Gear reviews & previews

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

By Andrew Skurka / August 8, 2018 /

Update: I have posted a long-term review of the Bushido II based on my experience with it in Alaska and Yosemite. 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…

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

By Andrew Skurka / August 1, 2018 /

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 Distance Tent || Got ventilation?

By Andrew Skurka / July 31, 2018 /

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 /

Update: Read my long-term review of the Big Agnes Tiger Wall Carbon. 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,…

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

By Andrew Skurka / June 6, 2018 /

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 /

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 /

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 3 oz) Tiger Wall UL 3 ($450, 2 lbs 11 oz) With its semi-freestanding pitch, crossover roof pole,…

Preview: Garmin inReach Mini || 2-way satellite messaging for 3.5 oz!

By Andrew Skurka / May 3, 2018 /

Garmin dropped a big surprise this morning: a new addition to its popular inReach line, the inReach Mini. This new device is noteworthy for two reasons: 1. Size The inReach Mini weighs just 3.5 oz (100 grams) and measures 4″ x 2″ x 1″ (5 cm x 10 cm x 2.5 cm), making it about half…

Review: Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro || What am I missing?

By Andrew Skurka / February 22, 2018 /

For a few weeks I have been using a friend’s Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro. I am a longtime user of Suunto’s original GPS watch family, the Ambit, but this is the first Spartan series model that I have worn. It has a few nice features, but my recommendation is to stay away from…

Preview: Trail Designs Kojin Stove, a StarLyte replacement || Russ Zandbergen interview

By Andrew Skurka / February 18, 2018 /

While I am frequently linked with the Super Cat Stove and was a longtime user, for the last three years I have relied on a more engineered system that is more fuel-efficient, wind-resistant, and stable. Its cornerstone is the Trail Designs Sidewinder Cone. Trail Designs has just released the Kojin Stove, which is meant to be…