Category Archives: Skills

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

March 1, 2015 Backpackers in Great Sand Dunes National Park.

5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

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By Michael Lanza

My first, two-person tent set me back only about twice what you’d pay today for a good, single-burner backpacking stove. It weighed several pounds and was bulky for backpacking. I nicknamed that tent the Wind Sock for its propensity to snap loudly in even the slightest breeze, and how its poles bowed disturbingly in strong gusts. (I learned to choose protected campsites.) In heavy downpours, I sometimes woke up to a puddle on the floor. Continue reading →

February 18, 2015 Wanda Lake, John Muir Trail, Kings Canyon National Park.

12 Simple Tips For Taking Better Outdoor Photos

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By Michael Lanza

Do you wonder how some people come back from national parks and other outdoor trips with fantastic photos? Would you like to take the kind of pictures that make people ooh and aah? It may not be as complicated as you think. Continue reading →

February 16, 2015 The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah.

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

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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 →

February 12, 2015 Wallowa Mountains, Oregon.

12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter

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By Michael Lanza

Staying warm and comfortable while Nordic or backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in winter is a constant challenge—we sweat, our bodies and clothes get damp, then we get cold. But it’s not impossible. In fact, as someone who runs hot when moving and cools off quickly—and who gets cold fingers very easily—I’ve learned some tricks over the years that have made getting outdoors in winter vastly more comfortable and enjoyable for me. Follow these tips and you could be more comfortable on cold-weather outdoor adventures, too. Continue reading →

February 2, 2015 Gunsight Pass Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana.

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

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

By Michael Lanza

As we neared Gunsight Pass in Glacier National Park, on the middle day of a three-day family backpacking trip, a man and woman in their fifties stopped to talk with us. They sized up our kids and smiled; Nate was nine and Alex was seven. “We’re impressed!” they told us. “We never had any luck trying to get our kids to backpack when they were young.” We chatted a bit and then headed off in opposite directions on the trail.

After they were out of earshot, Alex turned to me, wanting to clarify a point: “You didn’t get us to do this,” she told me. “We wanted to do it.” Her words, of course, warmed my heart. But her comment also spotlighted the biggest lesson for parents hoping to raise their kids to love the outdoors: Create experiences that make them eager to go out again the next time. Continue reading →

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