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.

February 3, 2016 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 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?

Thanks,

Dave
Worcester, MA Continue reading →

February 2, 2016 Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: What Are Your Top Picks For Long Backpacking Trips?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

Hi Michael,

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 →

January 28, 2016 Osprey Aura AG 65

Ask Me: What Do You Recommend For a Versatile, All-Purpose Backpack?

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

Hello Michael,

I saw your gear reviews on your blog and I want to ask which backpack you’d recommend for long trails for a man: Osprey Xenith 75 (or 88) or Gregory Baltoro 75? Normally I take from 15 to 25 kg (30 to 50 lbs.). And I need this backpack for trips up to approximately 12 days—from short weekend trips with tent to 14-day trips. It would be nice if the backpack has a lot of pockets. For speed and technical routes I have a 35-liter Deuter Guide without any extra pockets, but for long treks I need more space for my wallet, phone, headlight, etc.

Best regards,
Emil
Lodz, Poland Continue reading →

January 19, 2016 Trekkers en route to the Thorung-La pass on the Annapurna Circuit, Nepal.

Ask Me: How Do We Flatlanders Train For High Altitudes?

In Ask Me, Hiking, International Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , ,   |   4 Comments

Hi Michael,

I hope this finds you well! At the end of the year I am hoping to join my friends on an adventure to Argentina to climb Aconcagua. We are not taking the technical routes, so no ropes or glacier travel. My question is this: what is the best way to train for high altitude? I live at sea level in Portland, Maine, so access to high peaks is not really an option. Continue reading →

January 14, 2016 Campsite, Squaw Canyon, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park.

Ask Me: What Are the Best Tents For Backpacking With Kids?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Family Adventures, Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Michael,

Thanks for the great stories and tips for family trips. I came across your blog as I was scoping out a family backpacking trip in the Sierra for this summer. We are taking another family out backpacking that has done a number of dayhikes, but has not been backpacking before, along with a 20-year-old, foreign-exchange student who, while fit, has also not been backpacking. The boys on the trip will both be eight—they will carry no more than eight to 10 pounds in a decent daypack (our son has an Osprey Jet that has worked well for the past couple of years). Bottom line is that I expect that I will carry some extra weight. Our tent is a Black Diamond Vista—a great tent but heavy for the Sierra in August. Any thoughts on three-person, three-season tents that are relatively durable and lighter than the Vista? I was looking at the Big Agnes Copper Spur as a potential option but figured I would ask you, with all of your experience. Continue reading →

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