Top

Author Archive | Andrew Skurka

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 […]

Continue Reading 6
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 […]

Continue Reading 23
backpacking-in-the-rain

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: […]

Continue Reading 14
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 […]

Continue Reading 10
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 […]

Continue Reading 11
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 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 […]

Continue Reading 38
Flyin' Brian Robinson atop Yosemite's Mt Whorl (12,033 ft) in late-September, wearing a 100-weight Patagonia R1 fleece top

Core Clothing || Go Suit — Item 7: Fleece Top

In warmer months, a fleece top may offer adequate insulation for lower overnight temperatures. However, it is less thermally efficient (i.e. less warm for its weight) than down- and synthetic-insulated jackets, which I will discuss later in this series. So I do not consider fleece to be an optimal “stop” piece when backpacking. Applications Instead, I include a […]

Continue Reading 28