Gear Reviews & Previews

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Long-term review: Western Mountaineering AstraLite || Very warm & light

By Andrew Skurka / June 13, 2019 / 14 Comments

In a one-week period in April I fielded three inquiries about the Western Mountaineering AstraLite, which was released in spring 2018 and which I’ve used for about 30 nights while scouting the Yosemite High Route in August, guiding trips in Sequoia-Kings in September, and enduring cold-and-wet conditions in West Virginia in May. I will use…

Long-term review: Osprey Aether/Ariel Pro 70 || Tough mid-weight load-hauler

By Andrew Skurka / May 21, 2019 / 2 Comments

Recently I had to look through photos of the Great Western Loop from 2007. My, my, I had such a small and light pack. But the trend has been moving in the wrong direction ever since, and for about a year I’ve been using a pack that has more volume and weighs more than anything…

Long-term review: Black Diamond Rhythm Tee with NuYarn, innovative nylon/merino blend

By Andrew Skurka / April 24, 2019 / 17 Comments

At the end of a Black Diamond media lunch at Outdoor Retailer last November, I was given a t-shirt that we’d been quickly briefed about but that seemed like vastly inferior product seeding relative to the new powder skis and airbag packs that’d really wow’d us. I’m notoriously particular about my athletic clothing, and I expected this…

Long-term review: Saxx Kinetic Boxer Briefs || Pricey perfection

By Andrew Skurka / April 17, 2019 / 14 Comments

After my first trip last spring, I cut out the boxer brief liner of my favorite hiking shorts, which were designed for running and which I’d scored at Marshalls for $15(!) a few years earlier. The elasticized liner had lost its rebound, resulting in an imperfect fit and insufficient support. The shell was still in…

Book review: Thirst, by Anish || Honest & accurate depiction of PCT FKT

By Andrew Skurka / April 14, 2019 / 2 Comments

“Better her than me,” I said multiple times during Thirst: 2600 miles to home, by Heather Anderson (“Anish”) about her record-setting thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013, which she completed in 60+ days at an astounding pace of over 43 miles per day. This glorified diary is an honest and accurate depiction of…

Book review: The Sun is a Compass || Bellingham to Kotzebue, Alaska

By Andrew Skurka / April 8, 2019 / 5 Comments

Nine years ago I randomly met Caroline Van Hemert on a gravely beach along Alaska’s Lynn Canal, between Juneau and Haines. She approached as I was cooking dinner and soaking in a splendid sunny evening. It was kind of dreamy, I won’t lie — I was halfway into my Alaska-Yukon Expedition, and she was the…

Preview: Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 || Lighter & stickier than predecessor

By Andrew Skurka / February 6, 2019 / 3 Comments

The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 will be available soon, in April 2019. This third-generation model remains purpose-built for long trail races and training runs, and the iterative changes seem entirely likable. Like most Salomon models, the Ultra is a neutral shoe that is designed for narrow and low-volume feet. But it has more forefoot volume…

Long-term review: LOKSAK OPSAK || Food storage enhancer

By Andrew Skurka / January 5, 2019 / 17 Comments

LOKSAK OPSAK bags are made of heavy-duty plastic and have a hermetic seal. When closed, the bag is airtight, waterproof, and odor-proof (the “OP” in OPSAK). On some trips, I use the 12″ x 20″ size ($6, 1.5 oz) as a lone food sack or as a liner inside a wildlife-resistant Ursack. I also like the 9″…

Review: Salomon Sense Pro 3 || Smooth speedster for soft ground

By Andrew Skurka / December 13, 2018 / 2 Comments

The Salomon Sense Pro 3 is a fast, smooth, and aggressively lugged trail running shoe that is best for narrow/low-volume feet and soft or loose surfaces. Even though the Sense Pro 3 will replace the Sense Pro 2 and shares nomenclature with the Sense Pro 1, it most strongly resembles the S/Lab Sense 6 SG, which was the…

Long-term review: Salomon Sense Pro 2 || Nimble & capable trail shoe

By Andrew Skurka / December 6, 2018 / 8 Comments

The original Salomon Sense Pro (long-term review) is still one of my all-time favorite shoes. It fit me perfectly and was extremely versatile — in it, I ran a road marathon, a 50-miler on smooth singletrack and jeep roads, and a 100-miler on tough mountain trails, among other races and training runs, and never felt…