Skills

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Nine skills that will allow you to go lighter

By Andrew Skurka / March 29, 2012 /

Two years ago my younger sister and her boyfriend went on their first backpacking trip together—a weekend-long summer outing in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Based on our shared genealogy, she apparently assumed she’d been blessed with comparable backpacking wisdom as her older brother, so she borrowed some equipment I’d left in my parent’s basement and…

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…

Food planning for multi-day backpacking trips and thru-hikes

By Andrew Skurka / January 31, 2012 /

I plan for a trip in two stages: 1. The theory. On my computer, I develop, refine, and perfect every aspect of the trip, notably my gear, supplies, route, and logistics. To do so, I rely heavily on applications like Excel, Word, National Geographic TOPO!, and Google Maps. 2. The tangible. I obtain everything that…

Creating and printing a custom mapset with TOPO!

By Andrew Skurka / January 24, 2012 /

Are you planning a trip that is not addressed specifically and perfectly by an existing guidebook or mapset? Then you should learn to use TOPO!. Among this program’s shortcomings is the inability to export and print multi-page custom mapsets, so in this post I’ll explain an alternative and efficient technique.

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…

Food protection techniques in bear country

By Andrew Skurka / December 20, 2011 /

Disclaimer. Ultimately you need to make your own decisions on how to protect your food in bear country. And you are fully responsible for the outcomes of those decisions. In this article I have tried to be candid and realistic, and to cut through some of the BS, red tape, and conventional wisdom that surrounds…

Train for a long-distance hike

By Andrew Skurka / December 19, 2011 /

Prior to leaving for a long-distance hike there is a lot to do—you have to buy gear and supplies, pack maildrops, organize maps and guidebooks, etc. But it is important that you are physically, as well as logistically, prepared for your hike. This page explains how I condition myself for my long-distance hikes. “Training” or…

How to get sponsored

By Andrew Skurka / December 19, 2011 /

If you are looking for product and/or financial support for your next expedition, this article may help. It explains sponsorships types, the sponsorship process, and what companies want in return for their sponsorship. What it means to be “sponsored” There are about three levels of sponsorship: Tier 1: Free or discounted gear; Tier 2: Tier…

Tips for Coping with Horrific Mosquitoes

By Andrew Skurka / July 19, 2010 /

The section between Dawson City, YT, and Fort McPherson, NT, will be memorable for several things. It was the first of my huge pushes: 390 miles long with two weeks of food. This leg was also great training for the upcoming Brooks Range: conditions were cool and damp, my pack was heavy, the route was…

Secrets to Surviving the Bitter Cold

By Andrew Skurka / March 18, 2010 /

Buckland, AK It was -25° F when I started this trip on Sunday. It warmed up some, to -15°, but it was offset (and then some) by the 10 MPH crosswind from the west. Monday wasn’t much better — it was -20° F in the morning and -10 deg F mid-day. The weather finally broke…