Unexpected Gear Of Mountain Pro Andrew Skurka

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During an overnight trip last month in the Colorado Rockies with Andrew Skurka, it was quickly evident to me that he’s not your average backpacker.

Hiking a high route with Andrew Skurka in Colorado
Hiking a high route with Andrew Skurka in Colorado

A renowned hiker who’s circumnavigated Alaska and the Yukon by foot, Skurka hikes faster than most ultra runners. But more interesting are some of his contrarian ways — what he wears, carries, and eats is often inconsistent with conventional backpacking wisdom. — Sean McCoy

Here, Skurka elaborates on a few of the most unexpected items in his pack.

1. DIY breakfasts and dinners

Commercial freeze-dried meals are convenient and tasty. But at $9 for a 5-ounce dinner, which equates to $29 per pound, they’re financially impractical for a season of backpacking or guided trips. Instead, I have about ten DIY recipes that are much less expensive but are still convenient (e.g., few ingredients, quick at-home prep) and hearty.

For our trip, I brought my most reliable crowd-pleaser: Beans & Rice with Fritos & Cheese. The recommended serving is 5.7 ounces and has 675 calories. Go here for all of my recipes.

beans rice fritos cheese hike food

2. Breathable trail running shoes

Waterproof hiking boots are my go-to when temperatures are below freezing and the snowpack is “dry.” In Colorado, these conditions normally prevail between October and April.

Otherwise, I prefer breathable trail running shoes. Models like the Salewa Ultra Train (in photo) and La Sportiva Ultra Raptor offer much more support, protection, and durability than most. Compared to boots, trail running shoes are more comfortable out of the box, cooler in summertime temperatures, and lighter weight (which saves energy).

Yes, my feet do get wet from rain, dew-soaked grass, and creek crossings. But, “waterproof” shoes often fail in extended wet conditions, too. In response, I learned to minimize the effects and aftermath of wet feet.

salewa ultra train

3. Core clothing

Last year for Gear Junkie I wrote about the Core 13, a tight collection of clothing that can be mixed-and-matched to create appropriate clothing systems for all 3-season conditions.

With just these 13 items, you can be properly outfitted for the Grand Canyon in May, Alaska in July, and the new Maine Woods National Monument in October. All 13 are rarely necessary for a single trip. During this outing, I carried only seven, and if the forecast had been drier I would have left the trailhead with only six.

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Skurka in mid-layers. He varies clothing quickly while hiking to regulate his temp.

4. Homemade kits for first aid, foot care, and repair

As a new backpacker, I was unable to assemble useful kits for first aid, foot care, and repair. First, I didn’t know what problems to expect. Second, even if I had, I didn’t know what supplies would best address them. So I settled on pre-assembled commercial kits.

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By backpacking a lot and guiding trips, I gained more perspective on these topics. Now, I much prefer homemade kits: they’re less expensive long-term; custom tailored to my group, activities, and environment; and can include better solutions, like Bonnie’s Balm and Leukotape (rather than the conventional Vaseline and duct tape).

I’ve posted my DIY kits for first aid, foot care, and repair, and have made each kit available as a downloadable PDF and spreadsheet.

diy first aid footcare repair kit

5. Alcohol stove

Among long-distance hikers and self-described ultralight backpackers, alcohol stoves are probably the most popular choice. And for good reason: they weigh and cost little, and the fuel is widely available.

For many years I used a homemade alcohol stove. The Dirtbag system, complete with a coffee cup, weighs less than 9 ounces and costs just $22. Although, I recently upgraded to the more expensive Cadillac system, for improved fuel-efficiency, stability, and wind-resistance.

ultralight stove system

6. Navigation

The accuracy of a GPS handheld unit, to within a few meters, is remarkable. However, these devices rely on batteries, add weight and expense, and often require proprietary mapping packages. Plus, except for geocaching, their accuracy is overkill.

map and compass navigation
Skurka studies a map and compass

To navigate, both on- and off-trail, I primarily use a time-tested system: topographic maps, a magnetic compass, and a watch. This setup is fast and perfectly functional; it performs without batteries and even after being dropped or submerged. The paper map also provides a much bigger viewing window than any GPS unit.

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Normally I carry three types of topographic maps: small-scale detailed maps, a large-scale overview map, and digital maps stored on my smartphone in the event that I lose or get off of my paper maps. With an app like Gaia GPS, I give my smartphone the same functionality as a conventional GPS unit, for the rare instance when I want pinpoint accuracy or when I need to find my location.

The post Unexpected Gear Of Mountain Pro Andrew Skurka appeared first on GearJunkie.

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How Realistic Is BMW’s Motorcycle From 2116? An Explainer

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Wait… is it… standing on its own? (Image by the author)

The BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 concept motorcycle is designed to show us what a 2116 model year motorcycle could look like. It’s a dream. It’s pretend. That’s why it does not have to conform to strict rules about “viability” or “safety” or “roadworthiness.” But let’s walk through its fantastical features and evaluate what might actually work, and what this bike says about the future of riding.

BMW unveiled the concept motorcycle at a special event in California today, part of a series of events that imagine vehicles a century from now as the German automaker celebrates 100 years in business. It may be the best of these concepts yet.

The fun thing about a concept vehicle that imagines what motorcycles will be like a century in the future is that designers are allowed to really cut loose. No one will be around to call them out on deviating from this vision in 100 years, so why not go wild? (On the other hand, whoever is around in 2116 will be lucky to still be alive on the charred remnants of what I assume will be a post-apocalyptic wasteland.)

Like all futuristic renders, the BMW Next 100 Motorcycle basically just extends the technology we’re currently using and talking about and puts it into a package that looks fresh off the set of a Tron sequel. Here’s how it measures up—or might—in the real world.

Flexible Frame

Instead of steering with a handlebar hooked up to a fork, the Next 100 bike’s whole frame flexes to change the direction of the front wheel. BMW’s executives didn’t really explain why this is “better” than a bike’s current system, but maybe some of you nerds will come to their defense in the comments.

Viability rating: I’m thinking “nah.”

Wheel-integrated suspension

The airless-tire-that’s-also-a-damper is already a thing, it’s just hasn’t really been mass-marketed yet. What Michelin calls a “tweel” (tire and wheel) is just that– a rim and tire as one, with the rim giving way to absorb bumps. Not sure how well it would handle aggressive riding, but, the technology exists already.

Viability rating: Decent.

Heads-up display

What you’ll see, and look like. If this were to work. (Image by the author)

BMW wants to strip all the instruments off the bike and beam any necessary operational information to the safety goggles you wore in eighth grade chemistry.

A few small companies have tried to get heads-up display motorcycle helmets to market without significant success. As soon as a heavy-duty player like BMW gets into this business, I think we’ll have one in short order.

Viability rating: High.

No helmet needed!

I mentioned that riders will see this BMW’s hypothetical HUD through a pair of safety goggles and not a helmet visor because in the future, you won’t need a helmet.

The official answer to “Wait what how?” from one of BMW’s executives was that “we hope to create ways to avoid the crash altogether” and eliminate the need for a helmet.

I mean, cool, but, there’s no gyroscopic stabilizer that can prevent you from getting hit by a drunk driver, animal or insect. Anybody who has actually ridden a motorcycle knows that you don’t have to crash to have a really bad time riding without a helmet. Get hit in the mouth with a grasshopper at 60 mph and you will definitely not hit the highway with your front screen up again.

Viability rating: You try it, see how it works out for you.

Communicative riding gear

The TRON-style suit this model is wearing is “part fashion statement, part safety garb.” BMW dreams of a future in which protective clothing is sleek and sexy, which, maybe, but the more realistic feature on this getup is integration with driver alerts.

Parts of it vibrate or light up when somebody’s in your blind spot, you’re coming up on somebody too fast, that kind of thing. Just like the beeps and buzzes in a BMW car.

I think it’s a cool and subtle way to port the awesomeness of modern traffic alerts onto two wheels.

Viability rating: I bet somebody’s already working on this.

The self-balancing bike

The BMW Next 100 bike can hover–stand straight up even while static. The kickstand has to come down when it’s not running, but otherwise it stays erect at stoplights and pull-overs.

A few people asked about this at the press conference, and BMW’s execs indicated that the company is already trying to make it work through gyroscopic sensors. Neat.

Viability rating: Seems solid.

Shapeshifting engine

BMW’s boxer engine (aka one with horizontally-opposed pistons) is as much a hallmark of the bikes as the twin-kidney grille is for the company’s cars. Of course this bike doesn’t have any pistons, so what to do? The electric engine has protrusions to make it look like a boxer, but they can be tucked or extended.

I wonder if BMW would keep such a callback on early electric motorcycles and wait to phase it out until people forgot what they were supposed to look like in the first place.

Viability rating: I guess?

Truly idiot-proofing traction control

The last and possibly most ambitious aspect of BMW’s 2116 motorcycle ties in to the lack of a helmet and gyroscopic balancing. The company’s basically saying that this thing will be able to turn any idiot into a pro-level rider by correcting for their shortcomings “as little or as much as they might want.”

I definitely see big advances coming for motorcycle traction control, which would significantly decrease your chance of stacking it with a stupid mistake. Integrating gyroscopic sensors to manage both wheel speed and balance does seem like it’d get damn close to a borderline-autonomous motorcycle but man would that get hard to get accustomed to.

More than anything, it suggests the direction future bikes might go.

Viability rating: Probably higher than many people think.

In the meantime, BMW actually has some awesome real motorcycles in the pipeline (in big and small displacements!) that we’re going to see at the Milan motorbike show next month. Keep your eyes open for hints of this “100 years” tech in those machines.

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6 Powerful Benefits of Quitting Your Job and Becoming an Entrepreneur

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Today is the day I’m going to die was the thought permeating every crevasse of my mind on that warm Hawaiian afternoon last February. You see, I had just jumped awkwardly out of a plane and was hurling toward the ground at 120 miles per hour.

Luckily for me, the parachute opened just fine, and I coasted safely to the ground. I was alive, and the thrill was worth every penny.

Related: 10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job

Entrepreneurship feels oddly similar. Quitting your job and jumping into entrepreneurship is a lot like jumping out of a plane and free-falling, wondering whether the parachute will open to save you. It’s a scary thing, leaving the comfort of a 9-to-5 job and venturing into the world of entrepreneurship — so scary that very few ever overcome the fear enough to take the plunge.

So, what’s the best way to overcome that fear? It’s the same for any fear: Focus on the end results, the benefits, rather than the fearful action. When I decided to skydive, the thing that drove me to actually jump was how much I looked forward to the rush I was about to feel. Also: I anticipated with pleasure the notion of crossing off one of my “bucket list” adventures.

And the benefits of taking the entrepreneurship plunge? I can list six.

1. No cap on your income.

Most people don’t get into entrepreneurship to make the same income they made at their day job. Unlike what happens most day jobs, there is no limit to how much you can earn. If you want to make $100,000 a year, you can do that. If you want to earn $1 million a year, or even $10 million, those are within the realm of possibility, too.

There is no one there to tell you “no.” No boss to beg for a raise. No performance review to pass that determines how much you’ll get. Your income is tied to your success — and nothing else.

2. Excitement about your work.

How excited are you to wake up on Monday morning? For most, Mondays are grueling because they start a new week. But for most entrepreneurs, Monday mornings are celebrated because work is exciting! I love the challenges that present themselves to me each week because they are my challenges — not my boss’s.

Related: 10 Fears You Must Overcome When Starting a New Business

3. Flexibility to enjoy time off.

Yes, entrepreneurs work a lot. I’ve often heard it said that an entrepreneur is someone who works 100 hours a week to avoid working 40. While this may be true, the difference lies in the flexibility available

Entrepreneurs can work when they want, how they want, where they want. If they want to work 100 hours per week, they’ve chosen to do so.

There is no “time off request form” you’ll need signed from four supervisors in order to take off time for your mom’s 80th birthday party. When you come down with the flu, no one is looking down on you wondering if you are “really that sick.” Your time is your own, and you alone decide how to spend it.

4. No terrible bosses.

We’ve all had terrible bosses who micromanage, have absurd expectations and drive us bananas. When you work at a job, there is little you can do to change that. You could quit, but another narcissistic boss is going to be at the next place anyway.

And then there are your co-workers. They can be worse. There’s Craig who steals your lunch, Janet who complains about her foot fungus and Hector who doesn’t actually know how to do his job but is a nephew of the boss so he just meddles in everyone else’s affairs.

But when you control the company, you are the boss. You aren’t forced to work with anyone. No one is going to force you to work overtime, skip your kid’s dance recital or fill out one more TPS report.

5. Ability to build serious wealth.

Besides the cap-free income opportunity, owning your own business can also help you get rich. And not just “well-off.” Because, if you do it right, you can build some serious wealth through the growth of your company. Look at Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Mark Cuban or any other seriously wealthy individuals. They didn’t get that way through saving money or working for others. Instead, they built businesses and allowed those businesses to grow their personal wealth.

And it’s not just the super-rich, either. Anyone can use business to grow wealthy. Imagine you build a large plumbing business with a profit of six figures per month. Yes, that’s great income, but that plumbing biz is potentially going to be worth tens of millions of dollars if you sell.

6. Chance to leave a legacy.

Maybe you work 9-to-5 for a nonprofit, saving children from starvation or teaching people how to read. But most likely, you are slaving away at a job where the only impact you truly have is adding a few more dollars to the shareholders’ stock. It’s not your business and never will be.

But when you own your own business, you are creating something bigger than yourself. You are building a legacy. You are providing jobs, building wealth, improving the community you live in and making a name for yourself.

While entrepreneurship has many rewards, the risks are high. Many businesses fail. Entrepreneurs get burned out and stressed out and have miserable days.

Related: 5 Fears You’ll Need to Conquer Before Starting a Business

And unlike what happens with skydiving, many parachutes do not open and the entrepreneur flies headfirst toward the ground. But also unlike skydiving, most entrepreneurial ventures are not life-threatening. The worst-case scenario for most entrepreneurs is, “Well, I guess I’ll go back to a job for now,” which isn’t any different from how they started.

So, don’t focus on the fear. Focus instead on the adventure that awaits when you say goodbye to the security of the airplane and, with all your might, leap.

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Google and Facebook are teaming up to build a super-fast 8,000 mile cable from Los Angeles to Hong Kong (GOOGL, GOOG, FB)

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Google just announced that it’s partnering with Facebook to lay a 12,800-kilometer (7,953-mile) cable from Los Angeles to Hong Kong — the fastest underwater cable ever built, beating its own record.

In June 2016, Google started using FASTER, a network of Kevlar-wrapped cables starting on America’s West Coast and ending in Japan, with a top capacity of 60 terabytes per second. This new Pacific Light Cable Network, or PLCN, will top out at 120 terabytes per second once it’s officially ready to go in 2018.

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The PLCN will help Google deliver the G Suite (formerly known as Google apps) and other Google Cloud services to the Asia-Pacific region, a growing market that all tech companies are after. 

This is the sixth underwater cable in which Google holds a stake. For its part, Facebook has been partnering up with the likes of Microsoft to build out its own network of undersea cables.

SEE ALSO: Facebook and Microsoft are building an undersea cable to move massive amounts of data much faster

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Watch Google repeatedly mock Apple at its October 2016 event

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Stunt rider performs breathtaking tricks in the Scottish countryside

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Remember Danny MacAskill, the Scottish stunt rider who filmed himself casually leaping between very high buildings in Spain last year?

Well he’s back with a whole new collection of wince-inducingly epic stunts, and this time he’s filmed them all in his homeland.

In the clip above, MacAskill goes on a "wee day out" in Scotland, calmly flipping and somersaulting his way through the countryside around Edinburgh.

It’s difficult to pick a highlight, but the bit where he rides over the roof of a cottage is certainly memorable. Read more…

More about Uk, Red Bull, Scotland, Edinburgh, and Stunts

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