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

By Andrew Skurka / October 6, 2016 / 16 Comments

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 / 3 Comments

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 / 26 Comments

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 / 16 Comments

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 / 14 Comments

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 / 35 Comments

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…

Backpacking Trip Planning Checklist: To do before you go

By Andrew Skurka / July 5, 2015 / 12 Comments

I have planned hundreds of backpacking trips. Many have been personal outings, ranging from long weekends in nearby destinations to multi-month thru-hikes in faraway places. The rest have been guided, when I’ve been accountable to paying clients. To maximize my working efficiency and to prevent oversights when getting backpacking trips out the door, I use a trip planning checklist — a spreadsheet,…

Core Backpacking Clothing || Intro: With just 13 items, go anywhere in 3-season conditions

By Andrew Skurka / March 9, 2015 / 10 Comments

To backpack anywhere in 3-seasons conditions, how few articles of clothing are needed to mix-and-match appropriate systems? I say: thirteen — the Core 13, I’ll call the collection. However, a decent argument could be made for 11, and for a narrower range of applications or conditions, even fewer are relevant. For instance, just 9 for the Colorado Rockies and…

Female hygiene: a backcountry guide and tips

By Trinity Ludwig / March 11, 2013 / 117 Comments

Introduction from Skurka: I’m qualified to write about many backpacking matters. Female hygiene best practices is not one of them. For this topic, I asked Trinity Ludwig to share her wisdom, figuring she must have a few pointers — in September 2012 she and her two hiking partners, Shelley and Sarah, finished an 11-month 1,785-mile…

“Stupid light”: Why light is not necessarily right, and why lighter is not necessarily better

By Andrew Skurka / July 16, 2012 / 143 Comments

On most trips, my primary objective is to enjoy my hiking experience. Camping, from my perspective, is simply an 8-hour opportunity to recharge before another rewarding day of constant forward progress (CFP). To be this “ultimate hiker,” my gear, supplies and skills must be optimized with regards to: Weight, because carrying less allows me to…