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.

October 5, 2015 Rain1-20 View from Crescent Mtn, Northern Loop

Completely Alone on Mt. Rainier’s Northern Loop

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   5 Comments

By Michael Lanza

“There’s absolutely no one out here.”

I was just a few hours into a solo backpacking trip around Mt. Rainier National Park’s 32.8-mile Northern Loop when that realization hit me. It was a cool, clear day in October 2003. None of my usual hiking partners had been available to join me. So I decided to do the trip alone, something I’ve done more times than I could count and felt comfortable with. I had no idea that this time I’d face the kind of situation that solo hikers think about but can never anticipate: a threat that shrinks the margin of safety in the wilderness down to nothing. Continue reading →

September 29, 2015 Ouzel Lake, Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

The 5 Rules About Kids I Broke While Backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   7 Comments

By Michael Lanza

“I’m dying!” my son, Nate, bellowed to the entire forest in the Wild Basin of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. “This pack is too heavy!” We were just 30 minutes up the trail at the outset of a three-day backpacking trip. It was a trip that seemed like an unmitigated disaster for the first two days—then morphed into an adventure my kids remember fondly, and that helped expand their outdoor interests.

For me, those three days in Rocky serve as a reminder about the many ways you can do it wrong when taking kids outdoors, but how simple and easy it is to make it right. Continue reading →

September 27, 2015 Mark Fenton on Mount Clay in New Hampshire's Presidential Range.

Looking For An Adventure of a Lifetime? Here It Is

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

By Michael Lanza

Around 9 a.m., some five-and-a-half hours into a 20-mile, nine-summit dayhike over some of the most rugged trails in America, my friend Mark Fenton and I strode up onto what may be the country’s quietest summit that lies just a short walk from one of the country’s busiest summits. From the alpine crown of 5,533-foot Mount Clay in New Hampshire’s Presidential Range, which we had to ourselves on that morning, we looked out over the boulder piles that comprise the Northern Presidentials and the yawning, 3,000-foot-deep chasm that is the valley called the Great Gulf.   Continue reading →

September 23, 2015 Campsite, Dome Glacier, Ptarmigan Traverse, Glacier Peak Wilderness, North Cascades.

Ask Me: How Can You Tell How Warm a Down Jacket Is?

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


With sleeping bags, we have temperature ratings. But with down/insulated/puffy jackets, what is best way to determine if a jacket will be warm or warmer or hot? Is it the amount of fill? Some but not all jackets indicate the amount of fill.



Continue reading →

September 22, 2015 Sahale Arm, North Cascades National Park, Washington.

Ask Me: How Do I Stop Getting Battered Toes When Hiking?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   10 Comments


I know this is a really random question, but when descending mountain trails my big toes suffer immensely. Besides tying the laces up really tight, is there a trick to protecting them without losing a toenail or having them feel beat up?

Rexburg, ID Continue reading →

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