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How to navigate || Part 1: Navigator’s Toolkit + Navigation Mastery

By Andrew Skurka / August 22, 2019 /

Navigation is one of the most important backpacking skills, and certainly the most liberating. It allows you to drive your own adventure, rather than being a passenger. As a new backpacker with only rudimentary know-how, I was confined to backcountry thruways like the Appalachian Trail and high-use areas like Rocky Mountain National Park, where I…

Backpacking & dinner recipes

By Andrew Skurka / August 21, 2019 / Comments Off on Backpacking & dinner recipes

These are my best ideas for backpacking breakfasts and dinners. The recipes have been extensively field-tested by me and by hundreds of clients on my guided backpacking trips. Some meals were immediately winners, but often I tinkered with the ratios and secondary ingredients to get them just right. When creating these meals, I strived to…

Long-term review: La Sportiva Bushido II || Ideal for high routes, Alaska, early-season

By Andrew Skurka / August 21, 2019 /

The La Sportiva Bushido II ($130, 10.5 oz) is designed as an all-mountain trail running shoe. It may perform well in that application, but I bought a pair earlier this summer to instead hike in Alaska’s Brooks Range and on the Yosemite High Route in early-season conditions. Over a 5-week period I put 315 demanding…

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

By Andrew Skurka / August 19, 2019 /

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…

Long-term review: Big Agnes Tiger Wall Carbon Tent || $1000+ fragile guilty pleasure

By Andrew Skurka / August 17, 2019 /

Over dinner at The Pump House in Fairbanks, I read to my co-guides — Alan Dixon, Flyin’ Brian Robinson, and Justin Simoni — the disclaimer-filled email about the Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon Tent, sent to me by BA’s PR firm: “The [Tiger Wall Carbon] is intended for only the most advanced users. Although…

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

By Andrew Skurka / August 15, 2019 /

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

By Andrew Skurka / August 13, 2019 /

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

By Andrew Skurka / August 6, 2019 /

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

By Andrew Skurka / July 8, 2019 /

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

By Andrew Skurka / July 5, 2019 /

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…