The case for snowflake baskets and more outdoor news

Posted on: December 18, 2019 | Bob Frye | Comments

Take a quick look around the outdoors world with a tip, a new piece of gear and more

Tip of the week

There’s a reason winter tires exist. They’re specially designed to provide extra grip and traction in seasonal conditions, especially snow. Well, snowflake baskets available for trekking poles do the same. Circular and fairly large, they keep your walking stick – which is not only great for balance, but helps absorb sound of the pounding on your knees – from sinking too far into deep, soft snow. Mountaineers love them for that reason, but they’re great for weekend adventurers, too, who might be hiking or snowshoeing. And because they’re relatively inexpensive and screw on and off easily, you can carry a pair in a pack and put them on or take them off as needed.

Lure of the week

Lure name: Prop Walker

Snowflake baskets make hiking in snow easier.

Prop Walker

Company: Savage Gear (

Lure type: Topwater

Sizes and colors: Available in a 5.25-inch, 1-ounce model in eight colors: American shad, black, bone, dirty silver, fire tiger, ghost minnow, golden shiner and white.

Target species: Largemouth and smallmouth bass and northern pike.

Technique: Bass anglers aren’t necessarily known as minimalists. Ever seen their tackle boxes? But this is a lure – new to the market as of late summer 2019 — that can ease the overcrowding by doing two jobs, thanks to fold-up blades. Fold them close against the lure’s body and, with its cupped face, it works as a walk-the-dog-type lure, gurgling as it struggles left and right without a lot of forward movement. Opening the blades gives it a different action. That gives the back end of the lure a much noisier propeller-like spinning action. You can see it in action here.

Sugg. retail price: $13.99.

Notable: The Prop Walker’s blades are by design a bendable plastic, so that they can bend or flex without breaking. Most importantly, they allows them to collapse a bit when a fish strikes so as not to block the hooks or interfere with hookups.

Outdoors oddity of the week

Every little kid’s heard the same advice when heading out in winter to play: don’t eat the yellow snow.

As it turns out, even that pristine-looking white snow is more complex than maybe we thought.

That’s because scientists say microplastics – fibers and fragments left over from all of the plastic items that dominate so many aspects of our world – are being carried aloft in the air and deposited in snow. Researchers first noticed the microplastics in snow in the Arctic. But they’ve since documented their presence in snow sites all over the world.

Now, they still say that eating the occasional handful of snow – even melting it to make backcountry coffee – won’t hurt you. There are plenty of other more real dangers to concern yourself with.

And the more remote things are the better. Snow found in the country woods or on an untouched mountain slope is healthier — for all kinds of reasons – than snow falling in the city.

But none of it is as clean as we might have thought.


Check this out now: Snowshoes a different and fun way to get around in winter


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Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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