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Long-term review: Sierra Designs Long-Sleeve Pack Polo

By Andrew Skurka / February 27, 2016 / 25 Comments

It’s back! After it was disappointingly dropped for the 2015 season, the Sierra Designs Long-Sleeve Pack Polo is in stock again, creating the perfect opportunity for a review. This is my go-to shirt for 3-season backpacking in sun-blessed locations like the Rockies, Sierra Nevada, and Southwest. Its optimal conditions: Daytime high temperatures above about 55 degrees F Abundant sunshine No or low bug pressure A…

My most popular & favorite posts of 2015

By Andrew Skurka / December 31, 2015 / 0 Comments

To close out 2015, I’d like to share my most popular posts. My method in creating the list was only partially scientific — I started with total page views for 2015 in Google Analytics, and then I loosely accounted for publishing dates, since posts released earlier in the year have had more time to be viewed than those released…

Why I’m hard on GORE-TEX, the King of Hype ™

By Andrew Skurka / December 16, 2015 / 100 Comments

When I discuss waterproof-breathable fabrics, a category that was invented and has been defined by GORE-TEX, I admittedly get worked up. In an early draft of yesterday’s post, for example, I called outright its marketing department know-nothings or liars, or both. And in multiple places I have forcefully explained the technological flaws of GORE-TEX and other…

Speculative thoughts on new GTX Active & Outdry Extreme

By Andrew Skurka / December 15, 2015 / 43 Comments

For years I have been arguing that modern waterproof/breathable fabrics — including every version of Gore-Tex and eVent, plus proprietary fabrics like Patagonia’s H2No, Marmot’s NanoPro, Mountain Hardwear’s Dry.Q, and dozens of others — are technologically flawed. (Read this, this, maybe this, and The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide.) Relative to the marketing hype, these fabrics earn a…

Insulation geekiness: specs, pros & cons, optimal uses || SD LIVE (September 8, 2015)

By Andrew Skurka / October 21, 2015 / 7 Comments

Live recording SD Live: All Things Insulation from Sierra Designs on Vimeo. Episode overview In the September edition of SD LIVE, we focused on the insulation materials most commonly used in outdoor apparel and sleeping bags, specifically fleece, down, and synthetic fills. Frank Kvietok, who manages the Advanced Development Center at Exxel Outdoors and who was the…

Backpacking in the rain: helpful gear and skills|| SD LIVE (March 31, 2015)

By Andrew Skurka / April 7, 2015 / 25 Comments

In last month’s SD LIVE event, I discussed multiple ways to help maintain a relative level of comfort and safety when backpacking in the rain. Some methods are simply a matter of packing differently or packing more: sleeping clothes, camp shoes, breathable footwear, group tarp, down insulation, and a pack liner. Other methods are techniques:…

Sometimes it rains. Next SD LIVE event: Tues, Mar 31

By Andrew Skurka / March 23, 2015 / 3 Comments

The next SD LIVE online event will air at 11:30 am PDT on Tuesday, March 31. I will start it off by sharing a series of tips I’ve learned about backpacking in the rain — foot care, fire starting, campsite selection, gear selection, etc. In the second half, Michael Glavin, the Brand Manager of Sierra…

Core Backpacking Clothing || Check lists & systems for 3-season conditions

By Andrew Skurka / March 22, 2015 / 30 Comments

With just a 13-item collection of hiking and backpacking clothing, is it possible to be comfortable here? And with that very same kit, also here? And here, too? I think it is. Earlier this month I introduced the Core 13, a tight collection of hiking and backpacking clothing that can be mixed-and-matched to create appropriate systems for every…

Core Backpacking Clothing || Sleep — Items 12 & 13: Sleeping clothes

By Andrew Skurka / March 18, 2015 / 19 Comments

In climates with regular and long-lasting rain events, high humidity, and/or weak sunlight (due to shade, cloud-cover, or low sun angle), getting damp, wet, or even soaked seems to be an inherent part of the backpacking experience. If you wish to dry out completely during a backpacking trip in the eastern woodlands, Pacific Northwest, or Alaska, I’d recommend you find a…

Core Backpacking Clothing || Items 10 & 11: Rain Jacket & Rain Pants

By Andrew Skurka / March 17, 2015 / 102 Comments

In a few instances I will leave behind my rain gear, notably short backpacking trips in dry environments when there is no precipitation in the forecast, and longer trips in hot and humid environments when a soaking is actually welcomed. But otherwise I bring something to help keep me dry when it rains. A rain…