Category Archives: Ask Me

I answer reader questions about hiking, backpacking, gear, or any topic or trip I write about at The Big Outside. Send me your questions to mlanza@thebigoutside.com. I receive many; it can take a few weeks to respond.

March 1, 2015 Backpackers in Great Sand Dunes National Park.

5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

My first, two-person tent set me back only about twice what you’d pay today for a good, single-burner backpacking stove. It weighed several pounds and was bulky for backpacking. I nicknamed that tent the Wind Sock for its propensity to snap loudly in even the slightest breeze, and how its poles bowed disturbingly in strong gusts. (I learned to choose protected campsites.) In heavy downpours, I sometimes woke up to a puddle on the floor. Continue reading →

February 27, 2015 Trekkers above Olavsbu Hut in Norway's Jotunheimen National Park.

Ask Me: Which Big Backpack Do You Recommend?

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Michael,

I purchased a Mountainsmith Apex 80 before I knew anything about buying packs. I love the pack, but I recently ended up carrying 45 lbs. for the first time, and the pack refused to stay on my hips. I took it into my local REI and it turns out the pack is too large for me. My torso is 17 inches and the pack starts at 18 inches. I have read through every backpack review on your site (they were very informative) and have narrowed down my replacements, and would like your advice. The three on my list are: Gregory Baltoro 75, Osprey Aether 70/85 (the Xenith only fits torsos starting at 18), and the Deuter Act 75+10. I need the larger pack as the scout troop my son is with does multi-day trips, and we end up carrying all the stuff the boy’s parents over-packed (plus I’m not experienced enough yet to be able to pack myself perfectly). Continue reading →

February 24, 2015 South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon.

Ask Me: Tips For Hiking or Trail Running the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim

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Michael,

I’m happy to have run across your website. The pictures of the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim (r2r2r) hike are spectacular and only enhance the anticipation and excitement for my own upcoming rim-to-rim (r2r) run. I have several questions for you about it. Continue reading →

February 22, 2015 Kerrick Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: How Do We Begin Lightening Up Our Backpacking Gear?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Family Adventures, Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

Hi Michael,

On the hike out from Mount Sopris, near our Aspen, Colorado, home, my husband commented that it feels like time to invest in lighter-weight backpacking gear to ease up the wear and tear on our bodies. Our kids are ages nine and 11, and backpacking as a family is an important part of our lives. Recently, we upgraded our mountain bikes (cushy suspension, etc.) so that we could still happily bike with our kids; it seems like we need to do the same with our backpacking equipment. Knowing that you are in touch with the latest gear compared to our old stuff, what would you recommend as the most important things to upgrade, with weight in mind? Continue reading →

February 19, 2015 Sahale Arm, North Cascades National Park.

Ask Me: Which Boots Cross Over Well From Dayhiking to Backpacking?

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Hi Michael,

I was wondering if you would recommend these Aku SL Sintesi Mid GTX boots for an average day of hiking as well as backpacking. I’m about to retire a pair of Merrells I’ve had for six years and my biggest complaint was that they were one dimensional, I took them backpacking, but they weren’t really sturdy enough. I am looking for a good, all-around boot that I could wear in intense, mountainous/snowy conditions or on a casual day of hiking with the family. I think I’ve narrowed down to these: Salomon Quest 4D GTX, Vasque St. Elias, and the Oboz Bridgers that you also reviewed. Any suggestions? Continue reading →

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