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Tutorial: Smoke forecasting in Yosemite & the High Sierra

By Andrew Skurka / September 16, 2020 /

For five of the past eight years, we’ve guided trips in Yosemite or Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks in September. Wildfires have occasionally affected us — like with trail closures and hazy air — but we’ve typically found ideal conditions: comfortable days and crisp nights, no bugs, and low backcountry traffic. September 2020 has presented us…

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…

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…

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…

Beginner backpackers: Start here || Advice, info, tips & resources

By Andrew Skurka / November 3, 2019 /

This is a one-stop resource to help you learn to backpack, or backpack better. It: Establishes a philosophical context; Advises on gear, supplies, skills, fitness, and locations; and, Links to useful resources and additional reading. For such a comprehensive primer, it’s length is very manageable. It’s intentionally succinct — it’s high signal, low noise. I wish…

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 breakfast & dinner recipes

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

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,…

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

By Andrew Skurka / December 20, 2018 /

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 || Wildfire & smoke management: Strategies & resources

By Andrew Skurka / August 15, 2018 /

For the past month I have been watching the Ferguson Fire, a 100,000-acre blaze on the western outskirts of Yosemite National Park, to assess and predict its effects on my planned backpacking trip there next week. I had to change my destination airport (to Reno instead of Fresno) and I’m expecting some smoke, but fortunately…