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Ask the Gear Guy

Not sure which gear to buy? Need tips for maintaining your equipment? Ask the Gear Guy for help.

Repairing a sleeping bag

My dad gave me an old Marmot sleeping bag, and it has two small holes in it and some down feathers are coming out. The sleeping bag works just fine, but how do I stop the feathers from coming out?

Low-cut or high-cut hiking boots?

Q. Hey Gear Guy, this question has been nagging me for so long: If I’m going backpacking should I wear boots with high ankles or ones with low ankles?

Mountain bike or road bike?

I need a new bicycle but I don't know if I should get a mountain bike or a road bike. What are the pros and cons of each type?

Did bug spray melt my watch?

Dear Gear Guy, I got bug spray all over the face of my watch and there is a dirty residue on the face of the watch. How do I remove it?

Stuff We Like: Jetboil MiniMo

For a quick boil in camp, our JetBoil system has never failed us. So we're excited for the new-for-2015 JetBoil MiniMo system.

A good, durable camp saw

Sven SawI want to buy a camp saw that will really last. Something that can take a beating. It doesn’t need to be lightweight for packing since we usually drive to our campsites. Any suggestions?

Cold weather hats

balaclavaWhat is the best hat to hold in the heat while hiking in the snow or really cold weather?

Fast-drying boots

boots-200x148I'm going to Northern Tier High Adventure Base this summer and need a pair of boots that can dry quickly. They need to be light, closed-toe, fast-drying and fast-draining, considering I might be walking in water. What's the best choice?

Fix a torn stuff sack

Q. I'm having problems with the stuff sack that holds my backpacking tent. It's wearing out on the bottom, and I was wondering what would fix it.

Choosing a kayak

I am looking to buy a kayak but there are so many possibilities. Which one should I pick? Help me!

Good base layer to keep warm?

Q. Hello Gear Guy, My friends wear Under Armour with shorts and a T-shirt and say they are warm when it is 30 degrees out. Meanwhile I’m freezing with long johns and my uniform and a jacket on! I was considering buying Under Armour. They give me a choice of silk or polyester, which one keeps me warmer? Do you have suggestions of any other products besides Under Armour?

Stuff We Like: Rockboard Descender

The Rockboard Descender takes boarding into new territory -- whether it's pavement, grass or rocks -- in a crossover snowboarding/surfing kind of ride.

Organize your stuff

Q. I have a lot of gear at my house. But all of it is just shoved into a box in my closet. I wind up losing a lot of stuff and it looks horrible. Is there any cheap, easy and effective way I could organize it?

Find a cheap, good-quality hammock

Hennesy Hammocks Scout Classic HammockDear Gear Guy, Where do I go to find a cheap, good-quality hammock? I have been looking all over the Internet but I can't find one for under $100. Please help me.

Most important survival item?

biviIn a survival situation, when you are all alone in the Northern Tundra with only a T-shirt and pants, what one thing would you want?

Stuff We Like: UCO StakeLight

stakelight-200x148If you've ever tripped over the guy lines of your tent in the dark, or gotten a little turned around on your way back to your tent after a midnight trip to the bathroom, then you know exactly why the StakeLight is so cool.

Waterproof or water-resistant?

waterproof-200x148Q. Hey Gear Guy, I have a question for you. What’s the difference between waterproof and water-resistant? I see it on lots of outdoor gear but I’m not sure which is which.

Hate leaving the tent to pee at night

bathroom-200x148When I’m camping, I hate having to get up in the middle of the night to go outside and pee. Sometimes it’s too cold or I’m nervous about what I might step on in the dark. What should I do?

Avoiding mosquito attacks

I feel like a mosquito magnet. Seems like every time I go on outings with my troop, I'm the only one who gets bitten. What can I do? Help!

De-Stinking Water Bottles

Q. Gear Guy, How do I prevent the nasty odor and taste that I get when I store my Nalgene bottle with the lid closed?

How to fit a backpack

backpack-200x148Watch as Eagle Scout Jon Almquist, who works for national outdoors retailer REI, shows you how to fit a backpack in this exclusive BL video.

Effective bug sprays

bugspray-200x148Q. My Scout Troop took a four-day backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The mosquitoes were the biggest problem on the trip. I used several different bug sprays, and only one of them worked. But the one that worked only worked for about 15 minutes. What type of bug spray (preferably natural) could I use that would keep the mosquitoes away for at least an hour? Also, I’ve heard that there is clothing that keeps bugs away. How effective is this clothing?

How to repair rubber rain boots

shoegoo-200x148My favorite rubber rain boots have a hole in the side. Now they aren't dry at all. They weren't really expensive, but I don't want to get new ones. How can I repair my boot? Please help.

Reduce sweating in your lifejacket

livevest-200x148Q. My family has a great sit-on-top kayak and I love paddling it around the lake in the summer but my parents make me wear a lifejacket and my back gets totally sweaty and gross. Please help me!

What’s a Boston valve?

Q. Hey Gear Guy! I am thinking about buying an inflatable boat. I checked all of the safety regulations, laws, details, etc. The only thing I’m not quite sure about is how to inflate it. It says it comes with two Boston valves for easy inflation. Do I attach them to a hand pump, like the one for my sports balls? Or do I need a special pump? Please say no! HELP!

Itchy groin after swimming

ocean-200x148Q. Dear Gear Guy. My friends and I do a lot of swimming in saltwater in the summer, and a common problem we have is the infamous itchy groin. Is there a solution?

Stuff We Like: WD-40 Bike Chain Lubricant

wd40-200x148You've probably heard of WD-40. It's a spray-on lubricant that has been around forever and is useful on nearly everything -- except bike chains. Now there's a WD-40 made specifically for bikes.

Where to find cheap, decent hiking boots

boot-200x148Q. Hey Gear Guy, I was really unsmart on my first campout and brought sneakers! My Scoutmaster said I had to get hiking boots, but my family doesn't make that much money. Do you know of some really cheap, decent hiking boots?

Why is my pack so heavy?

Q. I’ve been in Scouts for about a year and I was wondering why my backpack is so heavy. I only pack about two pairs of jeans, extra socks and two shirts. I also pack a mess kit and a flashlight plus batteries. My sleeping pad is not heavy; neither is my sleeping bag. Why might my pack be so heavy and do you know how to fix it?