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Author Archive | Andrew Skurka

The Tribal Lakes basin, as seen from its western edge at the top of the elk trail.

Route beta || Pfiffner Traverse: Northeast Gully, Lone Eagle Cirque & Lost Tribe Lakes

The Northeast Gully is the most difficult feature on the Pfiffner Traverse: it’s filled with snow through mid-summer, covered with talus and loose scree in late-summer, and always steep. Unfortunately, it’s also a critical connector between Lone Eagle Cirque, Lost Tribe Lakes, and upper Arapaho Creek, all in Colorado’s Indian Peaks Wilderness. An easy all-trail […]



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The third-generation Pocket Cleat from Vargo, which will be available this fall.

Preview: Vargo Pocket Cleats v3 || Sub-3 oz traction for early-season backpacking

The third-generation Pocket Cleats from Vargo have undergone significant revisions since v2, which was tweaked from v1. They will be available in October or November in stainless steel ($40, 2.9 oz) and titanium ($60, 2.1 oz), each in just one size that will fit most running shoes, hiking shoes, and hiking boots. Problems with v1 and […]



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Notice the aggressive, nearly vertical doorway pole, which helps to increase interior volume.

Preview: Sierra Designs 2018 tents || High Side, Studio, Sweet Suite & Meteor

My coverage of Outdoor Retailer starts at the Sierra Designs booth (naturally, since they’re paying for me to be here). For 2018 SD has largely revamped its shelter line-up. Only three current models are being carried forward — the Summer Moon, Clip Flashlight, and my High Route. The remainder will be discontinued and closed out. […]



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Sierra Designs 35-deg mummy and Thermarest NeoAir, inside of the SD High Route Tent 1FL (fly only)

Gear List: Pfiffner Traverse || Colorado Rockies in July

It’s been years since I posted a complete backpacking gear list for a trip. Instead, I’ve been doing in-depth dives on specific categories (e.g. shelter systems, stove systems, first aid kits) that I believe are more instructive and universally relevant than lengthy gear lists that are specific to a single location, season, and group size. […]



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Wearing a 200-weight fleece atop 13,250-foot Mt Bancroft, where the wind was howling at 30 mph and temperatures were only in the 50's.

Review: REI Quarter-Zip Fleece Pullover || Benchmark standard for $22

On three-season backpacking trips in the Mountain West, and on cooler trips elsewhere, I consider a fleece top like the REI Co-op Quarter-Zip Fleece Pullover ($45, 8 oz) to be an essential item. It serves two functions: As a second layer in brisk conditions (e.g. chilly mornings, windy ridges and peaks), when my hiking shirt isn’t […]



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With warm temps, steady rain, high humidity, and light winds at this pre-dawn start, Buzz was very happy with his umbrella, especially since we would spend the next four hours climbing.

Reader question || Backpacking umbrellas: Pros, cons & recommendations

Recently I received a question from reader Eric W about umbrellas, which I’ve mentioned previously (e.g. Core 13 Clothing, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide) but never addressed in great detail: Under at least some circumstances, all modern raingear options for backpacking are flawed. For example, most rain jackets and pants — which are the most common selection […]



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