In Whistler, the approach of spring usually means two more months of winter, and yet theres something about the ritual changing of the seasons that puts a warm, fuzzy one in your guts.
When winter does eventually loosen its grip on our mountain home, the possibilities of spring in the outdoors are endless. Youre going to want to get ready, and that means making a few spring shopping trips to get gear for hiking, biking, camping, paddling, climbing and so on.
While we have more than enough local outfitters in town to set you up, a good gearhead will always research the products theyre buying. They want to know how the product stacks up against the other products on the market, whats different about it, and how much it costs.
You can either purchase every buyers guide on the magazine rack, or you can get on the Web and start making a list.
The advantage of using the Web is that you can compare reviews and prices for the same products, or even look for used gear to get you through the summer.
There arent a lot of reviews on the Mountain Equipment Co-op Web site, but you can pretty much find the best deals on every piece of outdoor gear you can imagine. Before you pay for anything, find out what comparable gear is selling for at the Co-op.
This site also features an excellent gear-swap bulletin board.
This is the official Web site of Mountain Bike Magazine, and it currently features reviews of 2002 freeride, cross-country and downhill gear not bikes, gear. If youre looking to upgrade your old bike, this is a good place to start.
Their current buyers guide for bikes is on the stands right now, and the information from the magazine should find its way on to the Web before long.
All the bike and bike component reviews you can handle are on the MTB Review site. The 2002 full suspension bike section alone has more than 400 bike reviews, mostly submitted by riders.
More bike and component reviews, and a simple interface that lets you start your research by category or manufacturer. This site also has a sizeable gear swap section.
You also might want to check out the trail guide, the Mechanics Corner, and a variety of other features generated by site users.
The Great Outdoor Recreation Page is probably the most comprehensive travel and adventure site on the Web, and as expected it has a healthy selection of gear. There is a wide selection of product reviews, advice on where to go and what to pack, a search engine that lets you customize your gear searches, and an online storefront to make purchases.
While this may not be the best looking site on the Web, it is incredibly comprehensive with a wide selection of products to choose from. It also offers a wide selection of deals through manufacturers and distributors.
This is the Web site of Backpacker Magazine, which boasts one of the most comprehensive guides to hiking and camping gear anywhere as well as loads of other useful information. Check under Gear and Shopping to find what youre looking for, or use their online GearFinder.
Mountain Gear specializes in alpine touring, climbing and mountaineering gear, with listings for all of the biggest brand names.
A wide selection of river, lake and ocean gear, including kayaks, canoes, and rafts. Check their Sale and Used sections to find great deals on equipment.