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The L. L. Bean Guide to the Outdoors, by Bill Riviere with the staff of L. L. Bean. New York: Random House. 448 pp. $15.50.

The main focus is equipment: how to choose the right sleeping bag; what advantage a round dome tent offers; why you shouldn't buy an axe with a painted handle; when fishnet longjohns are better than cotton ones; which snowshoes maneuver best in scrubby areas. The book also includes a chapter on predicting weather, as well as sound tips on safety and equipment upkeep.