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Reader Q: Female bidet advice

By Andrew Skurka / March 22, 2022 /

A reader, AnnaJoy G, recently wrote me: I’m a ciswoman and looking for bidet advice for folks with vaginas. Conventional bidet methods seem to involve dirty water trickling down the butt and towards the vulva, the perfect recipe for a UTI. Online advice columns presume the hiker is a cisman and seem oblivious to the…

Leave No Trace Best Practices

By Katie Gerber / March 15, 2022 /

Leave No Trace principles are a framework of best practices that are critical knowledge for anyone who spends time in nature. They were developed to minimize the impact of backcountry travelers on sensitive ecosystems. Especially with the increasing number of people recreating outdoors, acting in accordance with these principles is essential if we wish to…

Extend Your Learning!

By Hunter Hall / February 28, 2022 /

This is meant to be a final ‘send-off’ post for our Plan Like a Pro course and guided trips with links, books, and other resources meant to further your education if you like, on your own terms. It starts with some of our favorite books, classes, apps, online communities and podcasts; and then it goes…

Video tutorial: Finding historical temp & precip date from NCEI

By Andrew Skurka / February 26, 2022 /

Last year the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) updated its website and launched two new tools for researching historical temperature and precipitation data. The good news is that the website is now more user-friendly; the bad news is that my older tutorial, posted in March 2021, is obsolete, so it’s time for a new…

Tips for the packraft-curious: How to get started

By Luc Mehl / November 8, 2021 /

[An introduction by Skurka] Luc recently published, The Packraft Handbook, a definitive how-to resource for this game-changing and rapidly growing mode of wilderness travel. It’s based on his thousands of miles of paddling experience and his swiftwater safety instructor expertise, and includes 150 illustrations to help convey critical information and skills. It reminds me of…

Long-term review: CalTopo || My go-to mapping & GPS navigation platform

By Andrew Skurka / August 9, 2021 /

Let me sound old for a minute. When planning the Sea-to-Sea Route in early-2004, I relied on USGS 30- x 60-minute paper maps at 1:100,000 scale to plot, measure, and follow a 700-mile route across North Dakota and Montana to link the North Country and Continental Divide Trails. Two years later, when planning the Great…

Toilet paper-less: My evolution in butt cleaning

By Andrew Skurka / July 7, 2021 /

When I began backpacking nearly twenty years ago, I used toilet paper exclusively for cleaning my butt after pooping, just like I did at home. I’ve pooped outside thousands of times since then, and now prefer to do the exact opposite: I use no toilet paper at all. Instead, I rely on natural materials, a…

Bear spray: Three proper carrying methods

By Andrew Skurka / June 8, 2021 /

Our Brooks Range trips start next week, so both clients and guides are in the final stages of their preparations. One question that hit my inbox this morning was: What is your recommended method of carrying bear spray? This is a great question to ask before a trip, because your options may be limited or…

Video tutorial: Research historical temperature & precipitation data

By Andrew Skurka / March 12, 2021 /

In a recent post on my favorite resources for researching the conditions that I will likely encounter on a backpacking trip, I plugged the Environmental Centers for Environmental Information, which tracks temperature and precipitation data for thousands of locations throughout the United States. It’s an extremely helpful website, but it can be difficult to navigate…

Template: Environmental & Route Conditions Assessment

By Andrew Skurka / March 2, 2021 /

Nineteen years ago at the start of my first real backpacking trip — an over-my-head thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail — I was simultaneously over-, under-, and mis-prepared, and had justified many decisions on the basis of what if and just in case. For example, I had three methods of purifying water but only “water-resistant”…