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Review: Hanchor Marl backpack || Novel brand, clean look, core features

By Andrew Skurka / August 31, 2018 / 16 Comments

For nearly two full seasons a new Hanchor Marl backpack sat in my garage, waiting for the right opportunity to be taken out. It should not have taken so long, but it did — I was preoccupied with designing the Flex Capacitor, and I need more than 50 liters of capacity when guiding trips. Last month…

Review: Hoka One One Clifton 5 || Iterative changes from 4th gen

By Andrew Skurka / August 12, 2018 / 16 Comments

The fifth-generation Hoka One One Clifton 5 arrived in retail stores a few months ago, and the fourth-generation Clifton 4 (my review) is being phased out (REI clearance here). It is available in two versions: Clifton 5 ($130, 9.4 oz) Clifton 5 Knit ($135, 9.2 oz) I was sent the standard Clifton 5 for review. Both styles…

Preview: Salomon Odyssey Triple Crown || Altra Lone Peak alternative

By Andrew Skurka / August 8, 2018 / 15 Comments

The Salomon Odyssey Pro (my review) is somewhat unique: instead of being a trail running shoe that has been adopted by hikers, it’s a hiking shoe that has the comfort, breathability, and weight of a trail runner. In spring 2019 Salomon will release the second generation Odyssey, the Odyssey Triple Crown. The target market is not…

Preview: La Sportiva Bushido II || Go-to “high route shoe” gets better

By Andrew Skurka / August 8, 2018 / 13 Comments

The La Sportiva Bushido is designed for running on rugged mountain trails, but I’ve found it to be best suited for backpacking high routes. Most notably, it: Sits low to the ground, for stability on uneven surfaces; Features a stiff midsole, for kicking steps in snow and hard dirt, and for holding an edge on…

Preview: Sierra Designs High Route 2.0 || Smaller, but now just 27 oz for fly + inner

By Andrew Skurka / August 1, 2018 / 110 Comments

The Sierra Designs High Route 1FL was launched in fall 2016, and a second-generation will arrive in spring 2019. Its name will not change (i.e. not High Route 2.0 or High Route II), and the existing design will be phased out. MSRP remains $300. Most notably, the updated High Route is smaller than the original. Instead of being…

Preview: Black Diamond Distant Tent || Got ventilation?

By Andrew Skurka / July 31, 2018 / 8 Comments

Nearly all backpacking shelters from cottage manufacturers use trekking poles for support, e.g. MLD SoloMid, TarpTent Notch, and ZPacks Duplex. The explanation is simple: This saves weight over geometries that require dedicated pole sets, e.g. Big Agnes Copper Spur, REI Quarter Dome. Some of the weight must be given back to achieve a minimum of…

Preview: Big Agnes Carbon Tents || Dyneema for the (rich) masses

By Andrew Skurka / July 30, 2018 / 52 Comments

Originally published July 30. Revised November 10. My coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2018 begins with Big Agnes, which revealed new editions of three existing tent geometries: Fly Creek 1 Carbon ($800, 1 lb) and Fly Creek 2 Carbon ($850, 1 lb 2 oz) Tiger Wall 2 Carbon ($1000, 1 lb 9 oz)and Tiger…

Preview: SPOT X || 2-way messenger with physical keyboard

By Andrew Skurka / June 6, 2018 / 20 Comments

SPOT revolutionized backcountry communication in the late-2000’s with its original device, the SPOT Personal Tracker (my review), which retailed for $170 (plus an annual service plan) and which could send three one-way messages: Okay, Help, and SOS. The Tracker was less expensive to own and operate than a satellite phone. It was more functional than…

Book review: Pursuit of Endurance, by Jennifer Pharr-Davis

By Andrew Skurka / June 5, 2018 / 4 Comments

I assumed The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience, by Jennifer Pharr Davis, would be about her record-breaking hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2011, when she (with the help of her committed husband, Brew) finished the route in a mind-blowing 46.5 days, an average of about 47 miles per day.…

Review: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 & UL3 || A “couples trip” tent

By Andrew Skurka / May 14, 2018 / 20 Comments

The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL is new for spring 2018. REI has been the exclusive distributor so far, but more retailers will have it starting next month. It’s available in two sizes: Tiger Wall UL 2 ($400, 2 lbs 8 oz) Tiger Wall UL 3 ($450, 2 lbs 15 oz) With its semi-freestanding pitch, crossover roof pole,…