Posts by Andrew Skurka

Long-term review: Therm-a-Rest UberLite || 3-season pad for 8.8 oz

Therm-a-Rest revolutionized the sleeping pad category in the late-2000’s with the NeoAir XLite, which was lighter, warmer, and more comfortable than the prevailing self-inflating pads of the day. Use of the NeoAir technology was expanded, and other brands developed competing products, but the XLite has remained dominant among backpackers concerned with the weight of their…

Review: Black Diamond Iota Headlamp || Goodbye AAA’s

On most summertime backpacking trips, I barely need a headlamp: I can break camp, hike as far as I want, and find a new camp using just natural daylight. Most often, I need a headlamp for camp chores after long days; rarely, I use it to hike a few miles after dark. For nearly a…

Breakfast Recipe: Southwest Egg Burrito

Occasionally I appreciate a blueberry pancake or a bowl of Captain Crunch. But my standard breakfast entails eggs, cheese, and hot sauce or salsa, with toast or a tortilla. When I delegated the meal preparation this year to David, a local ultra runner who has worked at Boulder’s best restaurants (currently, at Flagstaff House), I…

Four spots available: Join us in Colorado

I have four spots available on our guided backpacking trips in Colorado next month. Check the trip schedule for the most current availability; right now these spots are on: Fundamentals 1A (Fri, Sept 6 through Sun, Sept 8): 1 spot Adventure 1A (Mon, Sept 9 through Fri, Sept 13): 1 spot Adventure 2A (Sat, Sept…

Gear List: Yosemite High Route + PCT/JMT in July

For several years my High Sierra guided trips have been in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park in September, when conditions are predictably comfortable (mild days, crisp nights, little precipitation, and no bugs or wildfire smoke) and when there is less backcountry traffic. But for a change in scenery, this year I scheduled them in Yosemite in…

Quickstart guide: Gates of the Arctic National Park

Even within Alaska, the Brooks Range — which extends 700 miles across the state, from the Canadian border to the Chuckchi Sea — is considered to be the ultimate wilderness. It’s crossed by just one gravel road, has just one tiny Native village within its mountainous core, and has no man-made hiking trails. Gates of…

New snowpack tool: Satellite imagery for CalTopo + GaiaGPS

The peak backpacking season is almost here, and many backpackers with planned trips in the Mountain West are asking the same question: “What is the current state of the snowpack?” This is especially the case in areas that had wet winters and springs, notably the High Sierra, Colorado, and Wyoming. Historically, I’ve relied on SNOTEL…

Long-term review: Western Mountaineering AstraLite || Very warm & light

In a one-week period in April I fielded three inquiries about the Western Mountaineering AstraLite, which was released in spring 2018 and which I’ve used for about 30 nights while scouting the Yosemite High Route in August, guiding trips in Sequoia-Kings in September, and enduring cold-and-wet conditions in West Virginia in May. I will use…

PSA | Hazardous High Sierra creeks: List, map & alternates

Every spring, creeks in the High Sierra rage with snowmelt. For one to two months, they are a grave danger, especially after wet winters like 2018-19. Backpackers can still hike, camp, and explore safely, but they should be aware of and respect this hazard. Swift and deep creek crossings will be found throughout the range,…