Category Archives: Skills

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

May 21, 2015 JMT1-188 (2)

The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun

In Backpacking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments

By Michael Lanza

If you could do one thing to make every backcountry trip more enjoyable, would you? If you’re one of the many backpackers who finish every day on the trail sore from neck to toes, the answer may be simpler than you think. Continue reading →

May 20, 2015 Backpacking in the rain on the Wonderland Trail at Mount Rainier National Park.

5 Tips for Staying Warm and Dry on the Trail

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

There are only three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and getting rained on when dayhiking or backpacking. As we all know, wet clothing conducts heat away from your body, making you colder. And simply donning rain shells may make you so warm that you sweat a lot, thus getting wet from the inside rather than the outside. Staying as dry as possible while on the trail or in camp is key to staying warm in the backcountry when the weather turns wet—especially in temperatures below around 60° F and in wind, which swiftly chills your body. Follow these tips for a much more comfortable and pleasant backcountry adventure—even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Continue reading →

May 19, 2015 Hiker on "The Visor," Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California.

10 Tricks For Making Hiking and Backpacking Easier

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

By Michael Lanza

When I first started hiking, in my early 20s, I was like a young baseball pitcher with an overpowering fastball: I simply hurled myself at every hike with all of my energy and cluelessness, not terribly concerned about whether I hit the metaphorical strike zone. I didn’t think much about how far I was hiking, how rugged the terrain was, how heavy a pack I was carrying—or, to be honest, how much my companions were ready or eager for whatever lunatic plan I was dragging them into. I was young and fit and didn’t really care how much my body ached afterward, so my haphazard strategy worked well enough.

Now, many miles and (too) many years later, I’m more like a veteran hurler who’s learned the benefits of honing a repertoire of off-speed pitches. Continue reading →

May 17, 2015 David's feet

7 Pro Tips For Avoiding Blisters

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , ,   |   9 Comments

By Michael Lanza

I field test upwards of a dozen models of hiking, backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, and trail-running shoes and boots every year. I’m constantly wearing new footwear right out of the box on trips—usually without doing anything more than trying them on. And I very rarely get a blister. Here’s how I avoid them. Continue reading →

May 14, 2015 Grand Prismatic Geyser, Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park.

New at The Big Outside: Ask Me Menu Page

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

By Michael Lanza

Ever since I launched this blog almost five years ago, readers have emailed me with their questions about trips they’re planning, gear, taking kids on outdoor adventures, or some kind of outdoor skill. I always respond, and because my readers ask good questions, I share most of them, and my responses, in the feature I call Ask Me. I’ve now amassed enough Ask Me blog posts that it seemed to make sense to organize them onto a page, listed in several categories. Now, if you have a question for me, or are researching gear or a national park or any topic I write about at The Big Outside, go to my Ask Me page for a complete menu of all existing blog posts in which I’ve answered questions from other readers. Continue reading →

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