Category Archives: Skills

My professional tips on hiking, backpacking, gear, and outdoors skills, and taking children on wilderness adventures.

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 15, 2015 The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah.

10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit

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

By Michael Lanza

The first time I backpacked in Yosemite National Park, more than 20 years ago, I applied months in advance for a permit to start at the park’s most popular trailhead, Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley—and I got it. I had no idea at the time how lucky I was. I’ve since been shot down trying to get permits for popular hikes in parks like Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Glacier. But I’ve also learned a few tricks for landing coveted backcountry permits in those flagship parks—which all receive far more requests for permit reservations than they can accommodate. 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 →

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