip? Greg Flower Mound, TX

Is an expedition or burly mountaineering tent (such as The North Face Mountain 25 or Mountain Hardwear's Trango) needed for Aconcagua? Will a sturdy four-season tent suffice? Azad Los Angeles, CA

What sleeping bag do you recommend for two to three days near the Virginia section of the AT? I tend to be a warm sleeper and hike spring through fall. Is there a single bag that will meet my needs? Matt Fairfax, VA

I enjoy riding my hybrid bike (Trek 7300), for fun and exercise, on both pavement and gravel/dirt/rocky surfaces. But I'd like something faster and more aggressive. My rides are usually about 20 miles and I'd like to go longer. Would you recommend a cyclocross or another hybrid? Tim Basking Ridge, NJ

My wife and I would like to take our 13-month-old daughter cycling with us. We will mostly be doing short trips around town, and we are having trouble deciding between a trailer and a child seat. Which one is safer, and how will they affect the handling of the bike? There are numerous options available in both categories, and we would like to know if you have any recommendations that won't break the bank. Noah West Lafayette, IN

I need a good, fairly cheap walkie-talkie. My main use will probably be skiing, so where can I get one that will guarantee reception in the forest? Thanks! Mark Brooklyn, NY

What do you think about the Lowa Mountain Expert GTX Mountaineering Boots? I used them on Mt. Rainier and they kept my feet plenty warm, but I was wondering if you thought they might be suitable for Pico de Orizaba in Mexico. It is about 4,000 feet higher than Rainier. I don't relish wearing double plastic mountaineering boots anywhere, and hey, the red color of the Lowa is, well, cool . . . Stan El Dorado Hills, CA

We are in need of a new tent! Our wonderful ten-year-old, well-used Walrus has served us well, but the dog ate the vestibule two years ago and the duct tape is old, the pole sleeves are starting to shred, and the poles are fatigued. We need to accommodate four people as well as one dog in the vestibule, and will be camping in the Idaho mountains. We typically car camp, but I would like to add short backpacking trips as our kids are getting older. We tried a tent from REI and we froze over Memorial Day. It is not uncommon to have snow on the 4th of July. We also camp in the more temperate areas of Oregon, so ventilation is good. I really want a new tent just like my Walrus, but I find the choices overwhelming. Can you help limit our options? Thanks! Love your column. Michelle Boise, ID

I've owned touring bikes for almost 25 years. When it was time to change my ride, I would automatically go for touring. But I must admit that I don't leave for extended periods as often (a way of saying I'm not touring anymore, actually—but that’s very hard to admit). I don't really need triple chainrings, but I like the possibility of installing racks to carry moderate loads (computer, lunch, extra clothes) when I commute to work. What are my options below 1,000$? Eric Quebec, QC

I plan to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail next year, so I'm gearing up now so that I'll have time to test everything. I'm experienced, have guided, and I'm looking to go superlight. What's the best pair of trail-runners for the AT? Dave New York, NY

I?m a bike commuter of seven months, and fortunately those months have all been dry. Now monsoon season is upon us and I need a jacket to keep me dry on the way to the office, one that?s light enough to carry there when the rains come in the afternoon. Jacob Tucson, AZ

I have freakish feet. I a size 13 with AA width. I can't seem to find a boot that will fit. Any ideas? Bill Burlington, VT

I've had my MSR Sweetwater Microfilter for about four or five years now. I used it two or three times without incident right after I got it, but it has been in storage ever since. Now I would like to start using it again. Do I need to worry about mildew or bacteria in the filter and tubes? Is there an easy way to clean the entire apparatus? Eric Pittsburgh, PA

I'm replacing a ten-year-old pair of Zberlan Civettas that I've worn on two-week backpacking trips into the Canadian Rockies. Generally these trips involve pack weights of 50 pounds or so, largely due to the ount of food. I'm looking at boots such as the Zberlan Vioz and the Scarpa SL M3 (the former being light, the latter with seemingly stiffer sole and heavier). Do you have any suggestions? Ed Charlottetown, Prince Edward island

Everything I've ever read or experienced says external fre backpacks are more forgiving to pack, better for trail hiking and cheaper than internal fre packs. I understand internals have advantages on rough terrain, but given all the benefits of external fres, why do they seem to be going extinct? I missing something? Chuck Pittstown, NJ

I'm going on a two-week backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon this summer, and I was wondering what kind of fabrics I would want to stick with as far as shorts and shirts go. The last thing I want is to be uncomfortable. Are there any fabrics that I should completely avoid? What would you recommend? Kristen Grant Park, IL

I going on an eight-day ski touring trip in Patagonia requiring a pack with at least 65 liters. Which packs are designed for this use? Devin San Francisco, CA

I just starting out on a bike and plan on cycling daily, both by the lake and around town. I was wondering how good Marin bikes are, particularly the Marin Kentfield FS? Is it comfortable for a woman, and what is the difference between 17 inch and 19 inch? Is this bike okay for a beginner? Thank you. Nancy Chicago, IL

I have been doing extensive research and can't seem to find a watch that functions as both a pedometer and altimeter. I want one watch that will measure distance and calories on runs and hikes as well as vertical distance (per run and cumulative for the day) when I ski. I spend equal time running and skiing, so I'd like one watch that can serve both sports. The Suunto X10 comes close (no calories, though), but the reviews from users do not sound like it's worth the $550. Katie San Francisco, CA

I was wondering why more people don't use a blanket to sleep in the backcountry. They are more temperature adaptable, lighter weight (for a given size), there just aren't a lot of options offered. What do you think? Josh Vallejo, CA

What is the minimum recommended thickness for a backpacking tent floor to prevent early wearing out of the tent? Big Agnes sells a Seedhouse 2 tent with a rated trail weight of 3 lb, 14 oz. It sells a Seedhouse SL2 tent—the se size and design except for different materials—with a 2 lb, 14 oz. trail weight. One difference that saves weight: a 1,500 mm polyurethane-coated floor for the Seedhouse 2; 1,200 mm for the SL2. Marshall Atlanta, GA

I'm looking for cross-over footwear for hiking. I'm not so much into the high-top thing. What is the best shoe/boot for multi-day backpacking with a 25- to 30-pound pack? S Tujunga, CA

My son will leave for Iraq or Afghanistan to serve in the army sometime this fall. What camera would be best for him to take along? He'll be carrying far more in his rucksack than you or I would on a month-long backwoods trip, so it must be compact and lightweight. Electricity is a problem on long patrols, so AA batteries are a must. And ruggedness? There is nothing more physically challenging than combat. Muted-color case would help (no pink or lime green!), and waterproof would be a plus. And of course good photo capability is a must. William Pittsburgh, PA

I'm having trouble finding a good-fitting boot. A 12 feels short and a 13 is creating blisters on the tips of my toes. Can you suggest some brands that might have something in between a 12 and 13? I'm backpacking in west Texas and throughout the Rockies. Thanks! Erik Austin, TX

I find that whenever I sleep outside with friends, I wake up with by far the most condensation on my bag. I have a four-year-old 15-degree Marmot down bag. It is probably near the less-warm end of the spectrum of bags me and my friends use, but not outrageously different from everyone else's. Why do only I wake up freezing cold and drenched? Charlotte Duluth, MN

I'm looking for a lightweight, water-resistant, secure, and organization-friendly pack., basically what I would call my weekend pack. I'd like to have enough space for some food, water (hydration sleeve a plus), backup clothes, and all the gadgets we love so much (i.e. cell phone, iPod, GPS, headlp, etc.). Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Chris Royal Palm Beach, FL

I hike and cp a lot—and for long periods—during the middle of the hottest days of the year (with no access to showers). I’m wondering what you’ve heard about Icebreaker underwear and how well they are about odor. Katherine Greenville, SC

I'm planning a trip to South America this summer and want to invest in a water filter and/or purifier system. What do you recommend? Paul Salt Lake City, UT

I have a high-end road bike and looking for another bike that will serve all other purposes—commuting, trail riding, maybe some rugged touring. I partial to steel and would like to keep it around $1,000. What do you think about cyclocross bicycles? I intrigued by the Redline Conquest. Win Indianapolis, IN

I've been a conventional tent guy for years, but the Hennessy Hammocks intrigue me. How much of an adjustment would it be a for a tent guy to switch to a hammock? Do they really live up to the hype? Andrew Shreveport, LA

I looking for a wheeled duffle/backpack with the option to carry on my back (I think). However, I DON'T like the zip-on daypack feature. I have checked out REI and Eagle Creek and can't find what I looking for. I traveling for two weeks and won't be doing any trekking. Any ideas? Elizabeth Portland, OR

Gear Guru- I'm looking for a bike rack that is easy to use and easy to put on the car and take off. I've been looking at the Thule Jaws rack, but on a recent trip to Moab, I noticed almost every car out there was equipped with a fork-lock rack. Do these people know something I don't? Chris Eau Claire, WI

I purchased a pair of Scarpa Summit GTX mountaineer boots, kind of on a whim (I'm a gear nut). I plan on climbing Rainier and some other smaller peaks in the northwest, and I'm wondering: Do people trek in these boots all the way to the top, or do they change in to larger mountaineering boots on summit day? David Seattle, WA

I agree with four of your five "top gear innovations" picks, but would strongly argue that the Therm-a-Rest pad should be in the #2 slot over the humble Ensolite pad. While Ensolite pads were a good step forward, the self-inflating matt has done more to enable a good night's sleep in the backcountry than anything else. Jeremy Omaha, NE

Is a Patagonia DAS (which I already have) good enough for Denali? Or should I upgrade to Patagonia's Down Parka? Or to First Ascent's new Peak SV? Tom Great Falls, VA

I looking for a pair of sunglasses to wear while running. I a woman, with a smaller fre and a small face. I like glasses that are half rims and wrap around the sides—but I don't want them so huge that they cover my whole face—with a light lens that don't distort the true colors. And I'd prefer to not go bankrupt, either— I can't believe what I've seen pricewise for a pair of sunglasses. I delusional? Connie Cleveland, OH

I planning a number of long backpacking trips in the Cascades and Olympics, as well as climbs of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ads, and Mt. Rainier this summer. Recently, most of my old gear was stolen from my car while moving. I still have a tent and sleeping bag, but I no longer have my backpack, boots, stove, or any foul-weather gear. Can you recommend the best all-around light gear that is not too expensive but can hold up to the demands of the Pacific Northwest? (Just so you know, I a small women—5'2" and 103 lbs—so I need to keep things light and small.) Michele Portland, OR

I looking for the quintessential duffel bag. I want it to be large, but no larger than 100 liters. I looking for a bag with shoulder straps, like those found on a backpack. The bag will be used for car camping, airplane travel, and international travel. Lockable zippers would be nice. A bag that is weatherproof is also important. I have in mind The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag or the Black Diamond Huey Duffel Bag. Thank you very much for your help! Arek Ashland, WI

I an experienced outdoorsman but I now deaf w/bad balance. I still love to explore Sierra rivers for fishing and swimming and can't always get wife/kids/buddies to get up that early. I would love to have some combo of text message-capable GPS or distress beacon that could talk to the family when they too are off the grid. Is there a cheaper option than a pair of full on satellite phones? Bob San Francisco, CA

I will be hiking with my 12-year-old son for a few days through the rain forest in Costa Rica. What gear to you recommend? Hiking boots, socks, moisture-wicking underwear, bag to keep camera dry, insect repellent, hat...? Al Bedford, NY

I'm working on a research project on technology and the wilderness experience and I wonder, in your vast experience, have you come across any piece of new equipment that resulted in a notable impact (positive or negative) on the outdoor experience? Anthony Moscow, ID

I put raisins on my cereal. Should I just put sugar on my cereal and cut out the raisins? Bill Garfield Hanover, New Hampshire

I'm looking for a good day pack that I can use both hiking and mountain biking. I'm 6'5" and need to find one that will fit properly. Justin Rineyville, KY

I looking for a rugged, water resistant pair of long hiking pants that can be worn in warm weather conditions. What do you recommend? Karl Newton, NJ

I will be going up to 23,000 feet and need to do a documentary film there. Which camera and battery set do you recommend for HD shooting. Huma Beg Islamabad

My son is completing Cub Scouts this spring and moving on to Boy Scouts in the summer. I searching for a sturdy tent for his use in the Boy Scouts, who average about a three- to four-mile hike in on most of their trips. I would like to find a one- or two-person tent that would allow for his gear to be stored inside and still have some room for dressing and sleeping. The weather in our area (Southeast United States) is hot, wet summers with thunderstorms and moderately cold, dry winters. Cost is a consideration because I expect this tent to be replaced at least once before he finishes Scouts. Jack Charlotte, NC

Schoeller Dryskin ses to be the material of choice in soft shell pants, followed by Schoeller Dynmic. There is also a stretch-woven polyester used by Patagonia in the Guide Pant (which I believe is now discontinued) and a lighter version of the se material used in the Simple Guide Pant. Can you discuss the pros and cons of the Schoeller vs. the material used in the Patagonia pants? How they perform one vs. the other. And the temperature range in which each can be used comfortably. In short, which do you recommend? Scott Lubbock, TX

I can't find a good mountain-biking seat that doesn't make me feel like I was violated after a long ride. One friend suggested stuffing my shorts with Vaseline. I ride a fair ount, and it's always pretty bad after a long one, but even a moderate 20-miler leaves me walking like I have a pole in the pipe for a day or two. What gives? What can I do? Jayson Los Angeles, CA

I still try to find my holly grail of mountaineering jackets but despite the vast variety my quest is unfinished! After using dozens of jackets, I can't still find one that can beat the versatility of my old Lowe Alpine Foraker (backpacking, mountaineering, skiing, and discrete for urban use). I just want handwarmer pockets and chest pockets for loading the essentials (all with storm flaps—the linated water-resistant zippers seem just.. resistant), two-way main zip with double storm flap, enough length to cover my hips from those backstabbing breezes, and enough abrasion resistance to withstand skiing, backpacking, and thorny rocks. Did I mention water-windproofness and breathability? Pit-zips are optional! Some help from your gearness? Jimmy Washington, DC

I planning a trip to the Grand Canyon (from rim to rim to rim) and would like your advice on the best GPS. I'm looking at the Oregon 200. Thanks. Kran Avondale, PA

What boot would give me the most bang for my buck when hiking south on Appalachian Trail in the early spring through summer, considering durability and water-tightness? Ian Nottingh, PA

I've got the opportunity to raft the Tat River in Alaska this August. My major concern—even more than icebergs and grizzlies—is that I'm going to be deathly cold the entire 12 days. I'm a small woman at 5 foot 4 and 110 pounds, with a history of frostbite and Reynaud's to boot. Advice for warm, waterproof clothing? Or should I just stick to beach vacations? Andrea Minneapolis, MN

I'm going on a four-day hike to Machu Picchu in May. I plan on taking my Canon Rebel XS digital SLR camera with me as well as a zoom lens. I'll be wearing a multi-day backpack for the hike. What would you recommend I use to carry the DSLR so that it is protected and still readily available for photos? I was considering a belt pack but was unsure how that would affect the backpack's belt straps. Rachel Newark, NJ

I'm looking for luggage to use on a ten-day eco-tour of Costa Rica. Do you have any suggestions? Mark Buffalo, NY

I a 5'8" female and wondering if I should get a women-specific sleeping bag. Is there really a difference? I'm a very cold sleeper, so I'd like a zero-degree bag. I also don't want to spend $300 dollars on it. Any suggestions? Thanks. Jessie Baltimore, MD

I want to take up cross-country skiing again after a 20-year layoff. What's the latest in gear, not necessarily top of the line but not entry level, that will get me back there again? I'm a classic skier with a passing interest in skate skiing. Can both be done with two sets of skis and the se boots and poles? I remember waxing as something tedious to be avoided at all costs but the waxless skis back then were useless in some conditions—have they improved? Mike Wheaton, IL

I have a Moonstone bivy sack—it has seven graphite rods with both graphite and metal ferrels (similar to tent poles). Does Moonstone still exist? If so, how do I contact them? If not, is there another source for these graphite rods? Geoffrey Cbridge, MA

I searching for a light, packable garment to be layered under a shell when I take a break from high-output winter sport like cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. I planning a hut-to-hut ski in Quebec’s Gaspesie and would like to have some "warmth insurance" in case it's necessary (e.g. accident, lunch break, etc.). I considering a light-weight down or synthetic jacket instead of more fleece. David Wesmount, Quebec

As a snowboarder, the one advantage skiers have over me is the ability to get through flats and even skin uphill. I wouldn't go into unfiliar terrain without a guide, but would I be able to use snowshoes to get through some of this terrain in the backcountry. I've never been snowshoeing before, but I'd like to get into some backcountry stuff and don't want a split board. This may not work, but I'm trying to be creative. Michael San Diego;CA San Diego, CA

What is your recommendation for a largish two-man tent? We're both six foot, two inches tall. I'd like to use it for an upcoming AT thru-hike, starting in Georgia in January, and also for some winter Pennsylvania camping. Any chance we can find one that weighs under five pounds without sacrificing durability? Luke Scranton, PA

I have been looking for a lady’s altimeter watch. Why does it seem like the industry isn’t making watches for women? Marilyn Santa Fe, NM

I will be spending three months at Everest Base Cp. What jacket would you recommend? I a 5'1" female, and it seems all the jackets targeted for temps at 8,000 meters are only made for men. Torrey Kailua, HI

I was thinking about buying a zero-degree bag. I winter cp once or twice each year and won't go if the temps will be too low (So far the coldest may have been 10 degrees). I have a buddy who is dead set against inexpensive brands. Is there really a warmth difference between an inexpensive zero-degree bag and an expensive one? I not a warm sleeper but a "cheap son-of-a-gun." Are there any recommendations that you can make? Marty Morgantown, WV

I'm moving to Mongolia for work and it's going to get pretty cold (between -20 and -35 Celsius in winter) Any advice on gear for running or cross-country skiing in those temps, or is it just too cold? There weren't be much deep snow. Dave Hong Kong

I spent last Saturday at REI looking at ski gear and got a bit overwhelmed. I was told until I really want to invest in all the "stuff" for skiing, that all I should buy right now is a good hat, gloves and ski pants. What are your thoughts? Joan Redmond, WA

What’s out there right now that comes closest to the old-fashioned mountain parka (but with modern fabric)? I've never seen anything to compare with my Madden (from about 1978 or so), but alas it's shrunk over the years and no longer fits me when I wear any kind of insulating layer. Mike Austin, TX

What is the lightest solo tent, one that also offers serious protection in storms? Peggy San Jose, CA