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The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- book review

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Offline mule ears

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The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- book review
« on: March 04, 2018, 08:58:57 AM »
The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- 2nd edition, 2017 by Andrew Skurka

Like many here, I have been a student of backpacking technique and gear for many decades.  I even worked in the gear industry way back and have tried to keep up with developments and innovations over the years.  I have a pretty extensive library of outdoor books and websites that I use to refine my trips and skills and to loan to people, especially new backpackers looking to get started without making too many mistakes when buying gear.

We all know that backpacking is more than just gear so I like references that are balanced with sound principles and advice.  Gear especially changes with time which makes some books obsolete quickly.  I have become a lightweight backpacker and tend towards those kinds of sources of information but also to writers who are also very experienced desert walkers and long distance hikers too.  There are some OK guides that are written by folks who spend most of their time in wetter or cooler climates and can get away with very light loads, the ultralight crowd is particularly centered on he west coast and hike the Sierra where it doesn't rain much in the warmer months, there is plenty of water and the temperatures are mild so they can easily get away with minimal packs.

I cut my teeth on Colin Fletcher and his series of Complete Walker books which were the bibles of the time and were exhaustive in there coverage and beautiful in the narration.  His last and 4th edition came out in 2002 and while now the gear is out of date I still encourage anyone to read it for the great writing and the sections on technique and daily life on the trail.  Those of you who don't know about him he had many major walks and trips including the first continuous walk through the Grand Canyon, walked the length of California in 1958 and walked and rafter the Colorado river from it's source in Wyoming to the sea in Mexico.

After Fletcher my next favorite is Chris Townsend, who is English but has done many massive trips all around the world including the Pacific Crest trail, the Continental Divide trail, the Arizona trail and many other desert locations.  He has many books about his walks but his The Backpackers Handbook was to me the continuation of Fletcher's sound advice combined with many miles of experience.  The last and also 4th edition was put out in 2012

Andrew Skurka to me is the heir apparent at least in his incredible massive walks and now his guiding business which combine to give him a wealth of knowledge.  His Great Western Loop where he walked 6800 miles in 6 months is mind boggling.  His website is packed with information.  He is a lightweight/ultralight hiker but not crazy and coined the term "Stupid Light".  He is not the writer that Fletcher was or even Townsend but his now 2nd edition gear guide is very well laid out with lots of practical and concise advice.  I particularly like the sections on clothing, navigation, food and water.  He also explains well the new fabrics and technologies used in today's new equipment.  His sections on trip planning are excellent too.

I recommend all three authors but think that any backpacker would get quite a bit of good info out of Skurka's latest edition.

temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline dprather

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Re: The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- book review
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2018, 09:13:19 AM »
Like golf, backpacking is a combination of event + planning, and skills + equipment

The planning/equipment side is also fun.

Thanks for the head's up about this book as an addition to the planning/equipment side.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- book review
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2018, 12:34:10 PM »
Just like you, ME, I devoured Colin Fletcher's books. They each arrived on the scene just when I needed them the most. I still enjoy reading them - partly for nostalgia's sake and partly because even now I learn a thing or two every time I go back to them. On the other hand, though I've followed Townsend and Skurka (mostly through random online contacts or in magazine articles), I've never read their guidebooks. Now is probably a good time to remedy that situation. Thanks for the heads-up!
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline congahead

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Re: The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- book review
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2018, 07:33:29 AM »
Glad you’re a fan of Skurka; I am too. In fact, I’ve had the privilege of going on three of his guided treks. It is safe to say he is the reason I did not quit backpacking altogether and just stick to day hikes after my first three attempts. The first, documented somewhere on BBC, was attempted with absolutely no clue what I was doing. The second and third were attempted with advice from, respectively, REI (take heavy gear), and the BSA (take everything you own; “being prepared” for absolutely anything, no matter how minuscule the chances of it occurring.)

My first trip with Andrew (with my wife) was in the High Sierras, my second (with my son) was in Big Bend, and my third was in Grand Staircase-Escalante. His trips are learning-intensive. They taught me to rethink trip planning, meal planning, gear selection, technique and everything else I was doing. I consider his blog required, regular reading.

In addition to being a great resource to our community, Skurka is an all-around good person.
"The animals here will generally try to avoid you, but the plants will hurt you every chance they get."

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Offline congahead

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Re: The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- book review
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2018, 08:16:55 AM »
Forgot to mention two things:

1. I have Skurka's book ... an autographed copy, nonetheless!  :)
2. On two of his treks, his assistant guides were, respectively, "Flyin'" Brian Robinson and Alan Dixon. Like Skurka, two VERY accomplished backpackers. Just being able to observe how these guys did things was worth the price of admission.
"The animals here will generally try to avoid you, but the plants will hurt you every chance they get."

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- book review
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2018, 09:56:38 AM »
Thanks a lot Mule Ears!!!

I get to work Monday morning refreshed, motivated and ready to work.  Now I'm perusing Andrew Skurka's website and those other guys...

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Offline dprather

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Re: The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- book review
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2018, 10:53:32 AM »
Forgot to mention two things:

1. I have Skurka's book ... an autographed copy, nonetheless!  :)
2. On two of his treks, his assistant guides were, respectively, "Flyin'" Brian Robinson and Alan Dixon. Like Skurka, two VERY accomplished backpackers. Just being able to observe how these guys did things was worth the price of admission.

what is the price of admission for such things?
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- book review
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2018, 11:02:38 AM »
Glad you’re a fan of Skurka; I am too. In fact, I’ve had the privilege of going on three of his guided treks. It is safe to say he is the reason I did not quit backpacking altogether and just stick to day hikes after my first three attempts. The first, documented somewhere on BBC, was attempted with absolutely no clue what I was doing. The second and third were attempted with advice from, respectively, REI (take heavy gear), and the BSA (take everything you own; “being prepared” for absolutely anything, no matter how minuscule the chances of it occurring.)

My first trip with Andrew (with my wife) was in the High Sierras, my second (with my son) was in Big Bend, and my third was in Grand Staircase-Escalante. His trips are learning-intensive. They taught me to rethink trip planning, meal planning, gear selection, technique and everything else I was doing. I consider his blog required, regular reading.

In addition to being a great resource to our community, Skurka is an all-around good person.

That is great to hear.  Are you the one with the post on his site about hiking on the Mesa de Anguila?  I think the second edition of the book is considerably better than the first too.  Can't get any better teachers than those three.   :great:

I will say that while I respect Skurka's experience and how he has laid out the book, I, like most things, don't agree with all of his recommendations and have arrived at some other equipment choices over time.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2018, 12:05:24 PM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline congahead

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Re: The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- book review
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2018, 12:10:25 PM »
Forgot to mention two things:

1. I have Skurka's book ... an autographed copy, nonetheless!  :)
2. On two of his treks, his assistant guides were, respectively, "Flyin'" Brian Robinson and Alan Dixon. Like Skurka, two VERY accomplished backpackers. Just being able to observe how these guys did things was worth the price of admission.

what is the price of admission for such things?

I don't recall exactly, because it's been a few years. His prices are normally listed on his website. For what you get, I considered them a great value.
"The animals here will generally try to avoid you, but the plants will hurt you every chance they get."

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Offline congahead

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Re: The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- book review
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2018, 12:18:09 PM »
Glad you’re a fan of Skurka; I am too. In fact, I’ve had the privilege of going on three of his guided treks. It is safe to say he is the reason I did not quit backpacking altogether and just stick to day hikes after my first three attempts. The first, documented somewhere on BBC, was attempted with absolutely no clue what I was doing. The second and third were attempted with advice from, respectively, REI (take heavy gear), and the BSA (take everything you own; “being prepared” for absolutely anything, no matter how minuscule the chances of it occurring.)

My first trip with Andrew (with my wife) was in the High Sierras, my second (with my son) was in Big Bend, and my third was in Grand Staircase-Escalante. His trips are learning-intensive. They taught me to rethink trip planning, meal planning, gear selection, technique and everything else I was doing. I consider his blog required, regular reading.

In addition to being a great resource to our community, Skurka is an all-around good person.

That is great to hear.  Are you the one with the post on his site about hiking on the Mesa de Anguila?  I think the second edition of the book is considerably better than the first too.  Can't get any better teachers than those three.   :great:

I will say that while I respect Skurka's experience and how he has laid out the book, I, like most things, don't agree with all of his recommendations and have arrived at some other equipment choices over time.

Yep, that's me.

I agree about not agreeing. Not to speak for Skurka, but he's generally not one to deal in absolutes. I think he'd be the first to say that choices are a function of many variables including goals, fitness, experience, budget, styles, etc. You have to run any recommendation from anybody through all of those filters and more.
"The animals here will generally try to avoid you, but the plants will hurt you every chance they get."

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Offline mule ears

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Re: The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide- book review
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2018, 01:08:00 PM »
I thought it was a good synopsis of how to improve your hiking experience.

The reason I thought Skurka's book was good was the balanced approach which is also what I liked about Fletcher and Townsend.  I'd rather have the principles and then use my own judgement which is what all three do.

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Big Bend Chat mobile app

« Last Edit: March 05, 2018, 02:05:37 PM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

 


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