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Footwear & foot care for early-season conditions

By Andrew Skurka / March 14, 2017 /

What must you absolutely get right when selecting footwear for early-season conditions? As with every other season, they must fit. Period. All other footwear characteristics are secondary. However, if you get these right, too, you’ll be much better off than having a well-fitting shoe that never dries and performs poorly on snow. Boots & shoes “Waterproof”…

Quick tip: Field-friendly Leukotape strips for foot care & first aid

By Andrew Skurka / October 4, 2016 /

A core item in my backpacking first aid kit and foot care kit is Leukotape P, a non-elastic strapping tape. I most often use it for hot spots, blisters, and other skin irritations; and on a few group trips I have made custom bandages and protected injured body parts with it. Leukotape P should not be confused…

Gear List || Backpacking Foot Care Kit for blisters & maceration

By Andrew Skurka / October 3, 2016 /

How many hiking and backpacking trips have been set back, or even ruined, by blisters, maceration, and other podiatric problems? Quite a few — including some of mine, unfortunately. To minimize these issues, I carry a dedicated foot care kit. I consider it a separate entity than my backpacking first aid kit. It contains several…

Complete failure: I gave “waterproof” Gore-Tex hiking shoes a second chance

By Andrew Skurka / August 13, 2016 /

My skepticism of waterproof-breathable fabrics (like Gore-Tex) and products that utilize them (like rain gear and “waterproof” footwear) is no secret. For a history, read: Why I’m hard on Gore-Tex, the King of Hype Breathability: an explanation of its importance, mechanisms, and limitations Core 13 Clothing: Rain Jacket & Rain Pants Occasionally, however, it’s healthy…

Footwear & Footcare: Would you suck on these toes? || SD LIVE (July 22, 2015)

By Andrew Skurka / July 21, 2015 /

Live recording Footwear and Foot-care from Sierra Designs on Vimeo. Pre-episode teaser During the next SD LIVE event, I will discuss Footwear and Footcare. Tune in tomorrow: Wednesday, July 22, 11:30am PDT. The program will run 30-45 minutes. Topics will include but are not limited to: Shoes Socks Gaiters Maceration Blisters Calluses This is intentionally a live…

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

By Andrew Skurka / April 7, 2015 /

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:…

Minimizing the effects and aftermath of wet feet

By Andrew Skurka / April 3, 2012 /

“These are waterproof, right?” asked the customer to the Campmor sales clerk, as he walked around the footwear area testing out a pair of backpacking boots. Out of intrigue, I stopped to watch how the conversation would unfold, despite needing to get back to the area where my gear and skills clinic would be starting…

Why “waterproof” shoes will not keep your feet dry

By Andrew Skurka / March 1, 2012 /

Here’s a reality check: if you are backpacking in wet conditions—which could entail prolonged rain, dew-soaked grass, melting snow, un-bridged creek crossings, or even just high humidity—your feet are going to get wet. So-called “waterproof” footwear will not keep your feet dry. Advertisements and marketing that makes such claims are false and disingenuous, and they…

My sock systems for backpacking in 3-season conditions

By Andrew Skurka / January 17, 2012 /

In normal 3-season conditions, I carry just two pairs of socks on my backpacking trips. In wet climates I carry a “daytime” pair and a “sleeping” pair, whereas in dry climates I carry two “daytime” pairs. But there’s slightly more to it than that. This is the first of what I hope will become a…