Ask the Gear Guy

    • backpack-200x148At first glance, Black Diamond's ergoACTIV backpack suspension system seems like a gimmick. But it really works. The hip belt has a unique rotating ball joint that pivots as your body moves. The result is a much more comfortable pack that does a really good job of transferring the pack's weight to your hips.

    • sack-200x148Q. Every single time I go camping, I have trouble rolling up my sleeping bag and can never get it back in the bag. Help!

    • cheapgear-200x148.jpgLast weekend my dad took me to the local outdoors store, but we both couldn't believe how expensive camping stuff is. Please help! Where can I get good outdoor equipment without paying huge prices?

    • backpacks-200x148.jpgI need a new backpack. What's better: Internal or external frame?

    • thermarest-200x148Q. Hey Gear Guy! I need something to keep me off of the ground at campouts, a cot or just a simple ground pad. However I don’t have much money. What’s something cheap that works well?

    • pillow-200x148Q. My camping pillow is always getting smelly and gunky on campouts, but when I wash it, the material inside lumps up and it takes forever to get the pillow comfy again. What should I do?

    • backpack-200x148Q. Dear Gear Guy, I want to train for my backpacking trips with a loaded backpack, but I don’t want to have to pack all my gear every time I want to train. Is there any way to add weight to the backpack in a simple but accurate representation of a full backpack?

    • kayak-200x148Q. Hi Gear Guy! I am a huge fisherman and I want to know about a cost-friendly boat. My budget is $500. Thank you.

    • sunscreen-200x148Q. Hey Gear Guy, I’m going to the beach this summer, and I was wondering what would be the best things to get for my personal needs, such as my face, skin, etc. I’m going to buy my own personal stuff this year to go, such as my sunscreen lotion, etc. I was just wondering what I need to buy. Any good selections? Thanks.

    • actionshot-200x148Finally, an affordable wearable video camera! With this new Action Shot Camera, you don’t have to drop a lot of cash to start filming your adventures.

    • convertiblepantsQ. Gear Guy, We’re going to Philmont Scout Ranch. Need suggestions for hiking pants (convertible to shorts) and hiking shorts for both me and my 15-year-old.

    • kayak-200x148Learning to paddle is great but it’s even more fun when you have a kayak that actually fits.

    • smell-200x148I play soccer and football. I sometimes wear my cleats six days a week. Is there any way to rid my equipment (cleats, shin guards, shoulder pads, etc.) of that everlasting smell of fresh body odor?

    • When I go camping I often have trouble sleeping. I toss and turn and always end up rolling off my sleeping pad. What can I do to sleep better?

    • boots-200x148Q. I'm going to the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, and I've been told that there's tons of hiking. That might be a problem because my feet sweat a lot and give me blisters. Any suggestions for preventing and treating this?

    • Q. Hey Gear Guy, I’m debating on whether to buy a Gerber pocketknife or a Swiss Army knife. My friend says Gerber; but I’ve heard Swiss Army my whole life. Which one should I buy?

    • Q. My son wants a fire-starter. Which is the best and easiest?

    • revivex-200x148Q. I have a two-person tent that I really like, but when it rains, it leaks badly. I applied seam sealer as you had said in a previous answer, but now it's like the rain is coming through the tent itself, not the seams. I think the rain fly that came with the tent is not big enough. Can I buy another type of rain fly? I was thinking a tarp would not allow air to come through and I will get hot. Do you have any other suggestions?

    • flipflops-200x148A bit pricey, for sure, but they'll last longer than most cheaper brands, and you can be confident your money is going toward a good product -- and a great cause.

    • hammock-200x148Q. Dear Gear Guy, I have been looking for an affordable camping hammock that I can use in all seasons, preferably under $200. Any suggestions?

    • catfish-200x148.jpgWhat’s the best gear for fishing in rivers for catfish?

    • Q. Last summer at Cub Scout day camp, the temperature hit 106 degrees. I like to wear a wide brim hat on days like that, but sometimes they just get in the way and a ball cap works better, especially when I’m out doing a lot of active stuff like running around or jogging. I find that most ball caps make my head feel hot and just retain more heat. I try soaking them in water and letting evaporation cool my head down, which helps a little, but I was wondering if you’ve come across any good caps that might have some ventilation in them.

    • Q. Dear Gear Guy, I’m looking to buy a new fishing pole, but don’t know what qualities to look for in a rod. What do you recommend?

    • Q. I want to buy a pocketknife for my 8-year-old nephew. He has just started a pocketknife collection and has about 8 knives. Can you recommend a good knife for a boy that age?

    • Q. Dear Gear Guy. I love skateboarding but every winter it’s snowy and cold and icy where I live so skating outdoors isn’t an option. How do I make sure that I don’t lose all my skillz?

    • dutchoven-200x148Q. What's the best way to store Dutch ovens to keep them away from dirt and bugs and to stop rusting?

    • knife-200x148Q. Dear Gear Guy, I got a pocketknife from my grandfather, and it's all dirty and rusty. Can you tell me how to clean it, please?

    • Q. Dear Gear Guy, I’m going backpacking and need a first aid kit that’s small and lightweight because I don’t have a lot of room in my pack. What would you recommend?

    • Q. Hi Gear Guy, I’m into digital photography, but so far I’ve been using my cell phone or borrowing a camera. So, I want to get one of my own. I saw the Pentax Optio WG-1 in the May 2012 issue of Boys’ Life and thought it would be perfect, but the reviews are all over the place. Some people say it’s awesome and some people say it sucks. Is it a good camera or should I look at something else?

    • Q. I recently bought a backpacking stove. Now I need a pot for boiling water. What is a good lightweight option?