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Reader question: Are Cuben Fiber shelters & backpacks worth the cost?

By Andrew Skurka / March 8, 2017 /

A question from reader Patrick H.: Most backpackers who look beyond REI while researching gear have probably learned of Cuben Fiber, either in a standalone conversation or as a fabric option for shelters, backpacks, and accessories made by cottage brands like Hammock Gear, Katabatic Gear, Mountain Laurel Designs and others. Cuben stands out, partly because equipment made with it is exorbitantly…

Gear List || Backpacking Tarp & Bivy: Ultralight minimalism

By Andrew Skurka / November 20, 2016 /

In a normal winter, the Sierra Nevada, Pacific Northwest, and Rocky Mountains get hammered by systems that roll off the Pacific Ocean and drop hundreds of inches of snow. The summers, however, are sunny and dry, with only occasional precipitation related to the North American monsoon. Storms can be violent, but they are normally short-lived and…

Backpack Hunt Gear Lists for Big Game (elk & deer) || Introduction

By Andrew Skurka / October 26, 2016 /

Next month I will be hunting elk and deer during Colorado’s third rifle season. As with my previous fall hunts, this will be a backpack hunt: I will carry an overnight load and have a mobile camp. I’ll be joined by Steve, a friend and running partner. Essentially, we’re going on a conventional backpacking trip in the Colorado…

Favorite reads: Backpacking & hiking blogs, websites, and forums

By Andrew Skurka / October 20, 2016 /

Expectedly, I follow many blogs, websites, and forums dedicated to backpacking (and perhaps secondarily to hiking, camping, and the outdoors). As an avid backpacker, I appreciate new gear reviews, skill tutorials, meal recipes, and information on destinations and routes. And as an outdoor blogger myself, other outlets help keep my finger on the pulse of the…

My guyline system for tents, tarps, and hammocks

By Andrew Skurka / August 22, 2016 /

The guyline and tensioning systems normally found on backpacking shelters (including tents, tarps, and hammocks) share two flaws: Insufficient cordage is provided. This limits stake-out locations, which is especially problematic in rocky or hard-packed ground. Natural anchors like trees, downed logs, exposed roots, and large rocks cannot be used, nor can deadman anchors in the winter. These anchors…

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…

Vapor Barrier Liners: Theory & Application

By Andrew Skurka / December 29, 2011 /

Occasionally during the FAQ portion of my slideshows, and frequently at the start of every winter, I receive questions about vapor barrier liners (VBL’s). The content and tone of these questions suggest a general misunderstanding of and slight mystery about them, so in this article I’ll attempt to offer a comprehensive review of VBL’s based…

Make your own: Fancy Feast Alcohol Backpacking Stove

By Andrew Skurka / December 10, 2011 /

I received my first Fancy Feast stove from Ryan Bozis (aka Major Slacker), who attended one of my presentations in Virginia in Spring 2006. I of course thanked him for it, but given how simple the stove was, I could not imagine that it was better than the stove that I had used for most…