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 I receive many; it can take a few weeks to respond.

November 24, 2015 Backpackers, Pacific Crest Trail near Cloudy Pass, Glacier Peak Wilderness.

Ask Me: Should I Buy a Larger Backpack If It’s Not Much Heavier?

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I stumbled upon your blog and have enjoyed reading your advice. I am currently deciding between the Gregory Baltoro 75 and 65. I have always had a 65L pack and was looking to upgrade to a new pack this year. When I compared the two packs I found that there was only four ounces difference in weight from the 65L to the 75L. So I am thinking about going to the 75 even though my gear fits in a 65L pack fine. Is there any reason not to go to the larger pack?

Idaho Falls, ID Continue reading →

November 11, 2015 Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia region, Chile.

Ask Me: Trekking Patagonia’s Torres del Paine

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This is great and thanks for sharing. How difficult would you rate the “W” trek [in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park] for a beginner? I will be going with five other friends and want to make sure I have enough time to finish it safely.

Also, what type of rain paints would suffice? Do you recommend something like Gore-Tex or a water-resistant pant? We plan to go in Jan/Feb.


Rick Continue reading →

November 4, 2015 South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Ask Me: How’s November For Hiking in the Grand Canyon?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Hi Michael:

During the second week of November, a buddy and I are considering a rim to river to rim hike in the Grand Canyon. We are planning to descend South Kaibab Trail, walk along River Trail, and ascend via Bright Angel Trail. Plan would be to start early and complete the hike in the same day. We will carry survival gear. Neither of us has been to the GC. One of us is very experienced (and in excellent physical condition), and one of us has moderate experience (in very good physical condition).

We would appreciate your comments on hiking in November—weather, trail conditions, and anything else that may assist us. We both prefer not to hike in the wet, and neither of us wants anything to do with snow! Also, if November is the wrong month to do this, we would delay until next year. Continue reading →

October 28, 2015 Rockwall Trail, Kootenay National Park, Canada.

Ask Me: How Can a Small Woman Find a Backpack That Fits?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

Hi Michael,

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 →

October 21, 2015 On the Pacific Crest Trail at Glen Aulin, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: What’s the Best Thru-Hiking Backpack?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

Hi Michael,

I was just getting ready to get the Osprey Atmos 65 backpack for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Osprey and REI say a large is 3 lbs. 10 oz. Your review of the 2015 Atmos 65 said a medium would be 4 lbs. 6 oz. Really? Why the significant extra weight?



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