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Coronavirus: US- and state-level trends

By Andrew Skurka / March 31, 2020 /

This weekend I got frustrated by the lack of easy-to-find and up-to-date national- and state-level coronavirus trends. Specifically: How many cases and deaths have been reported each day? And, What is the rate of change? So I created my own, using data from the New York Times, which they’ve made publicly available on Github and…

Recommended footwear for high routes, Alaska, and early-season conditions

By Andrew Skurka / March 26, 2020 /

What is the optimal backpacking footwear for high routes, Alaska, and early-season conditions? Each year I field this question from dozens of clients, so here I’d like to provide a list of proven winners (and a few losers). These recommendations are relevant to anyone planning a trip to similar locations or in similar conditions, whether…

Assignment: Download maps in Gaia GPS for offline use

By Andrew Skurka / March 20, 2020 /

On most trips and in most locations, to navigate I rely primarily on my: Paper topographic maps, Watch (good), ABC watch (better), or GPS watch (best), and Magnetic compass. As both a backup and supplement to these tools, my smartphone has a GPS app like CalTopo (good) or Gaia GPS (better) along with downloaded map…

Assignment: Create a topographic mapset with CalTopo

By Andrew Skurka / March 18, 2020 /

For at least five years, CalTopo has been my preferred map-making platform, and I use it exclusively for personal trips, guided trips, and guidebooks. The service was launched in late-2011 by Matt Jacobs, and its functionality eventually matched and then greatly surpassed my prior go-to, National Geographic TOPO! desktop software, which has since been discontinued.…

Book review: The Adventurer’s Son, by Roman Dial

By Andrew Skurka / February 25, 2020 /

Nearly six years ago, Cody Roman Dial went missing in Costa Rica on what was supposed to be a four-day solo hike through Corcovado National Park. Twenty-two torturous months later, his family — including mother Peggy, sister Jazz, and father Roman, the legendary Alaskan adventurer — and friends finally got closure, when a local miner…

Updated: First Aid, Foot Care, and Gear Repair Kits

By Andrew Skurka / February 19, 2020 /

I spent the morning updating three important backpacking gear lists: First Aid Kit Foot Care Kit Gear Repair Kit Since I originally posted posted them in October 2016, I’d tweaked them occasionally but hadn’t done a wholesale revision until now. “Wholesale” is probably an overstatement — they were all very solid still. If you sporadically…

Backpacking Gear Lists || First Aid, Foot Care & Repair Kits (Downloadable)

By Andrew Skurka / February 19, 2020 /

If I were to drop my first aid, foot care, and field repair kits directly into my 3-season gear list template, I would fear clogging it up. Already, this master list can be intimidating, and these kits contain dozens of items on their own. Moreover, their exact contents depend greatly on whether I am traveling solo or with a…

Gear list || Backpacking Field Repair Kit for broken, lost & worn out gear

By Andrew Skurka / February 19, 2020 /

Due to extended use, hard use, and sometimes human error, backpacking clothing and equipment will break, tear, and wear out. Personally, in the field I’ve experienced: Torn trekking pants, rain gear, puffy jackets, sleeping bags, and backpacks; Leaking seams on shelters; Bent, splintered, and fractured trekking pole shafts; Cracked sunglasses; Punctured and cracked water bottles; Dead headlamp batteries; Slow leaks in air sleeping…

Gear List: Backpacking Foot Care Kit for blisters & maceration

By Andrew Skurka / February 19, 2020 /

How many hiking and backpacking trips have been set back, or even ruined, by blisters, maceration, and other podiatric woes? Quite a few — including some of mine, unfortunately. To eliminate or minimize these issues, I carry a dedicated foot care kit. This kit is a separate entity than my backpacking first aid kit. While…

Gear List: Backpacking First Aid Kit for soloists & groups

By Andrew Skurka / February 19, 2020 /

A first aid kit is rightfully considered by most backpackers to be a must-have item. To check this box, you have two basic options: Purchase a prepackaged commercial version like the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight that has been vetted by medical professionals; or, Create your own, based on the specifics of your group, itinerary, and…