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Author Archive | Andrew Skurka

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Live near Boulder and a size Large? Sierra Designs needs you.

Sierra Designs is a looking for a fit model. Details and an application below. Requirements Reside within a commutable distance to the Sierra Designs headquarters in northeast Boulder, Colorado (Gunbarrel) Male Size Large for tops, per SD sizing. Ideally, 44-inch chest and 34-inch waist. Work + compensation About four office visits per month, for about 2 hours […]

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East Fork, with views of the peaks surrounding Gardiner Basin. This is big country.

Finest route in the High Sierra? Introducing the Kings Canyon High Basin Route.

Seven years ago I thru-hiked with Buzz Burrell the Sierra High Route, which parallels the crest of the High Sierra between Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park. Its 200 miles represents less than 1 percent of the total miles that I have hiked, yet the experience proved to be one of the most […]

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A closeup reveals how much topographic detail is compressed onto these maps. The upper map of Utah is at a scale of 1:75,000, or more than 1 mile per inch; the lower map is 1:250,000, or nearly 4 miles per inch. These maps are most useful when planning a trip, and may be sufficient in the field only for on-trail itineraries.

Essential backpacking maps: types, online platforms, software, and printing tips

When I mostly only followed established backpacking trails or routes, I relied heavily on existing resources — topographic map sets, route descriptions, databooks, and now digital trail apps — under the assumption that they were sufficient, which they normally were. But when my trips became more of the choose-your-own-adventure variety, I had to develop these […]

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Backpacking in the rain: helpful gear and skills| SD LIVE (3/31)

In last month’s SD LIVE event, I discussed multiple ways to help maintain a relative level of comfort and safety when backpacking in the rain. Some methods are simply a matter of packing differently or packing more: sleeping clothes, camp shoes, breathable footwear, group tarp, down insulation, and a pack liner. Other methods are techniques: […]

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And here, too? I think it is.

Core Backpacking Clothing || Check lists & systems for 3-season conditions

With just a 13-item collection of hiking and backpacking clothing, is it possible to be comfortable here? And with that very same kit, also here? And here, too? I think it is. Earlier this month I introduced the Core 13, a tight collection of hiking and backpacking clothing that can be mixed-and-matched to create appropriate systems for every […]

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Field-drying clothing and gear is like pushing the "reset button" -- it allows you to endure the next storm nearly as well as you did the last one. However, without reliable sunshine, low humidity, or mild temperatures, field-drying is a challenge.

Core Backpacking Clothing || Sleep — Items 12 & 13: Sleeping clothes

In climates with regular and long-lasting rain events, high humidity, and/or weak sunlight (due to shade, cloud-cover, or low sun angle), getting damp, wet, or even soaked seems to be an inherent part of the backpacking experience. If you wish to dry out completely during a backpacking trip in the eastern woodlands, Pacific Northwest, or Alaska, I’d recommend you find a […]

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Left: An old 22-oz GoLite baffled parka that is overkill for anything short of winter backpacking. Right: the 13-oz Sierra Designs DriDown Parka, which with a hood and 125 g of 800-fill insulation is about perfect for many of my 3-season backpacking trips

Core Backpacking Clothing || Stop — Items 8-9: Insulated Jacket & Pants

During cool camps, cold nights, and crisp mid-day rest stops, I retain my body heat with a puffy jacket containing down or synthetic insulation. If I expect nighttime temperatures below about 30 degrees, or long camps with temperatures below about 40 degrees, I will add insulated pants to my kit. Down- and synthetic-filled garments are far more thermally efficient […]

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