How To

All posts

How To Make a Backcountry Poop Kit

It took a lot of practice, but I finally learned how to poop directly into a dog bag. I’d been getting outside for years – crag climbing and backcountry skiing mostly – and I wasn’t a fan of carrying a trowel and digging a six-inch cat hole. Instead, I’d find a private space, answer the call of nature directly onto the ground/snow, then pick it up (double bag!) and pack it out (toilet paper too!). Read more…

Happy Meals, Happy Paddling: A Guide to Food Planning for Sea Kayaking Trips

My partner Barbara and I were experienced campers and backpackers when we moved to Seattle in 2000, but we didn’t have much experience kayaking. We owned sea kayaks, had taken classes in San Francisco Bay, and we’d even done a kayak camping trip for a week in Prince William Sound, Alaska in the 80s. But we knew that Puget Sound was both fabulous and challenging for sea kayaking, and we’d better have more training before heading out there. As soon as we joined The Mountaineers, we signed up for the Basic Sea Kayaking course. Read more…

Zippers 101: Get the most out of your gear

We were driving back from the mountains, and the guy at the wheel was ranting. About zippers. Worst invention ever. Absolutely hated them. Read more…

How To: Buy a Compass

We get a lot of questions about compasses - and rightfully so! They're important. Follow these tips to select the compass that’s best for your needs. We suggest that you have this page handy for reference when you go the store to purchase a compass. Read more…

How To: Make an Efficient DIY Boot Dryer

Years ago, when I was traveling in southern Chile, a local man proudly told me that in Patagonia people can't rely on the sun to dry their laundry, so they use the wind (and plenty of clothespins). Here in the Pacific Northwest, the same principles apply. Read more…

Packing for a Backpacking Trip Requiring Air Travel

Travel by air to a backpacking destination requires some additional planning and organization, as well as awareness of the baggage restrictions of the countries you are visiting. In this article, you'll find information to help you prepare for your trip. Read more…

Unseen Danger: Navigating Snow Bridge Hazards

Last Sunday, search and rescue teams responded to an emergency call from a popular early-season climb in the Olympic mountains. Two climbers slipped on a steep snowy slope while climbing The Brothers. One fell “into an opening in the snow and over a rock face with running melt water,” and sadly did not survive. This tragic accident has brought an annually recurring hazard back into the thoughts of everyone within the outdoor community: the danger posed by snow bridges.  Read more…

Running a Course in the Middle of a Pandemic

This story starts back in 2019 when, as the Hiking Chair for the Tacoma Hiking and Backpacking Committee, I had the idea of offering a Conditioning Hiking Series (CHS) in Tacoma. The goal of a series like this is to help casual or new hikers increase their mileage and elevation gain in a fun, community-oriented way, and I had a feeling it would be popular at our branch.  Read more…

How To Watercolor In Winter

At 5:30am the arctic sun illuminates icebergs with delicate bands of yellow light. My Zodiac ride to explore Disko Bay leaves in 30 minutes, and I need to find vodka, fast. Read more…

An Indirect Path to Flexibility

By the time Mercedes Pollmeier arrived at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), she’d lived in Australia, China, Mauritius, and had spent considerable time in Germany with her grandma. The daughter of a German father and an Indian South African mum, Mercedes had seen a lot of the world already when a full-ride tennis scholarship brought her to the U.S. at 17. A multilingual world citizen, the starry-eyed teen had her eyes keenly set on one thing: the Olympics. Little did she know that she’d soon meet a strength coach who would forever change the course of her life. Read more…