Angels Landing, Zion National Park.
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Hiking and Backpacking in Zion

Even in the Southwest, a region where the extraordinary becomes ordinary, Zion National Park stands out. A photo gallery of hiking and backpacking in Zion.

Hiking and Backpacking in Zion
Glenns Lake, Glacier National Park.
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Photo Gallery: Every National Park I’ve Visited

How many national parks have you visited? To launch a year-long celebration of the National Park Service’s 100th birthday, I’m sharing photos from every park I’ve visited.

Photo Gallery: Every National Park I’ve Visited
Ryan Mountain, Joshua Tree National Park.
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Friendship and Climbing at Joshua Tree

Sometimes our greatest challenges are inside of us. A tale of friendship and climbing rocks at Joshua Tree National Park.

Friendship and Climbing at Joshua Tree

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Gear Review: The Best Gear Duffles

February 4, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Osprey Transporter 95

Osprey Transporter 95

By Michael Lanza

Whatever your outdoor sport—backpacking, climbing, whitewater rafting or kayaking, backcountry skiing, etc.—a sturdy duffle for organizing, hauling, and protecting your gear and clothing is invaluable. Not only does it eliminate the risk of damaging an expensive backpack by using it as your luggage, a good duffle has more capacity and is built to suffer the indignities of getting tossed into jet, train, and bus baggage compartments, being strapped onto a roof rack, sled, snowmobile, or pack animal, and exposed to rain and snow.

I subjected the four duffles and two convertible pieces of luggage reviewed here to perils ranging from cross-country and intercontinental flights to the environmental hazards of a multi-day wilderness float down Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River, and numerous long-distance, family car trips. Besides passing the durability test, all of them demonstrated unique strengths for different styles of adventure travel. Continue reading →

February 3, 2016 Rockwall Trail, Kootenay National Park, Canada.

Ask Me: How Can a Small Woman Find a Backpack That Fits?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments

Hi Michael,

My fiancée has begun backpacking, and we’re in the market for a pack. But she’s tiny, five feet and just 100 pounds, and finding a waist belt small enough has been an issue. I’m thinking she needs a 50- to 55-liter pack. Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Dave
Worcester, MA Continue reading →

February 2, 2016 Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: What Are Your Top Picks For Long Backpacking Trips?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

Hi Michael,

I usually take a solo trip the first week of my summer vacation. (I’m an elementary-school teacher, and I’ve done a ton of multi-day backpacking and lots of long-distance trails. It can be tricky as it’s the second week of June and there is usually too much snow to attempt certain trails. I’m looking for a loop, out and back, or shuttle that allows me about 20 miles a day for about five days. I looked long and hard at the Mah Dah Hey Trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, but the 22-hour drive each way is a bit daunting. I’ve been looking at trying to find a closer alternative. Continue reading →

February 1, 2016 Hiking in the Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park.

Facing the Biggest Challenge Inside: Friendship and Climbing Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park

In Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments

By Michael Lanza

A dry, invisible waterfall of heat pours from the desert sky as we follow a footpath through the Wonderland of Rocks, a vast archipelago of granite monoliths and spires floating in an ocean of sand in the backcountry of southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park. My friend David and I are in search of one particular crack in one specific stone skyscraper, which feels a little like picking through hundreds of haystacks scattered across a farm in pursuit of one needle.

We high-step through gardens of prickly-pear cacti and other vegetation that has evolved to put a hurt on you for the easy mistake of brushing against it. I pause frequently to consult photos of some of these granite monoliths in my guidebook to help pinpoint our location. I also contemplate—as seems to happen whenever I head out rock climbing for the first time in a while—the complicated human relationship with fear. There’s the natural anxiousness that can accompany trying to claw your way up a sheer cliff. But fear and its antipode, courage, take many forms. One can be so difficult to confront that it destroys lives. The other can save them. Continue reading →

January 31, 2016 The view from Baldy Knoll, Teton Range.

Photo Gallery: Backcountry Skiing the Tetons

In National Park Adventures, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

After some 18 trips in Grand Teton National Park—backpacking, dayhiking, climbing, canoeing, backcountry skiing—I’ve yet to lose the sense of awe I get every time I look at these sharply angled peaks, which resemble the archetypal pictures of mountains shaped like upside-down V’s that we drew as children. But there’s definitely something unique and special about getting out here in winter, when the high country wears a thick mantle of white. And there’s something very special about traveling through these mountains on skis. Continue reading →

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