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Gear list: West Virginia & Appalachians in May

By Andrew Skurka / February 14, 2020 /

In mid-May I am returning to The Mountain State to guide an intro-level 3-day backpacking course in Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, followed by a more advanced 5-day trip in Dolly Sods Wilderness. Rounding out the guide team will be Alan Dixon, Joseph “Stringbean” McConaughy, and Matthew Bright. Seneca Creek and Dolly Sods are…

Book review || Dreams of El Dorado: History of the West

By Andrew Skurka / February 6, 2020 /

My fascination with the American West began in May 2002, when my father and I drove from North Carolina to Boulder, Colo., where I had a summer internship with GoLite. The landscape felt familiar until somewhere in Kansas, in hindsight roughly coinciding with the 100th Meridian, and from that point on I kept my eyes…

Backpacking Gear List Template + 3-season Checklist

By Andrew Skurka / February 5, 2020 /

Completing a gear list is one of the most important and most beneficial steps in preparing for a backpacking trip. A fully featured gear list can be used to: Pack virtually (and avoid a gear explosion in the guest room), Organize systems (e.g. clothing, shelter, kitchen), Calculate pack weight, Budget and track new purchases, Prepare…

Help wanted: Guided trip manager

By Andrew Skurka / February 2, 2020 /

To help me run my guided trip program last year, I hired David, who proved to be exceptional. Unfortunately, he’ll soon be stepping away after being offered a can’t-turn-it-down promotion at Flagstaff House that has much greater career potential than I could give him. So I’m looking to replace David, and to perhaps delegate other…

Must be doing something right

By Andrew Skurka / January 27, 2020 /

When I offered guided trips for the first time under my own company in 2011, it was a trial balloon of sorts — Will anyone even sign up? Thankfully, a few did — eighteen, to be exact. But that made me curious — What could this become? So for the next three seasons, I tried…

Review: Black Diamond Sprint 225 Headlamp || Upgraded Iota

By Andrew Skurka / January 17, 2020 /

On most backpacking trips last year, I carried the Black Diamond Iota Headlamp (my review). Its 150 lumens were plenty for 3-season conditions; it weighed only 1.9 ounces (56 grams) and packed away small; and I loved that it was rechargeable, so that I could keep AAA batteries out of the waste stream and so…

Review: SAXX Kinetic HD Boxer Briefs || For higher output activities than original

By Andrew Skurka / January 13, 2020 /

When I learned that SAXX had redesigned its Kinetic Boxer Briefs (my long-term review), I was frankly nervous. Over the past two backpacking seasons I’d worn them for over 100 days in Alaska, the High Sierra, Colorado Rockies, and Appalachians, and I’d yet to identify a flaw. So a redesign struck me as risky, with…

Open Application closes Sunday January 12, and it’s kind of your last chance

By Andrew Skurka / January 10, 2020 /

Open Application for 2020 guided trips started on December 15. It closed December 30 for the West Virginia and Utah locations, and it will be losing this Sunday, January 12, for Alaska, California, and the Rocky Mountains. If you’re interested in a 2020 trip, apply now for your best chance to get on your First…

Slideshow: Great Western Loop || 6,875 miles around the American West

By Andrew Skurka / January 9, 2020 /

In April 2007 I began my second mega long-distance hike, the Great Western Loop. Unlike the first one, during which I walked east to west across North America, this was predominately a wilderness experience: I linked five existing long-distance trails and a DIY route across the desert Southwest to create a 6,875-mile circumnavigation of the…

Preview: Showa 282-02 || Winter-ized + black

By Andrew Skurka / January 7, 2020 /

After reviewing the Showa 281 and 282 gloves two years ago (281 review, 282 review), I contacted Showa urging them to develop a more outdoor recreation-specific version. In particular, I wanted to see a rain mitt (not glove) in a subtler color and with a wrist cinch. I got no response and dropped it. Their…