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

By Andrew Skurka / August 22, 2019 / 19 Comments

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…

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

By Andrew Skurka / June 10, 2019 / 37 Comments

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,…

Backpacking Gear List Template + 3-season Checklist

By Andrew Skurka / March 13, 2019 / 49 Comments

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…

Tutorial || How to store & protect food from bears & mini-bears

By Andrew Skurka / December 20, 2018 / 40 Comments

You’ve set up camp for the night and cooked dinner. Now what should be done with the Snickers, salami, peanut noodle dinners, and the other calories that will sustain you for the remainder of your backpacking trip? Protect from what? Most backpackers seem to protect their food overnight because they’re worried about bears. In places…

Tutorial: How to predict backcountry weather conditions || Methods & sources for short & long trips

By Andrew Skurka / June 3, 2018 / 20 Comments

I have said this before, and continue stand by it: there is a right way to backpack: equip yourself with the gear, supplies, and skills that are appropriate for the conditions and your trip objective. Among the conditions that I consider (there are about 10; view the full list), the weather — specifically temperatures, precipitation,…

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

By Andrew Skurka / March 27, 2018 / 53 Comments

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…

Five strategies for hunting elk & mule deer in Colorado

By Andrew Skurka / November 20, 2017 / 15 Comments

You can’t shoot an elk or mule deer until you find one. Duh. And for a beginner DIY hunter, learning to find one is probably the biggest challenge — at least, that was my experience. Where will the big game be, given the location, season, current and recent conditions, and time of day? Otherwise, hunting is…

Stay warm when it’s wet: How to protect down insulation from moisture

By Andrew Skurka / November 7, 2017 / 24 Comments

When shopping for a sleeping bag, insulated jacket, or insulated pants, you will have a choice of insulations: Down, which is a commodity product measured by fill power, e.g. 800-fill; or, Synthetic, which is normally made of interwoven plastic fibers and which may be marketed as Primaloft, Climashield, or a proprietary version like TNF Thermoball.…

Tutorial: Backpacking in early-season conditions || Recommended gear, supplies & skills

By Andrew Skurka / March 13, 2017 / 6 Comments

Recently I explained how an exceptionally snowy winter in California will affect summertime backpacking conditions throughout the Sierra Nevada, including in Yosemite, Sequoia-Kings Canyon, and Desolation Wilderness, and along the John Muir Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Sierra High Route, and Kings Canyon High Basin Route. For all the details, read the post. In short, expect:…