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Severe maceration after the 2009 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic, in which we raced 180 miles across the Eastern Alaska Range in 4 days

Footwear & Footcare: Would you suck on these toes? || SD LIVE (July 22, 2015)

Live recording Footwear and Foot-care from Sierra Designs on Vimeo. Pre-episode teaser During the next SD LIVE event, I will discuss Footwear and Footcare. Tune in tomorrow: Wednesday, July 22, 11:30am PDT. The program will run 30-45 minutes. Topics will include but are not limited to: Shoes Socks Gaiters Maceration Blisters Calluses This is intentionally a live […]

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Topographic maps, guidebook, and databook, plus my navigation tools: magnetic compass, altimeter/barometer watch, smartphone with GPS app, 2-way satellite messenger, and backup battery charger plus necessary cords.

Backpacking Trip Planning Checklist: To do before you go

I have planned hundreds of backpacking trips. Many have been personal outings, ranging from long weekends in nearby destinations to multi-month thru-hikes in faraway places. The rest have been guided, when I’ve been accountable to paying clients. To maximize my working efficiency and to prevent oversights when getting backpacking trips out the door, I use a trip planning checklist — a spreadsheet, […]

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Tips for quality sleep in the backcountry || SD LIVE (May 12, 2015)

SD Live: Sleeping Comfortably in the Backcountry from Sierra Designs on Vimeo. In our May episode of SD LIVE, Sierra Designs Brand Manager Michael Glavin and I shared our tips for getting quality sleep in the backcountry. This topic should be of great interest — I know many backpackers, especially first-timers and beginners, struggle to […]

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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 topo maps: types, sources & formats

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 (March 31, 2015)

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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