Getting Outfitted for Great Outdoors

Now that summer weather is arriving, camping, hiking, fishing, biking, rafting -- or anything else that could qualify for a fun time while exploring Russia's wonderful outdoors -- should be on most people's minds.

Heavy rucksacks to carry all your outdoor necessities, canoes and rafts to glide down the steadily flowing rivers, tents in which to spend the night among the wildlife and any other outdoor accessory can be found at stores all over the city. Prices and selection vary little, but a brief description of a few of the leading sites should give the great outdoorsman some food for thought before he or she heads into the wilderness.

The Putnik Store on Ukrainsky Bulvar, just behind McDonald's across from the Kievskaya metro station, is a good start. While the selection is limited, the prices are affordable and the service friendly. The staff agreed that one can still afford to buy all the basic equipment for a weekend camping trip -- a tent, a backpack, cooking utensils, a compass and a sleeping bag -- for less than $100.

Sleeping bags made out of synthetic material, which did not have temperature ratings, cost between 120,000 ($21) and 200,000 rubles. Russian-made backpacks range from 50,000 to 300,000 rubles for a 90-liter pack. If your favorite backpack is in need of some minor repairs, Putnik also sells webbing, zippers and thread to mend holes and attach new straps. Russian-made, two-person tents cost between 600,000 and 900,000 rubles. Imported tents, mainly from the West, range in cost from 300,000 to 1.8 million rubles.

The Russian-made camping equipment is sturdy and of good quality, but is slightly heavier than its Western counterparts. A pile jacket runs about 150,000 rubles, while pile trousers cost 200,000 rubles. Another store on Ulitsa Narodnogo Opolcheniya has an even wider selection.

Alpindustriya on Izmailovskaya Ploshchad specializes in rock-climbing and alpine equipment. Ice axes start at 45,000 rubles, with imports costing twice as much. Rope ranges from 1,000 to 4,000 rubles per meter, depending on the material. A Baksan-brand alpinist rucksack in which to carry your camping gear costs 200,000 rubles.

Alpindustriya offers one of the best selections in town of imported supplies, with American-made two-person tents beginning at 2.5 million rubles -- three times more expensive than the Russian version. Sleeping bags with synthetic filling range between 250,000 and 300,000 rubles. Trekking shoes and boots to foot the rugged climbs range in cost from 405,000 to 1.4 million rubles.

The Ertsog camping shop on Nikitsky Bulvar, kitty-corner from the Itar-Tass building, prides itself on stocking a large variety of mountain bikes. American-made GT bikes, with gears for every possible type of terrain, cost between 2 million and 17 million rubles.

Most supplies for water sports also can be found here. Swimming suits are priced from 173,00 to 577,000 rubles depending on the brand. Prices for scuba-diving suits begin at 925,000 rubles, but a top-of-the-line model can set you back as much as 4 million rubles. Snorkels and masks range between 200,000 and 460,000 rubles.

The Hunter-Fisherman-Tourist shop off Leninsky Prospekt, next to the Sputnik Hotel, is the perfect place for a wide selection of fishing, hunting and rafting equipment. The stock begins with hunting knives priced between 26,000 rubles and 143,000 rubles, to a commando wire saw -- for the hardcore hunters -- for 70,000 rubles, and flashlights for 35,000 rubles. A compass to determine your location can be had for as little as 20,800 rubles. An inflatable raft costs 1.17 million rubles, and the paddle to steer it is 175,000 rubles. Pool rafts cost 75,000 rubles. A motor-powered river raft runs from 2 million to 3 million rubles.

A good selection of fishing poles, all imported, start at 150,000 rubles, while lures and hooks are in the 10,000- to 25,000- ruble range. An extractor to wrench that prize catch off your newly bought hook costs 4,500 rubles.

When you're ready to turn in for the night, you may be glad the Hunter-Fisherman-Tourist shop carried a wide selection of imported tents, including the Czech-made Tundra for 1.45 million rubles and a simple Western-made Robinson for 1.7 million rubles.

Putnik, 8 Ukrainsky Bulvar, open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m Monday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m Saturday. Nearest metro: Kievskaya. Branch store located at 38 Ulitsa Narodnogo Opolcheniya with the same hours. Tel: 243-3813. Nearest metro: Oktyabrskoye Pole.

Alpindustriya, 1 Pervomaiskaya, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat. Tel: 165-0429. Nearest metro: Izmailovskaya.

Ertsog, 25 Suvorovsky Bulvar, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sat. Tel: 290-5513. Nearest metro: Arbatskaya.

Hunter-Fisherman-Tourist, 44 Leninsky Prospekt, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Tel: 137-7318. Nearest metro: Oktyabrskaya.