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Gear List: Yosemite High Route + PCT/JMT in July

By Andrew Skurka / July 8, 2019 / 11 Comments

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…

Gear List: Gates of the Arctic National Park, Brooks Range, Alaska in early-summer

By Andrew Skurka / June 7, 2019 / 19 Comments

In the second half of June I’m running four 7-day guided trips in Gates of the Arctic National Park, split between two guide teams. Gates encompass the western half of the famed Brooks Range, which spans 1,000 miles across Alaska and which arguably offers the greatest wilderness trekking in North America. The terrain and conditions…

Gear list: West Virginia & Appalachians in May

By Andrew Skurka / May 8, 2019 / 7 Comments

My guiding season starts this Friday in West Virginia, where Alan Dixon, Joseph “Stringbean” McConaughy, Ron Bell, Matthew Bright, and I will be leading two consecutive intro-level 3-day trips (May 10-12 and 13-15). Seneca Creek National Recreation Area encompasses Spruce Knob, the state’s high point, and is not far from other popular backcountry areas like Dolly…

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…

Gear List: Yosemite High Route || High Sierra in August

By Andrew Skurka / September 5, 2018 / 38 Comments

Last month I went on a 9-day/8-night backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park. My route was more ambitious than the norm: I was scouting the Yosemite High Route, which has monstrous vertical change and extensive off-trail and alpine travel. I tried to avoid popular trails like the John Muir Trail/Pacific Crest Trail and the High Sierra Camp…

Gear List: Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) || Personal & obligatory gear

By Andrew Skurka / August 29, 2017 / 17 Comments

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) and its growing race series (CCC, TDS, OCC, and PTL) are held in the last week of August in the Savoy Alps, an extreme mountain environment. Since the first race in 2001, racers have experienced a wild range of weather: snow, cold rain and snow, fierce winds, relentless sun,…

Recommended clothing systems: Backpacking in the Mountain West

By Andrew Skurka / August 23, 2017 / 20 Comments

What clothing is necessary for backpacking in the Mountain West in 3-season conditions? Let’s discuss. I define the Mountain West as the semi-arid ranges of the Sierra Nevada, Intermountain West, and Rockies. Examples: Pacific Crest Trail in California and southern Oregon High Sierra, including the John Muir Trail and multiple high routes, e.g. Sierra High…

Gear List: Pfiffner Traverse || Colorado Rockies in July

By Andrew Skurka / July 25, 2017 / 11 Comments

It’s been years since I posted a complete backpacking gear list for a trip. Instead, I’ve been doing in-depth dives on specific categories (e.g. shelter systems, stove systems, first aid kits) that I believe are more instructive and universally relevant than lengthy gear lists that are specific to a single location, season, and group size.…

If cost were no object: My go-to backpacking shelter systems, gone ultralight

By Andrew Skurka / November 23, 2016 / 24 Comments

The backpacking shelters that I presented in this series — a modular tent, tarp & bivy, and hammock — are middle-of-the-road systems. They are not ultralight or excessively heavy, not cheap or prohibitively expensive, and not benchmark-setting or under-performers. This was intentional on my part. While they reflect what I personally use (in most cases,…

Gear List || Backpacking Hammock: Forest & high-use zone specialist

By Andrew Skurka / November 21, 2016 / 33 Comments

A night of quality sleep in the backcountry depends on multiple factors. A shelter and sleep system that defend against precipitation, wind, insects, groundwater, and cold are the most obvious prerequisites. But equally important is campsite selection, or the art of finding a comfortable location where you can hang your hat. When using ground-based shelters…