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The 13-minute film ‘Welcome to Gwichyaa Zhee’ is a cry to arms for the Gwich’in people, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the life they’ve forged therein. It’s a must-watch, followed by a must-act.
As chants of “drill, baby, drill” echo in recent political memory, this film — created by Dr. Len Necefer — calls for an alternative battle cry. And it’s one that captures the heart and soul of both his people and the vast and beautiful land that sustains them.
“Our children and our future generations deserve to see this world as it was in the beginning. Not just when we’re done with it.”
Over the past few years, we’ve all been privy to the energy development wars over places like Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. But Alaska holds an entirely different landscape that’s at risk for energy development. And out of all of these landscapes, our Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the most biodiverse. And it’s one of the true wildernesses left in our borders, at 19.2 million acres. The Gwich’in people make a life on this landscape, and their voices are vital to its long-term viability.
What “Welcome to Gwiichyaa Zhee” does most succinctly is provide an initial platform to hear the voice of the natives, to connect to the home they’ve long built, and to measure what they’ve seen with development and how it could impact the delicate ecosystem of the Arctic.
“We need to stand together, we need to learn about each other’s issues, and we need to start helping each other.”
The Gwich’in live off the land as a matter of food security. A gallon of milk can cost $15 in the veritable food desert of the Arctic, but the meat from a moose can sustain a family for the winter. It’s a life that’s hard to identify with when you’re a lower-48er like myself. But, as someone who works hard to fill my freezer, I take pause when I consider what it would mean to depend on those rations. The film takes that on, and it does it from the perspective of family, love, and enduring tradition.
“Anything you do to the land, it will come back to you.”
And that’s the core message. The Gwich’in are a small tribe, but they’re a part of the whole. I might not ever step foot on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or sit down to dinner with a Gwich’in family, but I can make my voice heard for their cause. And so can you.
Of course, the film speaks for itself. At 13 minutes, it’s a quick, formidable, graceful bout of storytelling. I finished with tears in my eyes. Then, I reached out to my representatives. It was quick, easy, and necessary. I urge you to join me in doing the following:
Watch the film, then urge your representatives to protect ANWR and the Gwich’in way of life by texting “Arctic” to 40649. Learn more here.
Arc’teryx, The North Face, Salomon, and more respectable brands are on sale for Backcountry’s Memorial Day sale. With discounts as deep as 50 percent, this is one sale you won’t want to miss.
We highlighted only our favorites from Backcountry’s sale. It’s much, much bigger. Shop the entire sale with the link below. Backcountry also has a coupon for 20 percent off one full-price piece of outdoor gear using the code TAKE20MAY. That way, you can get a deal no matter what you buy.
Select gear from Arc’teryx is 25 percent off right now. The uber-popular Atom LT Hooded Jacket is a standout. We’ve used this versatile jacket from Arc’teryx, and it’s great. It is intended for all seasons, has a DWR treatment to shed water, and uses Tyono fabric for wind protection and permeability. Further, for warmth, the Atom LT uses 60 g of Coreloft insulation to keep you warm during chilly mornings and late camp nights. Check out the hoodless version here.
Haul the Rolling Thunder Carry-On Bag across the world and expect it to hold up to abuse. That’s because this luggage bag uses The North Face’s Base Camp fabric, which is ultradurable and water-resistant. It has plastic bumpers on wear spots to prevent abrasions and daisy chains for lashing gear.
Run your local trails in the Salomon X Mission 3 Trail Running Shoe. It uses a quicklace system for easy adjustment on the go, a breathable mesh upper, and Salomon’s SensiFIT and SensiFLEX technologies for stability and comfort mile after mile.
Roll back the two vestibules on the Mountain Hardwear Optic Tent and see expansive views. The Optic is a two-person, three-season tent with color-coded setup tabs for simple assembly, internal pockets for organization, and a trail weight of 5 pounds 13 ounces.
Backpack your next 50-mile trail with the Atmos or Aether pack on your back. We’ve reviewed the Atmos AG from Osprey, and these backpacking packs are dialed for comfort, with comfy hipbelts and shoulder straps. A slew of organizational pockets from the brain to the exterior make things like meals and packing easier. And the hallmark of these packs is their Anti-Gravity mesh back panel with LightWire frames. This elevates the packs off your back to mimic anti-gravity and increase breathability and function.
The secret to NEMO’s Viola and Forte sleeping bags is their Thermo Gills. Those slits in the center of the bags zip open and closed depending on if you want to vent heat or seal it in. This increases the comfort range of the bags. Beyond that, the Viola and Forte are rated to 35 degrees, making them awesome summer bags.
Extra-thick loft, pressure-mapping foam, and self-inflating: The Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map Sleeping Pad sounds comfy as heck. Therm-a-Rest makes the Luxury Map Sleeping Pad in a style that is resistant to popping, so this thing should last a lifetime.
Top photo credit: Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool
Logging 1,041 miles over 8 days, 3 hours, 33 minutes, renowned athlete Rebecca Rusch set the fastest — and first — known time on Arkansas’ new High Country Route bicycle trail.
“Arkansas better get ready for some cycling.” Rebecca Rusch’s cautionary words actually carried a congratulatory tone following her epic ride of the state’s just-completed 1,041-mile trail network, the High Country Route (HCR).
Photo credit: Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool
The 50-year-old American multisport phenom became the first to ride the entirety of the route, which comprises pavement, gravel, and singletrack. And her time of 8 days, 3 hours, 33 minutes now stands as the time to beat.
“It was the longest ride of my career, but I was not bored at all,” Rusch said after crossing the finish line. “It was so beautiful with so much to look at. The trail they built here is world-class.”
In total, Rusch logged 107 hours in the saddle and endured more than 84,373 feet of elevation.
Rebecca Rusch: High Country Route FKT
Photo credit: Bligh Gillies/Red Bull Content Pool
Originally expected to take 2 years, HCR first took shape last year when the Walton Family Foundation donated $100,000 to help build the trail network. Made up of equal parts pavement and trail, and roughly 5 percent singletrack, the route meanders through three national parks, eight state parks, 15 Forest Service campgrounds, and nine Corps of Engineers parks.
“Arkansas is a beautiful place to ride your bike,” Rusch said on Facebook after the ride. “I highly suggest you plan a bike trip out this way.”
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To conquer the terrain, Rusch piloted a Niner Bikes RLT 9 RDO. She “mulleted” SRAM’s road eTap AXS shifting with a mountain-ready Eagle 1x setup in the back. See the full build below.
Rebecca Rusch High Country Route Gear
Frame: Niner Bikes RLT 9 RDO
Drivetrain: SRAM eTap AXS + Eagle (MTB)
Wheels: ENVE Composites SES AR 3.4
Tires: Maxxis USA Rambler 38cc
Saddle: Wilderness Trail Bikes (WTB) Koda
Tech: Garmin Edge 1030 and inReach
Photo credit: Bligh Gillies/Red Bull Content Pool
Our congrats to Rebecca Rusch for christening one of America’s most epic bike trails. And stay tuned — GearJunkie will interview Rusch on her accomplishment next week.
There’s a model for building a mountain bike community out of nothing but earth, sweat, and community support: Bentonville, Arkansas. And now the mountain bike boomtown is sharing a decade’s worth of knowledge so others can replicate it.
Before it became one of the country’s hottest mountain bike hubs, outsiders knew Bentonville, Arkansas, for one thing: the Walmart headquarters. A company of that size and influence drew some of the top business talents to the neighborhood. Many put down roots. Not surprisingly, the Bentonville population has quadrupled since 1990.
But besides Walmart, the land has always been Bentonville’s boon. There’s a lot of it. Old mountains pockmark the entire northwest corner of Arkansas. And thanks to the efforts of a dedicated community, mountain bike trails now criss-cross the surface.
By the end of 2020, bike tourists will have access to nearly 300 miles of singletrack right from once-sleepy downtown Bentonville.
But it didn’t happen overnight. The trail infrastructure in Bentonville comes in large part from independent Walton Family Foundation funding. The Walmart family has long pursued outdoor activities.
“They are mountain bike advocates,” said Aimee Ross, who heads Bike Bentonville. “The grandfather was a huge hunter. They were always outdoors, experiencing nature for what it is.” She said many from the family’s next generation are road cyclists who took up mountain biking in college.
“Then they brought it back to their hometown,” Ross said.
Today, people visit Bentonville for more than weekday business. Spring Break is one of the biggest visitation weeks of the year. Families, individuals, and groups come specifically to ride rocky, undulating MTB diamonds in the literal rough. In keeping, breweries, bike shops, and biker-friendly Airbnbs built up around the influx of cyclists.
Not unlike the perception of Walmart, Bike Bentonville is “going for world domination,” Ross teased. Biking there is just that good.
“What makes us an anomaly is that people think it’s not possible to have good mountain biking in Arkansas,” Ross, a transplant herself, said. “But people, especially from the West, underestimate it. And they get their rear-ends handed to them out here.”
Ross looks at Bentonville like any other outdoor sport-focused town.
“We’re a mountain bike town, just like Breckenridge and Whistler are ski towns. Downtown Bentonville is like a lodge at a ski resort,” she said. “The trail access is right there, and the community built up around, attracting both families and super-shreddy MTB types.”
IMBA Trail Lab Starts Next Month
And as Bentonville’s reputation has grown, so have the requests for information. Other towns across the nation ask how they, too, can profit from mountain biking’s allure.
Now, after more than a decade building a dream out of dirt, Bentonville is sharing its trade secrets. Next month, the town will host a working lab for folks who want to start something similar in their own towns. Johnson City, Tennessee; Roanoke, Virginia; and Bend, Oregon, are a few in the running to become the next big mountain bike breakout.
Officially, the IMBA Trail Lab is a partnership between the International Mountain Biking Association and Bentonville. It started the biannual meetings last year and is now in its fourth session. After the June workshop, a fall lab will coincide with Bentonville’s first chance to host the national event Outerbike in October, which is primo riding season in Arkansas.
IMBA staff, trail industry experts, and Bike Bentonville stakeholders will lead the intensive, 2-day, 40-spot workshop.
The working laboratory lays out everything a community might need to plan, design, build, activate, promote, and measure mountain biking tourism. The point? For land managers, community officials, recreation professionals, and tourism/economic development staff to leave Bentonville with the next steps to bring more trails to their own backyards.
Marc Upton, SORBA Tri-Cities Board member, called IMBA Trail Labs one of the best workshops for creating or advancing your hometown trail community. “They really have the content dialed,” he said. “Oh, and the trails aren’t too shabby either!”
Bentonville a Model for Mountain Biking Tourism
IMBA’s local representative Jessica Rockson explained why Bentonville is the best model MTB trail community. First, “all the town stakeholders [local officials, parks department, visitors, local businesses, and funders] came together to work as a team,” she said. So it wasn’t just a Walton family thing.
Second, planners methodically integrated trails right into downtown and local neighborhoods. “That makes it easy to hit the trails from your home or accommodations and also to grab a pre- or post-ride meal,” she said.
Last but certainly not least is Bentonville’s sheer quantity and diversity of trails. Routes range from rocky to smooth, steep to rolling. You can ride a 30-minute loop from town or pack a lunch for a 3-hour grind in the woods. “By having something for every skill level, it allows all types of riders to enjoy themselves in the same location,” Rockson said. And that’s the key to building better bike tourism.
She describes riding in Bentonville like doing intervals all day long. “You’re always getting rewarded with a nice descent. You don’t have to ride for an hour to have fun.”
Folks who want to build more of that can now find some answers in Bentonville, the ultimate proving ground for building a MTB community from scratch. The next IMBA Trail Lab runs June 10-12. A $600 entry fee includes classroom work, food, shuttles for field workshops, and evening festivities.
From the inspiring to the tragic, ‘This Week in Adventure’ presents the top news in the world of exploration and adventure this week.
Mount Everest: First Summit Climbs of 2019
The roof of the world opened for business this week, with the first climbers planting flags on the summits of Mount Everest and Lhotse. On Tuesday, a group of at least eight Nepali climbers reached the summit of Everest. On the same day, seven Sherpas and five clients reached 8,516m summit of Lhotse.
Among them, according to Explorer’s Web, were the first Pakistani man, Sirbaz Khan, and the first Greek woman, Christina Flampouri, to climb Lhotse. Expect lots more action from the Himalayas as the core of the climbing season approaches.
On Wednesday this week, Kami Rita Sherpa set the record for the number of Everest summits with 23 ascents. Until last year, he shared the record with Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi Sherpa, with 21 summits each.
Kami Rita Sherpa surpassed them last spring. Now, the 49-year-old senior guide for Seven Summits Treks has extended his record and solidified his place as one of history’s most impressive mountaineers.
And with summits come deaths. The highest peaks are extremely dangerous places. And, sadly, there was word of several deaths during the rush to the top of the world. According to Explorer’s Web, at least five climbers have died and two are missing on Makalu, Everest, Lhotse, and Kangchenjunga. Among the missing are Seamus Lawless, of Ireland, on Everest and Rodrigo Vivanco, of Chile, on Kangchenjunga.
Denali: Early-Season Rescue
The climbing season may just be ramping up on North America’s highest mountain, but rangers have already rescued a team with an injured climber. According to Alaska Public Media, a snowboarder was injured in a fall at about 13,500 feet. Unable to continue their descent, the team called for a rescue. Rangers expect both climbers, whom they did not identify, to survive. They were among the first people to climb Denali for the summer.
Ocean News: Deepest Dive Finds Plastic Bag
An undersea explorer reached what is commonly thought to be the deepest point on the planet on Tuesday. But he returned to the surface with the sad news that among his discoveries was plastic garbage.
In the dive, explorer Victor Vescovo set a new deep-diving record, journeying 35,853 feet — nearly 7 miles — to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. He said he observed four new species in the depths that could offer clues about the beginnings of life on Earth. But he also saw a plastic bag and candy wrappers at the deepest point in the Ocean. (See the photo of Vescovo emerging at the top of this column; image courtesy of Discovery/Five Deeps Expedition.)
FKT for Mountain Biker Rebecca Rusch
Logging 1,041 miles over 8 days, 3 hours, 33 minutes, renowned athlete Rebecca Rusch set the fastest — and first — known time on Arkansas’ new High Country Route bicycle trail.
At 50 years old, Rusch was the first person to ride the entirety of the newly completed network of trails that wind through the countryside over pavement, gravel, and singletrack. It marked the longest ride of Rusch’s storied career. And, as she noted, “The trail they built here is world-class. I’m the first to complete the trail, but definitely not the last. Arkansas better get ready for some cycling.”
While by no means scientific, it sure is fun to watch bike helmets crush beneath the pressure of a massive hydraulic press. Watch this YouTuber smash bike helmets and work his way to armored steel helmets.
Hydraulic Press rose to YouTube fame with his cathartic and fascinating hydraulic press videos. To reiterate the non-scientific nature of this video, the maker does not prove which helmet is the strongest, as suggested by the video’s title.
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REI’s Anniversary Sale occurs each year before Memorial Day. The annual event discounts hundreds of incredible outdoor products. We hand-picked the best gear and deals for your shopping pleasure.
It’s worth noting that coupons are available to REI members. 20% off one full-price item and an extra 20% off one REI Outlet item using the coupon code ANNV19. This is a great chance to save on any wishlist gear that isn’t discounted during the sale. The sale days run from 5/17 – 5/27, but the best gear sells out quickly so we suggest you shop the REI sale early.
Perhaps the most popular tent line ever, REI’s Half Dome Plus tent is dialed for camping and backpacking. GearJunkie has tested and approved of several iterations over the years. The tent is available in sizes to fit one to four people. The design maximizes interior space, doesn’t weigh you down, and offers creature comforts — like large vestibules, gear storage pockets and lots of venting. For the price, the Half Dome Plus is a solid tent.
Arc’teryx makes premium gear that works as well on a mountain top as it does on a day hike. For good reason, it’s expensive and doesn’t go on sale often. All full-price Arc’teryx gear is 25% off right now but it’s limited to in-stock items. Get it before it’s gone!
Fit one very comfortably, or two people in the ENO DoubleNest Hammock. This afternoon lounger hangs from two trees easily with included carabiners. And when not in use, the ENO DoubleNest packs down super small. If you need straps to hang your hammock or other accessories you can save 25% for a limited time.
If you’ve ever gotten a headache from your headlamp you will appreciate the comfort and fit of BioLite’s new minimalist headlamp. The rechargeable BioLite Headlamp 330 weighs just 2.43 ounces with a 9mm front. What a relief. It shines bright on night hikes and runs, plus it works well around camp.
Need to retire your old hikers or get some fresh kicks for spring and summer training runs? Salomon has a great variety of shoes and boots. We’ve used plenty of their gear over the years and it’s solid. For the next 11 days you can get a deal on all men’s, women’s, and kid’s footwear.
A great size for travel and daylong adventures. Both packs have a mesh backpanel to help curb backsweat and a stretchy front pocket to make stashing/accessing gear easy. It also has a nifty QuickStow spot in the shoulder strap to hold your sunglases so you don’t lose or break them.
Packable and warm, the Nano Puff is the quintessential puffy jacket. From Patagonia, this synthetic insulation piece provides a great balance of weight and warmth without taking up sapce in your pack. And it should last for years to come with a tough outer fabric.
No hike is complete without hydration, and Nalgene’s are a terrific solution. This 32 fl. oz. water bottle is a no-frills bottle that stands up to drops and bumps. Plus it’s available in a number of colors and designs.
Father’s Day is June 16, just a month away! And we’ve got a pile of Father’s Day gifts for dads who love to fish.
There’s a bait-shop joke that goes, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, he has to buy rods, reels, waders, bait, a boat …” It’s a bit corny, but you get the point. Anglers always need some new doohicky to improve their kit.
So if your dad loves to fish, you’re in luck. We’ve got gifts for every budget and for every fisherman right here.
And with Amazon Prime shipping on a few items, you might need to buy two items. Because if you’ve got this gear sitting around for a few weeks, you’re probably going to end up snagging something for yourself.
The red-and-white Dardevle spoon is one of the most iconic fishing lures of all time. It dates back to the early 1900s, and its staying power as a staple is a telltale sign of its abilities in the water. The Eppinger family is an American success story, and the company is still run by the inventor’s great-grandchildren. Known mostly as a pike lure, it’s also effective for lake trout, walleye, bass, and really any hungry game fish out there in the depths. Great lure, great story. Dad’ll love it.
And, of course, if your pops is a little less Bassmaster Classic and a little more “A River Runs Through It,” a custom set of flies to restock his stash is a killer, affordable, customizable gift. Check out our picks for spring and summer flies, or just go nuts with whatever you think pops will love.
It’s always good to have a pair of polarized shades at hand. And at $25, these highly rated sunglasses are a great and good-looking option for the dad who often misplaces his favorites. It’s hard to feel guilty about losing a $25 pair of sunglasses. With four lens options, it’s also a great way to add a bit of versatility to dad’s kit.
Dads wear the coolest hats. This we all know. And if you want to help him add some serious flair to his headwear, this beautiful handcrafted hat band is a shoo-in. The band will help save the edges of his hat from becoming a fly box, and it’ll last eons. Maybe one day, it’ll adorn a hat of your own. A gift to keep on giving.
OK, so Mountainsmith doesn’t call it a fanny pack, but I sure do. And to be honest, I’m not sure that there’s anything better than pictures of dad rocking a fanny pack. But, this isn’t the neon fanny pack of ’80s yore. It’s a technical dry bag for the low-maintenance and self-confident guy who likes to rock some old-school dad vibes. Does your dad have an epic mustache? If so, this is your pick. If only it came in neon colors. Sigh.
The nifty thing about measure nets is having the ability to keep ’em wet while figuring out all sorts of things that have to do with a fish’s size. Is it a keeper? Throw it back? Did Cathy just catch her biggest fish yet? Is it the smallest fish you’ve ever caught? This net comes in a variety of sizes, but the $40 net is a great starting point. And there’ll be less fumbling for that measuring tape that’s always out of reach. Perfect-o.
Summer is nigh, and warmer days bring wader-free moments. Patagonia’s Neoprene Socks will keep toes from freezing while dad’s winter-white legs put on their summer jorts tan. The gravel guards will keep your dad’s feet free from rocks, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll leave the smelly, old waders he’s been wearing since your elementary school days in the garage for the ride to the river.
If your dad is a “catch and release into a pan of grease” kind of guy, this knife is a beautiful and functional piece of equipment that he’ll be sure to treasure. Helle’s craftsmanship is designed to last, and the knife comes with a leather sheath that adds an old-school cool vibe to a gorgeous new knife. The reviews on this thing are stars galore. And — Prime shipping!
Costa Del Mar’s Untangled Collection of shades is the perfect gift for the dad who loves sustainability as much as he loves technical performance. Partnering with Bureo, these glasses feature frames made from recycled fishing nets. There’s gotta be pounds of great fishing karma in these shades. And if you’re counting the poundage Bureo’s process has pulled from our oceans, it nets out at around 800,000. This is the ultimate feel-good gift of the bunch.
Although there are myriad tech shirts and shorts on the market, consumers who want to buy American-made workout clothing have very few options. But the new brand Vast Terrain is trying to change that.
A lot of consumers want to support domestic brands when it’s an option. And in many industries (like knifemaking), there are lots of good selections of USA-made and even local products.
But tech apparel is a little trickier to find, especially if you want domestic fabrics and materials, too! Enter Tampa-based Vast Terrain, a brand that gives a new, solid choice for American-made sports apparel.
Slipping on the polyester-spandex-blend Elevate Technical Tee by Vast Terrain, I let out a little, “Oh, this is nice.” The fabric feels just a little heavier than a lot of tech tees, but not too heavy for running. It’s soft against the skin and stretchy. It feels like it could come from any of several well-known apparel brands. But on the tag site are three rarely seen letters for this type of garment: U-S-A.
Time to get running — out the door I went (on several occasions over the last month).
Purposefully varying my running distance through Denver’s ever-changing spring weather, I put a lot of miles on two Vast Terrain shirts: the Elevate Technical Tee ($50) and the Ascent Long Sleeve Top ($68). I also ran in the brand’s Endurance 7” Short ($65). Plus, I used them in the gym while working on some standard after-work Olympic lifting routines.
All three products have proven excellent over several workouts and at least a couple of washes. And while it’s still early in my running season, I expect to grab these three products regularly for many outings.
It’s worth noting that they each seem well-suited to all kinds of sports. They have the details of good products, like bonded hems and flatlock stitching for chafe resistance and comfort. The poly-spandex blend also has embedded silver salts to fight odor.
And overall, they all work well. These are solid tech tees and shorts at a competitive price. But where the brand stands out is its sourcing and manufacturing — it all begins and ends in the USA.
Vast Terrain’s Ascent Long Sleeve costs $68. The graph shows exactly how.
Vast Terrain uses a tool, found on quite a few small direct-to-consumer brand websites, it calls “transparent manufacturing.” What that means is the brand points out the exact cost of each stage of design, materials, production, and shipping.
The brand’s products are certainly not cheap but do compete well with quality apparel from big brands. And given the USA manufacturing (and likely bumps in pricing on foreign goods due to recent tariff hikes), the brand should compete well.
Its factories are all based in the U.S. It makes yarn in Greensboro, N.C.; wovens in Roanoke, Va.; knits and zippers in Los Angeles; trims in Pawtucket, R.I.; and cut and sew in San Francisco.
Vast Terrain manufactures both women’s and men’s apparel. My wife did several runs in the brand’s leggings and was very pleased. She noted they stack up well with quality products from other brands.
So if you’re in the market for a pair of running shorts or a new tech tee, give this newcomer a look. Its products are spot on, and its production happens, as the name alludes, right here in the vast terrain of the USA.