Gear reviews & previews

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Re-boxing: Why I’m returning the GoPro Hero 8

By Andrew Skurka / July 5, 2020 /

To help create more video content I recently purchased the GoPro Hero 8 Black. After one trip backpacking trip with it and some around-the-office tinkering, I’ve decided to return it. Background I’m new to action cameras and to videography in general, so entering this market is a bit overwhelming. And unfortunately I didn’t have time…

Review: ZOLEO Satellite Communicator || Seamless messaging

By Andrew Skurka / May 18, 2020 /

The satellite messaging market only has two players: SPOT and Garmin, with the latter getting most of the market share. For a product that’s now so ubiquitous and high-dollar (largely because of the subscription revenue), I’d like to see more brands competing and innovating in this space. Here’s a new one that’s worth consideration: the…

Book review: The Adventurer’s Son, by Roman Dial

By Andrew Skurka / February 25, 2020 /

Nearly six years ago, Cody Roman Dial went missing in Costa Rica on what was supposed to be a four-day solo hike through Corcovado National Park. Twenty-two torturous months later, his family — including mother Peggy, sister Jazz, and father Roman, the legendary Alaskan adventurer — and friends finally got closure, when a local miner…

Book review || Dreams of El Dorado: History of the West

By Andrew Skurka / February 6, 2020 /

My fascination with the American West began in May 2002, when my father and I drove from North Carolina to Boulder, Colo., where I had a summer internship with GoLite. The landscape felt familiar until somewhere in Kansas, in hindsight roughly coinciding with the 100th Meridian, and from that point on I kept my eyes…

Review: Black Diamond Sprint 225 Headlamp || Upgraded Iota

By Andrew Skurka / January 17, 2020 /

On most backpacking trips last year, I carried the Black Diamond Iota Headlamp (my review). Its 150 lumens were plenty for 3-season conditions; it weighed only 1.9 ounces (56 grams) and packed away small; and I loved that it was rechargeable, so that I could keep AAA batteries out of the waste stream and so…

Review: SAXX Kinetic HD Boxer Briefs || For higher output activities than original

By Andrew Skurka / January 13, 2020 /

When I learned that SAXX had redesigned its Kinetic Boxer Briefs (my long-term review), I was frankly nervous. Over the past two backpacking seasons I’d worn them for over 100 days in Alaska, the High Sierra, Colorado Rockies, and Appalachians, and I’d yet to identify a flaw. So a redesign struck me as risky, with…

Preview: Showa 282-02 || Winter-ized + black

By Andrew Skurka / January 7, 2020 /

After reviewing the Showa 281 and 282 gloves two years ago (281 review, 282 review), I contacted Showa urging them to develop a more outdoor recreation-specific version. In particular, I wanted to see a rain mitt (not glove) in a subtler color and with a wrist cinch. I got no response and dropped it. Their…

Nine-year review: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

By Andrew Skurka / December 13, 2019 /

In spring 2011 I purchased the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles, and used them for about 450 days over the next eight backpacking seasons. Some of this use was mild (i.e. short days and on-trail) but a considerable portion was not — they probably endured over 1,000 miles of talus and scree, spring…

Blast from the past || Review: Clifton 1 Reissue

By Andrew Skurka / November 15, 2019 /

Winter arrived early on the Colorado Front Range, pushing me out to the gravel multi-use trails and quiet county roads about a month earlier than usual. I wasn’t prepared for it: my inventory of road-worthy shoes consisted of just one pair of Hoka One One Clifton 5 (my review) with nearly 600 miles on them.…

Preview: Sierra Designs Flex Capacitors 25-40L, 40-60L and 60-75L

By Andrew Skurka / October 29, 2019 /

The original Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor backpack has performed and sold well since it was released three years ago. So Sierra Designs recently expanded the Flex Capacitor series with two new editions, while also updating the original. I was involved with the design and launch of the original Flex Capacitor. But I haven’t been affiliated…