Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Video: Another Look at the Longest Suspension Footbridge in the World

Awhile back, I shared a video of the Europabrücke Skywalk, which is the longest suspension footbridge in the world. Located in Switzerland, it stretches for 1620 feet (493 meters) and is 282 feet (86 metes) above the ground. Naturally, it has become quite the attraction for trekkers in the area. In this clip, we get another great look at this marvel. I've crossed suspension bridges like this in my travels, but not that quite compares to this one. It is definitely on my list of places I'd love to see. Check it out below.

Video: Airspace - Wingsuit Flying and BASE Jumping in Norway

We've seen some really interesting and beautiful videos shot in Norway over the years, but this one gives us a completely different look at the landscapes found there. In this clip we'll take to the skies with a team of wingsuit pilots and BASE jumpers, who captured some amazing footage throughout their flights. I still think this is a sport I'd never want to try, but I definitely appreciate the spectacular footage these men and women capture while in the air.

Airspace - Norway - A wingsuit BASE odyssé from Staffan Holmström - Oxydive on Vimeo.

Visiting Everest? You'll Soon Have to Pay a Little More

Planning on trekking to Everest Base Camp in the future? If so, it looks like you'll have to pay a bit more as the local government in Nepal has instituted a new fee. But don't panic, it isn't enough to cancel your plans or break your pocket book.

According to The Himalayan Times, the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality in the Solukhumbu District – which is where Everest is located – had decided to impose an entry fee on all foreign visitors. The new fee will go into effect on October 1 and will set travelers back Rs 2000. That equates to about $20.

According to the new constitution passed in Nepal, local governments now have the right to impose such taxes and fees. This is the first time that any region has taken advantage of this option however, as the local government looks to claim a bit of revenue from the more than 35,000 people that visit the Khumbu Valley each year. Most come for trekking and mountaineering purposes.

The money will be used to create improvements in infrastructure throughout the Khumbu and to promote sustainable tourism in the region as well. But, the fear is that the money will be mismanaged by the local government, with much of the revenue somehow finding its way into the hands of politicians rather than actually being put to good use. There are also concerns about more districts across Nepal following suit, possibly charging an entry fee every time a traveler comes and goes. If that were to become the case, it could get a lot more expensive to visit Nepal, keeping some tourists from ever going there.

For now, plans are moving ahead to impose the new tax, despite protests from within the tourism sector. Just what kind of impact it will have remains to be seen however, but it is important that travelers know what to expect when they arrive. A $20 fee isn't too serious, but multiple $20 fees start to add up quickly. Plan accordingly and take advantage of the time that you spend in a region, particularly the Solukhumbu area. Hopefully, this will be an exception to the rule for traveling in Nepal and not the new normal.

Leaked Memo Indicates Trump Administration May Shrink Bears Ears and Other National Monuments

One of the hot button topics within the outdoor industry this year has been the evolving situation with several national monuments, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Both of those areas, along with every national monuments made dating back to the Clinton Administration, have been under review by new Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. For weeks we've been waiting to learn the outcome of that review, as the fate of several of these outstanding outdoor settings sits in the balance. Now, a leaked memo indicates that Zinke will recommend shrinking the sizes of the monuments as was first speculated.

A 19-page document posted by the Washington Post appears to be the memo that the Secretary of the Interior sent to President Trump. In it he suggests that four of the national monuments here in the continental U.S. be reduced in size. Those sites include Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Gold Butte in Nevada, and Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon. The memo also suggests that the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll monuments also be scaled back as well.

At the heart of these suggestions is the idea that the monuments are inhibiting commercial development and the use of the land nearby. Zinke feels that grazing of livestock, mining, and timber production have all taken a hit due to the sizes of these particular places. Of course, conservationists would argue that those are the reasons these places were protected in the first place, although it seems the Trump administration is taking the stance that the monuments weren't created to protect a specific area or item, but were instead designated as public lands just to keep business from developing there.

While it should be noted that the Trump administration has not announced any specific plans yet, this kind of stance shows just how tone-deaf they are on these issues. The land in these monuments was protected for a reason, and because they don't see specific objects within the area that stand out from the others, they are missing the point altogether. It is the landscapes themselves that make these places special, which is why they have been protected from commercial development.

That said, I do think the parties involved are attempting to find some kind of compromise that keeps the monuments in place while also opening up commercial development. The problem with that stance is that those developments can have a negative impact on the environments that they sit adjacent to, and often times it is far to late to see the impact of it before the damage is done. Hopefully there is still time to avoid a change in the size and status of these places, but considering the track record of the Trump administration so far, that seems unlikely.

Himalaya Fall 2017: First Summits of the Season on Manaslu

While we've been busy over the past few days following the proceedings on Dhaulagiri, where it appeared that we'd see the first summits of the season in the Himalaya, a team of Sherpas have earned that distinction on Manaslu instead. According to The Himalayan Times, five men went to the top of the mountain as they completed the task of fixing ropes to the summit. Later, they were also joined by a pair of foreign climbers who claimed early season success too.

The Sherpa team consisted of Karma Gyalzen Sherpa, Nga Tashi Sherpa, Damai Sarki Sherpa and Dawa Chiring from Seven Summit Treks, along with Phurba Tashi Sherpa from Mountain Experience. The group reached the summit at 9:54 AM local time, radioing back to Base Camp that they had indeed reached 8163 meters (26,781 ft).

Not far behind the Sherpa squad were a pair of climbers from Himalayan Experience. That team announced that in addition to placing two of its Sherpas ( Phurba Tashi and Nigma Sona) on the summit, two clients also reached that point. Those men are Dan Home from the U.K. and Frank Seidel of Germany.

Now, with the ropes in place, the path has been set for other teams to soon follow. Manaslu is crowded this fall, with more than 255 foreign climbers currently in Base Camp. Most have just started their initial acclimatization process and are still a few weeks away from starting their actual summit push. While others, like the Adventure Peaks squad, have been on the mountain a bit longer than most, and have now been all the way up to Camp 3 as they adjust to the altitude. That should put them in a good position to potentially launch summit bids in another week or so, weather permitting of course.

In contrast, Adventure Consultants are currently in C2 on the mountain and will head back to BC today or tomorrow. They'll have at least one more rotation before they start to think about a summit push of their own, which would put them about a week behind the Adventure Peaks team.

Finally, over on Dhaulagiri, Carlos Soria and his team are nestled back into Base Camp as they rest and recuperate from their recent attempt on the summit of that mountain. They were turned back due to high winds and poor visibility, but hope to launch another attempt as early as later this week. For now though, they sit and wait and watch the forecasts.

More to come soon.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Video: A Mountain Bike Ride Across an Artists Canvas

Micayla Gatto is both an artist and a mountain biker, finding beauty in both passions. In this video, we join her for a ride down a favorite ridgeline, which she has also created on her canvas. The clip seamlessly blends the real world with Micayla's art, creating a fun and fanciful environment along the way. The ride is nothing short of spectacular, with the artist sharing her story throughout. There is a lot of interesting and creative stuff going on here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Micayla Gatto's Intersection - A MTB ride through artist's canvas from Red Bull on Vimeo.

Video: Saturn 101 With Nat Geo

Last week marked the end of Cassini's 13 year mission to explore Saturn, the sixth planet in our solar system. Over the course of those years, the spacecraft collected a wealth of information about the massive gas giant that is well known for its iconic rings. Scientists and researchers will continue to sift through that data for years to come, but Cassini has already expanded our knowledge in many ways. In this video, courtesy of National Geographic, we get up to speed with Saturn, one of the most mysterious and fascinating planets in our galactic neighborhood.

Adventure Tech: Lifelike 3D Audio Recording Headset

Adventure filmmakers and podcasters looking to capture great sound on the go will want to listen up. A new device called the Lifelike 3D headset offers impressive audio capture performance in a tiny package, producing pro-level 3D sound from an iPhone without the need to use any extra hardware or apps.

The audio-recording headset launched on Indiegogo recently with the hopes of raising $20,000 in crowdfunding money to get the device into production. With more than two weeks to go in the campaign, the team behind the Lifelike 3D has hit that goal, which means that the headset is now scheduled to go into production and begin shipping to customers by December of this year. At that time, it will be priced at $149, although early-bird backers can still order a pair for just $79 as of this writing.

I managed to get my hands on a preproduction model of the Lifelike 3D and put it to the test. I've been planning on launching an adventure podcast for some time now, and I've been searching for a way to capture great audio while on the go. There are of course plenty of mobile microphones to be had, but this headset is compact, lightweight, and promised to provide not just excellent audio reproduction, but also offer 3D sound recording as well.

What is 3D sound you ask? It is a special quality that gives the microphone the ability to capture audio in a relational way, simulating the actual position of the source of the sound that is being captured. For instance, if you're recording sounds coming from all directions, those listening to the playback will actually get the sense that they too are standing in the middle of the scene. To them, it will sound like things are taking place all around them, with appropriate sounds behind, to the left, right, or even in front of them. It is actually a very immersive way to put someone right in the heart of the project. To get a sense of how this works, throw on a pair of headphones and play the YouTube clip below.

Happy 40th Anniversary Outside Magazine!

2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Outside magazine, and the venerable periodical has been celebrating all year long with a number of special articles. But now, the Outside website has launched an official anniversary section that is a stroll down memory lane for those of us who have read it for years, serving as an amazing look back at some of the most memorable stories of all time.

On the webpage for the 40th anniversary you'll find reflections on what it was like to publish Jon Krakauer's seminal work Into Thin Air, how the magazine survived a tumultuous time in the late 90's when many of its writers moved on, and much more. You'll find current stories about an antarctic expedition that went terribly wrong, a look at whether or not Lance Armstrong actually regrets doping, and a story about Reinhold Messner and Peter Habler climbing Everest without oxygen for the very first time. You'll also find a nice piece on the the stories that have inspired the Outside team, and a thoughtful letter from the editor reflecting on the past 40 years.

For fans of the outdoors, adventure, and exploration there is a lot to take in on this single webpage alone. In fact, almost every story there is worth a read and you'll probably find yourself finishing up one, just to move on to the next. Some of the articles are classics from Outside's past, while others are fascinating stories of things happening right now. In short, it is a wonderful mix of why we have come to love the magazine so much over the past 40 years. For four decades it has found ways to educate, fascinate, and inspire. Hopefully that won't end anytime soon.

Here's to 40 more years Outside!

Check out the 40th anniversary page here.

Himalaya Fall 2017: Summit Bids Denied on Dhaulagiri

This past weekend saw the first real summit push of the 2017 fall climbing season in the Himalaya, with climbers on Dhaulagiri hoping to claim an early victory. But as usual the weather conditions dictated the level of success and the team quickly learned that Mother Nature isn't any more forgiving in the autumn then she is in the spring.

78-year old Spanish mountaineer Carlos Sora and his seven-person squad left for the summit on Dhaulagiri on Saturday morning. They were accompanied by four Sherpas who helped install fixed ropes up the mountain. Working together the team was able to install lines up to 7800 meters (25,590 ft). From there, they made the decision to keep a bit of extra rope in reserve for the final push to the top of the 8167 meter (26,795 ft) peak.

The weather forecast for the day had called for relatively light winds on the summit and clear skies overhead. But things can change quickly in the big mountains of Nepal, and those conditions didn't last. Precipitation has been an issue for most of the season so far, with rain at lower altitudes and snow up high. As they approached the top, snow began to fall and the winds started to pick up, making it difficult to see where they were going. With the situation quickly becoming dangerous, the team decided to turn back to Camp 3 to seek shelter from the storm.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Video: Chris Burkard Shares the Place that Changed his Life

If you've done any traveling, more than likely you've visited a place that changed your life in some way. For adventure photographer Chris Burkard, that place is Lofoten, Norway. In this video, which is the first of a new series under the #LifeChangingPlaces banner, he takes us to this utterly spectacular and remote place to give us a glimpse of why it is so amazing and just how it impacted his life.

#LifeChangingPlaces - LOFOTEN - Chris Burkard from Vincent Urban on Vimeo.

Video: The Mirnivator - The True Story of a Not-So-Typical Trail Runner

Meet Mirna Valerio a dedicated  runner who will break all of your stereotypes of what a runner should be. In this video, brought to us by REI, we meet Mirna and learn about what motives her to get out an run. But she doesn't just go for casual jogs around the neighborhood. She is an endurance athlete who competes in long distance events, pushing herself to her own physical and mental limits. What makes her different than the other ultra-runners out there? She just so happens to have a body type that isn't typical for runners, and for that she often catches a lot of flack. In fact, the video opens with a stunningly rude and demeaning email she received from someone calling her out as a fraud. But that is just the kind of fuel that gets her going. If you watch one video today, make it this one.

Rare White Giraffes Remind Us How Amazing Our World Can Be

Our world is indeed a special place, but every once in awhile it is nice to have a reminder of just how beautiful it can be. One of those reminders came earlier in the week when a pair of white giraffes were spotted in Kenya. It was there, that visitors to the Hirola Conservation Area were caught completely off guard when they came across a mother and calf, both of which were completely white. Fortunately, they were able to capture some video footage to share with the rest of us. 

But, the creatures don't suffer from albinism as some suspected. Instead, they have a very rare genetic condition called leucism. This trait doesn't allow an animal to create pigmentation in its skin cells, while other organs can continue to form naturally. Albino animals usually have pink eyes, but these giraffes – and other creatures with leucism – have natural looking eyes instead.

Fortunately, this trait doesn't have any lasting impact on their ability to survive in the wild, and in this case the mother obviously passed on the rare genetic defect to the calf. But, as you'll see in the video below, it gives them a unique quality that is simply magical. Something tells me that the Hirola Conservation Area is about to get a lot more visitors.


So Long Cassini, You Will Be Missed!

Today marks a sad and historic day in space exploration. After nearly 20 years of traveling and exploring our solar system, the Cassini space craft is no more. Earlier this morning, NASA sent the probe, which has been collecting data on Saturn and its moons for 13 years, into the atmosphere of that planet. As it plunged through the atmosphere, it dutifully continued to send back information, right up until it went offline, most likely burning up on entry into Saturn's thin atmosphere.

Over the course of its mission, Cassini traveled some 5 billion miles (8 billion km) and gave us some of the most stunning looks at Saturn that we've ever seen. It also discovered numerous additional moons for the gas giant, and helped us to consider whether or not those moons might support life. The spacecraft took a closer look at Saturn's famed rings, helped us examine its composition, and shared data about its atmosphere right up until it went silent. At 7:55 AM ET this morning, NASA confirmed that the little spacecraft that could was gone.

In an era where space travel and exploration is devalued, Cassini was a stunning success. Not only did it provide us with new information about our solar system, but it helped us to evaluate our own place in it. There are wonders to be found in our own galactic neighborhood and all we have to do is go looking for them. I am one of those people who believes man's destiny is to move beyond our own little blue marble and out into the stars. It won't happen in my lifetime, but missions like the one performed by Cassini will help make it a reality in the decades to come.

It is odd to feel sad over the demise of machine. But with Cassini's passing it is an end of an era. And it may be some time before we see another project like this one. Godspeed little space probe.


Himalaya Fall 2017: Tomorrow is Summit Day on Dhaulagiri

The fall 2017 climbing season in the Himalaya is barely underway, and yet we could have our first successful summits as early as tomorrow. While most teams are still getting settled into Base Camps across the region, one squad has already launched their summit bid and it looks like it has a great chance to be successful.

78-year old Spanish alpinist Carlos Soria and his team left BC a few days back and have now put themselves within striking distance of the top. According to his Facebook page, they are now camped in C3 at 7200 meters (26,622 ft) and if all goes according to plan, they'll launch the final push tomorrow. The weather forecast calls for good conditions with wind speeds from 20-25 km (12-15 mph) and high cloud cover. In mountaineering terms, that's about as good as you can expect on an 8000-meter peak.

If successful, this will be Soria's 13th 8000-meter peak, leaving him just one more to add to his resume. That final mountain is Shishapangma, which is a relatively easy climb compared to most of the other big Himalayan mountains. If he knocks of Dhaulagiri as expected, I would anticipate that he'll be back on Shishapangma in the spring, looking to get his final 8-thousander, which would be an impressive accomplishment at any age, let alone in his late 70's.

Elsewhere, teams are proceeding with the acclimatization efforts on schedule. Yesterday, the Adventure Consultants touched Camp 1 on Manaslu, which means they went up to 5600 meters (18,372 ft), dropped off some gear, ate some lunch, and then dropped back down to Base Camp. They spent today resting and organizing more of their equipment in preparation for returning to C1 for an overnight stay in a few days. According to the latest dispatch, that camp is now fully stocked and ready to go, and the Sherpas have begun shuttling gear up to Camp 2 as well.

For most of the climbers the grind is now about to truly begin. They'll be spending their time going higher on the mountain, then returning to Base Camp for some much needed rest while their bodies acclimate to the altitude. We're still a few weeks away from summit bids on Manaslu, which is where the bulk of the action will take place this fall. For now, its just a matter of putting in the work and sticking to the schedule. I'm sure there will be much more to report soon.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Video: A Timelapse of 30 Days at Sea

Spend 30 days at sea with this timelapse video, which was captured over a month of travel starting in the  Red Sea, then on to the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, the Malacca Strait, and the South China Sea, with stops in Colombo, Singapore, Hong Kong. Along the way, you'll witness some truly epic views of open ocean, turbulent storms, and incredible skies. Sit back, relax, and take it all in. It's worth the ride.

Video: The 7 Things You Need to Get Started in Backpacking

Want to get started in backpacking but not sure where to begin? Why not let the experts at Outside magazine help? In this video, columnist Bryan Rogala will not only tell you about all of the gear you'll need for your first backpacking trip, he'll also show you how to pack it all in your pack before you go. The video is extremely informative and well done, and even veteran backpackers might pick up a tip or two.

Gear Closet: MSR Trail Shot Water Filter Review

Whether you're going on an extended expedition to remote corners of the globe, or simply backpacking along your favorite trail, finding clean and safe drinking water is an important part of the process. In this day and age, there are a lot of methods available for treating water in the backcountry, ranging from the tried-and-true iodine tablets to UV light to simply boiling all of the water you need. But, over the past few years, there have been some significant improvement in water filters as well, giving hikers, backpackers, and adventure travelers yet another great option for creating clean drinking water. One of the best that I've used so far is MSR's TrailShot, which nicely blends efficiency and size.

Weighing in at a mere 5 oz. (142 grams), the TrailShot is capable of filtering up to 1 liter of water per minute. Considering its size, thats a pretty impressive accomplishment. All you have to do is drop the end of the tube into the water and squeeze on the TrailShot itself. The suction action that his create draws the water into the filter, removing harmful protozoa and bacteria in the process. You can actually operate the filter using one hand, and at the end you can clean it just by giving it a couple of shakes. MSR even says that the TrailShot is good for up 2000 liters before its filter cartridge needs to be replaced.

My experience with the TrailShot is that it lives up to the hype. It is incredibly easy to use and it is effective at removing harmful elements from the water. I didn't find that it could quite produce a liter per minute, although that number probably comes from optimal conditions and with someone really working hard to go as fast as possible. That said, my test unit produced a steady stream of water that quickly filled bottles and hydration reservoirs. It is even possible to drink directly from the stream for those who need water quickly.

Primal Quest and GODZone Adventure Races Join Forces

Big news from the world of adventure racing today as the Primal Quest and GODZone races announce a partnership to help strengthen the brand of both events.

In a press release announcing the news it was revealed that New Zealand's 100% Pure Racing – the organizers of GODZone – will take a full-partnership role in Primal Quest, providing the North American race with "its proprietary live coverage, web, media and technology platform" for use in its next event, which is scheduled to take place in 2018 in British Columbia.

In the press release, 100% Pure Racing CEO Warren Bates said, “This is exciting news for adventure racing as a whole, fans of the sport and every athlete who believes that these type of events should be true expedition experiences. GODZone has attracted a vast competitor and fan base and we will be 100% focused on delivering the same for Primal Quest."

Meanwhile, PQ founder and director Maria Burton added, “ We believe this represents a significant and solid step forward for the sport of adventure racing and for Primal Quest. We are proud to be partnering with GODZone. They are world leaders in expedition adventure racing and have delivered impressive growth and technological leadership in our sport, whilst ensuring that the competitors’ experience remains their number one priority.”

Recently, 100% Pure Racing also joined the A1 adventure racing series in Australia and New Zealand, and it appears Primal Quest will become a part of that initiative too. With nine events already on the schedule, A1 looks to become a major player in the sport, ramping up quickly to an international scale.

For fans and competitors of the sport, this is some surprising news. Primal Quest was once the premiere race in the entire world, but after a long hiatus it returned in 2015 to find the AR landscape had changed dramatically, particularly with the advent of the Adventure Racing World Series. The new A1 series could be positioning itself to challenge the existing World Series program as it adds more events in the future.

It will certainly be interesting to see how all of this plays out and a reinvigorated Primal Quest could be great for the sport of adventure racing in North America.

Cyclist Set to Smash Record for Circumnavigating the World on a Bike

British endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont is about to set an impressive record. As I write this, he has embarked on the fourth, and final, stage of his attempt to circumnavigate the globe on bicycle in record time. In fact, Beaumont is about to equal the task of Jules Verne's famous characters Phileas Fogg and Passepartout as he goes round the world in under 80 days.

Beaumont started his journey back on July 2, setting out from Paris and riding across Europe and Asia, before ending the first stage of the expedition in Beijing. After that, he flew to Australia, crossing that continent, and adding New Zealand to his resume while he was in the neighborhood too. From there, it was on to the U.S. and Canada for a jaunt across North America, starting in Alaska and ending in Nova Scotia. Finally, he few back to Europe to ride across Portugal and Spain on his way back to Paris. He is on the road there now and is expected to reach the finish line on Monday, September 18, completing his circumnavigation of the planet in just 79 days. That crushes the old record of 123 days set by New Zealand cyclist Andrew Nicholson.

To accomplish this impressive feat, Beaumont has had to average 240 miles of riding each and every day for nearly three month. That meant 16 hours of riding no matter the conditions, day-in and day-out. Usually he would ride four hour sessions each day without taking a break. Then stop, refuel (he was burning 9000 calories/day too!), catch his breath, and relax a bit before retuning to the bike. With this simple and straight forward strategy, he was able to concentrate on taking each day one ride at a time, while he methodically knocked off all of the miles he needed.

To officially circumnavigate the globe he had to cover 18,000 miles (28,968 km). Coming into the end, he and his support team realized they would actually come up 8 miles (12.8 km) short, so they added a detour to the route to ensure that he'll ride the necessary distance. In the grand scheme of things, those few miles won't mean much, but Beaumont is making sure he does everything by the rules before he crosses the finish line in Paris in a few days time.

If you want to read more about this journey and follow Mark on the final few days of his ride, visit the artemisworldcycle.com. You'll find a lot of information there about the rider, his bike, and the route he took, plus daily journal entries and much more.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Video: Stunning Video of the Limestone Karsts of China

Shot by drone, this clip takes us to Guilin, China, a place that is well known for its limestone karst formations. These rock towers spiral high overhead, creating an otherworldly landscape that has to be been to be believed. This video is another great example of how drones have changed the way we make films. A few years ago, this would have been too expensive for a budding filmmaker to capture on video, but now it is possible thanks to improvements in technology and the proliferation of affordable UAVs. The result is some wonderful travel and adventure videos for the rest of us to enjoy.

Head in the Clouds from Ivan Bondarenko on Vimeo.

Video: The Sights and Sounds of the UTMB

We've all seen plenty of flash, over-produced outdoor videos I'm sure. This clip does away with all of that to instead focus on the visceral experience of taking part in an event, in this case the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc. Gone is the jazzy music, special effects, and drone shots, and in their place you'll find just raw sound and footage from the race. In many ways it makes for a much more moving experience.

Gear Closet: Yeti Panga 75 Waterproof Duffel Bag Review

Yeti has built itself a reputation for creating products that are designed to survive in the outdoors while performing at an incredibly high level. Take for example its Tundra coolers, which are practically indestructible and can mange to keep ice frozen for days on end. The company's other products are held to similarly high standards, which has earned the brand a loyal following amongst outdoor enthusiasts and the general public alike. In July, Yeti took the wraps off its latest product, and true to from it is also over-engineered, tough as nails, and completely awesome. I'm talking about the new Panga duffel bag of course, which is a product that practically every adventure traveler is going to want to have in their own gear closet.

Recently I've had the opportunity to test out the Panga 75, which as the name implies has a 75-liter capacity for carrying gear. That is a surprising amount of space for hauling around everything you need for your next adventure, although if you still require more space, Yeti also offers the Panga in a 100-liter version, while a smaller 50-liter model is available too. All three are virtually identical in terms of features and build-quality, so it truly is a matter of selecting the one that offers the carrying capacity you need.

Made from an incredibly tough laminated nylon shell that resembles the same fabrics used in Yeti's line of Hopper soft coolers, the Panga is practically bulletproof. The duffel can shrug off just about anything you throw at it, and come away completely unscathed. The only wear and tear that my model shows is a bit of dust and dirt from being knocked around outside. Other than that, there are no abrasions, rips, cuts, or tears of any kind. And while it is early in the bag's lifespan, I suspect it will be a very long time before such blemishes appear.

Adventure Tech: The Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular

Yesterday, Apple took the wraps off some exciting new products, including three new iPhone models, a new 4K AppleTV, and more. Perhaps the most interesting and exciting new device to be revealed however was the company's third generation Apple Watch (dubbed Series 3), which now comes with built-in cellular networking capabilities, making it particularly appealing to frequent travelers, athletes, and outdoor adventurers alike.

When the Apple Watch was originally released, it was criticized by many for being a product that no one really asked for or needed. As an owner of a first generation Watch, I can tell you that it is a device that you really don't know you need until you've owned it for awhile. Then, its true utility dawns on you as you become accustomed to getting notifications and text messages on your wrist, using it to track fitness, provide walking directions while navigating a new city, and so much more. Over the past couple of years, Apple has continued to evolve the product, adding GPS and making it waterproof with the Series 2 last year for example. But now, with the addition of cellular networking, it feels like the Watch has reached its full potential, freeing it completely from the tether of the iPhone.

With this update, the Watch can now send and receive text messages, make phone calls, and interact with Siri, all without the phone being nearby. In fact, you can leave the phone at home altogether, but not miss its important functionality. This would come in very handy while out on a run or bike ride for instance, when you may not want to take your phone with you, but still would like to stay in touch with others. That is all possible now, thanks to this upgraded watch.

On top of that, the Apple Watch also comes loaded with Apple Music, the company's music streaming service. This gives the users the ability to listen to music from a massive library of more than 40 million songs, all without an iPod or iPhone. Simply connect a set of Bluetooth headphones (I recommend Apple's very own AirPods), select an album, artist, or genre, and go. Again, this is a tremendous option for outdoor athletes looking to carry fewer items with them during a workout.

Pacific Ocean Expedition Collects Coral Reef Samples to Explore Climate Change

In May of last year a major research expedition set out to cross the Pacific Ocean, while collecting coral samples along the way. The intent of the journey was to explore the impact of climate change and warming oceans on the coral reefs that are found scattered about the Pacific to determine their general health. In order to do that, the researchers taking part in the journey would have to sail more than 100,000 km (62,137 miles) to reach all of the places they wanted to study. Now, that expedition has reached its halfway point, and their findings have been troublesome to say the least.

The Tara Pacific Expedition is being conducted by the Tara Expeditions Foundation. The team aboard the ship set sail in May of 2016, heading east to west across the ocean. Their journey has taken them to remote areas in the South Pacific where few humans venture and so far they have collected 15,000 of a planned 35,000 samples. Those materials have now begun to be analyzed, and the results show a major impact on the coral reefs due to warming waters.

According to a press release sent out last week some of the findings so far include:
• In Polynesia, bleaching affects 30 to 50% of coral in some islands of the Tuamotu archipelago.
• At some sites, close to 70% of coral cover is impacted by bleaching. The same observation was made at Pitcairn Islands.
• Wallis and Futuna remain relatively preserved.
• Further north, despite more temperate waters, reefs have not been spared bleaching: for example, 70% are affected in Okinawa, Japan.
In places where there is little to know population, the researchers still found substantial bleaching of the coral reefs, which means that exposure to warmer temperatures is the cause of the problem. With little other outside influences, it seems clear that climate change and global warming are having a dramatic impact on the Pacific Ocean, and the coral that once thrived there. Those reefs play an important role in the ecosystem of the seas, and also serve as barriers to storms and flooding.

The Tara Pacific Expedition isn't over yet. The ship is currently on the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, and from there it will continue on its mission. Before it is through, the crew will sail to New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Palau, China and Taiwan as they continue their survey of the health of the Pacific reefs. They expect to wrap up the journey sometime in 2018, but the results of the research seem clear even at the halfway point of the expedition.

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