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Use America Online software to sign on to America Online. Go to keyword: Backpacker

A love of the great outdoors unites this site's participants. The forum, run by Backpacker magazine, features bulletin board and chat area conversations on everything pertaining to walking through the wilds. Participants discuss favorite trails and gear and also send out warnings about trails best avoided. All types of clothing and equipment for hiking and camping are subjects of thorough analysis, as are such issues as carrying firearms in the wilderness, the pros and cons of dogs on the trail and tips on how to deal with menstruation far from civilization. Most conversation is on the bulletin boards but a chat area has scheduled themed chats most nights and impromptu open conversations are sometimes possible. Participants occasional meet for outdoor activities. - E.L.

subject matter: recreation

regional affiliation: North America, Europe

format: conferencing, chat

language: English

cost: 15 hours free, $9.95 per month (includes 5 free hours), $2.95 per hour after that. On December 1, 1996, AOL will be available for $19.95 per month for unlimited usage.

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