Walking Distance #07 | Dan Durston

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we are joined by Dan Durston, a biologist, Canadian gear designer, and owner of Durston Gear. Durston hiked the Great Divide Trail in the Canadian Rockies as well as the Pacific Crest Trail, and also holds some Fastest Known Times – of the Stein Traverse in British Columbia and the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana. Dan uses his backpacking expertise to design simple and light outdoor equipment.

Blissful Hiker covers Dan’s evolution from gear reviews to gear designs, the inevitable compromises made when designing and selecting gear, and how gear can unite the hiking community.


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Interview with Dan Durston

1:30 – Dan Durston is a self described nerd, someone who likes analytical problem solving. While hiking the Great Divide Trail, he used the time to think about how to optimize his gear, and eventually founded Durston Gear.

2:48 – After discovering the ultralight community, Dan was determined to adopt the style.

3:48 – You compare setting up gear in your backyard and setting up in a rainstorm, which are very different. You think about if gear will really work under difficult circumstances.

5:22 – You said a single pole pyramid is what you aspire to, can you talk about that?

6:22 – So on the PCT, you were using other peoples’ gear, and thinking about how to make them better?

7:26 – You said something about how gear companies use the phrase “no compromises,” and how that isn’t true. What are the inevitable compromises?

8:12 – Can you briefly describe how your tent works?

10:13 – How did you get started? At first you just wanted to modify your gear, which required a sewing machine. What was that experience?

12:05 – Dan taught himself the basics of sewing via Youtube. He’s also been active for years on gear sites, which served as his introduction to the industry.

13:40 – Your gear modification seems like it was serving your own hiking. Why did you decide to start a company?

15:58 – One of the things I noticed on your website is that you use polyester, and not Dyneema. Why not?

17:27 – Earlier you mentioned loving what you’re doing because of the community, and we learn things from each other. You’re on your own doing this company, but there’s community feedback. 

19:25 – One idea I got after reading about your backpack is the issue of not being able to find what I need when I’m thru hiking. You seem to have thought about that a lot when designing your pack.

21:05 – I wanted to ask you about you continuing your hiking. How do you find the time?

22:00 – What about seeing other hikers’ experiences, and how have you seen hiking change since you’ve been in the community?

24:32 – Dan also holds some Fastest Known Times – of the Stein Traverse in British Columbia and the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana.  

Mentioned in this episode:

Durston Gear

The Volumetric Efficiency of Trekking Pole Shelters by Dan Durston

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About Alison Young

Alison Young, aka Blissful Hiker, is a former host and producer at American Public Media and professional flutist. She’s thru-hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as long trails in South America, South Africa, Europe, Pakistan and all over the US. In her podcast Blissful Hiker, Walking the World she shares personal essays from the trail along with collected sound. Her goal in life is to hike until she drops.

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Comments 2

  • Allan Lynde : May 27th

    Great Interview. Interesting to hear Dan and his insights into making great gear.


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