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In my pack: Six items for rain & ticks in West Virginia

By Andrew Skurka / April 28, 2019 /

Next month I am guiding two 3-day overnight backpacking trips in West Virginia, which has all the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains but a fraction of the backcountry traffic versus the range’s more eastern destinations like Shenandoah National Park. I’m being joined by Alan Dixon, Joe McConaughy (“Stringbean”), Ron Bell, and Matt Bright. This week…

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

By Andrew Skurka / April 24, 2019 /

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 /

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…

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

By Andrew Skurka / February 6, 2019 /

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 /

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″…

Just released: CalTopo app for Android

By Andrew Skurka / December 22, 2018 /

The website CalTopo has been my go-to mapping platform for four over years. I primarily use it to make and print topographic maps, including for all of my guided trips and high route guides. It has come a long way since I began to use it, with regular improvements to the user-interface and imagery database.…

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

By Andrew Skurka / December 13, 2018 /

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 /

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…

Long-term review: Suunto 9 Baro || Legit flagship watch, needs firmware fix

By Andrew Skurka / November 29, 2018 /

For five months I’ve been using the Suunto 9 Baro GPS Sport Watch on a near daily basis, mostly while trail and road running, and occasionally backpacking. With few exceptions, it has supplanted my trusted Suunto Ambit3 Peak (long-term review). It’s the nicest Suunto watch that I’ve used yet, but has one significant blemish that…

Long-term review: Garmin inReach Explorer+ || Sat comm + GPS unit 2-in-1

By Samuel Chaneles / November 28, 2018 /

For different trips, I often wear and carry different gear. But some items are so vital that they end up on every trip — and my Garmin inReach Explorer+ is one of them. Since its release in early-2017, I have used my inReach Explorer+ on many trips around the globe, including on the southern Appalachian Trail,…