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By Michael Lanza
Whatever your outdoor sport—backpacking, climbing, whitewater rafting or kayaking, backcountry skiing, etc.—a sturdy duffle for organizing, hauling, and protecting your gear and clothing is invaluable. Not only does it eliminate the risk of damaging an expensive backpack by using it as your luggage, a good duffle has more capacity and is built to suffer the indignities of getting tossed into jet, train, and bus baggage compartments, being strapped onto a roof rack, sled, snowmobile, or pack animal, and exposed to rain and snow.
I subjected the four duffles and two convertible pieces of luggage reviewed here to perils ranging from cross-country and intercontinental flights to the environmental hazards of a multi-day wilderness float down Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River, and numerous long-distance, family car trips. Besides passing the durability test, all of them demonstrated unique strengths for different styles of adventure travel. Continue reading →
My fiancée has begun backpacking, and we’re in the market for a pack. But she’s tiny, five feet and just 100 pounds, and finding a waist belt small enough has been an issue. I’m thinking she needs a 50- to 55-liter pack. Any suggestions?
Worcester, MA Continue reading →
I usually take a solo trip the first week of my summer vacation. (I’m an elementary-school teacher, and I’ve done a ton of multi-day backpacking and lots of long-distance trails. It can be tricky as it’s the second week of June and there is usually too much snow to attempt certain trails. I’m looking for a loop, out and back, or shuttle that allows me about 20 miles a day for about five days. I looked long and hard at the Mah Dah Hey Trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, but the 22-hour drive each way is a bit daunting. I’ve been looking at trying to find a closer alternative. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
A dry, invisible waterfall of heat pours from the desert sky as we follow a footpath through the Wonderland of Rocks, a vast archipelago of granite monoliths and spires floating in an ocean of sand in the backcountry of southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park. My friend David and I are in search of one particular crack in one specific stone skyscraper, which feels a little like picking through hundreds of haystacks scattered across a farm in pursuit of one needle.
We high-step through gardens of prickly-pear cacti and other vegetation that has evolved to put a hurt on you for the easy mistake of brushing against it. I pause frequently to consult photos of some of these granite monoliths in my guidebook to help pinpoint our location. I also contemplate—as seems to happen whenever I head out rock climbing for the first time in a while—the complicated human relationship with fear. There’s the natural anxiousness that can accompany trying to claw your way up a sheer cliff. But fear and its antipode, courage, take many forms. One can be so difficult to confront that it destroys lives. The other can save them. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
After some 18 trips in Grand Teton National Park—backpacking, dayhiking, climbing, canoeing, backcountry skiing—I’ve yet to lose the sense of awe I get every time I look at these sharply angled peaks, which resemble the archetypal pictures of mountains shaped like upside-down V’s that we drew as children. But there’s definitely something unique and special about getting out here in winter, when the high country wears a thick mantle of white. And there’s something very special about traveling through these mountains on skis. Continue reading →