Friday, May 11, 2012

Andrew Skurka Talk on Ultimate Hiking

Back in April I drove down to Lexington with my son and another adult scouter to see a talk by Andrew Skurka sponsored by Washington and Lee's Outing Club.

We have been working hard to encourage the Scouts to pack lighter on backpacking trips, believing that a lighter backpack creates a happier scout and increases the potential that a scout will take to the adventure.  (It doesn't always work - that hike in Ramsey's Draft a couple of weeks ago had one kid bring a stainless steel stock pot and frozen dumplings on a 3 day backpacking trip!)

Our bible as we have worked with the boys has been Andrew's book, called "The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide."  This book published only a few months ago, so the product recommendations he makes are current.  I bought it through Amazon, then gave away my Amazon copy when I paid for an autographed copy from Skurka.

I think this is the best backpacking equipment guide I have ever come across.    I love that he factors in price when considering things like warmth.  You won't see him recommending $27 titanium mugs because they are a few grams lighter.    I am not interested in swapping out my entire collection of camping gear; it would cost too much.  But knowing where to make surgical cuts is made easier by this book.

I also like the fact that Skurka has done some pretty spectacular stuff, like hiking this route in Alaska and the Yukon.

So many other outdoor writers especially A.T. authors, seem enamored by their own fame or out there to promote their own careers as motivational speakers.  I don't think that Skurka falls into this group.

There are a lot of book reviews out there, so I won't go into too many details.  But you can check out backpaking light's review. and this blog review.   Or this one, which is a good distillation of the book.

I found a version of his talk on backpacking gear on the web, and it even includes a brief face shot of my son, at 9:10, as Skurka used a photo I sent him of an early troop backpacking trip.  (A photo I use to motivate myself to keep trying to get through!)   If you have an hour to spare, there is a lot of good information here.

talk at Google.

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