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Stay warm when it’s wet: How to protect down insulation from moisture

By Andrew Skurka / November 7, 2017 /

When shopping for a sleeping bag, insulated jacket, or insulated pants, you will have a choice of insulations: Down, which is a commodity product measured by fill power, e.g. 800-fill; or, Synthetic, which is normally made of interwoven plastic fibers and which may be marketed as Primaloft, Climashield, or a proprietary version like TNF Thermoball.…

Review: Showa 282 Gloves || Preferred cold & wet solution, but imperfect

By Andrew Skurka / October 30, 2017 /

When hiking or running in cold and wet conditions, keeping my hands comfortable has been a chronic challenge. On multiple occasions I’ve pulled into a campsite, trailhead, aid station, or my house with inoperable and painful fingers. To minimize (or perhaps even, to end) this suffering, this summer I looked beyond conventional rain mitts like the REI…

Recommended clothing systems: Backpacking in the Mountain West

By Andrew Skurka / August 23, 2017 /

What clothing is necessary for backpacking in the Mountain West in 3-season conditions? Let’s discuss. I define the Mountain West as the semi-arid ranges of the Sierra Nevada, Intermountain West, and Rockies. Examples: Pacific Crest Trail in California and southern Oregon High Sierra, including the John Muir Trail and multiple high routes, e.g. Sierra High…

Preview: Ultimate Direction Deluge || Waterproof/NON-breathable jacket & pants

By Andrew Skurka / August 14, 2017 /

The Ultimate Direction Deluge Jacket and Deluge Pants — which will be released in Spring 2018 — are awesomely light, at 5.5 oz and 2.3 oz for men’s Large. But I’m more excited about the fabric. No, they’re not made of the latest-and-greatest membrane that is more waterproof and more breathable than anything the world…

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…

Review: UA HeatGear Armour Compression Shorts || More realistically, “fitted underwear”

By Andrew Skurka / April 5, 2017 /

For several years my go-to short for long runs and cool temperatures as been the Under Armour HeatGear Sonic Compression Short. Read my long-term review. Unfortunately, the Sonic Short was discontinued a few years back, and leftover inventory is just about gone. I was hopeful that a similarly spec’d model, the Under Armour HeatGear Armour…

Review: Salomon Sonic Pro 2 || Lightweight & responsive road-running shoe

By Andrew Skurka / April 3, 2017 /

Since early last month I have run 125 miles in the Salomon Sonic Pro 2, including all of my long runs and hard workouts. This includes distances up to 25 miles, and 1-mile efforts at 5-min pace. I may wear them later this month at the Boston Marathon. (Follow me on Strava.) Review: Salomon Sonic…

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…