Book Review-The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide, Second Edition: Tools and Techniques to Hit the Trail by Andrew Skurka

gear guide book coverThere is nothing like looking at gear when the weather is to bad to be out hiking.  I have known about this book for quite awhile, but never wanted to spend the money to buy it.  I checked it out of the library and I am glad that I did.

Andrew Skurka is an ultra-lightweight hiker and has hiked all over the world, taught classes and workshops, and written this book.

I was disappointed with the book.  I felt that the focus was on ultra-lightweight and many of the suggestions were dangerous, most especially those involving clothing.  As someone who hikes in the New England area, where ticks and Lyme disease are rampant, wearing long sleeves and long pants, with a hat, is a must if you want to stay disease free.  Maybe it is different in the Western States, but not in the east.

My other issue with the book, was the idea that hiking 30 miles a day was a preferred way.  My body is not designed for speed, never has been, never will be.  While hiking the AT in 2013, a big day for us was 21 miles and we didn’t do that to often.  What is the hurry?

The photos and the descriptions would be helpful for a beginner who is trying to figure out gear, so in that regard it is a good starting point.  It has been my experience that you find out what kind of gear works for you by buying and using it.  Hence my having had 3 different backpack.

I am sure there is a place for this book in the backpacking world, I just didn’t like it in mine.

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RECAP–New Gear

I am recapping our great adventure of winning a free trip to hike in the 10th Annual Fjallraven Classic which took place August 8 to 15, 2014.

Part of the winning package included free gear from Fjallraven.  We would each receive the Abisko 65 (backpack), the EcoTrail (rain) jacket and a pair of Hanwag Tatra hiking boots.

Because we lived close enough to a Fjallraven store, in New York City,


we would be able to go and try some things on.  I can’t imagine choosing sizes through on-line ordering.  Not only might we pick the wrong size, especially with the boots, but would they arrive on-time before our plane took off to Sweden?

We contacted the store manager, Ty, 20140731_151936 and made a plan to visit the store five days before our flight left.

Both Dragonfly and I thought that the Abisko 65 backpack would be too big.  The backpacks we used on the Appalachian Trail were smaller, Dragonfly’s Osprey Kestrel 48 and my Osprey Ariel 55.  We asked for the smaller size, Abisko 55.

Dragonfly got one in red.  20140731_151845

I got one in black.  20140731_151714

Hiking boots gave Dragonfly blisters, so after 30 miles on the AT, she had switched to trail shoes.  I had switched to trail shoes somewhere in Virginia after 857 miles.  Could we get Hanwag trail shoes, instead of the boots?  Yes! We both decided to get the Hanwag Escalator.

The EcoTrail jacket looked to be ideal just the way that it was.  Dragonfly gets one in yellow (they didn’t have orange) and I get one in green.  We were both looking forward to trying out this new rain jacket, as the ones we had used on the AT didn’t work so well.

Because some of our choices of gear had been less money than they allotted for us, we were able to get a flight bag for our new backpacks.  These flight bags surround the backpack so that no straps can get caught in the conveyer belts at the airport.  Plus they double as raincovers.

Reviews of the new gear will come later.

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RECAP-*July 22, 2014*

It has almost been a year since we won the free trip to Sweden.  July 22, 2014 in the afternoon, Dragonfly received an email that said she had won the trip.  When she read the email, she screamed.  I couldn’t tell immediately if it was a good scream or a bad scream.  While shouting and jumping up and down she finally got the words out that we had won.  We both were soooo excited.  But then she thought it might be a hoax.

Dragonfly then called the number from the email, there was no answer, so while she is leaving a message, call waiting comes through–it is the contest rep (from Backpacker magazine) calling back.  They finally connect and it is true–WE WON A FREE TRIP TO SWEDEN!!!!

I had just about given up on winning–the magazine let us know two weeks before we had to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to be in Kiruna, Sweden to start the hike.

Information was exchanged to set everything in motion.  Then logistics begin to take shape, plane tickets are bought, reservations are made and prizes are awarded.  Work replacements need to be found, cat-sitters need to be called, gear needs to be gathered, sorted and packed.

I am glad that both of our passports were up-to-date.  This would be my first trip to a foreign country.  Not only am I excited about winning but I will be visiting the land of my ancestors.

Posted in Fjallraven Classic, Magazine, Sweden, Thru-hike | 1 Comment

So tired, tired of waiting for you….


As May turns into June, then June into July, I am anxious about when we will hear who won the contest to hike in the Fjällräven Classic.  The hike starts on August 8, 2014.

To bide my time, I investigate on-line, what this hike is all about.  The Fjällräven Classic is a 110-km hike.  The first one was held in 2005.  Fjällräven (an outdoor equipment and clothing company headquartered in Sweden) created the hike to help everyday people know how fun and easily-accessible it was to get outdoors.

The route begins in Nikkaluokta and ends at the Abisko Tourist Station in Abisko.  The trail is along the famous Kungsleden (The King’s Trail).  Which I find out, is one of the most popular hiking trails in Europe.  The route begins 250 km above the Artic Circle.  We will need to be prepared for any type of weather (sun, wind, sleet, rain, snow).

The hike takes place in August, so we will be able to experience a little bit of “midnight sun”.  Because we will be so far north, the sun will “set” after 10PM and “rise” at 4AM.

The great thing about the Fjällräven Classic is that all of this adventure is a little more accessible to the average or first-time hiker–by offering organized logistics (bus rides to the starting trailhead in Nikkaluokta), checkpoints (safety), food supply (packages of freeze-dried food and fuel canisters) and support (medical) along the way.

I am getting more excited about winning.  I still feel lucky.

Posted in Fjallraven Classic, Preparations, Sweden | 1 Comment

I Feel Lucky


It is late April 2014, I am reading the May 2014 issue of Backpacker magazine.  The inside front cover has a two-page spread about the Fjällräven Classic–a 110 km hike in Sweden.

I am intrigued.  Hiking in Sweden sounds like a great thing.  Being a seasoned thru-hiker and having ancestral roots in Sweden, it could be a dream come true.  I feel lucky!  Of course I am going to win.

And what will I win, you might ask.  The prize consists of 2 airline tickets to Sweden, 2 entries in the Fjällräven Classic and (wait there’s more…) select Fjällräven gear- essentially it will be an all-expenses paid trip to hike.  How can you beat that?


I go to the web-site listed in the advertisement to sign-up.  It is really easy, fill in name, address and email, then hit the send button.  I ask Dragonfly, “Would you like to enter the contest too?  We could double our chances of winning.”  “Yes” she says, “If you fill out the form”.  I fill in her name, address and email.  I hit the send button.

Then we wait……I feel lucky.

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Under Construction

Hello everyone!

I am working on the blog to make it more up-to-date.  Soon there will be posts about the hiking adventure in Sweden last summer and planned for hike on Long Island next month.

Stay Tuned!!!!

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PD on Katahdin

PD on Katahdin

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