Category Archives: Backpacking

Stories and images from the best backpacking trips in America and around the world, with trip-planning advice based on my personal, on-the-ground knowledge from having done the trip.

November 26, 2015 Lower Yellowstone Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park.

Giving Thanks For ‘The Best Idea We Ever Had’

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

By Michael Lanza

From Lookout Point, along the North Rim Trail in Yellowstone National Park, you gaze down hundreds of feet into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, with its crumbling walls of golden, gray, and cream-colored rock and patches of evergreens framing the roaring river. Just upstream, 308-foot-tall Lower Yellowstone Falls explodes through a notch in the cliffs, sending a plume of water and mist shooting into the canyon. Every time I see it, as I did again earlier this fall, I feel the same sense of awe that I felt the first time I saw this view.

Big more than that, I think about the foresight behind the creation of America’s national parks—what the writer Wallace Stegner called “the best idea we ever had”—including the first one, Yellowstone. That’s one of the many things I’m thankful for on this Thanksgiving day. Continue reading →

November 25, 2015 Backpacking The Narrows, Zion National Park.

Buying Gear? Read This First

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

By Michael Lanza

Are you in the market for a new pack or boots for hiking or backpacking, or a new tent or sleeping bag? How do you find something that’s just right for you? What should you be looking for? How much should you spend? These are questions I’ve heard from many friends and readers over the years as they’ve waded through the myriad choices that are out there. Here are my five top tips for buying gear that’s right for you, gleaned from lessons I’ve learned from two decades of testing and reviewing gear and helping people find gear they love. Continue reading →

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?

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


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 23, 2015 Royal Arch Loop, Grand Canyon.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking in the Grand Canyon

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

A twisting gorge 277 miles long and averaging about 10 miles wide and a mile deep. A national park spanning more than 1.2 million acres. More than 100 named rapids on the Colorado River. The Vishnu Schist comprising the canyon’s inner gorge is some of the oldest exposed rock on Earth, some two billion years old, or about half the age of the planet. Statistics, however impressive, barely begin to describe the experience of hiking down into the canyon. But pictures help, as I think you’ll see in this gallery of photos. Continue reading →

November 19, 2015 At Trail Crest on the John Muir Trail, Mount Whitney, Sequoia National Park.

Video: Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

It’s a little challenging to feel inspired about the idea of hiking or backpacking when days are short and cold and warmer weather is months away. But the cure for that level of lethargy, I find, is to dream big. Contemplate the grandest adventure you can imagine taking, and you may come to realize that the dark weeks before and after the winter solstice are actually a good time to start planning a huge trip.

How about thru-hiking “America’s most beautiful trail” the John Muir Trail? Take your first step on that adventure right now by watching this video of images from my thru-hike of the JMT. Because dreaming about it is half the fun. Continue reading →

← Older posts