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Major redesign: Salomon X Ultra 4 preview

By Andrew Skurka / December 1, 2020 /

The Salomon X Ultra is the favorite hiking shoe of fellow guide Dave Eitemiller, and it’s one of my recommendations for high routes, early-season conditions, and Alaska. It stands out for its durability, traction, support, and protection, all in a reasonably lightweight package. The X Ultra 4 will be released in spring 2021, and it…

Backpacking shelters for the BIG & tall, and those who sprawwwl

By Jesse Liesch / August 11, 2020 /

Backpacking tents and tarps are generally not designed for the big & tall and for those who love to sprawl. Many designs are cramped and claustrophobic for these users, which may hinder a night of quality sleep and lead to a soaking-wet sleeping bag from condensation-covered walls. If this sounds like your nighttime experience, this…

Preview: SPOT Gen4 || Updated 1-way messenger

By Andrew Skurka / August 3, 2020 /

The SPOT Gen4 was officially released today. This fourth-generation device remains a one-way messenger, and both its hardware and software has been updated from its predecessor, the Gen3 (my review), which was released more than six years ago. Functionality Like the Gen3, the Gen4 can send outgoing messages only, limited to: SOS, Help, Check in/OKAY,…

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…

Recommended footwear for high routes, Alaska, and early-season conditions

By Andrew Skurka / March 26, 2020 /

What is the optimal backpacking footwear for high routes, Alaska, and early-season conditions? Each year I field this question from dozens of clients, so here I’d like to provide a list of proven winners (and a few losers). These recommendations are relevant to anyone planning a trip to similar locations or in similar conditions, whether…

Updated: First Aid, Foot Care, and Gear Repair Kits

By Andrew Skurka / February 19, 2020 /

I spent the morning updating three important backpacking gear lists: First Aid Kit Foot Care Kit Gear Repair Kit Since I originally posted posted them in October 2016, I’d tweaked them occasionally but hadn’t done a wholesale revision until now. “Wholesale” is probably an overstatement — they were all very solid still. If you sporadically…

Backpacking Gear Lists || First Aid, Foot Care & Repair Kits (Downloadable)

By Andrew Skurka / February 19, 2020 /

If I were to drop my first aid, foot care, and field repair kits directly into my 3-season gear list template, I would fear clogging it up. Already, this master list can be intimidating, and these kits contain dozens of items on their own. Moreover, their exact contents depend greatly on whether I am traveling solo or with a…

Gear list || Backpacking Field Repair Kit for broken, lost & worn out gear

By Andrew Skurka / February 19, 2020 /

Due to extended use, hard use, and sometimes human error, backpacking clothing and equipment will break, tear, and wear out. Personally, in the field I’ve experienced: Torn trekking pants, rain gear, puffy jackets, sleeping bags, and backpacks; Leaking seams on shelters; Bent, splintered, and fractured trekking pole shafts; Cracked sunglasses; Punctured and cracked water bottles; Dead headlamp batteries; Slow leaks in air sleeping…

Gear List: Backpacking Foot Care Kit for blisters & maceration

By Andrew Skurka / February 19, 2020 /

How many hiking and backpacking trips have been set back, or even ruined, by blisters, maceration, and other podiatric woes? Quite a few — including some of mine, unfortunately. To eliminate or minimize these issues, I carry a dedicated foot care kit. This kit is a separate entity than my backpacking first aid kit. While…