Photo by Ryan Krueger

Shop Smart

Discounted duds and outdoor gear mapped out.

by the editors

Eight hundred dollars for skis. Five hundred for a fly rod. Who knows how many thousands for a mountain bike. Bottom line, gear is expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to get discounted new items, and used stuff downright cheap. Here are a few places to look.

Gear Swaps
There are three major swaps every year in Bozeman. The Gallatin Valley Bike Club hosts a swap in April, so instead of shelling out a year’s worth of food money for a new ride, pick up a discounted one there. If you like to run rivers, the Barn’s boat swap mid-spring is a great way to cut costs. Check them out on Facebook for details. In the winter, the Bridger Ski Foundation coordinates a massive ski swap at the fairgrounds. It’s the perfect place to pick up solid alpine or Nordic equipment, or even a lightly-used touring setup for backcountry adventures.

Photo by Lars Scinny

Major Sales
Bozeman is flush with great gear stores, but prices aren’t exactly cheap—except for two weekends a year, one in the summer and one in the winter. Crazy Days, as these weekends are known, see sales up to 50% off up and down Main Street and at surrounding retailers. Check out for this year’s dates.

Bob Ward’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse both have occasional sales; check their Facebook pages and look for newspaper ads. If you’re an REI member, the Bozeman location has periodic co-op sales that open early to members.

Resale Stores
While it’s sad to see, lots of folks ’round these parts take up an activity, only to quit and move on to another on a whim. That means there’s lots of lightly-used gear at resale stores. Second Wind and Play it Again have the biggest selection and best quality, but Nu2u and some of the pawn shops on N. 7th also boast a strong inventory. Even some of the fashion boutiques, like ReCoutre, Sacks, and Cat Walk have apparel and outerwear worth checking out.Photo by Lars Scinny

One of the best ways we’ve found to save money and still get after it is by renting. The ASMSU Outdoor Center has great deals for students, but Chalet Sports, Round House, and other local shops also provide rentals, and their fleets are often higher quality. Also, look for free demo days at places like Owenhouse and Gear Wizard. It’s nice to know how a $4,000 bike rides before buying it.

A Griz and a Bobcat walk into a bar...

Poke the Bear

A Griz and a Bobcat walk into a bar… 

by the editors

The Cat-Griz rivalry is a nasty one, and we’re here to throw some salt on the wound. At this year’s annual gridiron get-together, keep one or two of these up your sleeve.

  • Why do Griz grads put their diplomas on the dashboards of their cars?
    To qualify for handicapped parking.
  • What do you call a Grizzly with a Big Sky Conference championship ring?
    A thief.
  • What’s the difference between the Griz and a dollar bill?
    You can still get four quarters out of a dollar.
  • What does the average UM player get on his SATs?
  • How do you get a UM grad off your porch?
    Pay him for the pizza.
  • What are the longest three years of a UM football player’s life?
    Freshman year.
  • How many UM freshmen does it take to change a light bulb?
    Not sure—that’s a sophomore course at UM.
  • Do you know why the Griz were considering changing their team name to “the Possums”?
    Because they play dead at home and get killed on the road.
  • What’s the difference between a Griz fan and a carp?
    One is a bottom-feeding scum-sucker—the other is a fish.
Bell Lake Yurt 2016

Scheming for Skiing

How to plan a hut trip.

by Drew Pogge

Just like an elk hunter plotting his autumn hunt in the sweltering heat of summer, skiers must plan their trips well before winter arrives—or that awesome hut weekend just isn’t going to happen. Life has a way of getting in the way if left to chance, so make your plans and mark the calendar now to enjoy plenty of deep powder, bacon, and whiskey later.

Where: Outside Bozeman has covered the local ski-access yurts, USFS cabins, and fire lookouts many times before—check out for some great ideas. While you’re searching, pull out a map and think about the hut’s elevation, aspect, position relative to treeline, distance from actual skiing, and other factors that will affect the snow conditions, avalanche risks, and the effort it will take to ski.

When: The kind of ski experience you have largely depends on the time of year. Early season (December-January) will typically be dominated by cold, short days and thinner snowpack, but often yields the deepest, lightest powder. Late season (mid-March through May) is often defined by a deep, more stable snowpack, and longer, warmer days, but less opportunity for blower snow. Mid-season (February to mid-March) can go either way, any day. What kind of snow, weather, and travel conditions do you prefer? Regardless, book early—the best dates tend to be snatched up by October.

Why: This may sound silly, but be sure everyone is on the same page. Are you going to crush vertical from dawn until dusk, eat a fiber bar and go to bed sweaty; or are you planning a relaxing vacation with late breakfasts, afternoon siestas, and some mellow ski-touring between glasses of pinot? Different strokes for different folks.

Who: A common mistake is to fill the hut with people, no matter what. It usually ends up costing less per person this way, and there’s a perception that more hands make for lighter work when it comes to chores and carrying food and supplies. But often, if you’re scraping the bottom of the friend barrel, you end up with one or two companions who are poorly conditioned, weak skiers, or unable to contribute to safe decision-making—and this can have a huge effect on where and how you ski. Consider your partners carefully.

Access: Is it a 10-mile, 3,000-foot approach? Is a snowmobile required? Can you drive to it? When it comes to Montana backcountry skiing, sometimes getting there is half the battle. Make sure you know what it takes, and line up the appropriate resources ahead of time to get there safely, and in good enough shape to enjoy the trip.

Guiding: Several local guiding operations offer guided and catered hut trips—in that case, you can disregard everything you just read and let the pros take care of planning, portering, breaking trail, and cooking. In Bozeman, Big Sky Backcountry Guides operates Bell Lake Yurt in the Tobacco Root Mountains ( Beartooth Powder Guides operates the Zimmer Yurt and Woody Creek Cabin out of Cooke City (, and Hellroaring Powder Guides out of Idaho Falls operates a quonset hut in the Centennials (

Fitness: This one should go without saying, but don’t expect to crush your hut trip off the couch. Spend the fall and early winter preparing your body for long days in the skintrack, followed by lengthy descents in variable snow conditions. You don’t want to do all this planning only to be laid up in the yurt, completely wiped out after the first day.

Drew Pogge guides skiers all winter long out of the Bell Lake Yurt and in Yellowstone National Park.

Long Shot


Etiquette for the season. 

by the Outside Bozeman editors, illustrations by Jon Whittenberg

Of all the recreational pursuits undertaken around Bozeman, none is more heavily scrutinized than hunting—and yet none is more central to our outdoor heritage. So when a few reckless souls get sloppy, or paint a poor image of hunters, we all suffer. Here are some tips to help protect hunting’s reputation and keep it real out there.

Take a ridiculously long shot and risk wounding the animal.

Respect the animal and yourself and get closer.

Shoot at an animal on a ridgeline or hill, with no backstop.

Consider all the outcomes of any shot you take.

Hunt CharactersDon’t
Take dozens of grip-and-grins, posting them on every online platform.

Honor the hunt by keeping some things between you and the animal.


Dress head-to-toe in Sitka, Kuiu, Kryptek, RealTree, or any other trendy clothing or camo pattern.

Like your grandpa done and git yer elk in a drab flannel and wool trousers.

Dump a gut-pile beside the road or at a trailhead.

Leave it way out in the field or forest, to be enjoyed by the coyotes and ravens.

Don’tHunt Characters
Give up too early on a search for a wounded animal.

Get a dog, recruit some friends, whatever; just don’t quit until you know with 100% certainty that you’re a moron for wasting meat.

Ride an ATV, almost anywhere, ever.

Use the quads God gave ya.

Hunt CharactersDon’t
Use a high-tech, fancy-ass rifle worth thousands of dollars—old-timers done kilt them elk with lever-actions and open sights!

Keep it simple; if it worked for Hugh Glass, it’ll work for you.

Knock on doors empty-handed.

Bring a small something in case access is granted. A six-pack or bag of coffee are decent offerings.

Ask another hunter, “Get anything?” as if the only reason one goes hunting is to kill shit.

Instead, ask, “How was the hunt?”

Photo by Jeff Engerbretson

Tickets to Ride

Season-pass options explained.

by Drew Hulse

A season pass is a reflection of oneself, and often, one’s fiscal flexibility. As such, it requires careful self-evaluation. What type of skier are you? What type of skier do you want to be? With so many factors to work through, it’s easy to get buried. Let O/B break it down for you, at least in terms of affordable ski-pass options.

Epic Season: Big Sky Bronze Season Pass
It’s hard to put a price on the freedom felt while gliding across 5,800 acres, including tram access—which is why Big Sky’s full pass requires a second mortgage. But the Bronze Pass is a pretty good deal: The Bronze Pass comes with unlimited skiing from November 23, 2017 – December 15, 2017 and April 1-15, 2018. You can also ski Monday through Thursday from December 16, 2017 – March 31, 2018, except holidays. That’s a lot to unpack, but it adds up in your favor.

  • Adult (18-69): $569 ($6.39/day)
  • Seniors (70+): $519 ($5.83/day)
  • College: $469 ($5.27/day)
  • Junior (11-17): $439 ($4.93/day)
  • Youth (6-10): $209 ($2.35/day)
  • Days included: 89
  • Tram included

Solid Season: Bridger Bowl Season Pass
Bridger offers ample skiing opportunities without devastating the billfold. Exhibit A: Bridger’s full season pass has no exclusions, and while you may wait in line on weekends and powder days, otherwise the mountain is your oyster—and a fine, pearly-white oyster it is, what with everything from mellow hangover runs to sidecountry gates, Schlasman’s Lift, and the Ridge. Plus, the Bridger pass automatically enters you in the Powder Alliance, giving you 3 free ski days at 15 partner resorts.

  • Adult (25-69): $675 ($5.87/day)
  • Young Adult (19-24): $625 ($5.43/day)
  • Junior (13-18): $395 ($3.43/day)
  • Child (7-12): $175 ($1.52/day)
  • Senior (70-79): $395 ($3.43/day)
  • Super Senior (80 & Over): $10 ($.09/day)
  • Days included: 115
  • (Prices increase after October 15)

Beginner Season: Big Sky Silver Lite Season Pass
The Silver Pass includes enough days to hone some new skills and surpass a few hurdles—of which there are many in Big Sky, even without the tram.

  • Adult (18-69): $799 ($6.44/day)
  • Seniors (70+): $749 ($6.04/day)
  • College: $669 ($5.40/day)
  • Junior (11-17): $469 ($3.78/day)
  • Youth (6-10): $209 ($1.69/day)
  • SeasonPassDays included: 124
  • Tram not included

Family-Friendly Choice: Bridger Bowl Season Pass
Families receive $100 off every Junior Season Pass and $50 off every Child Season Pass purchased in the same order as a Bridger Bowl Adult Season Pass.

Best Overall Value: Bridger Ski Foundation Trails Pass
While a trails pass is voluntary, I highly recommend getting one, and for only $50, it’s the best deal in winter recreation. Your donation supports grooming efforts on Nordic trails from Lindley Park to Hyalite.


Second-Hand School

College lessons learned while second-hand shopping.

by Emma Nord

In the hunt for an affordable coffee table for my apartment, I meander through Nu2u, a thrift store on N. 7th, with my attention scattered across all its treasures. A baby blue Trek bike catches my eye; I wander past the furniture and closer to more things I don’t need: funky leggings, fur jackets, and far-out attire. I forget why I’m here. As I try some Halloween costume combinations and snap some photos, I glimpse an antique walnut coffee table—reminding me why I came thrift shopping in the first place. Hours could be spent exploring all the second-hand stores around Bozeman—examining all the nooks and crannies, taking some fun pictures, and buying stuff. But thrifting—and college—can be so much more than that.


Both college and thrifting are places to go when you’re hung over—spending money, wasting time, getting distracted. But if we have intention, and still allocate time to explore, we’re sure to leave with far more value than you thought possible.

Whether you’re on a journey to find a table for your apartment, or you just began college, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s easy to get distracted by all the great stuff—the outdoor activities, the clubs, the parties, or the items at the thrift stores to outfit these events. If you arrive at either place without an agenda, your time and your money will wither away quickly. College is a great experience, and in Bozeman, there’s never a shortage of fun—but do you really want to be a freshman forever? If you have some goals in mind—such as getting a biology degree, running for student government, or interning for Outside Bozeman—do what you came here to do, and do the difficult things first.


Don’t Get Distracted
To limit some of the abounding distractions, get the stuff you need right away. After completing the tedious tasks, you will feel more accomplished and likely have some extra time to enjoy yourself. If you can get those chemistry courses done early, you may only have to take nine units your senior year. And when you have an impending graduation, an unpaid internship, and friends who are finished with school, you won’t want to be in a chemistry lab for six hours stressing about being “off the payroll” in a month.

Pay Attention
Even though it’s important to have goals in mind, it’s also good to pay attention to your surroundings and seek new experiences. If your schedule opens up for that film class you’ve been curious about—even if your major is biology—you may find a purposeful connection between the two and discover your niche. Students who have tunnel vision may miss out on opportunities to discover their true purpose.

Advocate for Yourself
Now that you’ve found a table—and a really great lab coat—bargain a bit. Thrift stores are one of the last bastions of bartering, where you can dicker for a better deal. Though you can’t negotiate the price of tuition, professors can be bargained with when it comes to grades. If you’re friendly and speak up at the start, most people will want to help you out. And remember, you’re not entitled to a cheaper price or a better grade, so don’t get surly.

Neither college nor thrift stores are places to waste time and money. If you set intentions, do the difficult things early, and look for ways to make the most out of the experience, you’re sure to get far more out of it than a few drunk photos and a dirty lab coat.

Some thrift stores to test out:

East Main Trading Co.
702 E. Main St.
Look for: wool blankets, cast-iron skillets, paintings

First National Pawn
1052 N. 7th Ave.
Look for: backpacks and camping supplies

Nu2u Thrift Superstore
431 N. 7th Ave.
Look for: Halloween costumes, furniture, instruments, bikes

Rethink Thrift
2630 W. Main St.
Look for: books, movies, dorm decorations

Second Wind Sports
15 W. Olive St.
Look for: outdoor gear (skiing, hiking, climbing, camping,  backpacking, etc.)

Sacks Thrift Ave.
138 W. Mendenhall St.
Look for: kitchen appliances and clothing


Whoa, Bro

Vocab to avoid this semester—and beyond.

By the editors of Outside Bozeman

Lingo can be a good thing. It can be a fun part of any culture and a time-saving linguistic device. But it can also be super, super douchey. Here’s a smattering of Bozeman slang to avoid at all costs—unless you’re playing in the douchebag Olympics. Review the inane idioms below and add up your points.

Pulling Down: Climbing
Example: “Wanna hit Spire and pull down tonight?”
5 points

Conrad/Connie: Conrad Anker (local climber, quasi-celebrity, do-gooder, and all-around nice guy)
Example: “I was pulling down at Practice and saw Connie killin’ it on Cardiac Arête. He gave me beta on the crux of Theoretically—I totally sent it!”
3 Points

Ill/Sick: An expression used to denote a quality experience
Example: “Dude, Big Timber Creek is so ill right now—I was throwing Brown Claws every chance I got, it was sick!”
5 points

Brown Claw: A hand gesture (which ironically represents holding a bag of fresh “brown” or human feces) recognized in kayaking circles as a symbol of stoke
Example: See above
10 points

The White Stuff: Snow
Example: “I can’t wait to shred the white stuff tomorrow. Saddle’s gonna be sick! Pow-pow gnar-gnar, bitches!)”
5 points

Pow-Pow/Gnar-Gnar: Snow
Example: See above
10 points

’Za: Pizza
Example: “I’m famished, bro… wanna grab some ’za at Tarantino’s?”
3 points

The ’Stone: Yellowstone River
Example: “Let’s float the ’Stone, then chow some ’za at the Murray.”
5 points

Ripping Lip: Catching fish
Example: “Brody and me were rippin’ lip like crazy on the ’Stone. It was so sick!”
10 points

Bozeman Blight: A section of town in northeast Bozeman that, despite home prices rising above $300,000 for tiny, rundown fixer-uppers, retains a hipster reputation for “authenticity,” and encourages chicken coops in un-zoned alleys
Example: “We totally scored a sick house in the Blight for only $315,000; like, 850 square feet with room for a compost bin out back.”
5 points

1-10 points: You are susceptible to the douche virus, but preventive treatment can still save you. Call your doctor or talk to a Filling Station bartender.
11-20 points: You’re getting douchey. Stay inside and try not to speak.
21-30 points: You’re a raging douchebag and should be quarantined immediately.
More than 30 points: You have a terminal case of douchitits. Sorry. Stay away from other humans, lest you spread your venal plague.


Rock & Rule

Safety guidelines for climbers.

by Chris Naumann

College students are known for being impulsive and thrifty, but sometimes—when rock climbing, for example—it pays to slow down and invest in your safety. Here are three simple things to think about: properly threading top anchors, doubling back your harness, and replacing old, worn-out gear. And, of course, don’t forget to wear a helmet.

Threading Top Anchors
Most climbing accidents occur at the top of a climb or during the descent. At the top of most sport-climbing routes in southwest Montana, you will find double-chain anchors (always consult a guidebook for specific anchor information). Once you’ve reached the anchors, clip in with a 24-inch sling girth-hitched to your belay loop, or two quick-draws for redundancy. Make sure that you clip into one of the bolt hangers or a chain-link other than the bottom ones, which you need to reserve for re-threading the rope.

Illustration by Emily Harrington

After you’re securely clipped into and weighting the anchor, call for slack and take up about four or five feet of rope. Tie an overhand or figure-eight knot in the rope and clip this to your belay loop. This important step prevents you from accidentally dropping the rope after you untie your lead knot. (Dangling from the rock 50 feet up with no way down makes for an embarrassing call to Search & Rescue.)

Illustration by Emily Harrington

Now you can untie your original lead knot and thread the rope end through the last two links of the anchor chains. Next, simply tie back into the end of the rope with the same knot you used for leading. Unclip and untie the knot securing the rope, and call to your belayer to take up the slack. Once you feel tension on the rope from your belayer, unclip the quick-draws and call to be lowered.

Illustration Emily Harrington

Doubling Back
Many climbing accidents occur because climbers fail to double-back through their harness buckles properly. Most buckles require the user to thread the waistbelt webbing completely through the buckle once and then back through again to lock the system. Always check your harness buckle—make it part of your tie-in routine. After tying in to the sharp end of the rope, take a second to assess the knot and confirm that your harness is doubled back. When belaying, always ask your partner if she is doubled back as part of your verbal routine.

When it’s time to replace your old harness, consider upgrading to a rig that utilizes a two-piece speed-locking buckle, which does not require the user to double back.

Replacing Old Gear
Though well-used gear may feel as comfortable as broken-in blue jeans, retiring hammered or old gear boils down to safety. There are two simple guidelines to follow. First, replace any piece of equipment that shows visible signs of damage: a crack in a helmet, frayed rope sheath, a grooved belay device. But most climbing gear will eventually need to be replaced even without explicit signs of wear. Which brings us to the second guideline: if you have any doubts about a piece of equipment, retire it.


Although buying new climbing gear stings the wallet, the cost is nothing compared to a visit to the emergency room.

This article first appeared in Outside Bozeman in the Summer of 2016. Chris Naumann is a lifelong climber and former owner of Barrel Mountaineering.

High up South Cottonwood

Trial by Trail

Go-to mountain-bike trails. 

by David Tucker

Whether you’re new to biking or you’ve been ripping singletrack for years, Bozeman has something to offer. Here are a few classics to try out.

Mystic Lake: Choose Your Adventure
The beauty of the Mystic Lake trail is its variety; you can ride mellow Forest Service road and gnarly singletrack, all in one ride. If you’re just starting out, pace yourself with an out-and-back, anywhere from two to 18 miles up and down the dirt road. If you’re up for more of a challenge, make the ride a loop by adding the Wall of Death, a white-knuckle stretch of exposed singletrack.

South Cottonwood: Get in the Flow
If Bozeman has one trail that feels like it was built for biking, it’s South Cottonwood. Mellow climbs, flowy cross-country sections, and gentle descents make this a must-ride. Like Mystic Lake, it’s an out-and-back, so you can go for a short jaunt or an all-day epic. South Cottonwood also connects to History Rock, meaning you can add even more vertical to your ride if you shuttle. If you opt for this ride, we suggest starting from the Hyalite / History Rock side.

The colors of Chestnut

The colors of Chestnut.

Chestnut Mountain: Beginners Beware
Just east of town off I-90 is the trailhead for Chestnut, one of Bozeman’s more grueling climbs. Switchback after switchback, you’ll ascend to the top of a wildflower-covered ridge with incredible views of the Absarokas and Crazies. This ride is definitely for those in good shape, or those looking for punishment. Another out-and-back, the trail eventually connects to several other options; so again, as with many things in Bozeman, the size of the adventure depends only on your ambition.

GSI Outdoors Ultralight Camp Table

Camp Comforts

Items for backpacking season. 

by the editors

Minus a few extreme eventualities – snow, swarms of skeeters, a hungry griz sniffing around the tent – backcountry camping in the summer is a good time no matter what gear you’ve got. But a few small comforts and conveniences can go a long way. Here are a few items we haul into the woods with us these days. 

GSI Outdoors Ultralight Camp Table
Flat, smooth surfaces are always a commodity at a backcountry campsite, especially clean ones. Avoid grit on your spoon and enhance your outdoor kitchen with this featherweight table, which folds in half length-wise and packs into a slim sleeve that can be stuffed almost anywhere. Just a few extra ounces on your back keeps cooking items off the ground and organized, making the entire experience that much more enjoyable. This sucker’s surprisingly stout given its small size, and while snapping the legs into place takes a little trial and error the first time around, one use and you’ll be glad you brought this thing along. $35;







GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist Cook Set
Compact and light is the name of the game, and integrated systems are the modern standard. One of the best setups I’ve used is the Pinnacle Dualist, which, as the name implies, has everything you need for two people: boiling pot with lid, bowls, mugs, utensils, and room for stove and fuel, all of which fits together in a single stack, kinda like those nested Chinese boxes. Wrap it up in the stuff sack and voila, your entire kitchen (sans table above, of course) comprises less space and weight than your sleeping bag. $65;









Wild Tinder Fire Pellets
A campfire is a primal experience, connecting us to our ancestors all the way back to neolithic times, as they gradually rose above the other animals. Fire played no small part in our development, so why not honor that heritage by keeping your fire-starting primal, too? We’re not talking about a sweat-inducing bow drill, but rather, wait for it… moose poop! Yep, cowboys fed fires with buffalo dung and you can start a campfire with ungulate crap, thanks to Wild Tinder Fire Pellets, which is moose scat dipped in parrafin wax – so it’s all-natural to boot. Made in Livingston. $10;