What are the best boots for climbing Matterhorn?

Why don’t more people use a blanket to sleep in the backcountry? They seem more temperature adaptable with a lighter weight for a given size. There just aren't a lot of options offered. Josh Vallejo, California

I'm going skiing this month, and with all of the advancements in ski apparel, I need suggestions for the best mid-layer jacket or fleece. Do you have a recommendation? Jeff Rogers, Arkansas

What is the minimum recommended thickness for a backpacking-tent floor? Big Agnes’s Seedhouse SL2 tent has a trail weight of two pounds, 14 ounces, with a 1,200mm polyurethane floor coating. Should I instead opt for the similar Seedhouse 2, which has a 1,500mm floor coating but weighs three pounds, 14 ounces? Marshall Atlanta, Georgia

I've been using a Gregory Palisade backpack for week-long trips, usually on the AT or in the Whites. But I’d like to purchase a pack made specifically for women. Which pack will provide similar size and features as the Palisade? Kate Boston, Massachusetts

I’m attempting to summit Aconcagua, over 22,000 feet and known to be very cold and windy. Which ccorder can I safely use at this altitude? Brendan Chicago, Illinois

Is the Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero SL Parka good for Denali? Eduard Burleson, Texas

Can you recommend some good winter backpacking boots? Most of the time, I’d be around 4,000 feet, though I do spend some time around treeline as well. Bill Billerica, Massachusetts

I ride my bike to class every morning, and as the temperature drops, I have a jacket problem that is two fold. 1) My fleece does little to stop the piercing cold winds. 2) My hard shell retains too much body heat, and I feel like I’m in a furnace. What do you recommend? Bary Charlottesville, Virginia

I’m an avid day-hiker, and now I want to do weekend and longer hikes. I have thought about doing the Appalachian Trail but need tips on light-weight gear. I was in the infantry in the army and spent time in the mountains of Afghanistan, so I know weight is crucial. Any help? Jeremy Carrollton, Georgia

How long should you hold onto a sleeping bag? When cleaning out our attic, we ce across some sleeping bags that are from our college days (we’re 35 now). Is it time to retire them? Sarah Frisco, Texas

My wife and I are trekking in Chile and Argentina next summer, so we’ve decided to exploit the circumstances and replace most of our equipment with newer and lighter items. Can you build the ideal shopping list for us? Yonathan Tel Aviv, Israel

My work frequently takes me to developing-world destinations where streets are unpaved and sidewalks nonexistent. Yet I'm generally expected to maintain business casual attire. Is there a shoe that acts like a hiking shoe but doesn't look out of place with a pair of khakis in the office? Christopher Washington, D.C.

I've just started running again after a long lay off, and I don't want to lose momentum over the winter. What's the best shell I can get to keep me dry and warm without blowing the thermostat? KT London, England

What’s the latest scoop on a very good pair of compact binoculars that can handle rough weather and hiking conditions? Jes Kailua, Hawaii

My son is cycling the Lower 48 starting on January 1, and I would like some way to keep up with him. Is there a GPS unit that can accomplish this? Karen Atlanta, Georgia

My nine-year-old son informed me that my helmet fits him. I wear an adult medium helmet. Do I really have to go with one that’s youth specific? Dave Sierra Vista, Arizona

I work outside year-round (at the flightline of an airport), and in the winter the cold wind really gets me. I need a jacket that is comfy, warm, and tough, and that blocks wind. With all of the shells out there, I'm overwhelmed. What do you suggest? What about pants? Mike Apalachicola, Florida

I climbed Rainier in June of 2008 and hated the plastic boots. I’m returning to Rainier next summer and looking for a good pair of non-plastic boots that take crampons. What do you suggest? Dayton Baltimore, Maryland

Could you recommend a good freestanding, lightweight two-person tent? My husband and I often take multi-day kayaking trips and cp on rocky islands (e.g., in Sweden or Canada) where pegs can be difficult to use. We’d also like to take it on hiking trips of up to a week. We tend to go places that aren't particularly warm and can be wet. Katrina Cbridge, United Kingdom

My 12-year-old daughter gets very cold at night when we’re camping. We are backpackers and tend to camp just under treeline between May and October. She currently uses a junior polyfill bag with an inflatable pad and some good long underwear. What could we do to keep her warm and give us a peaceful night’s sleep? Lori Lakewood, Colorado

You answered a question in 2004 about the best gear for cycling in freezing temps. What's changed since then? John Alexandria, Virginia

I have the chance to purchase an old, never-used Dana Design Bomb pack to replace my Dana Sluiskin 30, which has proven to be a bit small. I do a lot of peak bagging and some light overnights in Colorado and occasionally take friends who don't have packs. What do you think? Mark Topeka, Kansas

I have always stored my sleeping bag loose in a large plastic bin or a pillow case. But what about long-term storage of nylon tents? Should I be concerned about storing them rolled up in the original bags? Sadly, it could be a year or so before they get used again. Jay Fredericksburg, Virginia

We go to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival every year in mid-June, when temperatures reach mid-80s in the day but can dip into the 20s at night. We need a tent that’s large enough for a double bed, duffel bags with 10 days of clothes, guitars, and headroom to stand up in without tripping over the bed. And, of course, the tent should hold in warmth. We were thinking a 10’x18’ cabin-style tent would work. Any suggestions? Bill Colorado

Who makes quality comfortable backpacks for kids, ages 8 to 12? My grandsons love our weekend camping trips, but the best packs we can find, extra-small women’s packs, still have harness systems too large for them. S Fairbanks, Alaska

I hike with a hydration bladder, but I have a couple of issues with the system. When hiking with my friends, I quickly run out of water much faster than they do. Plus, it’s very difficult to gauge how much water remains without pulling out the bladder and then reloading it. Also, when my pack is full, it requires a lot of effort to insert the full bladder. Do bladder-style hydration systems exist with a method to gauge how much water remains? Toby Brussels, Belgium

I have a massive backpack, and thus my hiking buddies load me up with everything (last year the record was 70 pounds). I need a much smaller pack that I can use on ultra-light weekends and leaning toward an Osprey Talon 44. Thoughts? John Pleasanton, California

I'm looking for a watch for my husband that offers ski features, such as number of runs, speed, vertical for individual runs, and total vertical. Measuring distances would be good, too, as he is also a runner. I'm willing to spend up to $500 and would like it to look good (maybe something in titanium). Debbie New York, New York

My wife and I want to take our two dogs, a miniature poodle and a 70-pound lab, kayaking with us while we fish the marsh and inlet creeks of South Carolina. I dreing, or is there a single kayak that would accommodate us? Jeffrey Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

I have a new pair of Scarpa Trek Pro hiking boots and wore them for a week inside for up to four hours. They seemed great, so I went out in the bush for 2.5 hours and ended up with huge blisters on my heels. Was I too hasty or bitious in my first outing? And what is the best way to treat blisters? Alison Victoria, Australia

I'm looking for a backpack for commuting (note: I’m not interested in panniers). The ideal pack would have a ventilated back and expandable volume—some days it's just for work clothes, but some days I’ll throw in a book or my computer. Internal pockets would be good, and water resistance is a plus. I'd also like my Eagle Creek clothes organizer to fit inside. Is this too much to ask for? Dave Sierra Vista, Arizona

I pretty filiar with the Outback Oven, in which you have to bake in a pot or a frying pan. But I recently saw the new Backpacker Oven and wondering if you have used this or if you think this might be something to look into. Dave Lancaster, California

Climashield is increasingly being used in sleeping bags and insulated apparel these days. How does its performance and weight compare with other synthetics such as Polarguard Delta and the Primalofts? Steve Olympia, Washington

What weight of fleece (for a jacket) would you recommend for late-summer backpacking in the Pacific Northwest? I’m hiking the Wonderland Trail in early September and don’t know if 100 will be warm enough or if 200 will be overkill. Steve Puyallup, Washington

Does wearing an ankle brace when hiking form a dependency, preventing your ankle from getting stronger? Also, do you advise wearing an ankle brace on both ankles for extra protection, or just on the ankle with which I have previously had problems? Ben Hagerstown, Maryland

Any suggestions for a travel jacket that can also hack it as a weather-protection piece and meeting wear? It doesn't have to look like a three-piece suit, but it should up the ante on standard backpacking gear. Rick Edmonton, Alberta

Have you tested the SPOT satellite messenger, specifically the tracking function that adds extra cost? Do you think it’s worth it? Stephanie Providence, Utah

I’m looking for a compact and lightweight backpack that I can take running. It should move with me securely through rough terrain. Do you have suggestions? Jay Vancouver, Washington

How do you feel about trail-runners versus hiking boots for light backpacking and day summits? Also, can you put crampons on trail-runners if you encounter snow? Phong Seattle, Washington

Our group of four to six people takes a yearly fly-in fishing trip on a remote lake in northern Ontario. I'm in charge of water filtration. I have two MSR pump filters and still come up way short on water supply. Do you have any recommendations for a large group that can’t stand the taste of iodine? Ed Hburg, New York

My hiking buddy for Vancouver’s North Coast Trail already has a solo tent, so I'm looking for something for me. Is a freestanding tent worth the extra weight and the extra pole? Dan Calgary, Alberta

I’m hiking the John Muir Trail and want to take some super-lightweight raingear. But there are so many options on the market, that it makes the choice confusing. What are your top picks? Janet Charlotte, Vermont

Who makes the Marine Corps MOLLE system backpack? Is there a civilian version? Tyrone Aberdeen, South Dakota

Is there a backpack out there that will house fragile camera gear as well as all of the other essentials for camping? Or do you have any suggestions for packing it so it'll stay safe and is still easily accessible? Ara Wichita, Kansas

Does anyone still make unlined or leather-lined hiking boots? Shoes with a synthetic lining make my feet really hot and sweaty. Any suggestions? Tim Sonoma, California

My wife and I are moving to the U.K. at the end of the year and would like to tour around Wales and Scotland by bike. Should we buy our bikes here and ship them, or buy over there? Thanks, and I love your column. Travis Portland, Oregon

What are the best pants for a hiking trip in Alaska? I’m looking for stylish, breathable, stain resistant, crease resistant, and quick drying. Thanks in advance of a helpful response. Jeffery Islington, NSW Australia

I'm going to Nepal for an internship this summer and then to South erica for the Peace Corps next winter. I need a backpack that's durable enough for travel and big enough to hold all of my stuff. But, I would like one that is technical enough for backpacking trips. Any suggestions? Sean Columbus, Ohio

I’m climbing Kilimanjaro this summer. Does it make sense to use a silk liner on the inside of my sleeping bag and a vapor barrier liner on the outside of the bag? Lauren Edmonton, Alberta

I had to give up my truck, so now I’m looking for a bike rack for my car (for three bikes). I very short, so a roof rack probably won’t work. Do you recommend a hitch rack? Janice House Springs, Missouri

I'd like to get a bike to ride the Katy trail. I'm nearly 60 and haven't ridden a bike in years. Should I get a mountain bike or a hybrid? And do you have any suggestions for gear? Phyllis Rolla, Missouri

I'm looking for a woman's overnight/weekend backpack for a friend. I’ll likely carry most of the gear, so I’m not sure of the optimal pack size. An Osprey Aura 50 was recommended, but it seems slightly small. What do you think? Andrew Seattle, Washington

I have a pair of Montrail ICE 9 insulated boots that I used on Aconcagua with insulated gaiters. I'd like to take them to Denali with a full overboot. The guide outfit, however, recommends double boots only. Should I go ahead with my set-up? Dean Bittern Lake, Alberta

I just got a pair of Vasque Summit GTX boots, an all leather, sturdy backpacking boot with smooth leather and a Gore-Tex liner. What’s the best way to break them in? And how can I keep the leather conditioned long-term? Mark Lawrence, Kansas

Should we get paddle or pedal kayaks? We have demoed both but don't know enough about kayaking to make a decision. We’ll use them in backwater from the Gulf, so we’ll be dealing with tides. Fran Fort Myers, Florida

I'll soon be living in my tent for six weeks in Tanzania, and I’m looking for a lightweight, compressible, and not-too-pricey sleeping bag that will do well over that stretch of time. I like the idea of a down bag, but I'm worried that moisture from me or humidity could accumulate over a long stretch of time. Thoughts? Sara Stony Brook, New York

We are planning to buy a tandem bike, but we’re concerned about how to transport this big, long bike on the back of our small fifth wheel. We don’t have a hitch receiver on the back of the RV. Is it possible to add one on? Any other ideas? Jean Cpbellsport, Wisconsin

I've been a backpacker for 30-plus years, and recently I've noticed my knees complaining after steep downhill stretches. I'm considering making a shift to ultralight gear, and I think a lightweight trail-running shoe is a good start. Can you offer some suggestions for someone making this switch? Kurtis Seattle, Washington

Do you have any recommendations for a good weather-tight, car-camping, summertime, family tent (for six people)? Charles Fort Smith, Arkansas

You have written quite a bit about road bikes that range from $2,000 to $4,000. What about entry-level bikes? REI’s Novara brand has bikes for $799. Chris Seattle, Washington

I snow cp, warm-weather cp, and do moderate mountaineering, so I need a good all-around sleeping bag. Is the Mountain Hardwear Lyell (rated to -15 degrees) suitable? Chris Seattle, Washington

I’m an experienced road runner, and now I want to train for an off-road triathlon. Where should I start with trail-runners? Chris Indianapolis, Indiana

I can't find an accurate pedometer to take hiking with me. I've tried several different brands and have found them all unreliable when it comes to calculating mileage hiked. Any recommendations? Lori Grand Junction, Colorado

Are backpacking boots made with fabric uppers stiff enough for good ankle support and protection against sharp rocks? I'm looking at the Kayland Apex Trek for a trip to Alaska, where I will glacier walk with crampons. Most of my other packing is done in the lower 48. John Evanston, Illinois

I’m headed out to Quetico for little over a week, and I need women's underwear that will last a long time, limit chafing, dry fast, and rinse well. Any suggestions? Nicole Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

I want to know about Vibr rubber. What is so special about it? Badrim Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I’m going backpacking in South Dakota’s Badlands, and everything I read says that you have to bring in your own water. For a four day trip, that could mean as much as five gallons. What type of water containers should I use to most effectively carry this much water? Junior Minneapolis, Minnesota

I have just acquired a Quest Starlight tent that’s in pretty good shape. But, the older fellow who sold it to me said that it likely wouldn't hold up to several days of rain. Can I make the fly waterproof enough so it won't wet-out if rained on for a long time? What about the floor? Ken Calgary, Alberta

I'm in the military and will be stationed in Aviano, Italy, in June. I would like to purchase a road bike in Italy for half ironman and ironman triathlons. How do I find a reputable bike shop abroad, and what manufacturer would you recommend? Michael San Antonio, Texas

Other than color, is there any difference between men's and women's boot in the se model? I specifically interested in the La Sportiva Glacier. Chris Geneva, Illinois

I would rank my outdoorsyness at a seven. I love backpacking, but I don’t get out as often as I would like. I did, however, recently backpack South erica and survived winter in southern Argentina with a cheap-o tent. Now I want to invest in a good two-person tent. What do you suggest? Alex San Francisco, California

For the past five years I lived out west, but I’m now in Indiana for a year. To make the best of my stay, I’m looking for new goals to tackle and have decided to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. What is the best backpack to take on that challenge? Charles South Bend, Indiana

My husband and I are looking for relatively lightweight, zero-degree sleeping bags that can be zipped together and are suitable for backpacking. Any advice? Kathy Kremmling, Colorado

What are the advantages of a full suspension bike versus a hardtail? I bike on trails and roads. Jake Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

What is the best type of sock to wear on a day hike? I a naturally sweaty person and often my socks get so wet that is causes blisters. Not pretty, I know, but that’s the truth of it. Nick London, England

What is your recommendation on a hydration pack that will keep fluids from freezing? Ideally it’d be small enough for resort use, but big enough to carry an extra layer, snacks, goggles, and possibly the option of straps for ski/board carry. Tony Montreal, Quebec

Though the treads on my six-year-old Garmont Nagevi boots don't look too worn, I've noticed that I'm slipping more than I used to. I've spent some time trying on other light hikers at the stores, and they all feel light and flimsy. I'm told this is due to new advancements. Is this true? Nancy Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I'm climbing in the Cordillera Real of Bolivia this May, and I know I need to have a down jacket. I hear it can get really cold there. What type of down jacket would you recommend? Xavier Charlotte, North Carolina

I’m looking for a new cp stove for climbing at high altitude (10,000+ feet). What’s the best stove for the harsher conditions at higher altitudes? Matt Vancouver, British Columbia