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Last summer I yo-yo'd the Pfiffner Traverse in 9 days, starting at Berthoud Pass. By the time I reached Rocky Mountain National Park, where canisters are required, I was able to fit all of my food inside the canister. In the James Peak and Indian Peaks Wilderness, I used other accepted methods to store my food at night.

Not bear- or idiot-proof: Documented canister failures

At least most of the time, hard-sided canisters like the BearVault BV500 successfully protect food from bears and “mini-bears” in the backcountry. But it turns out that they’re not 100 percent bear- or idiot-proof. Recently, I received a spreadsheet that documented 199 food-related bear incidents with backpackers in Yosemite National Park between July 2012 and […]

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Time for a reset. Congrats, dad.

Retirement

Today my father, Robert (“Bob”) Skurka, finishes a 44-year thru-hike of the banking services industry. Like most long walks through the wilderness, his career gave him purpose and identity, and included both peaks and valleys. I’m unconvinced that he’ll take to a conventional retirement — to an even greater degree than his successor, he quickly gets restless — […]

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The Bear Vault BV500, which offers good volume for its weight at a reasonable price

Buyers guide: Bear canisters || Comparison of volume per weight & cost

During the day, properly protecting food is as simple as not leaving it (or a backpack full of it) unattended. The conversation about overnight food protection is longer and more nuanced. Multiple techniques can be used; regulations vary by location; and misinformation and poor practices are abundant. In this post I will focus on one specific food […]

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The new Garmin inReach SE+ (yellow) and Explorer+ (orange) are best described as conventional handheld GPS units with satellite text messaging.

Garmin inReach deep dive: Default & downloadable maps & imagery

Overnight I received this question from reader Bob B.: This question — and just about any other that you can imagine — has been answered previously in my previous posts about the Garmin inReach SE+ and Explorer+: Preview: New Garmin inReach SE+ and Explorer+ 12 FAQ’s: inReach SE+ & Explorer+ || Incl, Will old devices […]

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Aquamira tablets (left) and drops (right)

Tutorial: Methods to purify backcountry water || Pros, cons & my picks

How to purify water from backcountry sources There are four basic techniques for treating water: Boiling Filtration Chemicals Ultraviolet light Boiling is time-tested, but impractical as a regular treatment: it consumes time and fuel, and hot water is normally unsatisfying to drink. I rely on this method only when I’m heating up water anyway for […]

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hrm-inaccurate-closeup

Heart rate monitor troubleshooting: Suunto Smart Sensor & Ambit3 Peak

Last November my heart rate monitor was not working properly. Readings were regularly inconsistent and inaccurate during training runs. I use the Suunto Smart Sensor and Suunto Ambit3 Peak (long-term review), which I purchased together in August and used together without incident for the first 150 hours. Here is an example of its behavior: The readings are […]

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Because cats are too good for concrete.

Review: Sierra Designs Animas Pillow || Comfortable 2.1-oz inflatable for $25

Last summer I used a prototype of the new Sierra Designs Animas Pillow ($25, 2.1 oz) for about 30 nights. It was a similar experience to when I first used a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite (instead of foam): it’s hard to imagine reverting back to my old approach, which included sleeping on my: Soft-sided water bottles (full […]

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In just 2.3 miles, the Pfiffner Traverse climbs Thunderbolt Creek, tops out at Paiute Pass, and drops steeply on the other side to Pawnee Pass Trail. It averages 1,350 vertical feet of change per mile through this section.

It’s the vertical, stupid: How many days should I budget for a high route?

Last week on r/Ultralight, member u/TeddyBallgame1999 asked multiple questions about the Wind River High Route, including: The essence of this question — “How long will it take me?” — has been posed before, in the context of the WRHR and similar routes like the Kings Canyon High Basin Route, Pfiffner Traverse, Glacier Divide Route, and […]

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