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8 adventurous running & hiking loops in Rocky Mountain and Indian Peaks

By Andrew Skurka / October 23, 2019 /

For the first time since 2013, this year I didn’t race and I won’t log at least 3,000 miles. Nagging injuries, lack of race entry luck, and a growing guiding program all played a role, as did an absence of desire — whatever I’d been running towards in my mid-30’s, I felt like I’d reached…

Long-term review: Big Agnes Tiger Wall Carbon Tent || $1000+ fragile guilty pleasure

By Andrew Skurka / August 17, 2019 /

Over dinner at The Pump House in Fairbanks, I read to my co-guides — Alan Dixon, Flyin’ Brian Robinson, and Justin Simoni — the disclaimer-filled email about the Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon Tent, sent to me by BA’s PR firm: “The [Tiger Wall Carbon] is intended for only the most advanced users. Although…

Gear List: Yosemite High Route + PCT/JMT in July

By Andrew Skurka / July 8, 2019 /

For several years my High Sierra guided trips have been in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park in September, when conditions are predictably comfortable (mild days, crisp nights, little precipitation, and no bugs or wildfire smoke) and when there is less backcountry traffic. But for a change in scenery, this year I scheduled them in Yosemite in…

Standout gear for cold-and-wet conditions in the Appalachians

By Andrew Skurka / May 19, 2019 /

Last week my guiding season kicked off in the beautiful — but soggy and unseasonably cold — mountains of West Virginia, with four 3-day/2-night learning-intensive Backpacking Fundamentals courses, split between two guide teams. Based on the conditions assessment that we performed during the Planning Curriculum, we expected rain and cool temperatures. But I was hoping for…

Snowpocalypse 2019: Expected “summer” conditions in the High Sierra & southern Rockies

By Andrew Skurka / March 28, 2019 /

California, Oregon, Nevada, and the Four Corners states have been drenched this winter, with snowpacks now about 150 percent of their normals. If you have scheduled backpacking trips in the High Sierra or southern Rockies in June or July, and to a lesser degree August, here is some reading for you: 1. Today on my…

Ineffective & outdated: Six reasons to not hang a bear bag

By Andrew Skurka / January 10, 2019 /

Bear bags are a stubborn fixture of the backpacking world. Hanging is recommended, taught, and practiced by influential organizations and individuals even though it is less effective, less foolproof, less reliable, less efficient, and less safe than other food protection techniques, notably hard-sided canisters and (to a lesser degree) soft-sided bear-resistant food sacks. I have not…

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…

How to choose: Jetboil backpacking stoves || Zip v. Flash v. -Mo v. Joule

By Andrew Skurka / November 16, 2018 /

Yesterday I attended a Jetboil press event in Boulder. It was an opportunity to examine the product line and to speak with Jetboil reps in a less time-crunched setting than Outdoor Retailer. Stove system overview To simplify decision-making for its dealers and customers, Jetboil seems to have worked hard to keep its product line tight. It…

Preview: Altra Tusher || Hiking boot with zero drop & foot shape

By Andrew Skurka / November 11, 2018 /

My coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2018 starts with Altra, which has developed a cult-like following among hikers and runners for its zero drop shoes, wide lasts, and gender-specific fits. Altra revealed three new shoes at the show: the Tusher, Grafton, and Wahweap. They will be available in July 2019. Availability is uncertain at this…

Review: SPOT X Satellite Messenger || I’ll keep my inReach, thanks

By Andrew Skurka / October 23, 2018 /

Exactly one week after Garmin announced the inReach Mini in May, SPOT released its first new device in five years and its first device with two-way satellite messaging. The SPOT X retails for $250, weighs 6.7 oz, and features a 2.7-inch dot matrix illuminated screen and physical QWERTY keyboard. It looks like an orange Blackberry with an over-sized antenna.…