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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…

Gear List: Backpacking First Aid Kit for soloists & groups

By Andrew Skurka / February 19, 2020 /

A first aid kit is rightfully considered by most backpackers to be a must-have item. To check this box, you have two basic options: Purchase a prepackaged commercial version like the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight that has been vetted by medical professionals; or, Create your own, based on the specifics of your group, itinerary, and…

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…