Off the Map with Andrew Skurka Episode #87

Aaron McHugh


Andrew Skurka is an accomplished adventure athlete, speaker, guide, and writer. The 34-year-old is most well known for his solo long-distance backpacking trips, notably the 4,700-mile 6-month Alaska-Yukon Expedition, the 6,875-mile 7-month Great Western Loop, and the 7,775-mile 11-month Sea-to-Sea Route.

Andrew spends most of his adventures off trail picking his way through the high mountains. I really enjoyed my time meeting Andrew. I found him to be very kind, humble, relatable and focused.

Click to Listen to Andrew Skurka’s Adventures

What’s Andrew’s #1 piece of advice?


Andrew in the Brooks Range Alaska
Andrew in the Brooks Range Alaska (Photo Credit Andrew Skurka)

Andrew’s thoughts on Living Lightly

“Early on my efforts to “go light” were aimed solely at my backpack, but nowadays the lightweight philosophy extends into all other areas of my life as well. There are two reasons for this: (1) my quality of life is better, and (2) even more important, my impact on something I care about deeply, the environment, is much less.

Quality of life. By having and using less stuff, seeking simplicity instead of complexity, un-tethering myself from technological devices on a regular basis, and being selective about my ethical and financial responsibilities, I have more freedom, resources, and energy to focus on the things that really matter to me, namely my relationships with others, the outdoor world, and self. While my life is not entirely stress-free and may not be considered “plush” by some, I seem to worry about fewer things than most and also to get along just fine.”

In total, he has backpacked, skied, and packrafted 30,000+ miles through many of the world’s most prized backcountry and wilderness areas—the equivalent of traveling 1.2 times around Earth’s equator! He is the author of The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools & Tips to Hit the Trail and guides about 15 trips per year under his company.

Skurka has been named “Adventurer of the Year” by both Outside and National Geographic Adventure, as well as “Person of the Year” by Backpacker. National Geographic described him as “a superman among trekkers” and “one of the best traveled and fastest hikers on the planet.” He has been featured by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News Channel, National Public Radio and dozens of local media outlets.

Andrew off trail in Yosemite (Photo credit Andrew Skurka)
Andrew off trail in Yosemite (Photo credit Andrew Skurka)

Buy Andrew’s Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide

A backpacking trip consists of two distinct activities: hiking and camping. In this how-to guide, I’ve shared the gear, supplies and skills that will allow you to love hiking, while still remaining safe and comfortable while camping. He will sign all copies purchased from

Andrew's tools and techniques to hit the trail
Andrew’s tools and techniques to hit the trail

Andrew’s Media Highlights & Accolades

National Geographic, March 2011. Circling Alaska in 176 Days.

Outside, April 2011. Adventurers of the Year.

National Geographic Adventure, December 2007. Adventurer of the Year.

Backpacker, August 2005. Person of the Year.

Men’s Journal, December 2005. Adventurer Hall of Fame.

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