Category Archives: Skiing

Stories and images from my cross-country and backcountry skiing adventures, from family- and beginner-friendly to expert-level trips.

November 1, 2015 Trail 47 below Castle Peak, White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

Why REI’s #OptOutside on Black Friday Matters (and John Muir, Ed Abbey, and Jesus Would Agree)

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

REI exploded a supernova in the retail universe when it announced last week that it’s closing all 143 stores on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and won’t process any online purchases until the following day. Employees will get a paid day off and be encouraged to get outside—and many undoubtedly will.

This is very cool if you work for REI, of course. But why should the rest of us care? I believe we should, for reasons that reach beyond REI’s walls, and because it’s good for our kids in ways not immediately obvious. And I think John Muir, Ed Abbey, and Jesus would agree. But more about those guys in a bit. Continue reading →

October 25, 2015 On the summit of Mount Hoffmann, Yosemite National Park.

How to Have More Fun and Be Safer Outdoors

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

By Michael Lanza

People occasionally ask me the same basic question about hiking, backpacking, or some other outdoor activity: How much do I need to know to do this? I usually (perhaps annoyingly) answer a question with a question: How much do you want to enjoy it and keep yourself, your family, or your friends safe?

At The Big Outside, some of my most-read stories are the ones in which I offer my tips on skills like ultralight backpacking, avoiding blisters, getting a hard-to-get national park backcountry permit, and taking better outdoor photos; my “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids” may be the most enduringly popular story at this blog. Now I’ve organized all of my stories about outdoor skills on my newly launched Skills page, where you can click to learn not only how to do many things outdoors, but also what it is that you should know about.

Continue reading →

October 22, 2015 Mangrove tunnel, East River, near Everglades National Park.

One Photo, One Story: 10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Under a hot February sun and cloudless sky, we launched our kayaks into the calm, dark-chocolate waters of the East River in South Florida’s Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, on the outskirts of Everglades National Park. Within minutes, flocks of snowy egrets flew in close formation overhead. White ibises, black anhingas, tri-colored herons, and brown pelicans flapped above the wide river and the green walls of forest on both sides. Great blue herons lifted off effortlessly and glided on wings whose span equals an average human’s height.

Then our guide told us, “See that thing that looks like a piece of driftwood? It’s not driftwood. It’s an alligator.”

Continue reading →

October 18, 2015 Tonto Trail east of Salt Creek, Grand Canyon National Park.

Like The Big Outside? Please Support My Work

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Family Adventures, Gear Reviews, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

A little over five years ago, I launched this blog and website with a simple goal: to offer stories, photos, and expert trip-planning advice on America’s and the world’s best outdoor adventures—including many that are great for families—based on my on-the-ground, first-hand knowledge from having done all of the trips myself. (I can tell you from experience, that isn’t the case with many established magazines.) Since then, it has grown into a popular online source for stories about hiking, backpacking, paddling, and other adventures, as well as my gear reviews and my tips on outdoor skills. Most gratifyingly for me, The Big Outside has inspired families and others to get outdoors.

I need you to show me that you want me to keep publishing this blog. 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.



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