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Review: REI Quarter-Zip Fleece Pullover || Benchmark standard for $22

By Andrew Skurka / July 25, 2017 /

On three-season backpacking trips in the Mountain West, and on cooler trips elsewhere, I consider a fleece top like the REI Co-op Quarter-Zip Fleece Pullover ($45, 8 oz) to be an essential item. It serves two functions: As a second layer in brisk conditions (e.g. chilly mornings, windy ridges and peaks), when my hiking shirt isn’t…

Reader question || Backpacking umbrellas: Pros, cons & recommendations

By Andrew Skurka / July 10, 2017 /

Recently I received a question from reader Eric W about umbrellas, which I’ve mentioned previously (e.g. Core 13 Clothing, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide) but never addressed in great detail: Under at least some circumstances, all modern raingear options for backpacking are flawed. For example, most rain jackets and pants — which are the most common selection…

Experimental rain gloves: Handwear for cold-and-wet conditions

By Andrew Skurka / July 9, 2017 /

On Thursday I start a yo-yo of the Pfiffner Traverse, a 77-mile high route in Colorado’s Front Range between Milner and Berthoud Passes, and I firmly expect at least one monsoonal drenching during the course of it, if not multiple. The backpacking conditions for which I still have the fewest answers is when it’s cold and…

Backpacking clothing for early-season conditions in the High Sierra

By Andrew Skurka / March 13, 2017 /

Outdoor clothing brands and retailers present backpackers with a paralyzing number of options. The situation is exacerbated by marketing hype and the infusion of “outdoor lifestyle” clothes, which perform relatively poorly in the field. Two years ago I published a series on Core 13 Clothing, and those posts remain as relevant as ever. These items can…

Review: Men’s Nike Hypercool Compression 6″ Short

By Andrew Skurka / March 2, 2017 /

While I was researching for my recent review of the Under Armour Sonic Compression Short, I saw a new (at least to me) model from Nike that looked similar to the original Pro Combat Short, which I had worn before the Sonic. I was disappointed when Nike replaced it with the Pro Combat 2.0 Short,…

My favorite hiking shirt and insulated jacket, on sale for $40 and $125

By Andrew Skurka / December 15, 2016 /

It looks as if Sierra Designs is trying to clear inventory from past seasons and from its spring/summer line, and yesterday began offering 50 percent off its apparel. That’s a damn good deal — about equal to the price paid by a retailer like REI, which then doubles the price and sells it on their floor.…

Long-term review: Julbo Dirt photochromic & polarized sunglasses

By Andrew Skurka / November 10, 2016 /

Eighteen months ago I purchased the Julbo Dirt sunglasses with a photochromic and polarized Zebra lens. This was my second pair, with the first pair being unfortunately lost after a few years of use. Based on product specs and photos, I see no material differences between the original Dirt and current Dirt 2.0. I’m hard on sunglasses.…

Reader question: Clothing & skills for backpacking in the rain

By Andrew Skurka / September 30, 2016 /

A reader — Steve B. from Laporte, MN — recently wrote me: Hi Andrew, I used much of your advice on my 300-mile Superior Hiking Trail thru-hike this summer. Many things worked well, like trekking poles, microfiber underwear, and my alcohol stove. One thing that didn’t go so well was getting wet. I used a…

Long-term gear reviews: Product insights after a 100-day Appalachian Trail thru-hike

By Garrett Workman / September 26, 2016 /

Intro by Skurka. After his recent 100-day thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, Garrett contacted me with some gear reviews, some about products I have written about previously. I thought his insights were valuable, due to his extensive use and to his unbiased viewpoint, and asked his permission to share them. If you have questions for Garrett, leave a comment.…

Notes for next time: Gear, logistics, & snow travel || Glacier Divide Route

By Andrew Skurka / July 31, 2016 /

For my next trip on the Glacier Divide Route, what should I remember from this past one? Logistics The drive to Glacier National Park from Colorado is intimidating — about 15 hours, depending on the final destination. But it wasn’t terrible, and it’s eye-opening to know that I can reach Glacier in 1.5 days even if I’m…