It’s not often one gets to meet a legend, but it happened to me at the 2017 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, when I sat down with Andrew Skurka, Outside Magazine’s and National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year, for a chat.
After signing a copy of his new book The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide (Second Edition, published by National Geographic), we sat down to talk – initially somewhat nervous, we headed off on various tangents before finally settling down and discussing the book (the full interview will be posted once I get off my ass and transcribe it).
National Geographic touted the first edition as “Supreme long-distance hiker Andrew Skurka shares his hard-earned knowledge in this essential guide to backpacking gear and skills.” Andrew ups the ante by describing the second edition as “An authoritative and comprehensive guide to backpacking gear, supplies, and skills that will save you time and money by helping you determine what you need, both on your back and between your ears.”
Both descriptions are apt – this is a truly comprehensive guide written by a well-travelled adventurer who methodically tells you everything you need to know to maximize your enjoyment outdoors. Personalities are taken into account, weight weenies to kitchen sink carriers are welcomed, and this book literally covers the gamut of what tools and techniques are needed to have both a successful and safe trip (the coming back is what counts, right?).
The bulk of the book resides in talking about gear. Start with Section 3 and the trip planning checklist. Once you have a handle on where and when you’re going and what you’re bringing, go through the sample gear kits and figure out what makes sense to you as it regards your personal style and finances.
While Section 3 is the cut and dried section and incredibly useful, the fun happens in Section 2: Tools & Techniques. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced hiker, Andrew shares insights into basics such as finding a good campsite, protecting food from critters, navigating (you may want more than a GPS unit), and so much more. My favorite thing about the book were “skurka’spicks” – Andrew goes into more detail why certain products or style of products might work better in a given situation.
If you’re a hiker or want to be, this is a resource you’ll want to have in your gear closet or bookshelf, both for practicality but also for escapist daydreams of that future thru-hike. You could buy this book at a store or order via Amazon, but I’d suggest heading to Andrew’s website – all copies will be personally signed, which is a way cool bonus.