Five-star backpacking campsites: Characteristics & how to find

By Andrew Skurka / September 14, 2016 /

Choosing a good backcountry campsite — or, in my parlance, “five-star” — is a critical but overlooked backpacking skill. Campsite selection is at least as important to my sleep quality as my choice of tent, bag, and pad. Even with appropriate gear, it’s difficult to sleep well in a campsite that:

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…

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…

Map & Compass: Find & transfer bearings in the field & on a map

By Andrew Skurka / August 11, 2016 /

This is the second of a 7-video instructional series from Sierra Designs. This one, as well as the first, are dedicated to map and compass, which is a subcategory of navigation. If you haven’t already, learn to adjust for declination and to orient a map. Got it? Good, let’s move on to a more advanced…

GPS sport watch settings & displays for backpacking

By Andrew Skurka / August 2, 2016 /

Most backpackers wear a simple watch, an altimeter watch like the Suunto Core, or no watch at all. My pick, however, is a GPS sport watch. In this post, I will explain how I customize the watch’s settings and displays for backpacking trips. The case for a GPS sport watch I used a simple watch…

Map & Compass: Adjust for declination & orient the map

By Andrew Skurka / July 16, 2016 /

Backcountry navigation is an art. The basics can be learned quickly, like dead reckoning, reading a map, and using an altimeter watch. But extensive practice is necessary to seamlessly and flawlessly apply these skills in the field, especially when under duress or in challenging situations, like off-trail in a heavily forested area with rolling hills.…

Backpacking instructional video series: Navigation, 5-star camps, fire-starting, & more

By Andrew Skurka / July 16, 2016 /

Sneak peek and behind the scenes at the @andrewskurka video shoot. Stay tuned! #sierradesigns #milesfromordinary A photo posted by Sierra Designs (@sierradesigns) on Apr 27, 2016 at 8:03am PDT This spring Sierra Designs and I filmed seven instructional videos. The first was launched last week, and the remainder will air every other week through the…

My new 14,000-word e-book about backpacking food

By Andrew Skurka / January 6, 2016 /

A few minutes ago I uploaded a 14,000-word manuscript to FedEx Office. I’ll be giving away free paper copies of it later this week at Outdoor Retailer at the Sierra Designs booth — swing on by! This manuscript is entirely about backpacking food: what and how much to pack, trail-tested stoves with which to cook…

Optimal pacing for an ultra marathon | Q&A w/Bob Shebest

By Andrew Skurka / October 7, 2015 /

  What is the optimal pacing strategy for an ultra marathon, especially for a mountainous trail course? Since Run Rabbit Run 100 last month, this question has been of great interest to me: by being more conscious of it than other elites, I think I finished better than I should have given my talent, fitness,…

A backpacker’s training plan for a 100-mile ultra marathon

By Andrew Skurka / September 16, 2015 /

On Friday I’m racing Run Rabbit Run 100 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The official distance for this ultra marathon is 102.7 miles, though the consensus among participants is more like 107. There is 20,000+ vertical feet of climbing and elevations are often around 10,000 feet. It will be my longest race of the year, and my first 100-mile race since…