Category Archives: technology

Review: Katadyn BeFree Microfilter

After years of searching for the perfect water filter for the backcountry, I recently discovered  the Katadyn BeFree Microfilter with Hydrapak 0.6L flask—a water filter and soft, collapsible bottle that comes very close to the good old days of scooping water directly from streams with a canteen or tin cup. The variety of water filters and various treatment devises nowadays is overwhelming. Some people use tablets or chemical drops (chlorine […]

Ticks, Permethrin and Canadian hypocrisy

Once again, tick season is upon us. For most in the Rockies wood ticks are an annual nuisance that we suffer for a couple of months. The only defence is to tuck our pants into our socks and check ourselves carefully for the beasties following every hike. But in many parts of Canada, including British Columbia, Lyme disease has long been a serious threat, and the deer ticks that transmit the grim […]

Measuring the length of Canadian Rockies hiking trails

When we set out to create the first edition of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, we needed a way of accurately measuring the trails, many of which had never been measured before. Professional surveying wheels with their small wheels and substantial weight were out of the question; we required a wheel large enough to roll over rocks, roots and other trail obstacles wed to an accurate odometer. That’s when we came up […]

Backpacking with Luci® lights

Technology continues to bloom in the backcountry, but one of the best and simplest I discovered this summer is the Luci solar-powered light. LED lights are nothing new on the trail. LED light output and reliability is used in headlamps and even strip-lights to illuminate tent interiors. The only drawback is the same as with most technology, playing with batteries and, sometimes, weight. Along comes Luci by MPowerd, an innovative, inflatable, solar […]

Drones in Canadian National Parks

  Technology always seems to be testing the National Park experience these days. In August,  I took a short evening hike to a waterfall in Banff National Park. When I got to the viewpoint, I was greeted by three hikers photographing the falls with a buzzing, light-flashing drone. I suppose I can’t blame these tourists for playing with their drone. What better way to get unique images of nature as […]

Hiking with headlamps

“I have been one acquainted with the night. / I have walked out in rain—and back in rain. / I have outwalked the furthest city light.”—Robert Frost Every day-hiking checklist tells you to pack a headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries. I must admit, I don’t always follow the rules and seldom have all the “10 essentials”, especially a headlamp or flashlight. However, I’ve been lucky and always tossed some sort of battery-powered […]

Hiking with Gem Trek in the Canadian Rockies

When we published the first editions of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, we only recommended government-produced maps from the National Topographic System (NTS) 1:50,000 series. Despite the fact that trails were sometimes misplaced (or simply not shown) and bridges and campgrounds unmarked, these were the best topographical maps available. Then, in 1992, Gem Trek arrived on the scene. Roger and Donna Nelson were husband-wife owners of Calgary’s retail map and […]

Hydrating with SteriPEN in the Canadian Rockies

This week’s warm weather brought memories of a day hike last summer during similar conditions. As has been my habit, I didn’t bring enough water for the day, and by the time we were halfway through our hike, my water bottle was empty. And has been my habit over many years, I ended up desperately scooping water from lakes and streams. I’ve never suffered any ill effects from drinking directly […]

Hiking in Hokas: A Canadian Rockies review

Hiking in running shoes is nothing new. We started using Nike and Adidas runners on day hikes when we were preparing the second edition of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide. As they say, one pound saved on your feet equals 10 pounds in your pack. On one occasion, we were coming off a 160-km backpack when the weather turned hot. Hiking boots were burning up our feet, so we strapped […]

Technology on the trail

I was working for Parks Canada at Lake Louise in 1994 when a phone call arrived at the Visitor Centre. A climber on the summit of Mount Temple was calling in to say he was running late and wouldn’t be checking in from his climb until later in the evening. I suppose we should have cheered the new technology that allowed climbers to inform us when they were safe or in […]