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From ultra(slow) runner to 2:3X marathoner || Training methodology, with coach David Roche

By Andrew Skurka / March 11, 2017 /

For the last three years I have perhaps been more serious about running than about backpacking. It’s a function of lifestyle and age: running 10-20 hours per week is more compatible with marriage than thru-hiking would be, and at nearly 36-years-old I have only a few years left in which to run really fast lifetime PR’s. I took…

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

By Andrew Skurka / February 3, 2017 /

This page is a one-stop resource to help you learn to backpack. It establishes a philosophical basis, offers critical advice, and links to valuable resources and additional reading. I’ve kept the length manageable — it’s high signal, low noise. I wish that I had found something like it fifteen years ago when I began to backpack. It would…

Actually, there is a “right way” to backpack: The limits of “hike your own hike”

By Andrew Skurka / November 16, 2016 /

One interaction I distinctly recall from the Appalachian Trail was in Virginia, with a fellow thru-hiker who was outwardly critical of my approach. I had been moving at a relatively quick clip, in the hopes of finishing the entire trail in about three months, before the start of my fall semester. “You’re hiking too fast…

Buyer’s Guide + my Go-to Systems: Backpacking tents, tarps & hammocks

By Andrew Skurka / November 13, 2016 /

There are literally thousands of backpacking shelters — multiple styles of tents, tarps, hammocks, and bivy sacks, plus accessories like guylines and stakes — from which to choose. How is a new backpacker, aspiring thru-hiker, couple, Philmont-bound Boy Scout, or even a veteran looking to upgrade, supposed to sort through the paralyzing volume of options…

How to poop in the outdoors || Part 1: Site selection

By Andrew Skurka / October 6, 2016 /

Like real estate, pooping outdoors is all about location, location, location. Conventional wisdom mostly skips over this aspect, and puts more emphasis on the cathole — you know, the perfect 8-inch pit that, like the perfect bear hang, is much easier to draw than to accomplish in the field. By finding a good pooping location, more liberties…

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

By Andrew Skurka / October 5, 2016 /

If I were to drop my first aid, foot care, and field repair kits directly into my master backpacking gear list, I would fear clogging it up. Already, the 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…

How-to || Pack a backpack: Load distribution, organization, waterproofing, & canisters

By Andrew Skurka / September 20, 2016 /

When packing my backpack, I have two primary goals: Minimize its effect on my center of gravity, and Keep oft-needed items easily accessible so that I can hike uninterrupted. I’ll start by discussing these goals in-depth. Then, I will address special considerations like bear canisters and backpack styles. Center of gravity When not wearing a…

Five-star campsites || Part 1: Intro, regs, planning, zones & spots

By Andrew Skurka / September 15, 2016 /

Campsites are not created equal. Where possible, I seek out locations that are relatively warm, dry, private, aesthetic, and free of bugs, rodents, and bears — “five-star campsites,” I call them. A high quality campsite makes a difference: It is more conducive to a night of quality sleep, and It enhances my backcountry experience. Sadly,…

Map & Compass: Adjust for declination & orient the map

By Andrew Skurka / July 16, 2016 /

Backcountry navigation is an art. The basics can be learned quickly, like dead reckoning, reading a map, and using an altimeter watch. But extensive practice is necessary to seamlessly and flawlessly apply these skills in the field, especially when under duress or in challenging situations, like off-trail in a heavily forested area with rolling hills.…

Backpacking Stoves: Five complete systems for soloists & groups

By Andrew Skurka / November 27, 2015 /

What are the backpacking stove systems that I use in 3-season and winter conditions when solo, as a couple, or in a group? In this multi-post series I will detail them, with complete gear lists and in-depth explanations of my selections. This is not meant to be a definitive list of viable stove systems. There are literally…