Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Andrew Skurka's The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide: Book Review


Display Avatars Sort By:
Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Book signings, slideshows & clinics on 03/01/2012 16:02:44 MST Print View

There's another thread about this, but I should point out that next week I start a 50-presentation nationwide speaking and book tour. It kicks off on Monday with presentations at Google HQ and Sunrise Mountain Sports.

Complete schedule: http://www.andrewskurka.com/slideshows-clinics/current-schedule

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Nicely written. Format sub-optimal on 03/02/2012 10:09:26 MST Print View

I find the writing very nice to read. It has some very good information for almost anyone.

Here are my suggestions for a second edition:

The narrow soft bound printing is not so good. Leave that for field guides. A book like this should have wider pages and be hard bound to lie open on a table or lap as you read, obscuring less of the page in the fold.

It could use more structured parts on how-to techniques with more illustrations and more detailed step-by-step instructions.

More info on the winter systems.

More, period! It is a very small and cheap book, I would gladly pay more for a more substantial version.


Thanks Andrew,

I really enjoyed it!

Robin McKay
(rlmckay) - M

Locale: Auckland NZ
Andrew's Book on 03/03/2012 00:22:21 MST Print View

I am an experienced ultra light weight hiker in NZ. Got my copy of Andrew's book last week. Good advice, great layout. Would have like more "brand" suggestions on gear. But understand this can date. Well worth the investment - great job Andrew!

Chris Jones
(NightMarcher) - F
WP/B fabrics, eVent on 03/04/2012 00:36:51 MST Print View

As for the section of the book addressing WP/B fabrics, is eVent included in any analyses or comparisons? (Sorry, haven't read the book, but seriously considering.)

Charles Stephen Lee
(charllee) - MLife

Locale: Fort Smith, Arkansas
eVent on 03/04/2012 07:12:44 MST Print View

Hey Chris, eVent is covered... Take Care

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: eVent on 03/04/2012 12:07:18 MST Print View

Yes, eVent is covered in the book, as part of the discussion about WP/B fabrics. I spent a lot of time researching this topic and spent many pages discussing it, but of all the things I said, I think there are two sentences that summarize my thoughts best:

"In my opinion, the performance of WP/B shells has been greatly oversold -- the product category name, "waterproof-breathable", is itself an oxymoron. My real-world experience is that they fail to keep me dry during prolong storms, or even during short storms if the fabric has been compromised by dirt, body oils, and /or abrasion, which is unavoidable on a long trip."

So while eVent may be marginally more breathable and/or waterproof than other fabrics such as Gore-Tex, I would still encourage you to be realistic about its limitations. When it's when outside, expect to get wet, and find other tools and techniques (e.g. fleece and fire-starting) that will enable you to thrive in those conditions.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: eVent on 03/04/2012 13:36:41 MST Print View

It seems like eVent has a better DWR coating - water beads up on the outside surface better than other fabrics

All of the focus is on the membrane, but maybe the DWR coating is what people should look at

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: eVent on 03/04/2012 13:44:22 MST Print View

No - EVent breathes much better than any other WP fabric out there. My experience is from using it on tents, bivvies, gaiters, and jackets.

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
WPB fabrics, minimalist shoes on 03/04/2012 15:48:28 MST Print View

Andrew, have you ever tried the Dermizax fabric? Only place I've ever seen it is from Alpacka raft, where Sheri was playing around with experimental hiking drysuits. I agree with you about raingear in general (and the fleece - we've been wearing powerstretch fleece suits as a baselayer in wet conditions for many years), but Dermizax really is better than most shells. Like any WPB fabric, it'll wear out and you'll get wet, but we've found it to be light years better in maintaining waterproofness than GoreTex, eVent, and other similar fabrics. Not that that helps anyone, really, since it's impossible to get a hold of.

Minimalist shoes. Hig and I did try that experiment on our 2-month Malaspina Glacier expedition with some Merrel trail gloves and some Innov8 shoes. Our feet did fine. The shoes were constantly getting torn. They felt nice to wear, but we'd never have made it to the end of the trip if Hig hadn't darned the shoes several times where they were getting giant holes.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: eVent on 03/04/2012 16:13:31 MST Print View

"It seems like eVent has a better DWR coating - water beads up on the outside surface better than other fabrics"

eVent and Goretex have an outer layer of Nylon typically. This layer protects the membrane and the DWR is applied to that. So eVent doesn't have a better DWR coating, that's up to the maker of the final garment and what DWR they apply to the exterior face fabric.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: WPB fabrics, minimalist shoes on 03/04/2012 16:13:45 MST Print View

The spraydeck on my Alaska-Yukon raft was WP/B, so perhaps it was the Dermizax fabric, not sure. It performed well in that application, but I would be reluctant to extrapolate that to other applications where the fabric is subject to more abrasion, sweat, body oils, etc. As an earlier poster said, the problem is not so much with the membranes of WP/B fabrics but with the DWR finish, which is the Achilles heel. The DWR craps out quickly and, once it does, I find that breathability completely stops (because the exterior shell fabric is soaked, so there is no where for the water inside the shell to go) and water may actually start moving into the fabric (because it more humid outside the shell than inside).

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: WPB fabrics, minimalist shoes on 03/04/2012 16:22:23 MST Print View

"DWR finish, which is the Achilles heel."

Is there anything you can do to restore DWR

Isn't the DWR applied by the fabric manufacturer, not the clothing sewer

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: Re: Re: WPB fabrics, minimalist shoes on 03/04/2012 16:27:59 MST Print View

Use Revivex. Put it in the dryer. Take an iron to it. All that helps but it is a bandaid solution.

I would think that the fabric supplier would deliver the entire fabric with its exterior fabric and DWR, but maybe someone else can confirm.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: WPB fabrics, minimalist shoes on 03/04/2012 16:44:47 MST Print View

"DWR finish, which is the Achilles heel." Is there anything you can do to restore DWR
Isn't the DWR applied by the fabric manufacturer, not the clothing sewer

The manufacturer does initially provide a DWR finish which is normally good for a number of washes. Grangers and others make DWR products you can apply yourself aftermarket. You need to wash your garments periodically using a product specified for technical garments (Grangers makes one). The DWR is typically re-applied right after washing but before drying. It is sprayed on.

Andrew is right on in his criticism of WPB garments in general. If the DWR is compromised then the sweat vapor cannot pass through the saturated outer layer, however, the membrane will still prevent water penetration from the outside. That, however, doesn't help much if you are working hard and sweating (I.e. wet from the inside).

I would also add that the relative humidity is an important element. Outside the Rockies the Relative Humidity tends to be so high already that evaporation is greatly compromised and further degrades performance of these garments. In those cases, if it's not too cold then you are probably better off to have a quick drying layer on and just deal with being wet knowing you will dry out quickly.

Edited by randalmartin on 03/04/2012 16:53:20 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
ventilation on 03/04/2012 17:08:43 MST Print View

the only way to fly ...

look up OR's torso flo system ... youll never go back to anything else ;)

that and a light fleece ...

Chris Jones
(NightMarcher) - F
WP/B performance failure on 03/04/2012 23:28:28 MST Print View

"In my opinion, the performance of WP/B shells has been greatly oversold -- the product category name, "waterproof-breathable", is itself an oxymoron. My real-world experience is that they fail to keep me dry during prolong storms, or even during short storms if the fabric has been compromised by dirt, body oils, and /or abrasion, which is unavoidable on a long trip."

So, if I am to correctly understand what you are saying, it's the "B" of the WP/B equation that is failing, not necessarily the "WP". In other words, it's your own perspiration that is making you wet, as opposed to any direct outside precipitation.

"As an earlier poster said, the problem is not so much with the membranes of WP/B fabrics but with the DWR finish, which is the Achilles heel. The DWR craps out quickly and, once it does, I find that breathability completely stops (because the exterior shell fabric is soaked, so there is no where for the water inside the shell to go) and water may actually start moving into the fabric (because it more humid outside the shell than inside)."

By "moving into the fabric" you mean, wetted out, correct? Or are you saying that the water actually moves past the WP membrane? I assume that it's not the membrane that is failing, but would like to clairify.

"Andrew is right on in his criticism of WPB garments in general. If the DWR is compromised then the sweat vapor cannot pass through the saturated outer layer, however, the membrane will still prevent water penetration from the outside. That, however, doesn't help much if you are working hard and sweating (I.e. wet from the inside)."

If it's true that it's just the DWR failing and not the membrane, then I guess that's where pit zips come in handy. Of course everyone hikes their own hike, but personally I would also adjust my pace to prevent overheating. Perhaps I'm oversimplifying the solution. I've only done a week at most with tens of miles, not months at a time with hundreds, thousands of miles.

Edited by NightMarcher on 03/04/2012 23:40:44 MST.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: WP/B performance failure on 03/04/2012 23:36:26 MST Print View

I think it's a failure of the WP and the B. Here's how:

The functionality of the fabric is dependent on relative humidity levels. Moisture will move from the side of higher humidity towards the side of lower humidity. For example, if it's really humid inside the jacket and it's really dry outside the jacket, then moisture will pass through the fabric from inside to outside.

Once the DWR craps out, which is will, then my experience is that the fabric stops being both WP or B.

B. Moisture saturates the exterior fabric, creating an effective outside humidity level of 100%. The moisture inside the jacket will not pass through the fabric, so it builds up inside.

WP. If it's 100% humidity outside, and less than 100% inside, moisture will move through the membrane inside the jacket. There is nothing special about the fabric that prevents two-way movement of moisture.

Nick Brown
(ojsglove)

Locale: Highland Park
VR and Paramo on 03/05/2012 00:51:48 MST Print View

Andrew,

What are your thoughts about Paramo fabrics and something like Rab's Vapour Rise? They have a dwr and will obviously wet out in heavier conditions but, if I understand correctly, will act to pump the moisture out as there is no membrane. It seems these might be better than a wpb because they are actively trying to remove moisture rather than containing it through condensation build up?

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: VR and Paramo on 03/05/2012 00:55:29 MST Print View

Haven't tried either material but I would like to. Chris Townsend has great things to say about Paramo.

wander lust
(sol)
paramo and dermizax on 03/05/2012 04:38:21 MST Print View

there are quite a few threads about it on bpl.

note that paramo is usually too warm for anything warmer than 40 F.
And it can also wet out in heavy rain if the jacket hasn't been washed and or reproofed in a while. it can keep you warm in those conditions though. so, it might not be the best choice for really long trips in wet conditions. a lot of people love it and it should work brilliantly on long trips when you only encounter snow.


I would really like to hear more about dermizax, it has been improved over the last few years and it works in a different way. Not many people use it though.

I started a new thread about Dermizax here, so let's not get too off topic here.