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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 Vol. 26, No.

1

SEX,
POWER &
POLLUTION
IN OUR
NATIONAL
PARKS

15
EPIC

THE
BEST
CARS OF
THE
YEAR

WINTER
ADVENTURES
WHY BIG
GAME
HUNTING
IS THE
NEXT
ACTION
SPORT

MENSJOURNAL.COM

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D R IV IN G M ATTE R S

®

Contents

VO L U M E 2 6
NUMBER 1

M E N ’ S J O U R NAL + JAN/FE B 2017

The Long Game of
Liam Neeson
The 64-year-old star of Silence
wasn’t always an A-list ass-kicker.
But that was part of the plan.
BY JOSH EELLS
page 50

The New Predators

Taking Down Big Sugar

How a new wave of superfit,
tech-obsessed, adrenalinecraving athletes are turning hunting into the next action sport.
BY RYAN KROGH
page 56

That white stuff you sprinkle into
your coffee? It might as well be
poison, explains Gary Taubes, and
it’s made us a nation of addicts.
BY DANIEL KUNITZ
page 62

Scouting bighorn
rams at 11,000 feet
in New Mexico’s
Sangre de Cristo
mountains.

p h o t o g r a p h by PAU L B R I D E

JAN/FEB 2017

5

MEN’S JOURNAL

Contents

14
A bad year for the
National Park Service

Notebook
12 Travel
A view of the heavens from a Chilean
desert — with no light pollution.
18 Adventure
Fifteen ways to embrace winter.

35
Get cold, get stronger.

22 Conservation
Saving one of the world’s last wild rivers.
26 Style & Design
A modern radio, a sweater that battles
sweat, a multitool you’ll actually use.
32 Drinks
The ultimate holiday punch.

Health & Fitness
42 Medicine
Marijuana-derived products to soothe
pain (and more), without a high.
46 Productivity
When to exercise, eat, and have sex.
49 Health News
Do activity monitors work, the risk in
exercising angry, and more updates.

68 Appliances
Do you need a smart-home system?

28

70 Fashion
The best places to buy glasses online.
72 Luggage
Rugged, stylish bags for any adventure.

Utility boots made
to plow through
slush and still look
smart in the office

74 Fitness Apparel
Gym shorts get an upgrade.
75 Guitars
High-tech tools to rock out.
76 Camping
Winter gear that negates the weather.

30
Fresh and fast:
The 2017
Nissan GT-R

The Last Word
78 Gay Talese
The nonfiction legend on handling
aging, the secret to getting ahead, and
what he learned from Sinatra.

ON THE COVER: Liam Neeson photographed for
Men’s Journal by Marc Hom on October 13, 2016, in New
York City. Styling by Ise White for Bernstein & Andriulli.
Grooming by Niroko for Shanahan Management.
Cardigan and T-shirt by Giorgio Armani.

MEN’S JOURNAL

6

JAN/FEB 2017

CLOCK WISE FROM TOP LEFT: MARK BOSTER /GETT Y IMAGES; HENNY BOOGERT; SHANA NOVAK; COURTESY OF NISSAN

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EDITOR IN CHIEF

Jann S. Wenner
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Jason Fine
Thailand’s Tham
Khao Luang cave
temple, one of 51
sights to put on your
itinerary this year.

EDITOR

Mark Healy
CREATIVE DIRECTOR
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
FEATURES EDITOR
ARTICLES EDITOR
SENIOR EDITORS

David Schlow
Jennifer Santana
Larry Kanter
Greg Emmanuel
Ryan Krogh
Marissa Stephenson
EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Shawn McCreesh

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS
Dr. Bob Arnot, Mark Binelli, Tom Brokaw,
David Browne, Kitt Doucette, Daniel Duane,
Josh Eells, Kevin Gray, Laird Hamilton,
Erik Hedegaard, Joseph Hooper, Walter Kirn,
Dr. Robert Mordkin, Seamus Mullen,
Stephen Rodrick, Paul Solotaroff,
Matt Taibbi, Jesse Will, Sean Woods
CO PY & R E S E A R C H

COPY CHIEF Thomas Brown
RESEARCH CHIEF Jordan Reed
ART

ART DIRECTOR
ASSISTANT PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR
DEPARTMENT FINANCE MANAGER
ART PRODUCTION MANAGER

Justin Long
David Carr
Sandford Griffin
Mark Hewko

FAS H I O N

FASHION EDITOR Brynn Coleman
MENSJOURNAL.CO M

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
SENIOR EDITOR
SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR
ASSISTANT EDITOR
PHOTO EDITOR
VIDEO PRODUCER

Tyghe Trimble
Mike Conklin
Max Plenke
John Lonsdale
Nicholas Hegel McClelland
Adam Milt

CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER, MEN’S JOURNAL

Jay Gallagher

D E S T I N AT I O N S

Where to
Go in 2017

Robert Weinstein
Adam Bracco
Danika Parente
Whitney Man
Timothy J. Murray

1290 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS, NEW YORK, NY 10104 212-484-1616

SOUTHEAST Gary D. Dennis

NAVIGATE MEDIA, 1875 OLD ALABAMA ROAD, SUITE 1320,
ROSWELL, GA 30076 678-507-0110

MIDWEST Lindsay Clark

333 NORTH MICHIGAN AVENUE, SUITE 1105, CHICAGO, IL 60601 312-782-2366

FITNESS

GEAR LAB

What We’re Testing
Google
Daydream
View VR
Headset,
$79

THE TREADMILL WORKOUT
Perform this high-intensity
circuit without breaks,
focusing on good form.

DETROIT & PACIFIC NORTHWEST Lori Friesner 248-743-1022
CALIFORNIA & UTAH Tiffany Keele Grana
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TEXAS Adam Knippa

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ADVERTISING ASSISTANTS Kara Blakeslee
Annie Quinn
DIRECT RESPONSE ADVERTISING
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• Run 400 meters on
a treadmill at a breathless
pace. Hop off, and leave
the treadmill running.

Anyone unwilling to plunk down $600 or more to get the
full VR experience now has the Daydream View, a handsome
device with a smart remote that pairs with our Android phone.

Antoinette Enriquez
Kerry Ryan
A N A LY T I C S & R E S E A R C H
Katie O’Mealia (DIR.)
Caryn Nash (ASSOC. DIR.)
PUBLICITY

Kathryn Brenner

• Holding heavy
dumbbells, do 15 thrusters
(squats that finish with
a shoulder press).
• Jump back on the
treadmill and repeat the
quarter-mile run
and the thrusters four
more times.

DIGITAL MEDIA
HEAD OF DIGITAL Gus Wenner
DIGITAL OPERATIONS Alvin Ling

O N I N S TA G R A M

C I R C U L AT I O N

Linda Greenblatt, Elyse Kossin (DIRS.),
Amy Fisher

This past fall, BASE jumper
Viktor Thorbjörnson, right,
received an invite he
couldn’t resist: a party at
a undisclosed sandbank
in the middle of the Pacific.
The catch? He had to arrive
by parachute. And so he did.

MANUFACTURING

Mary Parente, Therese Hurter,
Chris Marcantonio, Elizabeth Gromek
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
GENERAL COUNSEL
HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR
INTERNATIONAL LICENSING DIRECTOR
CONTROLLER

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MEN’S JOURNAL

8

JAN/FEB 2017

Timothy Walsh
Natalie Krodel
Victoria Kirtley Shannon
Maureen Lamberti
Karen Reed

WENNER MEDIA
CHAIRMAN

Jann S. Wenner
VICE PRESIDENTS Victoria Lasdon Rose,

Timothy Walsh, Jane Wenner

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Letters
“There is not one single
whale that should be slain
by anyone, anywhere, for
any reason. To destroy a highly
intelligent, socially complex being
is unacceptable in 2016.”
THE ETHICS OF THE HUNT
Saki Knafo’s story [“Waiting on a
Whale at the End of the World”] raises
the question of whether it’s OK to kill
whales in the name of tradition and
culture. This has been the argument
for continued whaling used not only by
the Inuits in Alaska but also by the
Japanese, Icelanders, Greenlanders,
the Faroese, and the residents of
St. Vincent and the Grenadines. But
there is not one single whale that
should be slain by anyone, anywhere,
for any reason. To destroy a highly
intelligent, socially complex, self-aware
being is unacceptable in 2016. Whales
have been slaughtered for centuries,
and now we must leave them be to
maintain oceanic ecosystems that are
being diminished by the greed and

A Mea Culpa
to Michigan
We identified the nation’s
top brewmasters, beers,
and bars in our annual beer

rapaciousness of human beings. The
Inuit hunters say they have lived in the
Arctic for thousands of years and have
the right to kill these magnificent
creatures. I disagree. The whales were
there many hundreds of thousands of
years before any human. When I see
Inuits using snowmobiles, motorized
boats, GPS, and exploding harpoons,
I do not see a traditional culture.
What I see is a majestic animal being
snuffed out with modern technology
for no reason other than pride. The
article states that the village of
Kivalina has not killed a whale since
1994. This tells me that there is
obviously no subsistence need.
CAPTAIN PAUL WATSON

A FIGHT FOR EUROPE’S RIVERS
Well done on the article about Ulrich
Eichelmann [“The Fight for Europe’s
Last Wild River,” by Lois Parshley].
Given the hundreds of hydropower
projects that are planned in the
Balkans, this is a timely contribution to
the debate. In many cases even small
dams can ruin or irreversibly change
an ecosystem. E.U. money is now being
used in Western Europe to reinstate
free-flowing rivers, while in the
Balkans, E.U.-supported companies
from these countries are selling
technology that will destroy beautiful
wildlife habitats.
BALAZS HORVATH
SENIOR POLICY OFFICER, WATER

FOUNDER, SEA SHEPHERD

AND SOIL , THE EUROPEAN

CONSERVATION SOCIET Y

ENVIRONMENTAL BUREAU

issue — but with nearly
5,000 breweries in the U.S.
churning out 165 million
barrels every year, there’s
a chance we might have
overlooked a few. Luckily,
our readers set us straight:
I was excited to see
the November issue
was all about beer.
But to my surprise,
there wasn’t any
mention made of
Michigan brews.
Why? Anti-Michigan
sentiment from
the authors? No
love for Founders
Brewing or Brewery
Vivant in Grand
Rapids; Bells in
Comstock; New
Holland, Harmony,
or the Mitten? Just

wanted to get to the
bottom of this blasphemous
oversight. But I do still
love the magazine! (P.S. I
copied the mayor of Grand
Rapids’ email here so you
can send her an apology.)
JOHN MILLARD

I’ve resided in Denver,
Asheville, and Portland,
and I consider myself a
well-traveled connoisseur
of all types of beer. No city
has a more vibrant, diverse,
and eclectic beer culture
than Grand Rapids,
Michigan. My feeling is
that Grand Rapids and its
phenomenal breweries
deserve mention in
any article relating to beer
culture in America.
STEVEN GUIGELA AR

My wife and I just finished
touring Michigan’s
breweries with friends.
We traveled there
specifically to taste great
beers, and we spent five
days visiting more than 35
microbreweries, tasting
IPAs, stouts, porters, sours,
and harvest beers — 171
pours in all. The most
excellent microbreweries
we visited went from
Founders in Grand Rapids
to Olde Peninsula in
Kalamazoo and White
Flame in Hudsonville. Olde
Peninsula had a really good
one called Peanut Butter
Stout Chocula. I know
everyone has different
tastes, but I wanted to bring
Michigan to your attention.
KENT GARD

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NOTEBOOK

TRAVEL
&ADVENTURE

Window
to the
Cosmos
place on Earth
to view the infinite reaches of space
than here, 400 miles north of Santiago, in Chile’s Atacama Desert, an
uninhabitable expanse where the soil
contains so little organic matter that
it’s often compared to the surface of
Mars. At an elevation of 7,800 feet,
this Andean plateau has almost no
light pollution or moisture — making
its skies some of the darkest and
clearest that this planet has to offer.
That’s why, beginning in 1962, a coalition of 15 European nations seeking to understand the cosmos built
massive stargazing apparatuses
here. Today a network of telescopes
spans three observatories, collecting
data on mysteries such as the behavior of supermassive black holes and
the origins of the universe . “You can
still see how a distant city can compromise the observation of the sky
with light pollution,” says Alberto
Ghizzi Panizza, the Italian photographer who captured the Milky Way
here, referring to the sliver of golden
light reflected in the dish of this nowdecommissioned 50-foot-wide radio
telescope, which was built in 1987 to
probe the molecular clouds of that
galaxy. “I’ve photographed the stars
from Europe and Africa, but it’s
never the same as here,” he says. “It’s
one of the driest places in the world,
and it’s lifeless — the perfect place to
see space.” — S H AW N M c C R E E S H

THERE’S NO BETTER

p h o t o g r a p h by A L B E R T O G H I Z Z I PA N I Z Z A

JAN/FEB 2017

13

MEN’S JOURNAL

NOTEBOOK

DISPATCH

Parks and Degradation
The National Park Service just turned 100. But with widespread mismanagement, sexual
harassment, and overcrowding, there’s not much to celebrate by DA N I E L D UA N E
Not only had the summer of 2016 seen
some of the worst overcrowding on record,
but widespread allegations of mismanagement, including a series of high-prof ile
sexual harassment scandals, cast serious
doubt on the Park Service’s ability to handle
the challenges it will face moving forward —
from the profound threat of climate change
to a new, GOP-controlled government skeptical of federal expenditure for the preservation of public lands. “We call it the ‘centennial
hangover,’” says Jeff Ruch, executive director
of the environmental watchdog group Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “The Park Service spent most of the past

MEN’S JOURNAL

14

JAN/FEB 2017

year in self-congratulation mode, without
introspection; they have no plan for how to
proceed; and the agency is so decentralized
that they don’t seem to have any accountability mechanisms.”
Case in point is the story of Yosemite
superintendent Don Neubacher. A 34-year
agency lifer, Neubacher worked his way up
from ranger duty at Glacier Bay National
Park to superintendent of Point Reyes
National Seashore to, in 2010, the top job at
Yosemite, one of the service’s most visible
and coveted positions. He made some big
decisions — including adding the 400-acre
Ackerson Meadow to the park and open-

p h o t o g r a p h by S H A N A N OVA K

PROP ST YLING BY MEGUMI EMOTO FOR ANDERSON HOPKINS

T

H E Y E A R 2 0 1 6 was supposed to
be a happy one for the National Park
Service. To commemorate its centennial, the agency launched all manner of
celebrations: a nationwide Find Your Park
campaign to lure tech-obsessed millennials into the great outdoors; elaborate food
and music festivals from the Great Smoky
Mountains to the Grand Canyon; citizennaturalization ceremonies on park grounds;
and high-profile visits by President Obama,
who hiked with his family and delivered
speeches about environmental conservation.
But by year’s end, it was hard to find much
to celebrate.

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NOTEBOOK DISPATCH

ing the upper Merced River to kayaks. But
Neubacher likely will be remembered for
congressional hearings into complaints by
dozens of Yosemite employees of a hostile
and toxic work environment. “In Yosemite
National Park today dozens of people . . . are
being bullied, belittled, disenfranchised, and
marginalized from their roles as dedicated
professionals . . . [and] publicly humiliated
by the superintendent,” Kelly Martin, who
has served for 10 years as the park’s chief
of fire and aviation management, testified
in September.
Neubacher himself was not accused of
harassment, but critics say a brusque management style created an environment in
which bad behavior went unpunished. And
he was able to act with almost no accountability. For one thing, Neubacher’s wife was
a deputy at the NPS Pacif ic West Region
headquarters, the office that oversees the
region’s parks. And he further consolidated power by refusing to hire a deputy
superintendent.
It’s hardly limited to Yosemite. Martin
also testified about rampant sexual harassment at Grand Canyon National Park, where
she had worked earlier in her career, telling
the story of a male ranger who repeatedly
spied on her as she showered. Although other
women reported similar incidents, the ranger
was repeatedly promoted. Similar stories
emerged, always with perpetrators escaping discipline: A report from the Office of
Inspector General detailed 15 years of sexual
harassment by Grand Canyon river guides
going unpunished, despite the knowledge
of supervisors. Other testimony recounted
harassment of female employees at Yellow-

“IN YOSEMITE,
PEOPLE ARE BEING
BULLIED AND
HUMILIATED BY THE
SUPERINTENDENT.”

stone; reports of harassment and financial
mismanagement at Canaveral National Seashore; and a supervisor in Chattahoochee
River National Recreation Area with a wellknown groping habit.
Superintendents at two of these parks,
including Neubacher (and his wife), were
either transferred or forced into early retirement this year. But the problem, according
to Department of the Interior sources, goes
far beyond individual supervisors. Instead,
many of the managers at more than 400
national parks, monuments, seashores,
historic sites, and recreation areas, insiders
say, ascend the ranks less
through proven leadership
than through political acumen and seniority. They
burrow into plum positions
in beautiful parks and then
bury bad news that might
cast an unf lattering light.
“It’s like a fishbowl where
the superintendent is king,”
s a y s r e t i r e d Yo s e m it e
ranger Andrea Lankford,
author of Ranger Confidential. “The superintendent
controls your housing, your
job, your retirement, maybe
your spouse’s housing and
job. Your kids might be in
a school in the park, so the
superintendent has a lot of
power over you.”
Large national parks,
Lankford points out, are
like towns, only surrounded
by wilderness and almost

MEN’S JOURNAL

16

JAN/FEB 2017

entirely cut off from outside supervision. At
Effigy Mounds National Monument, in Iowa,
for example, one superintendent personally
stole 2,100 archaeological artifacts, including
the remains of 41 Native Americans; a successor oversaw an illegal $3.4 million construction project that involved digging trenches
and installing wooden boardwalks throughout sensitive burial sites. “I don’t know of a
case in 40-odd years where a complaint by
a lower-level fieldperson led to significant
discipline against a supervisor,” says George
Durkee, a retired law-enforcement ranger
who spent decades in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. “It just doesn’t happen.”
Perhaps it’s not a major surprise that
a recent Best Places to Work survey of 320
government subagencies ranked the NPS at
259th — nearly 100 places behind the Office
of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.
The Park Service says it is committed
to improvement. “We fully recognize that
we have an issue with sexual harassment
and hostile work environments,” says NPS
spokesman Tom Crosson. Already in the
works are sexual-harassment training programs, the creation of a new ombudsman to
field complaints, and an agency-wide survey
aimed at gathering data. “In the long term,
looking at things like hiring the right people
for the right jobs, we have relocated folks
out of their positions,” Crosson says. Still, he
says, “holistically, we’ve not looked at very
sweeping changes.”
The problem is that an antiquated NPS
culture stif les creative thinking, so more
serious challenges, such as catastrophic
overcrowding, aren’t met with innovative
solutions. A record 305 million people visited
NPS sites in 2015 — more than attended Disney World, NASCAR races, and professional
football, hockey, and basketball games combined. Yosemite alone got a record-breaking
4.2 million in 2015, 250,000 more than the
year prior; visits to Great Smoky Mountains
National Park jumped 6 percent, to 10.7 million. The results were about what you’d predict: three-mile traffic jams outside many
park entrances and public toilets going

FROM TOP: COURTESY OF YOSEMITE CONSERVANCY; ADAM DEROSE/CRONKITE NEWS

Kelly Martin
testifies about
harassment in
national parks.

Don Neubacher,
former superintendent of
Yosemite Park

JIMMY CHIN/NATIONAL GEOGR APHIC CREATIVE

Tourists line
up to hike
Yosemite’s
Half Dome.

through a mile of toilet paper per stall per
day. Zion National Park saw as many as 300
people at a time standing in shuttle-bus lines.
The National Parks and Recreation Act
of 1978 requires the agency to establish socalled visitor carrying capacities for every
part of every park, and to pursue reasonable
measures to make sure those capacities are
not exceeded. But according to Ruch, that
has not happened. “We looked at 108 parks
and reserves and seashores,” he says. “Only
seven had anything resembling a carryingcapacity report.”
The failure to protect parks from overuse can’t be blamed entirely on bureaucrats.
The National Park Service Organic Act of
1916 tasked the NPS with promoting and
regulating parks “to conserve the scenery
and the natural and historic objects and the
wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by
such means as will leave them unimpaired
for the enjoyment of future generations.”
Back in 1916, when only 325,000 people
visited the parks, conservation and enjoyment might have seemed complementary
goals. Now, however, they put superintendents in the middle of a constant tug-ofwar between environmental groups and
politicians supported by concessionaires
who profit by maximizing the f low of wallets through park gates. Park managers at
Biscayne National Park, for example, spent
15 years fielding 43,000 public comments,
90 percent of which favored the creation
of a marine reserve within the park to protect dying reefs, only to have all that work
undermined by Florida’s $8 billion recreational saltwater fishing industry and its
allies in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

Polls show that three out of four Americans believe that national parks benefit the
country, and 83 percent look favorably on
elected representatives who take strong
stands in favor of protecting parks. But
Congress has long starved the NPS for
funds, and the new GOP-controlled legislature is unlikely to change that. In the
meantime, the Park Service has a $12 billion system-wide maintenance backlog
that now includes a 16-mile Grand Canyon
water pipeline that breaks down up to 30
times a year, potholed roads throughout
Yellowstone, and a Great Smoky Mountains
so short on workers it can’t even empty the
overf lowing trash cans.
The nonprofit National Park Foundation
advocates raising funds by tapping private
donors and corporate sponsorships, an idea
anathema to many environmental groups.
“The last thing we want is ‘Half Dome
brought to you by Coca-Cola,’ ” says Bruce
Hamilton, deputy executive director of the
Sierra Club. “Also, corporate sponsorship
tends to be considered as a substitute for
public financial support of national parks,
not as augmenting it so we can do more.”
Underfunding and political gamesmanship also undermine the ability of the NPS to
deal with the biggest challenge of all: the existential threat posed by climate change, which
is already damaging some national park ecosystems beyond recognition. The glaciers in
Glacier National Park are melting so fast that
they most will likely be gone by 2030. The
cloud mist over the high-elevation forests of
Great Smoky Mountains National Park now
has pH levels comparable to lemon juice,
threatening f lora and fauna. Warm, short
winters create conditions more favorable

JAN/FEB 2017

17

MEN’S JOURNAL

for insects like the hemlock woolly adelgid,
which has killed 95 percent of the hemlock
trees in Shenandoah National Park since
1988. In California, meanwhile, drought and
a beetle infestation have killed 66 million
trees since 2010, including huge numbers in
Yosemite and Sequoia National Forest.
And then there is the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
The 2016 Republican Party platform explicitly advocates transferring federal lands to
the states; changing the 1906 Antiquities
Act to thwart future presidents from designating new national parks or monuments;
scaling back Environmental Protection
Agency regulations; and withdrawing from
international climate-change agreements.
And Trump seems to be taking that platform seriously: Early candidates to head his
Department of the Interior, which oversees
the NPS, reportedly include oil industry
executive Forrest Lucas and former Alaska
governor Sarah Palin. High on the list of
potential EPA heads is Myron Ebell, an official at the Competitive Enterprise Institute
and a climate-change skeptic.
“Environmental protection is going to
take a big hit,” Hamilton says, “and we’re
probably reversing course on climate
change.” As for the national parks, Hamilton expects that they’ll continue to limp
along. “The national parks are so sacrosanct
in our culture,” he says. “I’m skeptical that
even a Trump administration would make
a wholesale attack on them.” Far more
concerning are the wilderness areas surrounding the parks, which could become
fair game for industry and development.
“The biggest risks,” Hamilton says, “are predominantly external.” Q

NOTEBOOK TRAVEL & ADVENTURE

Embrace Winter

WINTER
TRAVEL
2017

Don’t get caught indoors this season. From dogsledding in the mountains above
Lake Tahoe to ski touring under the stars, here are the best ways to make the most of the cold.
by W I L L C O C K R E L L

ROLL A FATTY IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO
Riding oversize bikes on bluebird days is the new ski-town staple.
No winter trend is as hot as fat-tire biking, which
essentially is riding a regular bike modified to
accommodate knobby five-inch-wide tires that
roll over snow as if it were fresh-cut grass. It’s like
marrying the fun of mountain-biking with the
serenity of cross-country skiing. “When I tried it
for the first time, I loved the floaty feel,” says Tory
Canfield, founder of the Fat Bike Advocacy Group
in Sun Valley, Idaho. “Now a lot of people here just
never put their bikes away in winter.” The sport
is especially popular in the Midwest, which has a
surplus of great trails, including two fat-bikespecific riding parks in Minneapolis and St. Paul,
not to mention the 15-mile Marquette Snow Bike
Route in Michigan. But mountain towns are where
it’s easiest to get pedaling. Park City, Utah, has a
stunning stretch of rolling, beginner-friendly hills
spread over 700 acres, and Colorado’s Winter
Park has a similar network of trails. But no
mountain town takes the sport as seriously as

Sun Valley, which has three designated trail
systems that have a combined 37-plus miles of
groomed snow. “A couple of years ago, there was
only one bike shop in town where you could get
the gear and info,” says Canfield. “Now all the
shops will set you up.” (Rent through Backwoods
Mountain Sports; backwoodsmountainsports
.com.) For downhill rippers, the beauty of fat-tire
biking is that it’s often at its best when the
mountain is not — warm and sunny with old snow.
“When it’s not a powder day, it’s a great fat-biking
day,” says Canfield, “because the snow is a little
more packed down or even has a layer of crust.
We call it crust cruising.”

Dogsledding: Winter’s classic deep-woods fun.
There’s no more memorable cold-weather
experience than being pulled by a team of barking,
joyous dogs. The problem is that most mushing
options are in northern Michigan or Alaska —
places that aren’t exactly dream destinations come
winter. But Lake Tahoe is, and locals Brian and
Deanne Maas keep 60 dogs on their 20-acre ranch,
and all of them can run. Five days a week they bring
a small team to Squaw Valley for rides. The
hourlong tours offer front-row views of the Sierra
Nevada towering above, and in good seasons they
run private backcountry tours that head into the
mountains for the day (tahoedogsledtours.com).
On the East Coast, Thunder Mountain Dog Sled
Tours, in the surprisingly hip town of Lake Placid,
New York, will take you from the middle of town
right onto the frozen lake.
Riding on
big wheels in
Sun Valley
MEN’S JOURNAL

18

JAN/FEB 2017

FROM TOP: COURTESY OF SUN VALLE Y RESORT/CODY HASKELL; K AY TE DEIOMA

PAW THROUGH POWDER

As usual, you saw that coming.
There are a lot of things that are easy to see coming, like man buns and homemade kombucha
going out of style, but some things are a little harder to detect. Like that pedestrian
unexpectedly jaywalking. That’s why Toyota Safety Sense™ P,1 including a Pre-Collision
System2 with Pedestrian Detection,3 comes standard on the new 2017 Corolla.

Toyota Safety Sense™ Standard

NOTEBOOK TRAVEL & ADVENTURE

WINTER
TRAVEL
BACKCOUNTRY FOR
BEGINNERS

2017

Go hut to hut in Maine’s North Woods.
Tucked in Maine’s northwest corner is one of the
newest and best-equipped backcountry lodge
systems in the country: Maine Huts & Trails’ four
wood-and-stone cabins. Construction on the first
was started in 2008 and the last was finished in
2012, and they’re linked by a series of groomed,
double-wide trails that allow for every snow
activity, from fat biking to cross-country skiing.
The huts are spaced in such a way that it’s about
five to six hours between them, so they’re perfect
for either a three-mile, 700-foot slog up to
Stratton Brook Hut or the 11-mile flat cruise from
Poplar to Flagstaff. Even better, you don’t need to
enter a lottery for a spot, as at a popular
winter-hut destination like Colorado. But these
cabins are relatively uncrowded, and your
$130-per-night fee gets you three meals a day, a
comfy bed, and a roaring fire to greet you upon
check-in. mainehuts.org
Skinning by moonlight
may be the best way
to experience a
backcountry tour.

Maine Hut & Trails’
four cabins are
perfectly spaced
for touring.

SKI TOURING UNDER THE STARS

Ski touring is a one-two punch: a shot of
endorphins as you skin up the mountain —
that’s right, you ski up first — followed by a
quick hit of adrenaline as you fly down. It’s
become so popular that many mountains now
have uphill-specific trails. A few have rental
programs for the skis, skins, and bindings
needed to power up the slopes, and some
resorts even host their own ski-mountaineering
(skimo) races, endurance events that combine
cross-country and downhill skiing. And now a
handful of destinations are introducing the
ultimate experience: full-moon tours, on which
you hike uphill under the stars and ski down
with the moonlight reflecting off the snow like
a black light. Both Aspen and Crested Butte,
Colorado, for instance, host monthly full-moon
celebrations, where anyone willing to travel up
the mountain under his own steam — whether

by skinning, fat biking, or snowshoeing — can
revel at the top with a freshly pulled pint, some
hot food, and live music. The event in Aspen
takes place at Buttermilk’s Cliffhouse, where
you can gather around the “Cowboy Cauldron”
for hot chocolate. Crested Butte’s full-moon
tour is at its newly opened Umbrella Bar, which
has a retractable roof. “It might be a little chilly,
but it’s worth the view,” says Keegan Stoorza, a
longtime bartender and manager. “You can see
at least 10 different peaks from inside.” And
the only thing better than reaching the top is
skiing down. “To be able to ski a freshly
groomed run under the moonlight is pretty
cool,” says Stoorza. “You basically have the
mountain to yourself.”

LEARN TO ICE CLIMB
Ice climbing looks gnarly. But give it a try it and you’ll soon think otherwise.
Sam Magro, owner of Montana Alpine Guides, can
understand why so many people are intimidated
by ice climbing: Ice looks disturbingly fragile. And
yet ice climbing is much easier than rock climbing,
he insists. “You have the same handhold the
entire time — the grip of your ice ax,” he explains.
“If you can kick a soccer ball and swing a hammer,
you can ice climb.” And once you get the swing of
it, quite literally, you’ll move as quickly as
Spider-Man up a skyscraper. Whereas most
devotees head for Ouray, Colorado, Magro
teaches first-timers to claw their way to the top of

ice waterfalls in Hyalite Canyon, just 45 minutes
outside of Bozeman, Montana. The accessibility and
elevation of Hyalite is a rare combo in the Lower 48,
making it perfect for beginners who need a day
away from Big Sky. On the East Coast, there’s no
better place for it than the White Mountains. “It’s a
wet, almost Arctic climate in winter,” says Freddie
Wilkinson, co-owner of Cathedral Mountain Guides.
“If someone wants a two-day immersion, we do day
one at a relaxing area. The payoff is day two: a
multipitch ice climb.” Think of it as superhero stuff.
mtalpine.com; cathedralmountainguides.com

MEN’S JOURNAL

20

JAN/FEB 2017

CLOCK WISE FROM TOP: MATT POWER;
JASON THOMPSON; CHRIS BENNETT/AUROR A PHOTOS

Skinning up the mountain has never been more popular, and now a handful of
resorts makes it easy to experience the best way to do it: full-moon tours.

SEE YOSEMITE IN WINTER
Winter is the season to experience true
wilderness — and solitude.
To visit the national parks only in summer is like
leaving a concert before the encore. For a full
sense of their grandeur, you need to experience
them when the snow falls. And while plenty of
parks reveal their charms in winter — like
Yellowstone with a half-frozen Old Faithful —
Yosemite is a true year-rounder: All but a handful
of trails are open for hiking, snowshoeing, and ski
touring. There’s even downhill skiing at the tiny
lift-served resort. The key is to stay at the Majestic
Yosemite Hotel, which has the park’s best digs
and hosts a series of dinners that are run by a
rotating cast of top chefs from around the
country. You haven’t seen the Valley Loop Trail,
Bridalveil Fall, or Glacier Point until you’ve seen
them surrounded by pow. travelyosemite.com

The Majestic
Yosemite Hotel

WINTER GEAR
HOW TO STAY WARM —
AND COOL

PETER DASILVA / THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX PICTURES

What works on the ski lift
doesn’t always do the job when
huffing and puffing. Guides
Freddie Wilkinson and Sam
Magro reveal their solutions.
Don’t layer to match how your
body feels before an activity
— you’ll overheat moments
after you start. Wilkinson likes
to begin a little cold. He says,
“If you start off with an extra
layer, regulate your pace
instead so you never overheat.”
Use hats and hoods to help
regulate while on the go. “You
need at least one item that can
be taken off or put on without
breaking stride,” says Wilkinson.
Never stand around in a sweaty
base layer. Even a minute means
you’ll lose crucial heat. “I often
bring a spare base layer and
switch out,” says Magro. “Also,
anytime you stop moving, throw
on a puffy coat to trap heat.”

NOTEBOOK TRAVEL & ADVENTURE

Saving
the Last
Wild River
A Brazilian conglomerate wants to dam
one of the world’s last truly untamed
waterways. An unlikely alliance of
hardcore paddlers and local villagers
aims to stop it. by S AU L E L B E I N

Starting in
the Andes, the
Marañón River
winds more than a
thousand miles
to the headwaters
of the Amazon.

N T H E M I D D L E of the great rapids at
Samosierra, in the heart of northern
Peru, the Marañón River makes a sudden
right turn. More than 500,000 cubic meters
of water per second slam into a cliff shaded
by half-mile-high canyon walls, throwing
up eight-foot waves that break hard over
the rubber raft I’m in with three Peruvian
guides. Their faces are grim. “When the
river is high, hombre, it’s bothered,” Edgar
Vicente, our captain, says. “Until it takes
someone, it won’t rest.”
As fate would have it, the night before, a
local fisherman got tangled in his net and
drowned. Ever since, the water level has
been dropping. The Samosierra is a Class IV
now, scary but manageable. “Adelante, chicos,
adelante,” Vicente yells, urging us forward,
and we pull hard, digging our oars into the
waves. A hole opens beside the boat; I swing
at empty air and feel myself falling before
another wave catches the raft and knocks
me back in. “Adelante!” The raft hits the new
current around the bend, and we’re through,
laughing like madmen. “Look at it, boys,” one
guide says, whooping. “The mother to the
greatest river in the world!” That night, as

I

we pass around a bottle of pisco by our driftwood fire, under banana trees growing out of
the rich muck of the last flood, I am haunted
by the idea that the river is alive, willing to
deal out life and death with the same hand.
The Marañón runs from the high snows
of the Andes down to the jungle, where it
forms a main source of the Amazon. For
400 miles, it slithers like a golden serpent —
to borrow the name of a 1935 book about the
river — through a vast canyon, often a halfmile deep, marked by Class III to Class V
rapids and rustic farming villages.
Unfortunately for the region’s inhabitants,
the Marañón’s narrow passages and high volume are also ideal for hydropower: The huge
Brazilian construction company Odebrecht
plans to build the Chadin 2 dam, part of a
building craze that might result in some 20
dams on the Marañón in the next decade. If
the dams are built, they will raise the water
level more than 300 feet in places, drowning
rapids and river towns alike, breaking the
serpent’s back with locks and reservoirs.
I am going down the last 200 miles of
this route with a group of Peruvian and
gringo guides led by Benjamin Webb, a

MEN’S JOURNAL

22

JAN/FEB 2017

27-year-old Australian with blond dreads
and a bone-dry deadpan. The trip is meant
to be a sort of local hearts-and-minds
campaign for whitewater rafting. In Peru,
there is a long history of grassroots protests
and rebellions stopping big-money mining
and dam projects. Webb hopes to bring Lima
kids and village kids alike down the river,
putting badly needed money in the hands of
valley organizations fighting the dams.
Over our two-and-a-half-week trip, we
watch while the landscape changes with
meditative slowness from high desert that
looks like southern Utah down to what Peruvians call la ceja de la selva, “the eyebrow of
the jungle.” Ferns sprout among the cacti,
and chattering green parrots appear in the
mesquite trees. Above us rise high sandstone
walls, their faults twisted almost vertically
with the violence of the mountains’ creation,
rayed with the lines of hundred-year f loods
from cataclysms past.
Though locals have run the Marañón on
balsa-wood rafts for centuries, the river is new
to commercial rafting. In 2012, Rocky Contos, an American kayaker and explorer with a
slate of solo first descents of rivers in Mexico,

p h o t o g r a p h s by DA N I E L L E V I L L A S A N A

The Complete Issue.
Every Word. Every Photo.

Now Available on Mobile

Class III
to Class V
rapids
abound.

TRAVEL & ADVENTURE

became the first person in a generation to run
it. Since then, Contos has been working to
open up commercial rafting along a 406-mile
section of river, offering trips of one to five
weeks down what he calls the Grand Canyon
of the Amazon. “There just aren’t many rivers
where you can do an expedition this long,”
Contos explains in the market town of Bagua
Chica, a few miles from the Marañón, before
our trip. There are fewer every day: The
Marañón dams are part of a worldwide rush
to dam the last great wild rivers. The Yangtze
is flooded, and plans are under way to dam the
Blue Nile and to continue work on the Mekong
as well. Contos ticks off rivers on his fingers.
“If the Marañón goes, it would be like flooding
the Sistine Chapel,” he says.
The canyon is beaua remote canyon, with
tiful, but to Contos
Ecuador
no way to go but forward.
that is not what makes
Among the river folk
it special: It is special
who farm the Marañón
because it is w ild.
3
Valley, life beside the
First, there is no offimoody river has fostered
cial authoritative body
Brazil
2
a rugged and indepenalong the river. Also,
dent culture. We f loat
because the river is
through what feels like
huge and undammed,
1
the old American fronit’s the dominant force
PERU
MARAÑÓN
tier filtered through the
on t he la nd s c ap e ,
RIVER
tropics. It is populated
and it’s an unpredict1. Lima
by people whose famiable one. “When you
2. Put-in at Chagual
lies came, one woman
run a wild river, you
3. Take-out
ex pla i ne d to me, to
just don’t know what
escape highland estates
you’re going to find,”
— where “the landlords owned all the land and
says Matt Primomo, a guide from Utah who
the crops and even your wife if he wanted her.”
is helping on this trip. He points downThe ribereños — river people — tend fields
stream, toward a blind curve of Class III rapof scrubby green coca and golden cacao
ids. “We could come around that bend and
under orange and mango trees. They live
find a huge landslide blocking the river. And
in fear of lake sirens and forest devils, panthen we’d just have to deal with it.” This in
ning for gold on the shores of a river capable
of swallowing villages without a trace. In
many of the Marañón towns, the men have
formed peasant militias, called rondas, that
keep out dam surveyors by force. “When we
catch them, we discipline them physically,”
says Alvaro Huaman, a ronda member in the
town of Tupen Grande, an oasis of bubbling
creeks and fruit trees groaning with passion fruits, bananas, and mangoes. “I want
my children to know that I did everything
I could to protect this land.”
The ronderos are tough men, mostly farmers, on war footing ready to protect their villages against destruction by the dams: In
2013, ronderos from the villages of Tupen
and Mendan brought Rocky Contos before
a village tribunal. The hearing ended in an
alliance: Contos donated money, which went
to buy the rondas’ uniforms and trademark
Relaxing in
leather truncheons, and he negotiated the
one of the
rights to keep bringing tourists in. This year
river’s many
the ronderos welcome us royally, offering
waterfalls
tropical fruit I could not identify, and get

MEN’S JOURNAL

24

JAN/FEB 2017

us drunk on moonshine distilled from local
cane. I fend off a push to hook me up with a
sexy widow whose husband died six months
before of tuberculosis. “You are under our
protection,” says Oscar Solano, the head of
the Mendan ronda. “Nothing will happen
to you here.” But he suggests that it’s a bad
idea to show up without someone the locals
know — like Contos or Webb — lest you be
mistaken for a surveyor.
Finally, in the middle of June, following
17 days on the water, the Marañón carries
us to our take-out at the Pongo de Rentema,
where it joins two other rivers and doubles its
flow. Below the Pongo, the river’s character
changes completely, its lines dissolving into a
chaotic mess of whirlpools and culminating in
an eddy the size of a football field swirling by
the little town of El Muyo. As we surge toward
land, trying to dock, the river spins the raft
back like a stock car going around a track.

“WHEN THE RIVER IS
HIGH, HOMBRE, IT’S
BOTHERED. UNTIL IT
TAKES SOMEONE,
IT WON’T REST.”

We struggle toward shore, f ighting to
free ourselves from the river’s grip. The
wonder of the wild Marañón, its aliveness
and its terrible power, are all of a piece —
and all conceal its vulnerability before the
plans of civil engineers. If those men have
their way, the river will become placid, safe,
and dead. That force that carves through
the tight canyon walls will be broken to
the turning of turbines. As our raft crashes
onto the smooth stones below El Muyo’s
wooden houses, the river surges on tranquilly behind us — all the while, in faraway
capitals, men are plotting its doom. Q

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200, Scottsdale, AZ 85260, Mortgage Banker License #BK-0902939; CA: Licensed by Dept. of Business Oversight, under the CA Residential Mortgage Lending Act and Finance Lenders Law; CO: Regulated by the
Division of Real Estate; GA: Residential Mortgage Licensee #11704; IL: Residential Mortgage Licensee #4127 – Dept. of Financial and Professional Regulation; KS: Licensed Mortgage Company MC.0025309; MA:
Mortgage Lender License #ML 3030; ME: Supervised Lender License; MN: Not an offer for a rate lock agreement; MS: Licensed by the MS Dept. of Banking and Consumer Finance; NH: Licensed by the NH Banking
Dept., #6743MB; NV: License #626; NJ: Licensed Mortgage Banker – NJ Dept. of Banking, 1st (and/or 2nd) mortgages only; NY: Licensed Mortgage Banker – NYS Banking Dept.; OH: MB 850076; OR: License #ML1387; PA: Licensed as a 1st Mortgage Banker by the Dept. of Banking and licensed pursuant to the PA Secondary Mortgage Loan Act; RI: Licensed Lender; WA: Consumer Loan Company License CL-3030. Rates
subject to change. Restrictions may apply. ©2000 – 2016 Quicken Loans Inc. All rights reserved. Lending services provided by Quicken Loans Inc., a subsidiary of Rock Holdings Inc. “Quicken Loans” is a registered
service mark of Intuit Inc., used under license.

NOTEBOOK

STYLE
&

WHAT’S

NEW
The Better Sweater
Everybody has a favorite sweater: slim, comfortable,
and great-looking. But can you snowboard in it without
sweating profusely and smelling like a locker room?
The Cotopaxi Libre takes the best properties of that
perfect layer and adds a mesh panel in the back (for extra
breathability), reinforced seams, and naturally anti-stink
llama wool. Prepare never to take it off. $140; cotopaxi.com

Tune In to the World

The Helmet You’ll
Want to Show Off
Apparently more elusive than world
peace? A decent-looking bike helmet.
This one, called the Thousand,
thankfully bucks the trend of
minimalist lids that make us all seem
like Tour-wannabes. It has a classic,
military-inspired shape and comes
with a few ingenious features, too:
The latch is magnetic, so you’ll
never pinch a finger, and the logo
patch pops out to provide a
convenient place to hook a U-lock
for securing the helmet to your bike.
Guess it’s time to tackle climate
change. $80; explorethousand.com

The Transforming
Gaming System

Thanks to streaming audio on demand, it’s hard
to recall the simple pleasure of a DJ holding your
attention with unexpected tunes and engaging
banter. The handsome and sweet-sounding Come
Audio Solo will remind you. Plus, there’s a
21st-century twist: You can tune in radio from all
over the globe with this WiFi-connected player
(as well as link to Spotify Connect and any other
audio source via Bluetooth). Reggae from France?
It’s our new favorite preset. $299; comoaudio.com

Most game consoles stay in the
living room, but the upcoming
Nintendo Switch is a new
concept: It can be played at
home on the big screen —
though if you want to hit the
road, the controller snaps in half
and attaches to a tablet-shaped
unit with a built-in screen. That
means you can pick up the same
game on your commute —
whenever something as boring
as work gets in the way of fun.
Price TBD; nintendo.com

The BMW-Lover’s
Wrist Candy
We don’t always love
carmaker collaborations, but
the Ball & BMW series watch
is both refined and understated. In fact, blink and you
might miss the tiny BMW
logo at 3 o’clock on the
Ball Timetrekker. But you
won’t overlook the classic
dive-watch design (it’s
water-resistant to 200 meters)
or Ball’s signature tritium-gas
tubes, which make the hands
and the dial glow in the dark.
$2,999; ballwatch.com

The Complete
Multitool
Most multitools feel like junkdrawer throwaways, but the Gerber
Center-Drive Multi-Tool is built like
a full-size tool. (The design aligns
the hand and the head of the driver
to provide more torque.) Plus, it
accepts traditional bits for added
functionality. $120; gerbergear.com

MEN’S JOURNAL

26

JAN/FEB 2017

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San Diego, CA

Upgrade your life. Start with family time.
Discover how Caséta dimmers
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can personalize your home lighting control. Simple to use and easy
to set up. For other ways to upgrade your life, visit CasetaWireless.com

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NOTEBOOK STYLE & DESIGN

The Work
Force
The iconic utility boot — with its
chunky white tread — is winter’s
best slush slayer. by J A S O N C H E N
H E R E A R E F E W pieces of footwear as
recognizable as the storied Red Wing boot,
with its signature light-colored lug sole and
tough-as-nails leather upper. The boot was first
made in Minnesota for farmers and miners at the
beginning of the 20th century — that crepe sole
minimized the amount of mud that would stick to
the shoe. This style of boot is having a resurgence
and not just at work sites. They’re comfortable, built
for gnarly weather, and retain just enough DNA
from a classic dress shoe to feel at home in the office.
Here are our favorite new variations.

1

T

2

1 | RAG & BONE
FLEET BOOT ($450)
Thanks to a worn-in look right
out of the box, suede boots
make an ideal casual shoe. Just
remember to treat them with a
suede protector before exposing
them to the elements.
2 | RED WING HERITAGE
CLASSIC ROUND ($260)
A bit more urban and
sophisticated than their
reddish-brown counterparts,
these are made from oiltreated leather to prevent the
appearance of unsightly stains.
3 | THURSDAY
BOOT COMPANY
DIPLOMAT ($220)
These are the dressiest boots
here — note the rich burgundy
leather and flat, waxed laces
(rather than braided nylon) —
which make them an option to
pair with dress pants.

3

4

4 | OAK STREET
BOOTMAKERS CAP-TOE
TRENCH ($426)
Constructed of tough Horween
leather from the famed Chicago
tannery, the Oak Streets kick
up the design quotient with
a decoratively brogued cap toe.
5 | EASTLAND
BARRON BOOT ($130)
A testament to this Maine
brand’s expertise, the heavywear areas on these oxblood
boots — where the pieces
of leather connect right
above the heel, for instance —
have been triple-stitched for
extra reinforcement.

5

MEN’S JOURNAL

28

JAN/FEB 2017

p h o t o g r a p h by S H A N A N OVA K

NOTEBOOK STYLE & DESIGN
1

2

5

3

Wheels of the Year
There’s a lot to love on the road. We looked under the hood, on the dash, and even in
the cargo bed to find the best. Here’s what got our motors running for 2017. by J E S S E W I L L

1

The Monster With Manners

2

The Tailgater of the Year

3

The Earthbound Gulfstream

2017 NISSAN GT-R | $109,990

2017 HONDA RIDGELINE | $29,475

2017 BENTLEY BENTAYGA | $229,100

When the sports car known as Godzilla made its
American debut nearly 10 years ago, it was ahead
of its time. The 2017 refresh of the high-tech track
star turns out to be just as forward-thinking. The
tweaks are mild: The GT-R’s 3.8-liter V-6 now
makes 565 horsepower and is tuned for better midto high-range acceleration, so highway jaunts into
the triple digits are even easier. Trust us, after a run
on Texas’ Highway 130 — one of America’s fastest
roads — we never found the engine lacking. And
the improved cabin is streamlined and more
comfortable than ever. After unleashing a subthree-second sprint to 60 miles per hour, you might
want to point Godzilla west and keep driving.

Leave it to the Japanese to create the All-American
pigskin-party mobile. The 2017 Honda Ridgeline
should convert more than a few weekend warriors,
thanks to its lockable and watertight in-bed trunk,
which has built-in grocery-bag hooks and cargo
dividers. But more important for game day, it has
an 82-quart cooler complete with embedded drain
plug. There’s also a trunk-bed audio system, which
turns its bed-liner walls into speakers. (No, the
sonics don’t conjure Carnegie Hall, but they’ll still
rock the parking lot.) And finally there’s a 400-watt
power inverter, also in the bed, which dispenses
enough juice to fire up a giant LCD TV. No tickets
to the game? No problem.

Sure, you could take a plane to get to your remote
mountainside chateau, but why spend hundreds of
hours learning to fly when you can go door-to-door
in higher style and just as fast in an SUV that tops
out at 187 mph and dispatches dodgy terrain with
aplomb. Say what you will about the Bentayga’s
price (it is a Bentley), but the company’s first SUV
is more than a Porsche Cayenne with deeper-pile
carpets and softer leather. Its ride quality feels
otherworldly: Adaptive air suspension sucks up
road imperfections, while active antiroll systems
firm its handling. All this while your and your
passenger’s backs are attended to by the sixprogram massage seats.

MEN’S JOURNAL

30

JAN/FEB 2017

The New Fleet
of Rugged
Wagons

BUTTON OF THE YEAR:
2017 FORD FOCUS
RS’S DRIFT MODE
Judged on specs alone, the RS
(from $35,900) is proof that highrevving fun hasn’t been wiped out
just yet: The hatchback’s 2.3liter turbocharged four sends 350
horsepower to four wheels as it howls
and pops its way (manual transmission only) to 60 miles per hour
in 4.6 seconds. But push its Drive
Mode button a few times and you’ll
access Drift Mode, which loosens the
steering, softens brake dampening,
and sends more torque to the outside rear wheel to enable smoky
power slides — a high-tech feature
that pumps up the driving pleasure.

The crossover will surely rule roads for years to
come, but the all-wheel-drive wagon is having
a late-stage renaissance. The 2017 Volkswagen
Golf Alltrack (from $26,950), is an all-wheeldrive Sportwagen that’s more than suited for
navigating dirt drives from Topanga to
Brattleboro. Despite its added ride height
(clearance is 6.9 inches), it handles with the taut
dynamics of the underlying Golf. Fans of Nordic
cool will drool over the Volvo V90 (price TBD),
which brings the S90 sedan’s brawny, laid-back
poise, faultless interior, and best-in-class
autonomous driving tech to a body style superbly
suited for hauling kids and cargo. And the 2017
Audi Allroad (from $44,000), a mildly lifted
wagon variant of the A4 sedan, is the first model
from the German brand to feature Quattro with
Ultra, a revised all-wheel-drive system that can
push all of the power from its 252-hp inline-4 to
the front or rear within milliseconds. It also has an
interior that ups the luxury and storage space (58
cubic feet), and it comes with a panoramic roof.

4

4

The Less-Is-More Sports Car

2017 718 PORSCHE CAYMAN S | $66,300
The new 350-horsepower Cayman has a 2.5-liter
turbocharged flat-4 cylinder engine instead of a
traditional flat-6. Purists, put down your pitchforks:
You’re right, the four doesn’t sound as sweet. But
its thumping, nearly flat torque curve brings
brutally fast fun to twisty roads, and there’s more
power on tap at every point in the rev range.

5

The Luxe Surf Wagon

THE CONCERT
HALL IN YOUR
GARAGE:
2017 CADILLAC
CT6’S BOSE
PANARAY SYSTEM

6

Caddy’s big sedan is a knockout on the road, though you don’t
even have to take it off the driveway to be stunned by it. The
optional Bose Panaray sound system ($3,700; the CT6 starts at
$53,495) took a half decade to design — nearly as long as the car
did. The Panaray includes 34 speakers, some of them tiny units
embedded in the headrests, to produce the most live-concert-like
sound system we’ve ever heard in an automobile.

The Proud Man-Van

2017 JAGUAR F-PACE | $41,985

2017 CHRYSLER PACIFICA | $28,595

British brand Jaguar finally built its first sportutility, the F-Pace, and the thing is a kick in the
trousers: soulful and lithe, gratifying to look at.
Even crossover haters are rightly submitting to
its charms. One thoughtful option that proves
the F-Pace wasn’t intended just for prowling the
burbs: Its Activity Key ($400), a waterproof
wristband similar in profile to a fitness tracker, has
an embedded RFID chip that unlocks the vehicle
when you place it near the Jaguar logo on the
tailgate. So you can surf (or bike or run) without
the bulk of a key fob on your person or the worry
that someone will find it in your secret stash spot
(the right rear-wheel well).

The strapping new Pacifica is the first minivan to
induce actual lust. Its active noise cancellation and
laminated acoustic glass can make Times Square
sound as still as West Yellowstone, Montana, while
10-inch touchscreens render rear-seat passengers
silent so you can remain lost in dad thoughts. Best
of all, second and third rows disappear completely,
creating a cavernous, cargo-van-like rear with more
than 140 cubic feet of storage — enough space to
haul the latest punishment-on-a-pallet IKEA has
dreamed up. Or it can fit a blow-up mattress,
should you and the significant other decide to drop
off the kids at Grandma’s and head out on the road,
maybe for good.

6

JAN/FEB 2017

31

MEN’S JOURNAL

NOTEBOOK

FOOD
&DRINK
Punch
Drunk
Three holiday recipes to
kick off the season right.
by S T. J O H N F R I Z E L L

C

MEN’S JOURNAL

32

JAN/FEB 2017

p h o t o g r a p h by N I G E L C OX

FOOD ST YLING BY JAMIE KIMM; PROP ST YLING BY
TIZIANA AGNELLO; SAUCEPAN COURTESY OF MAUVIEL 1830

O M E W I N T E R , no tradition is as
sacred as getting toasted on holiday
punch. Yuletide hosts have been
soothing their guests’ seasonal anxiety with
big bowls of hot booze for as long as alcohol has existed. Northern Europeans have
always been especially good at this. In the
orchards of England, winter meant drafts of
wassail, a mulled, rustic broth of hard cider
or ale. In the snows of Scandinavia, it was
glogg, warm red wine spiked with spices,
citrus, and brandy. Farther south, in ballrooms and palaces across France, rum and
cognac were mingled with sparkling wine in
various concentrations and levels of potency.
The comforting f lavors — apples and cinnamon, oranges and cloves — are better at
lightening up a room than any of those fancy
full-spectrum bulbs for the seasonal blues.
Today the beauty of a well-made punch
is that once the party starts, the mess and
effort are minimal. And because punches are
mixed in advance, you can greet your guests
with a warm cup as soon as they doff those
winter parkas. They’ll immediately warm
to your get-together, and you can go back to
getting toasted by the fire.

GRENADIER’S PUNCH
This recipe was inspired by the f lavor
of grenades, French for pomegranates.
½ cup sugar
¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
1½ cups pomegranate juice (like POM)
¾ cup fresh lime juice
1 cup dark rum (like Bacardi Ocho)
½ cup brandy
1 oz absinthe
2 bottles cava or prosecco
1. Make rosemary syrup: Combine sugar,
rosemary, and ½ cup water in a saucepan.
Heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cool
and strain. 2. Combine syrup, pomegranate
and lime juices, rum, brandy, and absinthe
in a large container and chill. 3. To serve,
pour half the mixture into a punch bowl, add
one bottle of cava, and stir. Add a ring of ice
and garnish with lime slices and pomegranate seeds. Repeat step 3 to replenish.

WASSAIL PUNCH
The mix of apples and ale is classically
English and delicious.
3 12-oz bottles English-style ale (like Bass)
24 oz apple cider
4 oz honey
1 four- to five-inch piece of ginger, peeled
and sliced
4 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
pinch of salt
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 cup applejack
16 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine ale, cider, honey, ginger,
cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a saucepan.
Simmer 15 minutes, remove from heat,
and cool. Strain, add lemon, and cool
overnight. Before serving, add spiced ale,
applejack, and bitters to a slow cooker
or saucepan and heat.

GLOGG
My own special recipe, this one is beautifully rich without being too bitter
or too sweet. Guard it with your life.
1 pear, peeled and quartered
1 apple, peeled and quartered
1 orange, quartered
¾ cup sugar
⅓ cup slivered almonds
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
4 cloves
4 cups red wine (about 1½ 750-ml bottles)
½ cup brandy or cognac
Combine all ingredients except brandy in a
saucepan. Simmer 15 minutes, remove from
heat, and strain. When cool, add brandy.
Reheat to serve. Garnish with orange peel.

®

20

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Health & Fitness
MARIJUANA’S OTHER MAGIC INGREDIENT + BODY LAB + HOW TO TIME YOUR LIFE + DR. BOB + HEALTH NEWS

Regular exposure to
cold can improve circulation
and boost metabolism
to help keep
you lean.

The Cold Cure

HENNY BOOGERT

We’re used to living in constant comfort — ideal temperatures,
optimal clothing, minimal effort. For the sake of our health, it’s
time to make ourselves a little uncomfortable. B y S C O T T CA R N E Y
A T F I R S T I T I S O N L Y a dark
purple absence of stars in a
pinpricked sky. Soon dawn sets
the glacier ablaze like a beacon.
Kilimanjaro.
Africa’s tallest mountain rises up out of
the sun-drenched savanna to a place high
above the clouds. There, at nearly 20,000
feet, winds top 50 miles an hour and scour
what is likely the only indigenous ice on the
continent. It’s the f irst time our group of
amateur climbers has seen it this close, and I
can’t decide whether I’m excited or terrified.

Upwards of 35,000 tourists attempt to
summit the mountain each year. Usually
they spend time adjusting to altitude and
then embark on a f ive- or six-day climb,
wearing the most advanced mountaineering
apparel — waterproof down jackets, insulated trekking pants. Our goal is to reach
the peak in 30 hours, with no acclimation
to the altitude, on almost no food, on little
sleep, and without any cold-weather gear.
I’m wearing boots, swim trunks, a wool cap,
and a backpack containing emergency gear
and water. My chest is bare to the frigid air.

JAN/FEB 2017

35

MEN’S JOURNAL

One of our Tanzanian guides watches me
warily from beneath his full thermal getup
until, finally, he can’t hold his silence anymore. “Please put something on,” he says.
He’s not the only one who thinks I’m crazy.
Yesterday a U.S. Army scientist calculated
that, given our pace, three-quarters of our
group of 29 would come down with debilitating altitude sickness. What the researchers and our guide don’t realize is that the
deprivations caused by cold, thin air are the
point. I’ve been conditioning my body to environmental stresses for six months, dunking
myself in ice water and learning a breathing
technique that has given me an almost spooky
control over my autonomic body functions.
I suck in 30 breaths of cool air and focus
on the blazing orange rock in front of me.
There’s no point in checking the temperature. It’s well below freezing, and I’m already
burning up.

Health
&Fitness

I D O N ’ T L I K E T O S U F F E R . Nor do I particularly want to be cold, wet, or hungry. If I had a
spirit animal, it would probably be a jellyfish
floating in an ocean of perpetual comfort.
That’s not just me; it’s most of us. The body
craves homeostasis, the effortless state in
which the environment meets our every physical need and the body can rest. So we jack up
the heat on cold winter days, ratchet down
the air-conditioning in the summer, and don
sunglasses when it’s a little too bright outside.
But it hasn’t always been that way. Humans
have had the same anatomical makeup for
nearly 200,000 years. Which means your
office mate who sits on a rolling chair beneath
fluorescent lights all day has pretty much the
same basic body as the prehistoric caveman
who made spear points out of f lint to hunt
antelope. To get from then to now, we faced
countless challenges as we f led predators,
froze in snowstorms, sought shelter from rain,
hunted and gathered our food, and continued
to breathe despite suffocating heat. Variation
and stress were the norm; comfort, the exception. To survive, we had to be strong.
Our modern-day struggles pale in comparison to the daily threats of death or deprivation that our forebears faced. But succeeding
over the natural world hasn’t made our bodies
stronger. Compare your pasty-skinned office
mate to one of our prehistoric ancestors, and

“WE’RE OVERLIT, OVERFED, AND OVERSTIMULATED, AND IN TERMS OF HOW LONG
WE’VE BEEN ON EARTH, THAT’S ALL NEW.”

bets are good that the modern-day man is
fatter, lazier, and in worse health. And it’s
not just him. The last century saw an explosion of “diseases of excess” in the developed
world, or what happens when you have too
much food and your lifestyle is sedentary.
Obesity, diabetes, chronic pain, arthritis, and
hypertension are all at record highs. We’ve
even seen a resurgence of gout. Millions suffer
from autoimmune diseases — arthritis, lupus,
Crohn’s — in which the body literally attacks
itself. It is almost as if our bodies have so little
to struggle against that our stored energy
instead wreaks havoc on our insides.
There is a consensus among many scientists and athletes that humans were not
built for constant homeostasis. In the past,
comfort was almost indistinguishable
from safety. Now it’s something we take for
granted. Human biology needs stress — and
not the sort that damages muscle, gets us
eaten by a bear, or degrades our physiques,
but the environmental and physical fluctuations that invigorate our nervous system.

GET COLD, GET LEAN

80%

Brown
Fat
25%
Metabolism

THE PROBLEM
INACTIVE BROWN FAT
We’re born with 5 percent
of our body mass in brown
fat, or brown adipose tissue
(BAT). It’s located in the
neck, torso, and under the
clavicle. As babies, we’re
unable to shiver to stay
warm, so BAT does the job
for us; it pulls white fat from
storage to burn for heat.
As we grow older, however,
we use other strategies to
warm up — the thermostat,
more clothes — and BAT
becomes inactive.

THE SOLUTION
COLD EXPOSURE
There’s no more effective
way to activate BAT than
exposure to cold. That
doesn’t have to be extreme
cold, either. Even setting
your thermostat to the
low 60s can trigger BAT,
because you’ll feel the
need to shiver. Fighting
that urge — a mental
exercise that gets easier
with practice — forces your
body to find another way
to generate heat. That’s
when it turns to BAT.

THE PAYOFF
A METABOLIC BOOST
Regularly expose yourself to
the cold, and your activated
BAT will fry white fat. What’s
more, it will also begin to
burn the energy from the
food you eat for fuel. (That
means the doughnut you
just ate won’t get stored in
your body; instead, it can be
incinerated via your brown
fat.) This process can boost
metabolism anywhere
from 25 to 80 percent,
studies indicate, and help
you get — or stay — lean.

MEN’S JOURNAL

36

JAN/FEB 2017

Our muscles, organs, nerves, fat tissue,
and hormones respond and adapt to changes
or threats from the outside world. And almost
no environmental extreme induces as many
changes in human physiology as the cold.
Take a plunge into cold water and not only
will you trigger a number of processes to
warm up the body, but those adjustments will
help regulate blood sugar, exercise the circulatory system, and heighten mental awareness. The problem is nobody wants to do that.
The bulk of us don’t see environmental stress
in the same light as we do, say, jogging.
But we should. Because stepping outside
on a frigid day in only a T-shirt creates a cascade of physiological responses that deliver
benefits similar to a workout.
To explain why, you need to look at the
human circulatory system, a complex network of arteries and veins that carry blood and
oxygen to and from every tissue. In a single
day, roughly four to seven liters of blood travel
thousands of miles. This blood superhighway
is more than just a series of tubes; it’s an active
and responsive system. Tiny muscles line the
arteries and veins and help push the blood
through the body, which is critical for circulation and regulating blood pressure. The
second you step out and have a brush with
near-arctic winds, these tiny muscles flex.
Exercising that system is important: Cardiovascular diseases contribute to 31 percent
of the world’s mortality. A main way to trigger those circulatory muscles is to actually
go outside to feel the cold. But living in a
perpetually climate-controlled environment
— in our homes, cars, and offices, or simply
by being bundled up outdoors — means that
those muscles are never challenged by the
elements. Even a fit body with chiseled abs
might be hiding weak circulatory muscles.
Experiencing cold can also spur your
body to activate brown adipose tissue (BAT),
also known as brown fat. The primary purpose of BAT is to pull ordinary white fat from
storage and burn it to keep you warm. So as
counterintuitive as it may sound, the more
active brown fat you have, the higher the
capacity you have to stay lean.
Everyone is born with about 5 percent of
his body mass as brown fat. But thanks in
part to years of artificial heating, many of us
in the developed world have almost no active
BAT left by the time we reach adulthood. The
good news is that placing yourself in even
moderately cold temperatures, such as set-

ting a thermostat to the 50s or low 60s for a
few weeks, can activate your brown fat.
It’s a lesson that hasn’t been lost on Ray
Cronise, a former NASA scientist. He spent
15 years conducting experiments at the Marshall Space Flight Center that assessed how
the body changed in extreme conditions,
but his career took a turn when he decided
to create a way to shed weight that wasn’t
focused on counting calories. Cronise prescribed himself daily hourlong walks in sub60-degree temperatures, along with regular
exercise. In six weeks he dropped almost 30
pounds. During the process, he developed a
deeper theory on health.
“We’re overlit, overfed, and overstimulated, and in terms of how long we’ve been
on Earth, that’s all new,” he says. We’re living in an “eternal summer” and missing out
on what Cronise calls “metabolic winter,” a
time when the body adjusts to discomfort and
scarcity between times of plenty. As he wrote
in a 2014 paper published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, “Our 7-millionyear evolutionary path was dominated by two

From left: The
author, Wim
Hof, and fellow
climber Dennis
Bernaerts at
18,652 feet.

HE PROMISED THAT HE COULD TEACH
SOMEONE TO SURVIVE IN ARCTIC
ENVIRONMENTS WITH ALMOST NO GEAR.

seasonal challenges — calorie scarcity and
mild cold stress. . . . We solved them both.”
The inevitable result of losing seasonal variation, he says, is obesity and chronic disease.
As proof he points not only to the population
of his home state of Alabama, which ranks
second in obesity levels in the U.S., but also
to the fact that even our pets are fat. “There’s
a connection,” he says.
The key to fixing the problem, according
to Cronise, is to bring cold back into our lives.
Doing so can add just enough mild stress to
reinvigorate our evolutionary programming,
improve our circulation, and kick our metabolism into high gear.
of a little
environmental suffering. Back in July 2012,
I was at a personal low point while living
in Long Beach, California. I had been sitting in a desk chair in front of my computer
for almost eight hours straight. Palm trees
gently swayed outside my window. Despite
my relatively comfortable perch, my legs
throbbed from underuse and my back ached.
I told myself that since I was now approaching my mid-thirties, it was perfectly normal
for my stomach to sag over my belt. I figured
a moderate amount of exercise and an occa-

COURTESY SCOTT CARNE Y

I C A N VO U C H F O R T H E B E N E F I T S

sional dip into the organic aisle of my grocery store should suffice to maintain a level
of decorum.
That was when the internet coughed up
a picture of a nearly naked man sitting on a
glacier somewhere north of the Arctic Circle.
His name was Wim Hof, a Dutch adventurer and biohacker who proved he could
raise and lower his body temperature at will
and inf luence his immune system with the
power of his mind. He ran a training camp in
the snowy wilderness of Poland, where people from around the world converged to study
his secrets. He promised that he could teach
someone to survive in arctic environments
with almost no gear. He said he had invented
a breathing method that allowed any one to
tap into his own biology to strengthen endurance and to put certain autonomic processes
— like constricting blood vessels and producing body heat — under conscious control.
What’s more, it took only a few days to learn.
It all seemed crazy to me.
I was sure Hof was a charlatan, so I booked
a ticket to Poland to test his “method.”
At his training center in Przesieka, Hof
introduced me to the basics of body hacking.
First he taught a breathing routine that alternated between controlled hyperventilation

JAN/FEB 2017

37

MEN’S JOURNAL

and breath holds with empty lungs. Cycling
between these helps expel CO2 and fully saturate the blood with oxygen. With a little practice, the routine allowed me to hold my breath
for three minutes at a stretch. The point of the
exercise, Hof said, is to reprogram the way the
nervous system responds to the stress of not
breathing. Will yourself to hold on a little bit
past the point at which you’d normally gasp for
air and you gain a measure of conscious control over a function that’s normally automatic.
Hof explained this breathing process would
help you to withstand environmental stressors, too, helping you to stay warm — even get
hot — in very low temperatures.
Which brought us to the second half of the
method, which is brutally simple: Get used to
being cold, and suppress the urge to shiver.
Shivering is an autonomic method the body
uses to warm up. Hof taught us that simply
relaxing and taking calm breaths would help
quell our shivering and force our bodies to
switch from using muscle movement for heat
to burning fat.
Every morning I woke up and made my
way down from the second f loor of Hof ’s
dilapidated training center to a makeshift
meditation room full of rumpled sleeping bags and well-worn yoga mats for the
morning breathing routine. For almost an
hour, the five of us on the retreat alternated
between rapid breathing cycles with facecontorting breath holds. At the end of the
session, we tested how the method changed
our ability to do pushups. Even after one
hour of training I could bang out 50 reps on
a single breath, whereas just a week earlier

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Health
&Fitness

H O W T O E M B R A C E T HE C O L D
The author shares his daily routine, made up of the exercises he learned from biohacker Wim Hof.

SHOCK THE SYSTEM
First step: Exercise the
circulatory system and
activate brown fat. To do
it, go stand in snow
barefoot. Or turn the
shower cold and stand
under the water for a
minute. Whatever the
source, the goal is to
give your system a little
shock, then suppress
your natural response to
shiver. (How? Take a
deep breath, and relax.
You’re fine. You’re not
dying today.) Doing so
sends a signal to your
body to find another way
to warm up; this
activates brown fat and
boosts metabolism.
DIAL IN BREATH
To alter the way your
body responds to

external stress — say,
standing in the snow
barefoot — you need to
train it to metabolize
oxygen more efficiently.
Power breathing is the
way to do it. Begin by
taking 30 fast breaths.
Inhale for one second,
and let the exhale flow
out slowly and naturally.
(You may start to feel
dizzy or cold or
experience tingling in
your hands and feet:
This is normal.) After
the 30 breaths, finish
with an exhale and time
yourself to see how long
it takes before you need
to gasp for air. Hold on
as long as you can,
clenching the muscles
in your chest, arms, and
legs. When you can’t
stand it anymore, take

in a half breath and hold
it for 15 seconds. Exhale,
then start over. Repeat
this power-breathing
process three times,
increasing the length of
the final hold each time.
SUPERCHARGE
A WORKOUT
Power breathing can
temporarily increase
the amount of oxygen
your body has to use,
allowing you to push
harder during any short,
intense exercise, like
outdoor sprints. Here’s
how you can put it to
use: After three rounds
of power breathing and
retention, do one final
set, this time with 40
breaths. The extra 10
breaths should be at an
even faster pace. After

the final exhale,
immediately do pushups
while holding your
breath. Do as many as
you can. The breathing
prep will superoxygenate your blood,
making these pushups
feel easier than any
you’ve ever done. The
technique works for
more than notching
high reps of pushups,
too. Try it before any
high-intensity workout.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
My daily routine mixes
elements of all these
practices. First thing
after I wake up, I do
three rounds of power
breathing, followed by
a breath hold. I time
myself and try to add
a minute to each breath

hold until I hit three
minutes. Then I do
a fourth round of
breathing followed by
50 empty-lung pushups.
I’ll follow that with a
headstand for 30
seconds, to allow blood
to better circulate to
my brain. Then I shower,
starting with warm
water and finishing with
at least a minute of
an icy spray. Afterward
I feel refreshed and
pumped full of
endorphins. I also do
some kind of outdoor
cardio — no matter the
temperature — three
times a week. The plan
never feels timeconsuming, and it’s
also pretty much all I
did to prepare to hike
Kilimanjaro. —S.C.

As you might imagine, prolonged breath holding and cold exposure has inherent risks. Consult a physician before beginning, and practice while seated or
lying down, away from water, and not while driving; increase intensity gradually. The method should challenge you, not end you.

I could barely manage 20 pushups while
breathing the whole time. I think it was that
moment when I realized my body was changing, and I went from being a skeptic to giving
the method a chance.
As I began to trust Hof’s teachings, I found
that my body was capable of mind-boggling
things. On the first day, I could stand barefoot in the snow for only five minutes before
excruciating pain forced me to retreat inside.
But after breathing with Hof on the second
day, I managed to will myself through 20. On
the third day, 45 minutes in the snow wasn’t a
problem. Then Hof took us to an icy waterfall
behind his house, where we meditated on the
banks until the snow melted around us. We
sat in the near-freezing water for minutes at
a stretch, and then in a final feat to put Hof’s
method to the test, we spent eight hours walking up a nearby ski hill wearing nothing but
shorts and hiking boots. The combination of
intense trekking and Hof ’s breathing technique left me sweating despite subzero winds.
And though I hadn’t gone on the trip with the
intention of losing weight, at the end of the
seven days, I had shed seven pounds of fat.
four years later,
I find myself shirtless and marching up Kili-

T H E P O L A N D T R I P I S W H Y,

manjaro. I wanted a new frontier to prove, at
I realize I’m fading, and it creates an immeleast to myself, how far human resilience can
diate effect. I take 30 rapid breaths, and the
really go. I’m with Hof and a handful of other
world brightens as easily as if I were taking off
intrepid climbers, and during the course of
sunglasses. My steps are lighter, and I have the
the last day we have busted past every estabenergy to continue.
lished protocol for safe and slow ascents. Hof’s
We reach Gilman’s Point, roughly 700 feet
method, I discover, does not make a person
below the true summit. It’s about 5 degrees,
completely immune to the elements. We
but I would later calculate that the magnifypause for a few moments in one gusty exposed
ing effect of the wind on skin brought the real
area, and it’s difficult to generate the heat I
temperature down to –24. That’s enough to
need to fight the cold. So I drop my backpack
cause frostbite in a half hour of exposure. I’ve
and pull out a thin merino-wool
been shirtless for the bulk of the
shirt to provide my skin with a
journey, caving into covering
little protection. It’s a temporary
my skin with the merino only as
measure to handle the cold while
I neared the lip of the volcano.
I focus on battling the altitude.
We check our watches, subA s we c ont i nue up, t he
tract away our departure time,
rhythm of the march sometimes
and find that we’ve more than
lulls me out of my conscious
beaten our 30-hour goal — we’ve
breathing. My mind starts to
crushed it. It has been 28 hours
wander, and I take in only as
and 6 minutes since we left the
much air as my brain might
park entrance. To the best of our
see fit, and I forget to use Hof’s
knowledge, it is the fastest-ever
technique to lead and control my
unacclimated ascent to Gilman’s
breath. That’s when the high altiPoint by amateur climbers.
tude creeps in. The world dims GET MORE COLD
I breathe in the success in
This excerpt was created
imperceptibly, and every footstep from Scott Carney’s
Kilimanjaro’s thinnest air. I take
seems to fall just a little heavier. I What Doesn’t Kill Us,
30 breaths and I’m hot. So I take
start the breathing method when available January 4.
off my shirt to enjoy the cold. Q

JAN/FEB 2017

41

MEN’S JOURNAL

Health
&Fitness

Marijuana’s
Other Magic
Ingredient
Products made with an active ingredient of
pot called CBD are being hyped as a pain
reliever and natural relaxant. Do they work?
B y J O E L WA R N E R

MEN’S JOURNAL

42

JAN/FEB 2017

p h o t o g r a p h by S H A N A N OVA K

PROP ST YLING BY MEGUMI EMOTO FOR ANDERSON HOPKINS

F O R D E C A D E S the only part of
pot that mattered was tetrahydrocannabinol, a.k.a. THC — the
chemical component that gets
you high. But weed users are now turning
their attention to another ingredient: cannabidiol, or CBD. It doesn’t get you stoned,
but it may help you feel better.
Think of CBD as what puts the “medical”
in medical marijuana. Unlike THC, which
is responsible for cannabis’ euphoric effects
by triggering the body’s cannabinoid receptors, CBD acts on other cell receptors that cue
a variety of therapeutic benefits. Low-THC,
CBD-rich strains of marijuana, for example,
have been shown to reduce seizures in people
with epilepsy. Advocates also argue that CBDrich cannabis can help NFL players with brain
injuries, veterans struggling with PTSD, and
opioid addicts going through withdrawal.
Pharmaceutical companies are even developing CBD-based medicines for epilepsy disorders, osteoarthritis, and general pain relief.
Now CBD-rich products can be found in
health food stores and at online retailers: pills

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Health
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to prevent insomnia, lotions to ease muscle
aches, creams to clear up acne — and priced
from $10 for stress-relieving chocolates to
$100 oils for fighting pain. Many of these
products are made from hemp, a low-THC
cannabis variety that can be legally grown
in 26 states. According to the Hemp Industries Association, sales of hemp-derived CBD
products hit $65 million in 2015 and are projected to reach $450 million by 2020.
The science, however, is still playing
catch-up. Initial studies suggest that CBD
can work as a painkiller, help ease anxiety
and insomnia, and protect and strengthen
neurons in the brain. But while cannabidiol
may clearly help those with epilepsy, its benefits for healthy people are less clear, and
larger, more comprehensive studies are still
needed — tough to do in the current political climate. Not only is marijuana federally
prohibited, but the sole facility permitted to
grow cannabis for research, the University of
Mississippi, only recently began producing
high-CBD strains. “When you think about
studies on cannabinoids, maybe 5 percent
have been on CBD,” says Marcel BonnMiller, executive director of the Institute for
Research on Cannabinoids.
But products with CBD already have
strong advocates, including former Denver

“ONCE I’D BEEN
TAKING THE OIL
REGULARLY, I
DIDN’T FEEL THOSE
PAINS ANYMORE.”

Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer. Last
year the 42-year-old started taking a cannabidiol oil daily (a few dropperfuls under
his tongue) because his old Bronco teammate Nate Jackson told him the stuff worked
to address chronic pain. “I had a lot of
inf lammation in my joints from injuries
playing ball — achy shoulders, knees,
and lower back,” Plummer says. “Once I’d
been taking the oil regularly, I noticed I
didn’t feel those pains anymore. Even my
wife, who gets migraines occasionally and
would have to sit in a dark room alone, took
the tincture and 10 minutes later was out
cooking dinner.”
Plummer says he uses Charlotte’s Web
Everyday Plus hemp oil (the company now
sponsors his podcast), which advertises 28
milligrams of cannabinoids per serving and
is made in an FDA-approved production

facility. That’s worth noting. Thanks to marijuana’s legal limbo, there are no industrywide standards for CBD products, and FDA
investigations have found that many of them
contain far less of the substance than advertised. Consumer advocates also worry about
uncontrolled production, since hemp has a
tendency to absorb heavy metals from the
soil, and extracting CBD can involve harsh
chemicals if not properly processed.
That’s why Jill Lamoureux, an industry
consultant and the chair of the Americans
for Safe Access’s Patient Focused Certification program, recommends sticking with
CBD items sold at state-licensed dispensaries — because laws require them to come
from cannabis that is thoroughly tested. If
you don’t have access to such stores, do your
research when buying products online or at
health food stores: Call the company or manufacturer to ask where its hemp was grown
and if it was tested and meets specifications.
Finally, while the science may still be
coming in on CBD’s benefits, Bonn-Miller
points out that the compound is harmless
and nonaddictive. Just like chamomile
tea or arnica cream, it’s another tool to try
for mild aches and pains. “Even if it doesn’t
help much,” he says, “it’s probably not going
to hurt.” Q

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Health
th
&Fitness
ess
BODY LAB

DAV ID RE AV Y

How to Target
Tight Spots
A T I G H T M U S C L E is a weak muscle. Until you loosen the fibers,
the tissue can’t get stronger, and
it’s also easier to injure.
This issue is simple to address, and doing
so doesn’t require special gear; in fact, you
can use the same equipment you’re likely
working out with already. A kettlebell, for
example, can easily relieve knots in the calves,
legs, and hips. This also means you can
release tense spots as you exercise, instead of
ignoring problems.
To properly release tight fibers, you need
to apply pressure while you move the muscle
through its full range of motion. (This often
means bending and straightening an arm or
leg.) Try it with these tools and exercises:

KETTLEBELL
An awkward shape makes this weight ideal for
releasing hard-to-target leg muscles.
1. For calves Stand a kettlebell up on the floor
and place calf on handle, pressing down steadily
into the bell while pointing and flexing foot.
2. For hip flexors Get into a side plank, the bell
lying on its side just under your hip; lower your
weight onto the bell, then bend and straighten
your bottom leg’s knee to work the hip flexor.
3. For inner thighs Sitting on the floor, press
the bell’s handle into the inner thigh, bending
and straightening the leg.
BARBELL
Use a weighted bar in a squat rack to untangle
knots in the upper body.
1. For traps Standing perpendicular to the
barbell, duck under and press the area between
shoulder and neck up into the bar without

lifting it. Apply continuous pressure while you
move your head from side to side.
2. For biceps Position arms under barbell,
pressing biceps up into bar; bend and straighten
arms (as if you were doing a biceps curl).
3. For triceps Place the backs of arms on top of
the bar and press down as you again bend and
straighten arms.
MEDICINE BALL
There’s no better tool to help stretch and
release the often too-tight muscles in the pecs.
1. For chest Sit with a ball directly behind you
and lean back to let mid- and upper back melt
over ball; fan arms above head, then out to sides.
Chicago-based physical therapist David Reavy
works with NFL and NBA players and everyday guys.

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Health
&Fitness

EARLY MORNING: Think creatively.
Creative thinking and grogginess go hand
in hand, says creativity researcher Mareike
Wieth. Why? You’re not as able to focus or
filter distractions when you’re sleepy; your
mind wanders. As a result, says Wieth, “You’re
better able to think outside the box.” Breus
adds that because the brain moves new
information from short-term to long-term
memory during the final hour of sleep, the
moment you wake up is also one of the best
times to brainstorm ideas; any new information
you’ve learned is more readily available.
His advice: Leave a voice recorder on your
nightstand and use it as soon as you wake up,
so thoughts don’t slip away.
BEFORE BREAKFAST: Sex.
A recent study of 18- to 51-year-olds found
that most people have sex between 11 PM and
1 AM . That’s the worst possible time, even if
you haven’t had a few cocktails. Late at night,
levels of sleep-inducing melatonin rise and
testosterone is at its lowest. But while you
sleep, testosterone levels start to climb,
possibly to repair and build muscle for the
coming day. When you wake up, testosterone
levels are at their peak. Physiologically, this
is when sex is your best bet. That’s not always
possible, Breus acknowledges. “But,” he
says, “I’d love for everyone to make a point
of having Saturday-morning sex.”
MIDDAY: Eat.
After 3 PM , the body grows more insulinresistant, notes Wright. This can mean that
instead of converting sugar to energy, it’s
stored as fat. Eating big meals earlier as
often as you can is helpful for a waistline, too.
One study of 420 dieters found that those
who ate their largest meal before 3 PM lost
25 percent more weight than people who ate
heaviest at dinner.

Like Clockwork
Want to be leaner, smarter, better in bed? It’s all in the timing.
By LISA M A RSH A LL

T H E B E S T T I M E TO E AT :

When you’re hungry. Exercise:
W hen you can. Have sex:
Um . . . whenever possible?
For most of us, life’s practicalities determine when we do what. But for certain daily
events, there may be an ideal time. “‘When’ is
the ultimate life hack,” says sleep psychologist
Michael Breus, author of The Power of When.
“Knowing when allows you to perform the
‘what’ and ‘how’ to your maximum potential.”
According to mounting research, those
optimal times are dictated by circadian
rhythm — the body’s 24-hour timekeeper,

which regulates not only sleep but also body
temperature, hormone levels, blood flow, and
gut bacteria. This system has ebbs and flows,
meaning that certain tasks done at certain
hours will yield better results — for example,
exercising when blood flow is high and stress
hormones are low. What’s more, aligning
daily activities to their prime times can boost
long-term health, says Kenneth Wright,
director of the University of Colorado Sleep
and Chronobiology Lab. “The more we can
live in sync with this biological cycle,” he says,
“the better we feel.” Take a look at the column
at right to see what that means for your day.

MEN’S JOURNAL

46

JAN/FEB 2017

BETWEEN 4 PM AND 7 PM: Work out.
Almost all of us exercise better during this
window, when body temperature is higher,
joints are supple, blood flow is enhanced,
and the hormone cortisol (known to break
down muscle tissue) is waning. That doesn’t
mean you should drop morning workouts;
behaviorally speaking, there is value to
exercising before the demands of the day
unfold. But when you have a choice, try to
work out later in the day.
BEFORE BED: Take your meds.
If you have a prescription for a drug labeled
TAKE ONE DAILY, chances are your doctor has
advised you to take it before you fall asleep.
Physiologically speaking, there’s good
reason. Cholesterol drugs like simvastatin,
for example, work better before bed because
that’s when the liver also starts breaking
down cholesterol, and the drugs can work in
tandem with the body. Blood pressure pills
may have maximum impact at night because
some people with hypertension don’t
experience a natural dip in blood pressure
when they sleep. There’s even reason to take
over-the-counter drugs that can cause
stomach upset, like aspirin, right before
bed: The side effect goes unnoticed when
you’re asleep.

i l l u s t r a t i o n by M I C H A E L BY E R S

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Health
&Fitness

Ask Dr. Bob

Our in-house doc answers your
questions about health, fitness,
and living adventurously.
say, and the food contains many other nutrients that help the body process the calcium
more efficiently.
INJURY PREVENTION

My knees ache when hiking
downhill. Any way to prevent this?
I feel your pain. On my f irst Himalayan
climb, in 1977, I found that the way up was
the easy part! That’s because when you hike
downhill, each knee absorbs a force seven
to eight times your body weight (more if
you’re carrying gear). If your knees aren’t
tracking properly — which often happens
due to muscle imbalances in the leg, hips,
and glutes — it can cause acute pain. To
prevent this, try a three-pronged attack:
First, use trekking poles or a walking stick.
Bracing with poles is proven to take a substantial amount of the compressive forces
off the knees. Also, try to zigzag downhill
instead of following a trail that plunges
straight down. The switchbacks may take
longer, but they are far easier on the knees.
Finally, you need to strengthen your lower
body. In the month before a big hike, I’ll do
weighted squats and dead lifts to build my
quads and hamstrings, and side leg raises
and box step-ups to build the sides of the
glutes, which help keep the knees aligned.

My weight is creeping up — I know it’s
because I snack at work. Any advice?
Quit your job? No, really, there’s more at play here than you may realize.
When the brain is working hard, it eats up sugar for fuel; this prompts
the body to cue hunger. That’s when you snack. Now researchers at the
University of Alabama at Birmingham have discovered a way to break
the loop: a little movement. Two test groups completed a mentally draining task;
then one group rested, and the other did a 15-minute interval workout (jogging two
minutes, then recovering one minute, five times). Afterward, the joggers consumed
far fewer calories than the slackers. That’s because exercise releases sugar into the
bloodstream, which can quell hunger pangs. Can’t get to the gym during work? Get
the sugar release by doing intervals of speed walking outside instead.

PILL PROBLEMS

calcium supplements increased plaque
buildup in the arteries and damaged the
heart. The problem: Excess calcium from
supplements isn’t completely secreted in
urine; instead, it accumulates in the body’s
soft tissues, like the arteries. Eating calcium-rich foods — leafy greens and dairy —
on the other hand, strengthens the heart
muscle and helps keep arteries clear. That
because it’s almost impossible to get too
much calcium from a whole food, experts
MEN’S JOURNAL

48

JAN/FEB 2017

I’ve been thinking of doing the
Whole30 diet for the month of
January to help me clean up my
eating habits. Do you endorse it?
Not entirely. The Whole30 promises to boost
your health, clear your head, and help you
lose weight via a monthlong clean-eating
program. I can get behind part of the popular plan: avoiding all sugar, alcohol, and
chemical additives for 30 days. But I’m not
a fan of another aspect of the diet — skipping grains and legumes. Cutting these
healthy carbs and sources of fiber reduces
your gut’s bacterial diversity, which is bad
for your general health. And as an athlete
who trains daily, I’ve found that too few
carbs just leaves me fatigued. What’s more,
the Whole30 is a do-or-die protocol. Eat, say,
breaded chicken, and you have to start all
over. That makes it extremely difficult and
frustrating. For a diet reset you’ll actually
stick with, simply eliminate as much sugar,
processed foods, and booze as you can. No
need to be fanatical!

THE DOC IS ONLINE Email your questions
for Dr. Bob Arnot to dr.bob@mensjournal.com.

JENS MORTENSEN/GALLERY STOCK

I take a daily calcium supplement,
but lately I’ve heard it can do more
harm than good. True?
Yes. First off, the body can absorb only so
much calcium, and most of us can get all the
calcium we need by eating a healthy diet.
But more important, too much calcium can
be dangerous. In a new Johns Hopkins University study, researchers looked at 2,700
people over 10 years and found that taking

SMART EATING

b y M E L A I NA J U N T T I

Health News

The risk of
exercising
while angry

The month’s most important discoveries, updates, and advice.

Tracker Trouble?
If you’re wondering whether to buy an activity tracker to help meet your New Year’s
fitness goals, a new JAMA Cardiology report may give you pause. Researchers found
that popular wrist-worn devices (including those from Apple and Fitbit) were far from
accurate in tracking heart rate; some accuracy-level percentages even dipped into the
low 80s. Big problem, right? Not really, says lead researcher Dr. Marc Gillinov. “The only people
for whom that may not cut it,” Gillinov says, “are cardiac patients who need to stay within a certain
heart rate and elite athletes who must have exact accuracy for training.” And while previous reports
have shown that trackers aren’t always helpful for dieters looking to lose weight, Gillinov points
out that the devices are useful to data-hungry exercisers who are motivated by stats they wouldn’t
otherwise have — distance, speed, calorie burn. “Like a lot of people, I automatically assume the
latest Apple gadget will be perfect,” he says. “But imperfect is a far cry from worthless.”

COURTESY OF FITBIT

71%

A common prostate cancer treatment
doubles dementia risk
Men who undergo androgen deprivation therapy
(ADT) for prostate cancer — a treatment roughly half
of men with the disease opt for — may be twice as likely
to develop dementia compared with those who receive
other treatments, according to a new study in JAMA
Oncology. What’s going on? ADT works by blocking the
production of testosterone, which stymies the growth
of cancer cells, says lead study author Dr. Kevin Nead.
“One hypothesis is that when testosterone levels are
lowered through ADT, the hormone loses its ability to do
protective maintenance on the brain.” Given the lifesaving potential of ADT, Nead says the treatment shouldn’t
be wholly abandoned. “Just as with any treatment, these
potential side effects should be part of the risk-versusbenefits discussions doctors have with men,” he says.

JAN/FEB 2017

49

MEN’S JOURNAL

When you’re upset, hitting
the gym hard can seem like
a healthy way to blow off
steam. But according to a new
Circulation study, exercising
vigorously when you’re angry
can triple heart attack risk —
even if you think your heart is
healthy. “Heavy physical
exertion and anger have
similar effects on the body;
they change heart rate, blood
pressure, and the way blood
vessels behave,” explains lead
researcher Andrew Smyth.
Combined, these effects
can hinder blood flow to the
heart, he says. “If this
happens in blood vessels that
are already showing signs of
disease, such as narrowing
or plaque formation, it can
lead to a heart attack.” Smyth
says the message isn’t to
avoid exercise, which protects
the heart. Just don’t push
your body when you feel like
tearing someone’s head off.

Doctors commonly
prescribe the
F I C T I O N wrong antibiotic.
FACT Of the 44 million patients
prescribed an antibiotic for sore
throats and sinus and middle-ear
infections each year, almost half
are given a broad-spectrum drug
(like a Z-Pak) when they should
be prescribed a more targeted
antibiotic (such as amoxicillin or
penicillin), according to a new
Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention report. Though often
effective, broad-spectrum
antibiotics unnecessarily increase
the likelihood of your body being
resistant to medications in the
future, says co-author Dr. David
Hyun. Narrow-spectrum
antibiotics, on the other hand,
are designed to attack a specific
number of pathogens and are
also highly effective. Hyun’s
advice: If you have a bacterial
infection and must take an
antibiotic, ask your doctor to
prescribe a targeted Rx.
FACT
OR

the
longgame
ofliam
neeson

Whether he’s taking down Albanian
thugs or big-city mayors, the soulful
Irishman picks his fights (and his roles)
with care. At 64, he still knows
how to throw a punch.
BY JOSH EELLS

50

PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARC HOM

early
oneautumn
liamevening
neeson
strolls into a restaurant near Central Park,
two blocks from his apartment, with one
hand in his pocket and the other clutching a
green Stanley travel mug.

Neeson understands the value of playing
the long game. It’s a little hard to remember
now that he’s entrenched on the A-list, but
for most of his career he was a solid leadJosh Eells is a Men’s Journal
contributing editor.

I N M A N Y WAY S Neeson was born to play
a priest. Tall, austere; slightly stooped yet
unflaggingly upright; those searching eyes,
that troubled soul. He’s done it half a dozen
times already: in 1985’s Lamb (Brother
Michael); 2005’s Breakfast on Pluto (Father
Liam); 2002’s Gangs of New York (Priest Vallon, who wasn’t an actual priest but wore the
collar and wielded a crucifix in battle); even
an episode of The Simpsons, on which his
Father Sean taught Bart the way of the Lord.
Neeson was born William John but called
Liam (short for William) after the local

MEN’S JOURNAL

52

JAN/FEB 2017

priest. He grew up in Ballymena, Northern
Ireland, the only son of Barney and Kitty
Neeson, a school custodian and a school
cook. His mother walked two miles to work
each way and brought leftovers home to
their council house; his father, according to
Neeson’s sister, “never said five words when
two words would do.”
Neeson learned the Mass in Latin as an
altar boy: In nomine Patris, Dominus vobiscum, the whole deal. Church is where he
first felt the magic of performance, the ceremony and theatricality of it — the robes,
the candles, the liturgy; costumes, lighting, a script. His parish priest, Father Darragh, taught him to box when he was nine;
a scrappy jabber with a strong left, Neeson
eventually became the Ulster Province boys
champion in three different weight divi-

Neeson with
wife Natasha
Richardson
in London,
October 2008

sions. But secretly he was afraid of getting
hurt and, moreover, of hurting someone
else. So when a blow to the head during a
fight left him concussed, the 16-year-old
hung up his gloves — but not before winning the fight.
It wasn’t easy being Catholic in Northern
Ireland in the 1950s and ’60s. “You grew up
cautious, let’s put it that way,” he says. “Our
town was essentially Protestant, but there
were a few Catholics on our street. The
Protestants all had marches and bands and
stuff. I didn’t quite understand what it was
about — ‘Remember 1690? When Catholic King James was defeated by Protestant
William of Orange?’ Who gives a fuck?”
As he got older, the situation got grimmer.
“The Troubles started in ’69 and then really
kicked in from ’70 to ’71,” he says. “Drive-by
shootings, bombs. I was at university for
one abortive year, and we were so fucking
naive. You’d be in a bar, drinking a glass of
cider, and suddenly soldiers would come in

MIKE MARSL AND/GETT Y IMAGES

Neeson carries this mug everywhere:
movie sets, red-carpet premieres, New
York Rangers games, even the occasional
interview. “It’s a specif ic kind of English
black tea,” he says when I ask what’s inside.
“Decaf. It’s the only thing I drink.” He’s not
kidding: When the waitress comes over
to take his order, Neeson reaches into his
pocket and pulls out a Ziploc full of tea bags,
which he unzips and hands to her. “Could
you make me a fresh one of these, please?”
Then he hooks a finger into the mug, fishes
out the old tea bag, and drops it in his water
glass with a plunk. “Thanks, love.”
Neeson folds himself into the leather
booth as comfortably as is possible for a
6-foot-4 Irishman with shoulders like an
armoire. He’s feeling a little out of sorts
today: He has just f inished shooting two
movies back-to-back — one in Atlanta, the
other in London — and he is in New York for
the first time in five and a half months. “It’s
nice to be home,” he says. “But I’m feeling a
bit like a three-legged stool.” (Which, technically, would be the most stable stool, but
you get his drift.) He brings up one of the
movies he’s here to promote — Silence, a historical epic directed by Martin Scorsese —
and asks me how long it’s currently running.
I tell him the version I saw was just over two
and a half hours. Neeson shrugs. “For Martin, I guess that’s quite short.”
Silence is a passion project of Scorsese’s,
one he’s been trying to make for more than
25 years. It’s based on a 1966 novel by Shusaku Endo about Jesuit missionaries —
Neeson plays one named Ferreira — in
1640s Japan, where Christians are being
systematically persecuted by the Buddhist
dictatorship. The f ilm has been through
multiple writers and actors, but Scorsese
stuck with it, and it’s finally hitting theaters
this month.

ing man, though rarely much more. He was
already 41, with 17 years’ worth of film roles
behind him, when he was nominated for an
Oscar for Schindler’s List, a role he’d reportedly beaten out Kevin Costner and Harrison Ford to get — but even that failed to give
him Ford’s or Costner’s movie-star career.
Neeson spent the next two decades turning in great performances in as many hits as
misses (Batman Begins on the one hand, The
Haunting on the other), until his late-period
pivot toward ass-kicking made him one of
Hollywood’s most bankable stars. “Liam’s
ambition wasn’t to do all the classics at the
Royal Shakespeare Company,” his old friend
Richard Graham once said. “He wanted
big parts in big movies.” Now, in the fifth
decade of his career, he has his pick of them.
Neeson keeps his coat on for our entire
time together, either as a sort of armor or
in case he decides to make a quick getaway.
He’s agreed to talk for 90 minutes, which I
tell him isn’t long for an in-depth cover story.
“Well it’s about 88 minutes more than I want
to be here,” Neeson says. “So.”
That this rejoinder — delivered in his
peaty growl — does not incite an immediate
pants-shitting is due mostly to the fact that,
intimidating though he may be, there’s an
obvious gentleness to Neeson, a vulnerability and tenderness that’s plain on his handsome, timeworn face. Before he went around
punching Albanians for a living, Neeson was
usually cast in more introspective roles —
professors, sculptors, and other sensitive
types — wounded romantics who, like him,
tended toward brooding and self-doubt.
Women, naturally, went crazy for him: the
lumberjack’s body with the poet’s heart.
“It’s not about looks, although he’s a terrificlooking guy,” his late wife, the actress Natasha Richardson, once said. “It comes from
somewhere deeper than that. You feel that
he’s been through a history.”
These days everyone knows that he has.
Neeson is a widower, having lost Richardson seven years ago, following a skiing
accident. Since then he has raised their two
sons alone. Now the younger son is away at
college and Neeson is home by himself. He
still has his property in upstate New York,
a big 1890s farmhouse he bought before he
and Richardson were married. “He likes
being there on his own, with his pool and
his gym,” Graham says. “He’s always been
very happy with his own company.”

the subject of Richardson. It must be gutwrenching to have to revisit the worst
moment of your life again and again, every
time an interviewer needs a new quote. But
this was just an open-ended question, I
insist. It wasn’t leading toward anything.
“OK,” he says, sounding unconvinced. “It
wasn’t.” Anyway, as far as his waning faith
goes: “I think it was gradual.”

‘‘

Neeson helps host
the New York
City Council on a
tour of carriagehorse stables.

MISHA ERWITT

This is the biggest star
going, and he walks through
Central Park and stops to talk
to carriage guys? Only a true
gentleman would do that.”
and say, ‘Everybody out — there’s a bomb
scare.’ We’d order more drinks to take
across the street, then the soldiers would go
off and we’d filter back into the bar. Fucking stupid.”
Neeson reconnected with his Catholic
roots in 1985 when he filmed a movie called
The Mission, starring Robert De Niro and
Jeremy Irons. The three of them played
Catholic missionaries in 18th-century South
America. They had a priest with them on set
in the jungle, and every Sunday he’d “say a
simple little Mass, break a piece of bread,
and read the Gospel for the week,” Neeson
says. “We’d discuss the passage and what
it meant in today’s world. It was very intimate and very cathartic in a lot of ways.” A
devilish grin: “Then you’d go home, have a
few glasses of Guinness, and get laid. The
delights of the flesh.”
Neeson’s part in The Mission was small
but instrumental to his career. De Niro,
whom he befriended, introduced him to
an American casting director. When she
needed an IRA operative for an episode of
Miami Vice, she thought of Neeson. That got
him a work visa and a foothold in the States.
He’s still grateful. “A lovely, lovely man,”
Neeson says of De Niro. “He’s a man of few
words — I like that. He’s the sort of guy who
says, ‘I’ll call you Thursday at 3 o’clock’ —
and if he can’t call, he’ll call you Wednesday
to say he can’t. When he makes a commitment, he sticks to it. That’s rare these days.”
It was Neeson’s longtime interest in the
Jesuits that prompted him to take the role
of Father Ferreira in Silence. We first meet
Ferreira in the film’s opening scene: He’s

dirty, bearded, his raiments caked in mud
— a thoroughly broken man. He’s forced to
watch as Japanese Christians are crucified
and tortured.
Neeson was eager for the chance to
reunite with Scorsese, after the very brief
experience working with him on Gangs of
New York. “Martin demands real focus,”
Neeson says admiringly. “If there was a grip
working a hundred meters away and Martin heard a piece of scaffolding fall — which
doesn’t even make a noise! — he would stop,
turn to the first AD, and say, ‘I’ve asked for
silence. Why have you not got it?’ Terrific.”
(Unlike just about anyone with even a
tenuous connection to the legendary director, Neeson calls Scorsese by his full given
name. “I just feel I haven’t earned the right
to call him Marty.” he says. “Everybody’s
always like, ‘Marty this, Marty that.’ You
don’t know him. I don’t know him.” )
Scorsese says that Neeson was one of the
key elements to finally getting Silence made.
“I needed someone with real gravity to play
Ferreira,” he says. “You have to feel the character’s pain.”

Now Neeson doesn’t consider himself
much of a Catholic. “I admire people with
true faith,” he says. “Like my mother, who’s
90 and gets annoyed if she can’t walk to
Mass Sunday morning. ‘Mom, you’re 90!
It’s OK! God will forgive you.’ ” These days
he isn’t even sure if he believes in a God.
I ask if there was a specific incident that
precipitated his doubt, and his face darkens. “So this is probably leading toward the
death of my wife?”
Neeson is understandably war y on
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W H E N H E ’ S I N T O W N and the weather is
good, Neeson loves to walk around Central
Park. “Power walk,” he says. “Get a good
sweat going.” He even has a walking buddy
— “a real-estate lady” he met on his walks.
“You see the same people, you nod, you say
hello,” Neeson explains. “Six months later,
you’re saying, ‘How’s your kid?’ It’s nice,” he
says. “We text each other: You free tomorrow? The usual spot? We do the whole loop —
usually six miles, sometimes eight. Fifteen
minutes a mile. It’s good.”
Three years ago, Central Park was the
unlikely battleground for one of the most
heated fights of Neeson’s public life. The
topic? Horses. During his 2013 election
campaign, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to enact a ban on horse-drawn
carriages in Central Park. (The measure
was billed as an animal-rights issue, though
questions have been raised about the role
political donors and real-estate interests
played in the proposed ban, and Mayor de
Blasio’s actions were later investigated.) The
horse ban was supported by famous animal
advocates like Miley Cyrus and Alec Baldwin. Neeson, who grew up caring for horses
on his aunt’s farm in County Armagh,
waded in to defend the drivers.
“I’m in the park every day,” he explains.
“I see these guys; I know these guys. There
were so many celebrities supporting [the
ban], I was like, ‘These guys need a celebrity
or two.’ ”
“He really put himself in the line of fire,”
says Stephen Malone, a second-generation
carriage driver and spokesman for the
horse-and-carriage industry. “It was a complete game-changer. He hosted a stable visit
for the city council on a Sunday afternoon,
and if he wasn’t there, we might have gotten
one or two [members]. We ended up with
about 20. They got to take their selfies with
Liam Neeson, but they also got to meet the
children of the drivers and to see how the
stable hands care for the horses. It completely swayed public opinion. That was the
moment we knew we were gonna be OK.”
Colm McKeever, an Irish-born carriage
driver and longtime friend of Neeson’s, says,
“There’s a framed picture of him in every
stable. It’s the Pope and then Liam Neeson.”
McKeever says Neeson’s support of the drivers wasn’t due to their friendship: “We’ve
been fast friends for a number of years, but
that has nothing to do with Liam’s convictions. He stands up for what he believes in.
It’s as simple as that.”
The proposal was eventually defeated,
and now Neeson is a hero to the 300-odd

drivers, who often stop him to say thanks.
“It’s almost like he’s part of the tour,” jokes
McKeever. “ ‘There’s the carousel — and
that’s Liam Neeson.’ ” Malone adds: “Liam
Neeson is the biggest Hollywood star going
right now, and he walks through Central
Park and stops to talk to carriage guys. Only
a true gentleman would do that.”
It’s a working-man’s solidarity that’s
apparently characteristically Neeson. “If
you speak to film crews, they all love him,”
says Richard Graham. “He’s got friends
from crews he still corresponds with —
and I’m not talking about higher-ups, just
ordinary blokes. It sounds like I’m blowing
smoke up his ass, but he truly is an honorable guy.”
Ellen Freund was the prop master on
two Neeson films, Leap of Faith and Nell
— the latter when Neeson and Richardson
were still dating. “They had a lovely house
with a chef,” Freund recalls, “and every
weekend they would invite six members
of the crew and cook this fantastic dinner,
with beautiful wines. It it was just the most
lovely treat. It wasn’t just the upper echelons, either — a grip or an electrician, it
didn’t matter.”
It was Freund who introduced Neeson
to his favorite outdoor pastime: fly-fishing.
They were shooting Nell on a lake and
needed something for Neeson to do in his
downtime; Freund had just come off A River
Runs Through It, so she showed Neeson how
to cast. He was hooked. “He just loved it,”
she says. “Once we gave him the rod and set
him up out there, he wouldn’t come off the
lake. Every time you looked for him, he was
down there practicing.”
“When he said he’d discovered f ly-fishing,” says Graham, “my first thought was,
‘My God, that is the perfect hobby for you.’
It’s peaceful. It’s in nature. There’s a lot of
skill. And the time goes by like you wouldn’t
believe. So I think that’s kind of therapeutic.
You’ve got nothing in your mind, other than
trying to catch the fish.”
Neeson cites the kind of pastoral tranquillity that will be familiar to anyone who’s
heard an angler wax lyrical about the sport.
“Eight times out of 10, I won’t catch anything,” he says. “The thrill for me is being
on a river with my pouch and rod, and I
know there’s a fish over there, or at least I
think there is, so I’ll do five or six casts. That
fly’s not working, take it off, put on another
one, try again. Before you know it, three
hours will have gone past.” It’s the opposite
of relaxing. “You’re trying to outwit a fish
that’s been around since the Triassic with
a piece of yarn or your own hair, he says.
“You’re working all the time — but it’s a different kind of work.”
Neeson and Graham have fished together
all over the world: Patagonia, arctic Quebec, the Tomhannock Reservoir in upstate
New York. “New Zealand, that’s the mecca,”
Neeson says. “Big trout. Stunning. Some of
these rivers, we’d take little choppers in, and

you’re six feet over the rocks and you jump
out. You’re thirsty, so you put your head in
the river and drink, and it’s pure.” Neeson
seems energized by the memory. “Fuck. I
haven’t done a big trip in a long time,” he
says. “I’m thinking of going to Brazil, up
the Amazon. Heard they have big peacock
bass. That’d be a trip.” He would also like
to get back down to the Bahamas for bonefish. “The phantom of the shallows,” he says.
“Silvery color. They turn a certain way and
disappear. Hence ‘phantoms.’ But you need
a guide, that’s the only trouble.” He’d rather
go alone? “Yeah,” he says.
(Says Graham: “We can be fishing side
by side, 50 feet apart, and not say a word to
each other for hours.”)
I ask Neeson if he’s learned anything
from f ly-f ishing that he’s been able to
apply to his career or to the rest of his life.
“Patience, I think,” he says. “Just taking your

through his grief. The stories are designed
to divine meaning from a meaningless
world — a world where, as the Monster
says at one point, “Farmers’ daughters die
for no reason.” It’s a movie, in other words,
about death, loss, mourning, and the ways
we help one another cope. And this, I warn
Neeson, is when I’m leading toward the
death of his wife.
Neeson met Richardson when he was a
40-year-old bachelor who’d already dated
Julia Roberts, Helen Mirren, and Brooke
Shields. In 1993 Richardson and Neeson
co-starred in a play on Broadway, Eugene
O’Neill’s Anna Christie, and then, before
long, were a couple. Two years later they
were married in the garden of their farmhouse, and the boys soon followed. Then, in
2009, Richardson was skiing near Montreal
when she fell and hit her head. Everything
seemed f ine at f irst: “Oh, darling — I’ve

You’re only as happy as
your unhappiest child.
And the kids are happier
than I — so that’s a blessing.”
time. I remember in the early days, if I was
casting and I missed, I’d be very quick to
cast again. But trout stay where they are —
they like the food to come to them. The fish
isn’t going anywhere. Take your time.”
movie is A Monster Calls, a live-action tearjerker in which
a CGI tree (the titular Monster) visits a boy
whose mother is dying. Neeson plays the
tree, a yew — “the most important of all the
healing trees.” He’s ancient and massive,
twice the size of a house, with gnarled roots,
spiky branches, and a voice like a bottomless
coal pit. The first time he shows up, he kicks
down the boy’s house. It’s kind of terrifying.
Still, you know the Monster is good, because
he’s played by Liam Neeson.
It’s not surprising that Neeson makes
a great tree, given that a noted Broadway
critic once literally compared him to a
sequoia. (He actually called him a “towering sequoia of sex.” It was a compliment.)
He spent two weeks filming motion-capture in a special room with cameras surrounding him on every side. “What do they
call it? Not the space. The volume,” he says
with a little laugh. “Computer nerds.” The
end product looks something like a woodsy
Transformer — which, weirdly, makes
sense, given that Transformers director
Michael Bay has said that Neeson’s regal
bearing was his inspiration for Optimus
Prime. (“Really?” says Neeson. “That’s
news to me.”)
A Monster Calls is structured on a series
of visits from the Monster, in which he
tells fairy tales to the boy to help him work

NEESON’S OTHER NEW

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taken a tumble in the snow” is what she told
Neeson on the phone that night. But unbeknownst to the doctors, her brain was slowly
bleeding. She fell into a coma and died the
next day.
Since Richardson’s passing, Neeson’s
grief has colored several of his onscreen
characters, a number of which are dealing
with some kind of tragic familial backstory.
The similarity in A Monster Calls is awful
and impossible to ignore: a beautiful young
mother struck down before her time. And
Neeson’s own sons were just 13 and 12 when
Richardson died, about the same age as the
boy in the movie. Did he think about that at
all when preparing for the film?
“Yeah, I don’t want to go into that,” Neeson says politely but f irmly. “It’s not fair
to them. I’d rather not talk about my boys,
other than that they’re doing well, college,
all that stuff.”
By all appearances, the boys are thriving. Micheál, now 21, is an aspiring actor
who appeared with Neeson in an LG Super
Bowl commercial last year. And Daniel, 20,
is a sophomore theater and digital-media
production major. “There’s a saying,” says
Neeson. “ ‘You’re only as happy as your
unhappiest child.’ And the kids are happier
than I — so that’s a blessing.”
for a while when
Neeson realizes his tea has gone cold. He
f lags down the waitress. “Sorry, love,” he
says. “Could you ask the kitchen for some
boiling water when you have a second?”
“Boiling-hot water,” she says, nodding.
“No problem.”

W E ’ V E B E E N TA L K I N G

SET DESIGN BY ROB STR AUSS STUDIO. NEESON WEARS A CARDIGAN ,
T-SHIRT, AND JEANS BY GIORGIO ARMANI. SHOES BY COLE HA AN .
WATCH BY GREUBEL FORSE Y.

Neeson stops her. “But not hot,” he says.
“If you could make it boil. Tell them it’s for
me,” he adds. “Tell them I will come for
them. I will find them. . . .”
Upon recognizing his famous Taken
monologue, the waitress cracks ups. “Absolutely,” she says, skipping off. After she’s
gone, I tease Neeson for shamelessly trotting
out his shtick. He laughs: “Pathetic, isn’t it?”
When Neeson made the first Taken movie
in 2009, he had low expectations. “Straight
to video is what I thought,” he says. No one
is more amused than he that eight years
later — after The Grey (Taken with wolves),
Non-Stop (Taken on a plane), Run All Night
(Taken at night), and, of course, Taken 2 and
3 — he’s still getting offered this kind of role.
He’s even reached the point of self-parody,
turning in comically self-aware, Neesonesque cameos in a commercial for the
role-playing game Clash of Clans (as venge-

ful gamer AngryNeeson52) and on Inside
Amy Schumer, as a scarily intense funeralhome director whose motto is “I don’t bury
cowards.”
But in a way, Neeson is just fulf illing
an opportunity he first had more than two
decades ago, when he was being courted
to become the new James Bond in the mid’90s. “I was being considered,” Neeson says.
“I’m sure they were considering a bunch
of other guys, too.” He says he would have
loved to be 007, but Richardson said she
wouldn’t marry him if he was. I ask why,
and he smiles like it’s the most obvious thing
in the world. “Women. Foreign countries.
Halle Berry. It’s understandable.” Also,
Schindler’s List had just come out. “She was
like, ‘You’re going to ruin your career,’” Neeson says. “But it’s no big deal. It’s nice to be
inquired after.”
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rassed that he’s Social Security–eligible and
still pretend-fighting for a living. “Maybe
another year,” he says of his action-star shelf
life. “The audiences let you know — you can
sense them going, ‘Oh, come on.’ But by the
way,” he hastens to add, “I’ve never felt fitter
in my life.”
Neeson doesn’t box anymore. (“I’ll
train — the bags and stuff. But I don’t spar.
There’s always someone coming up to you
like, ‘Hey, you’re that actor Lyle Nelson
right?’ They want a chance to hurt you a
little. ‘Guess who I beat up today? He’s a
pussy.’ ”) But he proudly points out that he
does all his own movie fights. I read him
a quote from Steven Seagal — “Look at
Liam Neeson. He can’t fight. He’s a great
dramatic actor, a great guy. . . . Is he a great
fighter? A great warrior? No” — and Neeson
seems amused. “I don’t know how to answer
that,” he says, smiling. “Am I an action guy?
Not really. But I do know how to fight. So
fuck him.”
One thing Neeson absolutely won’t do
anymore is ride a motorcycle — ever since a
horrifying crash in 2000 nearly killed him.
“I’ve read a couple of scripts where the character’s on a motorbike, and I’m like, ‘Is this
important to the script?’ ‘Yeah, it is.’ ‘OK,
I’m not in.’ ”
I tell him about a recent spill I took on
a bike, and he turns serious. “You have to
watch yourself,” Neeson tells me. “Get it out
of your system. Make a pact with your wife.
And don’t cheat on it.”
Neeson has few vices left these days. He
quit the Marlboro Lights years ago and gave
up drinking a while back — first the Guinness, then the pinot noir — after he found
himself partaking too much in the wake of
Richardson’s death. He tries to keep busy
lest he wallow. “I need to work,” he says.
“I’m a working-class Irishman. I’m fucking lucky: A stranger gets in touch with my
agent and says, ‘Could you send Liam Neeson a script?’ I’m still flattered by that. So I’ll
keep doing it till the knees give up. It beats
hiding in a basement in eastern Aleppo.”
(As Richardson once put it: “I think
he probably, on some level — although he
wouldn’t say it — wakes up every morning
thinking, ‘Isn’t it great I’m not driving a
forklift?’ ”)
Now that he’s back in New York, Neeson
looks forward to lying low for a while. “Just
recharge the batteries,” he says. “I don’t want
to see the inside of an airplane.” He’ll take
in some Broadway shows, catch up on all
the programs on his Apple TV: Fargo, Ray
Donovan, Breaking Bad. He’s also got a big
stack of books he wants to tackle — two Ian
McEwan novels and a box of classics he
recently received as a gift, which included
War and Peace and The Grapes of Wrath.
And then, of course, there are those
walks in the park.
It all sounds nice, I say. But I’m not sure
it’s enough to fill up a day.
Neeson smiles. “You’d be surprised.” MJ

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1. Kuiu founder
Jason Hairston
scans the ridgeline
for a big ram.
2. The hunters on
their way to the
top of 13,113-foot
Old Mike Peak.
3. The prey: a
Rocky Mountain
bighorn sheep.

1

2

Cult gear company Kuiu is outfitting a
new wave of superfit, adrenaline-craving,
tech-savvy athletes who are transforming
hunting into the next extreme sport.
And critics are taking aim.
BY
RYAN
KROGH
PHOTOGRAPHS BY
PAUL
BRIDE

3

1

in New Mexico’s
Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and Jason
Hairston is getting pummeled. The light
is fading, and he’s hiking up a ridgeline at
11,000 feet, higher than he’s ever been. A cold
front is passing through, and wind gusts are
reaching in excess of 60 miles per hour. Every
few steps another blast hits, knocking him
sideways. Hairston’s companions, Brendan
Burns and Willie Hettinger, aren’t faring
much better, stumbling around in front of
him like a couple of drunks.
The wind is howling with such force that
it’s almost comical, so Hairston, who’s on
the mountain hunting sheep, breaks out his
iPhone to record an Instagram post, looking
like one of those hackneyed meteorologists
reporting from the middle of a hurricane.
“We saw a group of rams on the far mountain, and now we’re heading up to check
out another area,” he shouts into his phone.
“We’re just getting hammered by the wind.”
Hairston, the 45-year-old founder of the
hunting-gear company Kuiu, is after his
first Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, a surefooted ungulate that lives primarily above
tree line, often in locations so steep and rocky
that they’re impossible to negotiate on two
feet. “It’s the pinnacle of big-game hunting,”
Hairston says. “You have to go farther and
harder for them than for any other species.”
Among a segment of hardcore big-game
hunters, no brand is as revered as Kuiu.
The company’s high-performance fabrics
— bonded f leece and waterproof breathable synthetics — are pulled directly from
the mountaineering world, and its distinct
Tetris-like camo pattern looks more like standard-issue SEAL gear than the fake shrubbery so common at Walmart. Today Kuiu
camo is as much a status symbol in hook-andbullet culture as Louis Vuitton’s monogram
is among the Hamptons set. And it has as
many celebrity boosters: UFC commentator
Joe Rogan is a fan. Metallica’s James Hetfield
owns a guitar emblazoned with Kuiu camo,
and Kid Rock has a piano wrapped in it.
On Instagram, Hairston has some 21,000
followers who track his far-flung hunts and
gear updates and tag their own posts with
#kuiunation. Detractors, of which Hairston

IT’S JUST BEFORE DUSK

Ryan Krogh is a senior editor at
Men’s Journal.

2
has a few, occasionally use the comments section to rail against his trophy shots and what
they see as hunting for the 1 Percent. But it’s
hard to say how much Kuiunation or Hairston’s critics will get from this impromptu
weather report: With the thin air, he inhales
heavily between sentences, and his voice is
almost entirely drowned out by the wind’s
roar. After stashing his phone in his pocket,
he wipes snot from his nose.
“Ain’t sheep hunting great!” he says.
The three hunters spend the next hour
scouting and see a group of promising rams,
but with darkness creeping over the eastern
plains, we call it quits for the night and head
back to camp. The next morning, conditions
are far more favorable, so we load up our
backpacks and set off in the violet predawn
looking for a sheep to shoot.
When it comes to f inding big rams,
Burns and Hettinger are two of the best in
the business. Burns works for Kuiu as its
lead product tester and resident hunting
guide. Hettinger’s main gig is as a personal
hunting guide for rich clientele; he’s here
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because he knows these mountains better
than just about anyone.
Once outside of camp, it takes Burns and
Hettinger less than 10 minutes to spot the
same group of rams two ridgelines over, a
straight-line distance of maybe a mile. Hairston has a rare management tag from the
Taos Pueblo, a 120,000-acre tribal homeland
in northern New Mexico, which requires him
to shoot an old ram, eight to 11 years old, that
probably won’t survive another winter or two,
its molars ground down so far that it’ll eventually starve. Based on its horns, the largest
in the group looks like a shooter, but to get
within range we have to hike up and over a
13,000-foot peak, then down and around the
back side of the ridge where the sheep were
first seen. Doing so takes most of the morning, stopping and starting to catch our breath
and continually watch the movement of the
rams. Now, as the three hunters prepare to
clamber to the edge of a slight rock outcropping to take a closer look, Hairston unlatches
a custom-made .300 WSM rifle from the side
of his backpack and loads a 200-grain bullet

1. Hairston
taking aim.
2. Filling up in
town before
heading to the
mountains for
three days.
3. Packing out
his ram.

3

“It’s the pinnacle of big-game hunting. You have to go
farther and harder for them than for any other species.”
into the chamber. “It feels good to finally get
some lead in the pipe,” he says.
But in the four hours we’ve been on the
move, the sheep have wandered into the
upper reaches of a grove of pine trees, behind
a slight knoll. No shot. The three reassess.
They settle on crawling to the edge of the
knoll, knowing that Hairston will be within
150 yards of the animals, a strategy that
could easily spook them.
“We can roll right over the top,” Hettinger says, “but we won’t have much time
to decide whether to shoot.”
“If we push them,” says Burns, “we won’t
see them again — not on this trip.”
Both turn to Hairston to make the call.
“That’s fine,” he says with grin. “We’re professionals. This is what we do for a living.”
YO U ’ L L B E F O R G I V E N if your idea of hunting is paunchy old dudes rumbling down
back roads in beat-up pickup trucks. Plenty
of sportsmen still shoot whitetails out of tree
stands or wait on the edge of sloughs for a
flock of mallards to decoy in. But these days,
hunting has been embraced by a new breed
of devotees: athletic, tech-savvy, ethically
minded professionals who like to play yearround in the mountains. They’re often the
same mountain bikers and runners on the
trails outside Moab or Bozeman in summer.
But come fall, they trade Lycra for camo and
pick up a rifle or bow, many for the first time.
Tim Ferriss, the 4-Hour Work Week guru,

is a recent convert to hunting. So is actor
Chris Pratt. Even Facebook king Mark
Zuckerberg has boasted about killing the
meat he eats. Much of hunting’s newfound
appeal is because the payoff is a year’s supply
of organic, antibiotic-free backstraps — the
new ethical eating. But it’s also a way for
mountain lovers to get deep into the outdoors, tempting people who have no desire
to sit in a duck blind.
“It’s a totally different way of interacting
with these wild places,” says Kenton Carruth, co-founder of the performance-hunting
apparel company First Lite. “I know plenty of
pro mountain guides who are in the woods
every day and they’ve never seen a wolf, but
that’s because hikers or climbers are always
walking around. They’re never silent, still,
taking in every sound and smell. As a hunter,
I’ve seen a wolf quite a few times.”
For adventure athletes, hunting is a challenge that’s every bit as difficult as finishing an
ultramarathon — stalking animals for miles
on end, packing out hundreds of pounds of
meat, navigating through the backcountry in
snowstorms. It also offers the rush that comes
with having to make consequential decisions
in the mountains, just like in climbing.
“The athletic world is very physical but
pretty sterile,” says Mark Paulsen, a former
strength and conditioning coach who has
worked with NFL players. “Whether you’re
on a football field or on a basketball court,
it’s a known event. Whereas you go into the
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woods, you have no idea what you might
be heading into. For people who love the
mountains, that’s the beauty of it.”
Paulsen now owns Wilderness Athlete,
which creates nutritional products like
meal-replacement powders for these new
so-called backpack hunters. Twenty years
ago he was training athletes at the University of New Mexico when a friend took him
bow-hunting for elk, hiking six miles into
the mountains with 70 pounds of gear. The
weight and altitude nearly killed him. “I
wanted to throw up, lie down, crawl under
a tree,” he says. “I thought, ‘This the most
athletic thing I’ve ever done in my life.’” On
the last day of the hunt, a bull elk bugled
so close that Paulsen could feel it in his rib
cage. He felled the bull with an arrow from
15 yards. “It was the single most exhilarating
experience of my life,” he says.
If backpack hunting can be said to have
a celebrity, Hairston is it. Much of that has
to do with his seemingly endless series of
big hunts, which he regularly posts about
on Instagram, much to the dismay of antihunters and even some in the hunting world.
In the last six months alone, he has bagged
a trophy room full of animals. In July, he
shot a 3x4 blacktail buck in northern California. In August, he flew to the Yukon’s far
north and killed a 10-year-old Dall sheep
with perfectly symmetrical 42-inch horns.
In September, on private land just north of
Bozeman, Montana, while hunting with his
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eight-year-old son, Cash, and his 72-year-old
father, he brought down a monster bull elk
with a compound bow.
“It’s in our DNA,” says Hairston. “It’s
two million years of genetics. Whenever I
hear criticism online I just respond to them:
‘Before you knock it, get out and do it.’”
register less as
living creatures than as props in a prehistoric diorama in a natural history museum.
Their tousled, purplish coats gleam in the
sun, and the growth rings on their horns are
demarcated by clear, dark lines. With a good
spotting scope, you can age a sheep by counting the rings at a distance of a few hundred
yards or more. Few people are better at this,
or enjoy it as much, as Hettinger and Burns.
Hairston met Burns at a trade show a
decade ago. At the time, Burns had become
something of a phenom in the hunting world
by besting Montana’s archery record for a
nontypical elk. He’d tracked the animal for
three days before sneaking within 12 yards
and shooting it with an arrow. The horns
alone weighed 54 pounds. He was just 22 at
the time. Burns has racked up an impressive
series of kills — two of which landed him on
the Boone and Crockett Club’s record list,
essentially the Billboard music charts for
hunters. But these days his knowledge of
and obsession with sheep has earned him
the nom de guerre Sheep3PO. “The only way
to get him to shut up about sheep,” Hairston
says, “is to turn him off.”
Burns and Hairston hunt together multiple times a year, taking pride in going farther afield than nearly anyone. Lately that’s
meant to Canada’s far north for 10-day expeditions with a local guide — a prerequisite
when buying a sheep tag up there. “The
guides are often excited, because they’ve
never been able to take clients to some of
these places,” says Hairston. “They’re too
difficult to access, but with us they know
we can go.” On their Yukon hunt this year,
they flew to a remote airstrip near the Arctic Circle, crossed a river via boat, and then
hiked three days into the mountains before
UP CLOSE , BIGHORN R AMS

the one.” The rams are grouped together
tightly, and they clearly sense that something is amiss. At first they dart one way,
then another. Finally, they disappear into
the trees. Hairston never pulls the trigger.
“Fuck,” says Burns. “Fuck.”
Hairston slowly gets up and looks back
with a pained smile. “I never had a shot,” he
says as way of explanation. Now the animals
are gone, maybe for good. “Come on,” Burns
says. “Let’s get ahead of them.” So we take
off side-hilling it across the mountain, doing
our best to catch up to an animal that can
run uphill faster than most NFL cornerbacks can on AstroTurf.
Hairston views the
sport as the ultimate proving ground. It’s
part of the reason he is so fond of the idea
of backpack hunting, which may be the
sport’s purest, most self-reliant expression.
Before setting out, he often fills out spreadsheets with each piece of gear and its corresponding weight listed in ounces. “You’ve
got to,” he says. “Every once adds up over a
10-day period to thousands of extra calories
burned.” He budgets two pounds of food per
day, divvied up by day in Ziploc bags. He
also trains year-round, spending 10 to 15
hours per week in the gym or hiking with
sandbags in his backpacks. For mountaineers, none of this is new, but in the hunting
world there are only a handful of people who
prep the way he does.
Hairston has been hunting in one form
or another since he was a kid growing up in
Southern California. Like his father, Hairston took up football in high school and then
college, playing linebacker. He was good
enough that the San Francisco 49ers signed
him as an undrafted free agent in 1995. He
stayed with the team for a season without
playing a down, then retired a year later after
suffering an injury to his C5 and C6 vertebrae
during a mini-camp with another team. His
career as an NFL player was over before it
even began. “I couldn’t really watch football
for a few years,” he says. “I was angry about
what it had done to me.”

LIKE MANY HUNTERS,

ing gear and ice axes,” he says. The apparel
options for each of those sports, he noticed,
was far superior to anything he had for hunting. Hairston had a similar epiphany when
realized he was shopping for his gear more
in REI than Bass Pro Shops.
So in 2005 Hairston and Hart decided to
make high-performance synthetic gear specifically for hunters. They named it Sitka,
after a town in Alaska. They designed a new
camo pattern, made some sample jackets
and pants, and then convinced mail-order
catalog Schnee’s to take a chance on the
line. Sitka was a hit from the get-go, finding a home with sportsman looking for an
upgrade from the subpar cotton offerings.
By 2008, Sitka topped $4 million in sales
and its products were on store shelves across
the country, including Bass Pro Shops and
Cabela’s. In 2009, W.L. Gore & Associates,
the $3 billion behemoth behind Gore-Tex,
acquired Sitka for an undisclosed sum.
Today it’s one of the largest brands in the
performance-hunting space.
The deal was worth millions, but the partnership between Hairston and Hart unraveled. Hairston never wanted to sell, he says,
and his misgivings became apparent during a
meeting about the acquisition. Execs wanted
to expand Sitka’s footprint, making new
camo patterns for whitetail and duck hunters. In Hairston’s view, this was unthinkable.
“You lose the core appeal,” he says.
Increasingly frustrated, Hairston left
Sitka (Hart says he was simply not offered
a job after the sale) and immediately got to
work on Kuiu. With Kuiu, which he named
after a game-rich Alaskan island — perhaps not coincidentally located across an
icy strait from Sitka — Hairston decided
to sell online, directly to consumers; that
way, he’d be able to control everything and
avoid retail markup. He worked with an
engineer to create a carbon fiber backpack
frame that was lighter and more ergonomic
than anything on the market — and that
could comfortably carry 120 pounds of
fresh meat. He teamed up with the Japanese
company Toray, a competitor to Gore-Tex,

“I wanted to throw up, lie down, crawl under a tree.
I thought ‘This is the most athletic thing I’ve ever done.’”
they were even in sheep territory.
This New Mexico hunt is a far cry from
those expeditions, but it’s a better bet for
scoring an old bighorn. As we crawl to the
edge of the knoll for a closer look at the group
of f ive rams that moved off downhill, it
becomes clear the oldest one is perfect. He
has a massive body, probably 300 pounds,
with thick horns that end in f lat stubs, the
product of years of bashing heads with rivals
during the rut. He’s nine, maybe 10 years old
based on his growth rings. Hairston drops
his backpack and lies flat on his belly, propping the rifle up on his bag to take aim.
“The one on the left,” Burns says. “He’s
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5

4

3

2

Hairston then sold commercial real
estate, flipped a few franchises, and became
increasingly focused on hunting. Around
that time he was often out with Jonathan
Hart, a friend from college. On their first
backcountry hunt together, in Idaho’s White
Cloud Mountains, the weather f luctuated
wildly — cold and snowing one day, sunny
and 80 degrees the next — and their gear was
soaked nearly the entire time. Both knew
there had to be something better.
Hart thought about the gear he used
for other outdoor activities. “In my garage
I’d have shotguns and rif les and bows and
arrows, but I also had kayaks and climb1

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5

to develop a line of apparel. During the 18
months it took to produce everything, Hairston blogged obsessively about the process,
building anticipation and earning trust
among a dedicated contingent of hunters.
Kuiu launched in 2011 and was an immediate success. It now sells everything from
$300 rain jackets to backpacks, game bags,
and tents. Sales are approaching $50 million,
at least according to Hairston, and the company is expanding its offerings beyond hunting. The Navy SEALs, he says, have reached
out to develop a line of tactical gear (to be
released to Kuiu customers in 2017), and
even Disney hired Kuiu to create a backpack

frame for its costumed performers. Hairston
has plans for the company’s first brick-andmortar store in 2018, and a traveling pop-up
store will be hitting the road this summer.
With Kuiu’s success, Hairston has fielded
a number of offers to buy the company, but
says he’d rather be good than big: “I made
that mistake with Gore. I won’t make
clothes for women, and I won’t make clothes
for fat guys, because then the skinny guys
won’t look good in them. I want Kuiu to be
an aspirational brand.”
the shot
on t he big ram, Hairston,
Burns, and Hettinger get into
position atop another rock outcropping, just up-valley from
where the rams disappeared.
The vantage point offers a clear
sight line into the bowl below.
But the sheep never show up.
The hunters are silent, pondering the next move — if there
is one. Earlier in the morning,
Burns had checked his phone
and noticed a photo about an
acquaintance’s recent, unsuccessful hunt. The post basically
said the experience of hunting
in the mountains was reward
enough. “That’s great and all,”
Burns said, “but I’d rather get
something. You either win or
4
you lose.”
Hairston does not like to
lose. In the business world his
competitiveness has earned
him a fair amount of f lak,
including criticism by competitors for misleading claims about the performance of his
products. But much of the concern centers
around conservation. Whereas most of the
new hunters packing rif les into the backcountry are doing so on public land, with
tags won in public lotteries, many of Hairston’s hunts are through private landowners or outfitters. To some this resembles the
pay-to-play hunting model so common in
Europe, where it’s a rich man’s sport. Walter
Palmer, the dentist who shot Cecil the lion,
placed a big order from Kuiu before he jetted off to Zimbabwe. And Eric Trump and
Donald Jr., who have been photographed at
length with their kills, are Kuiu customers
and friends of Hairston’s.
Kuiu donates a fair amount of money to
conservation organizations like the Wild
Sheep Foundation and Rocky Mountain
Elk Foundation, which have been a boon
for those species. But a central tenet of
organizations like these and many state
wildlife agencies is protecting species with
funds raised by auctioning off premium
hunting tags, some that sell for upwards of
$100,000. It’s an effective strategy in some
areas, but it’s also controversial because
it’s hard to know just how much money is
going to conservation. It can also come at
the expense of public-draw hunters.

COURTESY OF JASON HAIRSTON

A F T E R PA S S I N G O N

“We start to get into trouble,” says Land
Tawney, director of the nonprof it Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, “when more
and more tags are allocated in the name of
raising money, and then we turn into a system where only the rich and elite have the
opportunity to get those tags.”
Plus, selling high-dollar licenses tacitly feeds a trophy-hunting mentality that
continues to f lag the sport — warranted or
not — as hunters go after animals simply
because they’ll score well on a record list.

the trees. This time, the big ram shows itself
clean, broadside to Hairston. He shoots.
The report, like a door slam, quickly dissipates in the wind. From below the ridge, the
sound of snapping branches rings out — the
ram stumbling at full gait into a tree. Then it’s
just wind. Burns reaches over and fist pumps
Hairston. “You got him,” he says. “You got
him.” Burns grabs his spotting scope and
runs downhill toward where the ram disappeared. Within seconds he lets out a highpitched yip. “Yeaaooo! He’s right down here.”
By the time Hairston arrives,
Burns and Hettinger are already
Hairston’s
marveling at the ram’s thick, almost
wife, Kirstyn,
violet cape. “That is as an awesome
with Cash
and Coco
of a cape as you will find on a bighorn,” says Burns. “Look at the
mass on that thing!”
“Awesome,” Hairston says. “That
is awesome.”
After admiring the ram for a
solid 15 minutes, the hunters drag
him under a few big trees for photos.
Burns breaks out a bottle of Super
Glue to affix the ram’s mouth shut,
so it doesn’t hang lose. Then we
spend the next hour shooting photos: Hairston alone with his kill;
Hairston, Burns, and Hettinger
with the ram; a close-up of the animal’s horns. After they’re sure there
are enough good pics, Burns and
Hettinger break out knives no bigger than X-Actos and carefully start
removing the hide, everything from
the hoofs to the head, to preserve for
the taxidermist. Hairston wants a
full-body mount to display in Kuiu’s
off ices. As his partners cape the animal
“When the pursuit of an animal as a staand cut off each quarter, Hairston quickly
tus symbol becomes more important than
debones the meat, making it lighter for the
the experience surrounding it,” says author
pack out. Still, the meat, horns, and cape
and TV host Steven Rinella, a respected figweigh a combined 150 pounds or so, and it
ure in the outdoors world, “you enter into
takes three and a half hours to get it the mile
very troubling terrain.”
or two back to camp.
Hairston has turned Kuiu into a cult
Once there we all unpack our bags into
favorite by transforming his camo apparel
our tents, then regroup around a f ire.
into a hardcore-lifestyle brand, much like
Soon everyone is emailing about the day’s
CrossFit, and making himself the face of the
events. Hairston texts with Joe Rogan
company. That plays well when you’re sellabout an upcoming elk hunt. Eventually,
ing products and prepping for big trips, but
we call it a night. Hairston heads off to his
it can come off as self-aggrandizing once an
Kuiu tent, tucking the sheep’s cape and
animal is on the ground.
head into the vestibule so a bear doesn’t
Jonathan Hart, Hairston’s former busiget it in the night. It’s a strange sight, but
ness partner, sums him up this way: “It’s
it’s hard to blame him: even sticking out of
like in Seinfeld, the J. Peterman catalog that
the top of his pack, the ram still looks regal.
Elaine works for. It’s all about him. Jason is
Earlier in the day, shortly after shooting
about Jason.”
the sheep and walking down to where it lay,
Hairston did something almost all hunters
A F T E R L O S I N G T H E R A M S in the trees,
do. He set his gun and backpack down and
Hairston and Burns discuss their options.
crouched beside the animal, with his hand
By now, the animals may be long gone. The
on its shoulder, clearly in awe. And then a
wind is blowing, circling around the mounsilence came over him. Everyone stopped
tain, and we start moving back to where we
and let him have the moment.
last saw the rams. Hettinger sets off to track
Finally, Burns weighed in. “That thing is
where they went. Then suddenly, there they
just the perfect sheep,” he said.
are, just a hundred yards downhill. Hairston
After a few more seconds of silence, taking
and Burns take up nearly the exact same
in the animal before him, Hairston looked
positions they had an hour earlier, while
up and agreed. “It’s good to be a winner.” MJ
Hettinger creeps closer to spook them out of
JAN/FEB 2017

61

MEN’S JOURNAL

MEN’S JOURNAL

62

JAN/FEB 2017

GARY TAUBES HAS UNCOVERED THE BAD SCIENCE
AND CORRUPT INDUSTRY THAT ENABLED OUR
ADDICTION TO A SUBSTANCE HE BELIEVES IS NOT
JUST FATTENING BUT TOXIC. DESSERT, ANYONE?

This past fall, Gary Taubes took
his wife and two sons on a trip
to a wildlife preserve in Sonoma
County, California, the kind of
place where guests learn firsthand about the
species of the Serengeti. They slept in tents
and spent the day among giraffes, zebras,
antelope, and the like. One morning, Taubes
and his boys awoke early. “It was 50 degrees
out — freezing by our standards,” he recalls.
“I took the kids to breakfast, and” — his face
takes on a pained expression — “how can I
not give them hot chocolate?”
For most parents, indulging the kids
with some cocoa would pose no dilemma.
But Taubes, one of America’s leading and
most strident nutrition writers, is no ordinary father. His new book, The Case Against
Sugar, seems destined to strike fear into
the hearts of children everywhere. Taubes’
argument is simple: Sugar is likely poison,
and it’s what is making our country fat. And
not just fat but sick. So don’t eat it. Ever.
A little much? Perhaps. But the kids did
get the cocoa — on this one special occasion.
For Taubes, the cocoa conundrum is
an occupational hazard for someone who

Sweet
on You
IN THE CASE AGAINST
SUGAR, GARY TAUBES
LAYS OUT HOW
AN INDUSTRY GOT US
HOOKED ON
THE WHITE STUFF.

and had seen his brash, combative videos
on YouTube — densely reasoned, contrarian
lectures about everything from the physiology of how insulin works in the blood to
why we should eat meat and avoid carbs
(which the body converts into sugar). His
videos get hundreds of thousands of views
and provoke both cheers and hisses in the
blogosphere. I am surprised to f ind him
quiet and soft-spoken.
He pulls out a package of Nicorette gum
and pops a piece in his mouth.
“Do you smoke?” I ask.
Not for more than 15 years. “Nicotine is a
great drug for writing,” Taubes says. “I keep
thinking once life calms down, I’ll quit.” His
most vexing addiction, however, is the stuff
he’s spent five years researching. “Sugar is
like heroin to me,” he says. “I’m never satisfied with a sweet. I could eat until I get sick.”
He tries to eat no sugar at all, including
honey and agave syrup, and limits fruit.
But he insists, “I’m not a zealot.” The family

1943

1953

1963

As a reaction
to wartime sugar
rationing, the
Sugar Research
Foundation forms
as an industry
lobbyist
organization.

The organization,
now named the
Sugar Association,
distributes $3
million in research
grants to study
the healthfulness
of sugar.

Coke and Pepsi
introduce their first
diet sodas, Tab and
Patio. The sugar
industry responds
with a campaign to
ban artificial
sweeteners.

MEN’S JOURNAL

64

JAN/FEB 2017

PREVIOUS SPREAD: FOOD ST YLING BY ALEX A HYMAN . PROP ST YLING BY
DARIUS MILNE. THIS PAGE: CLOCK WISE FROM TOP: COURTESY OF GARY TAUBES;
COURTESY OF BEERCANS .COM; MORGAN COLLECTION/GETT Y IMAGES

In the 1980s, Taubes
describes his current mission
trained for New York
as “the nutritional equivalent of
City’s Golden Gloves
stealing Christmas.” But Taubes,
amateur boxing
60, has never been one to shy
championship. He
was knocked out cold
away from extreme positions.
in his second bout.
His last two books, 2007’s Good
Calories, Bad Calories and 2010’s
Why We Get Fat, launched a nationwide
movement to shun bread and embrace butter. Both argued that it’s not how many calories we consume, but where they come from,
and that eating fat doesn’t actually make us
so. These were bold statements at the time,
and they had a big impact. “I can’t think of
another journalist who has had quite as profound an influence on the conversation about
nutrition,” says Michael Pollan, author of The
Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food.
Thanks to Taubes’ pro-fat pronouncements,
Pollan says, “millions of Americans changed
the way they eat. Doughnut, bread, and pasta
sales plummeted, and we saw a change in the
food conversation, the effects of which are
still being felt today.”
Now, w ith The Ca se Against Sugar,
Taubes launches his toughest crusade yet:
to prove that we’ve been bamboozled into
thinking that cookies and soda are simply
“empty” calories and not uniquely toxic
ones. That’s the result, he argues, of a long
history of deception from the sugar industry
and its support of shoddy science.
The audacity of those arguments makes
Taubes an anomaly among nutrition writers, says John Horgan, director of the Censugary drinks from workplace cafeterias.
ter for Science Writings at Stevens Institute
In August 2016, three class-action lawsuits
of Technology. “He isn’t content just to do
were filed against General Mills, Kellogg’s,
public relations for scientists,” Horgan says,
and Post, alleging that the companies falsely
meaning he doesn’t rewrap scientists’ findclaimed their cereals are healthy when, in
ings with the simple, shiny packaging of
fact, they’re loaded with sugar.
journalism. Instead, he digs deep into the
Anyone else would be encouraged, but
research, and if he finds it lacking, he attacks
ever the brawler, Taubes points out f laws:
it. “He’ll come right out and say if he thinks
Even these new anti-sugar crusaders, he
someone is an idiot,” Horgan says.
says, are motivated by a naive, and ultimately
With his new book, Taubes will likely
dangerous, “less is better” view of sugar. To
have his largest platform, and an audience
Taubes, the answer to our obesity crisis isn’t
poised to listen. By now, nearly everyone
more expensive soda and less sweetened cerebelieves that Americans eat too much sugar.
als. It’s to stop poisoning ourselves altogether.
Most experts agree that it’s a major contributor to our nation’s grim health: More than a
third of adults are obese, and one in 11 has
L I K E T H E C O N T R O L R O O M on a battleship,
diabetes. This understanding has spurred
Taubes’ office perches atop the Craftsmancampaigns for soda taxes nationwide — five
style house he shares with his wife, the
measures were approved by voters in Novemwriter Sloane Tanen, and their sons. His
ber — and moves by big companies to ban
off ice is a small, book-f illed space with
views of the surrounding Oakland hills. He
guides me to a low seat near his desk.
Daniel Kunitz is a writer based
I knew of Taubes’ aggressive reputation
in New York City and the author of Lift.

SHANA NOVAK

“Sugar is like heroin to me,” Taubes
says. “I’m never satisfied with a
sweet. I could eat until I get sick.”
pantry — stocked by his wife, not incidentally — has an assortment of what he calls
“crap snack health-food bars and juice boxes
that Sloane says we have for kids who come
over, because they expect it.” When Taubes
wants a treat, he nibbles on 100 percent
chocolate. Because who wouldn’t prefer a
bar of compressed bitter paste to Godiva?
“The type I buy isn’t that bad,” he assures
me, and then immediately recounts a story
of a taxi driver he once gave some to who
had to pull over to spit it out. While telling
me this, he replaces his now well-chomped
Nicorette with a new one. He will continue
chain-chewing throughout the day.
Sugar and nicotine, he points out, are
connected in more ways than we may
think. The Case Against Sugar documents
that in the early 1900s, tobacco companies
began adding sugar to their products, which
allowed people to inhale the smoke deeply,
making cigarettes more palatable as well as
more addictive and deadlier.
While Taubes has been writing and talking about sugar in one form or another since
the early 2000s, with this book he wants to
do something he says no one yet has: reveal
the bad science that has enabled the sugar
industry to mislead the public. By rooting
through archives and obscure textbooks,
he has uncovered, he says, evidence that
sugar is not just the harmless, empty calories we indulge in, but that it may well be
toxic, dangerous even in small amounts. It’s
a possibility that might make you hesitate
handing your kids a mug of hot cocoa, too.
To get — and stay — lean and healthy, the
conventional nutritional wisdom is simple:
Eat less and exercise more. That’s what the
sugar industry would have us believe, too.
(Coca-Cola, for example, now offers smallersize cans to help consumers drink less soda
— or just buy more cans of soda.) That’s
false, according to Taubes, and the reasoning is part of an industry-driven campaign
that goes back to the 1950s. It was then that
Ancel Keys, a prominent physiologist at the
University of Minnesota, first stated that fat

— not sugar — causes the high cholesterol
levels that lead to heart disease. What few
people knew, however, is that Keys’ research
was funded by the sugar industry.
Taubes details how this pattern of influence ramped up in the 1960s and ’70s, as the
industry funneled money to scientists and
public health officials to combat the notion
that sugar was a unique cause of obesity and
chronic illness. One of those recipients was
Fred Stare, whose work as the founder and
chairman of the Department of Nutrition
at the Harvard School of Public Health was
supported financially for decades by sugar
purveyors like General Foods. The most
public defender of sugar, Stare repeatedly
asserted, even as late as 1985, that it is not
“remotely true that modern sugar consumption contributes to poor health.”
The industry’s campaign scored a coup
in 1976, when the FDA classified sugar as
“generally recognized as safe” and thus not
subject to federal regulations. In 1980, the
U.S. government released its dietary guidelines, drafted by a team led by Mark Hegsted, who spent his entire career working
under Fred Stare at Harvard. Taubes writes
that those guidelines assured us: “Contrary
to widespread opinion, too much sugar does
not seem to cause diabetes.”
The PR work paid off in other ways,
too. Americans now consume 130 pounds
of sugar a year, twice the amount we did
in 1980. And while the industry told us to
embrace sugar, dietary experts preached
the gospel of low fat. Both groups assume
all calories are created equal, whether they
come from apples or apple pie. Such logic
implies that a calorie of sugar is no more or
less capable of causing obesity and diabetes
than a calorie from any type of food.
Taubes presents a wholly different role
for what sugar does in the body. “A calorie
of sugar and one of meat or broccoli all have
vastly different effects on the hormones and
enzymes that control or regulate the storage
of fat in fat cells,” he says. But unlike pork
or veggies, sugar has a uniquely negative

effect: It causes the liver to accumulate fat
and, at the same time, prompts the body
to pump out insulin. Over time, Taubes
insists, these elevated insulin levels lead to
weight gain, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes
and other chronic diseases. Which is to say,
we don’t blimp out or get sick because we
eat too much and fail to exercise. It happens
because we eat sugar.
At this point you may be wondering why
we haven’t put this whole debate to bed
with broad, well-conducted research. The
problem is that studies about nutrition are
notoriously difficult to orchestrate. Most
research has been observational: Scientists
ask a group of people what they ate over a
period of time and then try to tease out
associations between their food intake and
any diseases they contract. Obviously this
approach is problematic. Even if subjects
report their eating habits accurately (though
they almost never do), it’s difficult to know
which foods initiate a given problem. If an
association is found between hamburgers
and heart disease, how would anyone know
whether the problem is in the burgers or the
buns? The best-run studies require confining subjects to a metabolic ward in a hospital for weeks, where researchers can control
all the food they take in and measure all the
energy they expend. It’s incredibly expensive and nearly impossible to find someone
willing to fund it.
Billionaire philanthropists John and
Laura Arnold are among the few who are.
After hearing Taubes on a 2011 podcast
discuss the kinds of obesity experiments
he’d like to see done, John Arnold, a former
hedge-fund manager in Houston, reached
out. It led to an Arnold Foundation grant of
$35.5 million — money bestowed to Taubes
to establish a foundation that would find
answers to some of nutrition’s toughest
questions. In 2012, Taubes paired up with
Peter Attia, a Stanford and Johns Hopkins
trained physician and star in his field, and
launched the nonprofit Nutrition Science
Institute (NuSI). Taubes and Attia wanted
NuSI to be a beacon, an institution with the
experts, resources, and clearance to do the
precise experimental science no one else had
been willing to. “I thought there needed to
be specif ic studies done to resolve what
causes obesity and diabetes once and for
all,” Taubes says. “I wanted to put the issue
to rest, have it recognized by people who
could influence the medical establishment.”

1967

1973

1975

1985

1988

British physiologist
John Yudkin
releases studies
proving that
sugar elevates
triglyceride levels,
which can raise
heart disease risks.

Senator George
McGovern calls
a Senate
subcommittee
hearing on sugar’s
connection
to diabetes and
heart disease.

The Sugar
Association hires
a PR firm. The
tagline for its ad
campaign: “Sugar.
It isn’t just
good flavor; it’s
good food.”

With sugar-lobbysupported
nutritionists on its
advisory board, a
USDA report claims
that “too much
sugar does not
cause diabetes.”

Citing 20 years
of studies, Surgeon
General C. Everett
Koop says
that dietary
fat leads to heart
disease and
obesity.

TAUBES SAYS HE HAS ALWAYS had issues
with authority, beginning with his father,
who was a photoelectric engineer and
entrepreneur who helped invent the Xerox
copying process. Growing up in Rochester,
New York, Gary also lived in the shadow of
his elder brother, Clifford. “He excelled at
everything,” says Taubes. “It was either give
up or be supercompetitive.”
When Clifford went to Harvard for physics, Gary followed suit. But after receiving
a C minus in a quantum physics class, he
switched to engineering. (Clifford went on
to be a celebrated professor of mathematical
physics at his alma mater.) It was then that
Taubes read All the President’s Men, which
tells the story of the Watergate scandal, and
he realized he could make a living kicking
against authority. He became an investi-

exercise is good for the body and soul; it’s
just no way to lose weight. Yet he does look
the part of a gym rat. His face is lean, his
frame muscular. But if anything, Taubes
says, avoiding sugar and carbs has allowed
him to keep trim. His lunch order at a local
burger joint: A one-pound slab of ground
beef (no bun) heaped with bacon and
smothered in guacamole — the only concession to the color green on the plate.
W H E N I V I S I T E D TA U B E S in October, a
number of houses on his street had yard
signs in support of Oakland’s Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax. These are positive signs
for the success of The Case — a good thing,
because its author could use a win. It’s been
a tough year for Gary Taubes.
In December 2015, his partner Peter

As late as 1985, Harvard
nutritionist Fred Stare asserted
that it is not “remotely true that
modern sugar consumption
contributes to poor health.”
gative journalist, focusing on bad science.
Nutrition was a natural fit. No other arena
offers more complex or thornier issues to
tackle or is so dear to the public’s heart.
Calling out the idiots here meant Taubes
could inf luence what people put in their
mouths every day.
While at Harvard, Taubes channeled his
competitive fervor into sports. He played
football and in the off-season he boxed.
By 1987, when he moved to Venice Beach,
California, Taubes worked out constantly,
climbing the steps in Santa Monica canyon,
roller-blading to Malibu and back, or running a five-mile loop. At the time he believed
the cardio would allow him to eat whatever
and how much he wanted. But despite all
that calorie-burning, he began putting
on pounds. It wasn’t until 2000, when he
adopted the low-carb recommendations of
cardiologist Robert Atkins, that Taubes succeed in controlling his weight. That experience colored his thinking about the roles of
diet and exercise in obesity.
Exercise, he now believes, plays no role
in staying lean. Taubes doesn’t dispute that

Attia abruptly left NuSI. (In a podcast a
few months later, Attia disclosed that he’s
no longer interested in talking about nutrition.) Taubes calls it an amicable divorce,
but he also says the Arnolds had invested in
his ideas and Attia’s competence, and after
Attia left, things began to fall apart.
In January 2016, Kevin Hall, a National
Institutes of Health scientist who was the
lead investigator on the first NuSI study,
recused himself from involvement with the
foundation. He and Taubes had clashed on
how to set up the pilot study — research
that was supposed to address whether
carbs were the primary driver of obesity
— and when the results came out last summer, the two men couldn’t agree on the
interpretation of the findings or the quality of the study. NuSI, which was founded
to bring clarity to the wildly complicated
f ield of nutrition, ended up mired in the
basic processes of scientific research. By
late summer, the Arnolds had cut their
funding. Taubes considers the episode
“a learning experience in how easy it is
for experiments to go wrong. Peter and I

were like the Hardy Boys of not-for-profit
research.”
NuSI remains af loat, though barely.
Taubes and two other employees continue
on as volunteers, and he says the foundation still has unfinished studies awaiting
results. He will also continue to solicit
funding from wealthy investors, but the
main hurdle he faces hasn’t been lowered:
Spending his career attacking the leading
scientists in a field has made working with
them rather difficult.
But in light of recent sugar-tax initiatives in Berkeley and San Francisco — both
of which passed — Taubes seems to be at the
front in the charge against sugar. During our
interview, his desk was littered with literature from those trying to tax sugary beverages in cities across the country, along with
articles on lawsuits being brought against
cereal makers. Taubes hopes The Case will
provide more ammo for these fights.
Still, he notes with some exasperation
that such efforts continue to speak the
language of Big Sugar: If we all just drank
less soda and ate less cereal, the rates of
obesity, diabetes, and heart disease would
drop. Wrong. Taubes points to the public
health initiative of putting calorie counts
on menus. “That doesn’t lead to any significant decrease in weight or consumption,”
he says, “because they’re identifying the
wrong problem.”
This is key to Taubes’ outlook on sugar.
While you may eat desserts and drink sodas
only occasionally and add just a sprinkle of
sugar to your daily coffee — while maintaining a normal weight — he will tell you that
you don’t know what even that amount of
sugar does to your body. As he puts it in The
Case: “How much is too much becomes a personal decision, just as we all decide what level
of alcohol, caffeine, or cigarettes we’ll ingest.”
In an ideal world, Taubes says, his book
would lead people to force the FDA to investigate whether sugar is safe, as the agency
proclaimed in 1976. That, he admits, is
improbable, given the inf luence Big Sugar
wields. Not that it will stop him from waging the war. “Once you’ve said publicly that
the conventional thinking is wrong on
something so profound as obesity and diabetes, you either move on to something else
or you decide the injustice is such that you
have to keep doing this work,” he says. “And
if you have to keep doing it, then you have to
take the shit that comes with it.”
Just don’t sugarcoat it. MJ

2003

2014

2016

The World Health
Organization (WHO)
advises that only 10
percent of calories
should come from
added sugar. Big
Sugar threatens to
cut WHO’s funding.

Global Energy
Balance Network is
established.
Funded by
Coca-Cola, it
claims that lack of
exercise, not diet,
causes obesity.

WHO advises
widespread taxes
on sweetened
drinks. Its
president
recommends
consuming no
sugar at all.
COMPILED BY KEITH BEARDEN

MEN’S JOURNAL

66

JAN/FEB 2017

ASSOCIATED PRESS

1992
The USDA’s Food
Pyramid nearly
eliminates fats and
stresses sugary
grains. Packaged
low-fat foods often
replace fat with
twice the sugar.

ON NEWSSTANDS NOW

G E A R L A B

You can tell your
thermostat, lights,
blinds, and locks
what to do without
taking a step — and
with little to no
setup.

The
Walls
Have Ears
Want to have a chat with your house? Tech’s big
three — Google, Apple, and Amazon — have voicecontrolled smart-home command centers. We tested
them to see if they’re worth talking to. by ERIK SOFGE

MEN’S JOURNAL

68

JAN/FEB 2017

i l l u s t r a t i o n by H A R RY C A M P B E L L

G E A R L A B

Google Home
WHO IT’S FOR Those

1 interested in a basic smart
home, especially if they use Google
Chromecast to stream to a TV.
THE SETUP Simple. Like the other
systems here, you join WiFi and then
use an app to connect the command
center to separately sold devices.
A TYPICAL DAY If Google Home is in
earshot (“OK, Google” gets its
attention), the device can process a
wide range of smart-home
commands, such as changing the
temperature on a Nest Learning
Thermostat ($249; nest.com) and

Apple HomeKit
WHO IT’S FOR Apple loyalists,

2 who are already accustomed to
ordering Siri around and don’t need
a stand-alone speaker.
THE SETUP Unlike Google Home
and Amazon Echo, Homekit is
not a device but an app that runs on
your iOS device. It automatically
finds compatible devices in the
area.
A TYPICAL DAY Before even
crawling out of bed, you can tell
Siri — via your iPhone, iPad, or
Apple Watch — to open Lutron’s
motorized Serena Shades (from

Amazon Echo
WHO IT’S FOR Smart-home

3 enthusiasts not attached to

Apple or Google services. The Echo —
along with its smaller version, the
Dot (pictured) — is the best
established of the three platforms
and has the largest number of
compatible devices and partners.
THE SETUP Similar to the others,
though the Echo’s app requires a
few additional steps to identify
compatible products.
A TYPICAL DAY Echo’s “Alexa”
responds to the usual smart-home
voice commands, such as adjusting

WHO WILL
OWN YOUR
HOME?
Tech companies want
to move in. Should you
open the door?

The war for smart-home supremacy is in full swing —
and it looks like the slew of new devices may be a herd
of Trojan horses. Amazon and Google have created
low-cost “speakers” that aren’t threatening to pad
their respective bottom lines too much. Turns out,
a $50 device like the Echo Dot seems less of a profit
driver and more useful as a tool to get you to pay for
the company’s streaming services (Amazon Music
Unlimited and Amazon Prime). Google Home can draw

JAN/FEB 2017

69

turning on Philips Hue White
Ambiance lights ($130 with bridge;
meethue.com). On its own, Home
can rattle off headlines, weather
forecasts, and answers to basic yet
burning questions (“Is pot legal in
Aruba?”) from the internet. Its
speech recognition is on a par with all
the devices here, but Home can also
control video playback through the
Google Chromecast media streamer
or music pumped through speakers
connected to the Chromecast Audio
dongle ($35 each; store.google.com).
BEST FEATURE The Home’s built-in
speaker sounds terrific in small
spaces. store.google.com $129

$400 with bridge; serenashades
.com) or turn on a Hunter Signal
ceiling fan ($350; hunterfan.com).
We’re fond of leaving the house
without keys and asking Siri to
close the August Smart Lock ($229;
august.com). In fact, after a brief
setup, we could lock up and shut
off the lights just by telling Siri,
“I’m heading out.”
BEST FEATURE As lazy as it
sounds, it’s very cool to sit on the
couch and ask Siri, “Who’s at the
door?” — the August Doorbell
Cam ($199; august.com) then shows
a video image on your phone of
whoever’s visiting. apple.com

the thermostat and the lights, even
working with the iDevices Socket
($60; idevicesinc.com) to control
standard bulbs. But the Echo really
shines when paired with a Logitech
Harmony Elite remote ($350;
logitech.com). After a brief bit of
setup, we said, “Alexa, time for
Netflix,” which made the lights dim,
the TV turn on, and the streaming
service open. Meanwhile, Amazon
continues to pull in partners,
including Sonos.
BEST FEATURE The puck-size
Dot doesn’t have great sound, but
it can be placed out of view.
amazon.com From $49

consumers even further into its ecosystem with an
always-listening bridge to Google Play Music, as well
as your Google Calendar, directions through Google
Maps, and more. Without a device to sell, it appears
that Apple is offering an iOS feature designed to keep
iPhone users from defecting to Android. Whatever
the ulterior motive, users benefit: A pretty low financial
commitment means you can mess around with the
new tech. For now, talk really is cheap.

MEN’S JOURNAL

G E A R L A B
2

1

4

3

5

Online Vision Quest
Fast shipping, low prices, and free returns are the new normal. So where should you shop?

by JESSE WILL

BEST FOR
LENS SWAPPING

BEST FOR
MODERN STYLE

BEST FOR
SELECTION

BEST FOR
VALUE

BEST FOR
VINTAGE LOOKS

1 I Frameri

2 I Steven Alan
Optical

3 I Warby Parker

4 I Go-Optic

5 I Classic Specs

This New York–based
outfit popularized online
shopping for affordable,
fashion-forward glasses in
2010. Though Warby is
known for chunky acetate
frames, there’s a bigger
metal selection here than
you’ll find at the other
online retailers — including
titanium and multi-material
frames. Shipment is
surprisingly quick: Most
orders are delivered in
five to seven business
days. Frames, such as the
Streeter (pictured), start at
$95. warbyparker.com

Looking for a bargain?
Search here for a frame
you’ve already tried on at
a retailer, from labels like
Persol, Ray-Ban, and Alain
Mikli. Or browse thousands
of options — you’ll wade
through some wonky
frames, but eventually
you’ll hit on a cool choice
like these Capri Optics
Versailles Palace 131s
($106 with prescription).
There’s no virtual try-on,
but if your glasses don’t
work out, returns are
accepted within 30 days.
go-optic.com

Classic Specs got its start
at flea markets in Brooklyn
in 2010 with a slew of
fashionable acetate
models, and offers a free
five-frame home-trial kit
à la Warby Parker. The key
difference? Most of the
frames in Classic’s lineup,
like the Bedford in Brandy
Tortoise ($95), are based
on a specific vintage look.
The result is a new pair of
glasses that is by definition
timeless. Shop here if you
want to give your look a
throwback nod. classic
specs.com

Hunt for glasses here if
you rely on eyewear to
shift your personal style on
the regular: The Cincinnatibased retailer sells 70
handsome frames for men
grouped into “collections,”
which allow you to
interchange all frames in
the same family with one
pair of $50 prescription
lenses. The glasses (like
the Roebling, above, from
the medium-size Tidal
collection) are hand-built
in Italy and cost $139 in
acetate and $169 in acetate
and metal. frameri.com

The lifestyle retailer’s foray
into eyewear features a
tight selection (currently
25 frames, designed in
New York City) that has a
clean, modern look without
veering toward full-Kanye
futurism. Shopping the
site by face shape (square,
round, or oval) helps
avoid a costly mistake,
and most frames are $195,
which includes prescription lenses. Some, like the
Seigel model shown here,
are $205. stevenalan
optical.com

MEN’S JOURNAL

70

JAN/FEB 2017

p h o t o g r a p h by S H A N A N OVA K

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G E A R L A B

This PVC duffel can
easily hold a tent, a
backpack, climbing
equipment — in
fact, all the
gear shown on
this page.

How to
Bag a Big
Adventure
If your travels take you off the beaten
path and beyond run-of-the-mill
sightseeing, you’ll need luggage that
can handle the abuse — and swallow
all your gear. By BERNE BROUDY

1

BEST FOR BASE-CAMP STORAGE

1 I Ortlieb Duffel RS 85-140 L
The padlock-ready waterproof zips on Ortlieb’s
140-liter duffel protect your gear from flash storms
and prying fingers. Sturdy polyurethane wheels
help you roll your load over rugged terrain to
camp. On longer trips you’ll appreciate the
multiple lash points, which fasten this beast
to the roof of a jeep or the back of a pack mule.
$315; ortliebusa.com

p h o t o g r a p h by S H A N A N OVA K

BEST FOR BRIEF EXCURSIONS

2 I Flowfold Stormproof Duffel
At 40 liters, the Stormproof Duffel provides plenty
of storage for a serious weekend kit yet keeps
everything compact enough for an overhead bin.
We found the end pocket ideal for stashing
tickets and snacks en route, and once we arrived,
the stiff sailcloth and waterproof zips held up
well during a scramble over sharp volcanic rock
to a secret swimming hole. $98; flowfold.com

2

BEST FOR ROAD TRIPS

3 I Tepui Expedition Series
Gear Container
4

The boxy design allows Tepui’s 120-liter gear
locker to stack efficiently on a roof rack; internal
dividers organize your wardrobe or camp
kitchen; and dirt and spills wipe away easily from
the resin-coated poly-canvas body. Meanwhile,
the rugged wheels smoothly ferried our heavy
load to campsites. $190; tepuitents.com

BEST FOR ROLLING OR CARRYING

4 I Osprey Meridian
Convertible 75L
If you hit a rough trail when rolling this bag,
simply unzip the back pocket to convert it into
a backpack. The Meridian features the most
comfortable shoulder harness we’ve ever used
with a conversion pack, and the removable day
bag was perfectly sized for short hikes in the
Chilean Atacama. $380; ospreypacks.com

3

BEST FOR ORGANIZED TRAVEL

5 I Dakine Split Roller
5

6

To ensure neatly partitioned packing, Dakine
put four zippered mesh compartments inside its
heavy-duty recycled-polyester split roller. On
a recent trip from Vermont to Qatar and on to
Kathmandu, we felt totally orderly despite
traveling with a mess of cycling and aprèstrek equipment. The bag comes in two sizes:
85 and 110 liters. $200, $210; dakine.com

BEST FOR PORTABLE POWER

6 I Lander Timp 25 Plus 7800

PROP ST YLING BY PETER TR AN FOR ART DEPARTMENT

mAh Charger
Any backpack can carry a power bank, but
what makes this Lander exceptional (aside from
its water-resistant ripstop nylon) is the
dedicated pocket that keeps the power handy
just inside the main hull. And with 7,800 mAh of
capacity, you’ll have enough juice to charge a
GoPro five times. $199; lander.com

BEST FOR BACKUP STORAGE

7

7 I Eagle Creek Cargo
Hauler Duffel
Sometimes you come home with more stuff than
you left with. The Cargo Hauler is great backup:
When collapsed, it fits in the side pocket of
a suitcase. We packed one for an excursion to
Greenland, giving us a hearty duffel on location
and extra storage for the trip home. It comes
in four sizes, but even the XL model (120 liters)
weighs less than three pounds. $89–$119;
eaglecreek.com

JAN/FEB 2017

73

MEN’S JOURNAL

G E A R L A B
1

Gym Class Heroes
An average pair no longer cuts it — so these athletic shorts are pumped up with tech and features.

by JESSE WILL

2

To fight stink,
rinse shorts in the
shower or use a
detergent like Win
Blue that removes
body oil from
synthetics.

1 I Tough Enough
Getting brutal with the barbell?
Nix your shredded sweats for the
Lululemon License to Train Short.
Its abrasion-resistant panels look
new even after months of intense,
high-friction training. Even better, the
straightforward styling doesn’t scream
workout. lululemon.com $78

3

2 I Junk Drawers
When you’re torching the treadmill,
chafing is your archenemy. Avoid it
with the SAXX Kinetic Run Short,
a micromesh brief with a compartment
for your man parts. And the stretchwoven outer has a zippered pocket
so you won’t lose your loose change.
saxxunderwear.com $75

4

3 I Light & Cool
We doubted the worthiness of the wispy
Adidas Outdoor Terrex Agravic Shorts
— made from a waterproof, breathable
fabric, they’re just 2.3 ounces — but
our test proved this pair to be an ideal
match for dead lifts, upside-down rows,
and the like, both indoors and out.
adidasoutdoor.com $79

4 I A Phone’s Friend
ST YLING BY MEGUMI EMOTO FOR ANDERSON HOPKINS

Whether you’re logging reps or scanning
Spotify for motivating beats, the
smartphone is a weight-room essential.
The Kippo Workout Shorts are the
only ones here with a vertically oriented
dedicated phone pocket that keeps your
handset at your hip, out of the way of
the weights. kipposhorts.com $59

5 I Funk Fighters
Skipped the laundry? No problem.
The RYU 2N1 Short uses a bacteriostatic
carbon mesh to fend off odors in the
liner. Its laser-cut venting and extra
stretch mean the outer layer is just as
smart. ryu.com $65

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G E A R L A B

Tools of Rock

Attention rock gods and wannabes: New gear allows
you to customize sounds like never before. It’s time to channel
your inner Hendrix. by CLINT CARTER

1 I Custom
Fender

2 I SoundShifting Amp

3 I Band in
a Box

Your guitar should look as
good as it sounds. So
earlier this year, Fender,
the company with 65 years
of experience in making
solid-body electrics,
launched the online Mod
Shop. Consumers can
personalize six- and
four-string instruments by
handpicking colors, tuning
keys, fret-board wood, and
more. From $1,650;
fendermodshop.com

The Line 6 Amplifi
(available in 30-, 75-, or
150-watt sizes) is a
chameleon of an amplifier.
Using an app, you can
program it to mimic any of
78 classic cabinets, and
then dial in reverb, chorus,
and other effects. You
can even pull up familiar
settings — like the
distortion in Led Zeppelin’s
“Whole Lotta Love.” From
$330; line6.com

This is no ordinary guitar
looper. After you lay down
some riffs, use the Digitech
Trio+ Band Creator to add
a backing band — both
drums and bass — which
you can customize to fit
your playing style. We used
it to record songs by
layering simple guitar licks
over three-chord melodies,
and the results were
surprisingly tasty. $299;
digitech.com

4 I A Cure for
Bad Memory

5 I Psychedelic
Tool Kit

Never forget another
original riff: The pedalactivated TC Electronic
WireTap Riff Recorder
saves eight hours of your
best (and worst) work and
sends it to an app for easy
playback and reference.
Use your recorded jams
to jog your memory for
later songwriting sessions
or to create original loops
for GarageBand. $100;
tcelectronic.com

Is it 4:20 yet? The
Electro-Harmonix Mel9
Tape Replay Machine
re-creates the moody
analog effects of vintage
Mellotron keyboards
(which the Beatles notably
used on “Strawberry Fields
Forever”). The humble
stomp-box turns your
six-string into a
cello, flute, choir, or five
other lush orchestral
effects. $295; ehx.com

6 I Mini
Recording
Studio

1

Your phone’s microphone
makes you sound flat and
washed out. The Focusrite
iTrack Pocket (for iPhone
only) lets you plug in your
guitar (it takes a standard
instrument cable) and
record your voice on a
front-panel microphone.
When you’re done,
master the track with the
included app. $70; itrack
.focusrite.com

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PROP ST YLING BY PETER TR AN FOR ART DEPARTMENT

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G E A R L A B

Cold
Comfort

THE SHELTERS

Forget layering as much
fleece on your body as
possible. High-tech
materials and innovative
designs make winter
camping not only doable
but even pleasant.
BEST FOR VALUE
by CLINT CARTER

Slumberjack In-Season 2
First-time snow campers will appreciate a heavy, warm polyester tent with a sub-$300 price tag.
They’ll also appreciate its spacious floor plan: 37 square feet of ground coverage. The tent is rated
to fit two sleeping bags, but we found that if you store your gear outside, under a vestibule, it could
handle three. And packing in shoulder-to-shoulder will help keep you just that much warmer.
slumberjack.com $270
BEST FOR
GROUP ADVENTURES

BEST FOR HIKING IN

MSR Access 2

The North Face
Bastion 4

With its newest tent, MSR
replaced traditional aluminum
poles with ones built from a
stiff aerospace-grade
composite that’s 80 percent
less likely to bend. As a result,
the structure can withstand
wintery gusts despite its
simple geometry. We set it up
in about three minutes (no
instructions required), and at
just over 3.5 pounds, it packs
up easily for a long snowshoe
hike in. msrgear.com $600

At 13 pounds, this isn’t a tent for
overnight hikes. But if you plan
to set up a base camp and
spend a few days, you won’t find
a better shelter. The ripstopnylon fly is twice as strong as on
previous models, and the waterresistant windows — typically a
weak point in winter tents — can
withstand –60 degrees.
thenorthface.com $849

The preference is
usually a spacious
tent, but smaller
spaces will warm
up faster at night,
thanks to body
heat.

MEN’S JOURNAL

BEST FOR CAR CAMPING

Tepui Kukenam Sky with Weatherhood
Tepui’s rooftop shelter saves the discomfort of the cold ground and
provides a stable 56- by 96-inch area to spend the night when campsites
are closed for the season. The waterproof ripstop polyester is heavy
enough to endure most cold fronts, but the optional Weatherhood ($225,
not shown) will survive a blizzard. tepuitents.com $1,425

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JAN/FEB 2017

TIPS TO
F IG H T T H E
FREEZE
Even with the right gear,
a little know-how
goes a long way. These
cold-weather experts
offer tips toward
surviving a winter
camping adventure.

SHED LAYERS
“You actually want to
be comfortably cool,”
says David Jonas, a
wilderness guide in
Alaska. “Sweat will
dampen clothing and
reduce its insulating
value.” Start your hike
wearing plenty of layers,
and remove them as
needed. “Then when
you stop, pull your
jacket on immediately.”

LET THE STEAM OUT
“You don’t realize how
much moisture you put
off until you go winter
camping,” says Sean
Ferrier, associate
program director at the
Boy Scouts of America.
Your tent is going to
become covered in frost
if you allow breath to
turn into condensation.
Make sure to open all
the vents in your tent.

SLEEP WITH YOUR
BOOTS There’s nothing
worse than trying to
pull stiff, frozen leather
onto your feet in the
morning. Pack your dry
boots, or their liners,
inside your bag. “I like
to sleep with the liners
under my armpits,” says
Ferrier. “Anything you
don’t want to freeze
needs to stay close to
your body.”

WARM UP YOUR BAG
Want the next best
thing to heat in your
tent? About half an hour
before you go to bed,
use your camp stove to
boil a pot of water, and
pour it into a Nalgene
bottle. Then shove that
into the foot of your
bag, as far down as you
can get it. “When you
get in, it will be nice and
toasty,” says Ferrier.

THE BAGS
BEST FOR
CAMPSITE LOUNGING

BEST FOR
WET CONDITIONS

Cotopaxi Sueño

Sierra Designs
Zissou Plus 0

A zipper runs the length of
one side and along the
bottom, making the Sueño
the most versatile option
here. Open the 15-degree
bag all the way to form
a blanket, or crack open
just the foot bed so you
can wear it around a
cold campsite like a
down-filled toga. We liked
the well-placed internal
pockets. One by the chest
lets us keep our cell phone
close, while a pocket in
the hood let us stuff in
clothing to form a pillow.
cotopaxi.com $350

Down provides maximum
insulation for minimal
weight, but it begins
releasing heat the moment
it gets wet. Sierra Designs
coated its plumage with
a thin water-repelling
polymer that resists
moisture and, in case
it does get wet, dries
33 percent faster than
untreated down. Ideal
for early or late season
camping, when the snow
is turning to slush.
sierradesigns.com $270

BEST FOR
LIGHT HIKING

BEST FOR
CHANGING WEATHER

BEST FOR
VALUE

Patagonia
Hybrid

NEMO Sonic 0

Mountain Hardwear Bozeman
Torch 0

If you’re willing to sleep
in the puffy jacket you
hiked in, then you can
cut considerable weight
from your pack with the
Hybrid. It’s insulated like
a 10-degree bag, while
the top is nothing more
than water-repellent
ripstop nylon that goes
over a jacket. Wearing just
a T-shirt, we found it
comfortable in fall, too. It
weighs just over a pound.
patagonia.com $299

This bag became an
instant classic thanks to
its adjustability. If you’re
too warm, you can open
a set of vents running
the length of the
midsection to cool things
off by as much as 20
degrees, or unzip them
just halfway for less cool
air. This worked well
during a January trip to
the Adirondacks when a bagplus-jacket combo got too
hot. nemoequipment
.com $500

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Instead of down, the
Torch has a combination
of stiff and soft synthetic
fibers — a marriage that
provides both structure and
supreme warmth. The result
is a bag that outperforms
its price tag and weighs in
at a reasonable three
pounds, 14 ounces. Nice
perk: The microfleece-lined
stuff sack makes a perfect
pillow case. mountain
hardwear.com $139

The
Last
Word
reporting, or having a fair-minded spirit —
they’re single-minded and out to get what they
want. There is no seeing the story from the
other side. They say as an excuse: “I don’t have
the time.” Well, make the time, goddammit.

What did you learn about work from
your father?
I’m the only son of a very prideful tailor. He
didn’t make a lot of money, but boy, he took
pride in the suits he made. He once told me,
“Son, when you look for a job, never ask what
it pays.” Instead, he said, master the job,
because if you become really good at what
you do, the money will come. Conventional
wisdom will tell you differently: Hustle, get
an agent, ask for a lot, and settle for less.
I never did that. And although I wasn’t a
tailor, I wrote like one. I cared about every
stitch and every button, and I wanted my
work to hold up, fit well, and to last. Good
work is never easily done. I believed my
father, and you know something, he was
absolutely right.

Gay Talese
The author and man-about-town on handling defeat, writing
like a tailor, and facing each and every day with a dry martini.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
It came from baseball. I was 12 years old,
growing up in New Jersey in 1944, and the
New York Yankees had spring training in
Atlantic City. Instead of hanging around other
kids my age, I had access to professional athletes, and I’d overhear them talk after striking
out. There was one guy, Johnny Lindell, who
played outfield. He was very nice to me. I
asked him how he keeps his spirits up, and
he said, “You have to stick with it, kid. You
just have to stick with it.”

How should a man handle aging?
Here’s what works for me: I go out every goddamn night of the week. Every night. And I
order a martini every goddamn night of the
week. I never turned down opportunities to
see new things or meet new people.
Why do you think people have such a
strong distrust of the media today?
Journalism has lost its particular status
because the journalists have become content
with just being the first or the fastest. They’re
no longer concerned with quality writing and

What’s one of your biggest regrets?
I’m trying to think of one, but I can’t. There’s
not a story I wrote that I wish I hadn’t.
There’s not a way I treated a person where I
wish I would have treated that person
differently. I’ve had people I’ve loathed, and
I let them know. I’ve had people I’ve loved,
and I let them know, too. This is not to say
that my life has been one of endless
pleasantness and cordiality. But I’ve never
regretted letting someone know how I feel.
—INTERVIEW BY ALEX VADUKUL

Gay Talese is the author of 14 books.
A new collection of his selected writings,
High Notes, will be out on January 17.

MEN’S JOURNAL (ISSN 1063-4651) is published monthly (except for the January and July issues, when two issues are combined and published as double issues) by Men’s Journal LLC, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104-0298. The entire contents of MEN’S
JOURNAL® are copyright ©2017 by Men’s Journal LLC, and may not be reproduced in any manner, either whole or in part, without written permission. All rights are reserved. Canadian Goods and Service Tax Registration No. R134022888. The subscription price is $19.94 for
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MEN’S JOURNAL

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JAN/FEB 2017

MA X VADUKUL /AUGUST IMAGE

What have you learned about losing?
My defeats started early: I couldn’t get a date,
I was unpopular in high school. But I’m doing
the same thing at 84 that I was at 14, which
is aspiring to do better than I did yesterday.
When I did that famous Esquire piece on
Sinatra [“Frank Sinatra Has a Cold”] in 1966,

his valet told me that he sometimes hears
Frank trying to get a date on a Saturday night
and failing. I said, “You’re kidding. Frank
Sinatra can’t get a date?” I’ve learned that
we’re all doomed to fail sometimes, but you’ve
got to have faith in yourself.

How should a man deal with
competition?
You don’t deal with it. You deal with your
own self. I wrote as well as I could, and as
long as I met my own standards, I didn’t
concern myself with anything else. And
I’ve gotten bad reviews all my life. But so
did Ernest Hemingway. So did F. Scott
Fitzgerald. So did Philip Roth — and I think
he’s the best writer of my generation. You can
only do the best you can do, and as long as
you’re doing that, there’s no reason you have
to feel that you’ve failed.

The other guy.

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