Hello, my name is Michael Lanza and The Big Outside is my creation. I’m a writer, outdoor photographer, author, speaker, and for many years was the Northwest Editor of Backpacker Magazine, where I was also the magazine’s primary gear reviewer. I’m a longtime hiker, backpacker, climber, backcountry skier, trail runner, paddler, and cyclist. Over the past two decades, my work has taken me to national parks and wilderness areas across the United States—including multiple visits to most major U.S. parks—and all over the world: the Alps, Nepal, Scottish Highlands, Italy’s Dolomites, New Zealand, Spain, Iceland, Norway, Patagonia.
I started The Big Outside with a simple mission: to offer stories, photos, and expert trip-planning advice on America’s and the world’s best outdoor adventures—including many that are great for families. Most importantly, these stories are based on my on-the-ground, first-hand knowledge from having done all of the trips myself.
For many years, I’ve made a living identifying, planning, and writing about great trips. I think you’ll find The Big Outside is uniquely authoritative for that reason, and that’s why my blog has ranked on various lists, including ninth on The Adventure Junkies Top 25 Hiking Blogs of 2016 (a list based on objective performance metrics), a Trip Advisor site’s Top 10 Outdoor Travel Bloggers in 2015, and USA Today’s Readers Choice list of Top 10 Hiking and Outdoors Bloggers in 2014. I was also asked to sit on a panel of hiking experts who nominated the list of hikes in the 2015 USA Today Readers Choice 10 Best National Parks Hikes poll.
Many stories here are about outdoor adventures with my wife and our young son and daughter. A primary goal of mine with The Big Outside is to inspire and inform other parents to take their own kids on outdoor adventures—and especially to believe that their family is capable of stepping out a little beyond their comfort zone. As I have done with my kids, I want other families to discover the powerful emotional payoff and bond achieved through sharing outdoors experiences. See my list of all-time “Top 10 Family Adventures” and my very popular post “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids.”
You will find a diverse offering of stories here, describing adventures for everyone from ultra-hikers to families with young kids. Each story about a trip features a gallery of photos, and many stories also have a video.
Wondering where to start? My All Trips page lists every story at this blog about adventures I’ve taken, and my “Photo Gallery: 20 Big Adventures in Pictures” provides an inspiring visual introduction to the breadth of stories at this site. My main menu (above) includes links to pages with menus of all of my stories about Family Adventures, tips on Skills I’ve learned over the course of three decades exploring the outdoors, and all of my Gear Reviews, organized by category; that Gear Reviews page also lists some of my articles of gear advice like “My Top 5 Ultralight Backpacking Tips.” I’m constantly testing outdoor gear and apparel and I review only the best of it (based on my experience of two decades as a gear tester for Backpacker, including many years as one of the magazine’s lead reviewers).
In the left sidebar, you can click on any of several Categories for a focused menu of adventure stories (listed in order of most-recently posted), such as National Park Adventures and Family Adventures. The tag cloud in the left sidebar includes the most commonly used story tags in my blog, such as backpacking gear reviews and hiking gear reviews. See the videos for many stories at this site at my Youtube channel via the Videos link in the main menu.
Subscribe to my blog (at top of the sidebar at left, or below) for regular updates when I post a new story.
Got a question for me? Click on Ask Me in the main menu (at top of this page) to visit my Ask Me page, where you’ll find a categorized listing of all past Ask Me posts in which I answer a reader’s questions; or click the Ask Me category (in the left sidebar) to see a listing of previous Ask Me posts in order of most recent, to see whether I’ve already answered a similar question from another reader. If not, e-mail me your question to email@example.com. I’ll answer as many as I can and share my response in a future Ask Me post (using only your first name and city, with your permission). I now receive more questions than I can answer, so I ask that readers sending me a question be willing to make a $25 donation to this website (sometimes less, when appropriate, or if I really like your question and want to share it with readers) through my Support button (top left of sidebar). I will also provide a telephone consult for a $45 donation. See my Ask Me page for more information.
At my Book page, you can read an excerpt of my book Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks, from Beacon Press, winner of a National Outdoor Book Award honorable mention, about spending a year embarking on wilderness adventures with my wife, nine-year-old son, and seven-year-old daughter in national parks threatened by climate change.
If you wish to see more about my professional background and view samples of my published magazine articles, photography, details about the speaking programs I offer, and descriptions of my other books, please visit michaellanza.com.
I hope you enjoy my stories and pictures at The Big Outside and find them both inspirational and helpful in planning your own adventures. I’d love to hear what you think of this site and your suggestions for trips, stories, or how I could improve the site. Please subscribe to my e-mail list at left or below. Comment on my posts; I appreciate the feedback and try to respond to many comments.
Feel free to send your ideas, questions, and suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I respond to as many as I can. I occasionally receive requests from people interested in contributing stories to The Big Outside, so please be informed that I do not accept submissions of any kind.
This blog and website is my full-time job and I rely on the support of readers. If you like what you see here, please support my work and help me continue producing The Big Outside by making a donation using the Support button at the top of the left sidebar or below. Thank you for your support.
The Big Outside is supported by brands that want to associate with my high-quality stories and images, and I appreciate their support because it helps me keep this site going. If you believe in what I’m doing at The Big Outside, one way to show your support is to like and follow my sponsors on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Read about those brands and how to partner with The Big Outside at my Sponsors page.
Have fun and be safe out there.