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June 25, 2017 Hiking The Subway in Zion National Park.

Great Hike: The Subway, Zion National Park

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

By Michael Lanza

In the refrigerator-like shade at the bottom of a fissure hundreds of feet deep, somewhere in the labyrinth of sandstone canyons that dice up the backcountry of Zion National Park, our keyhole-shaped passageway narrowed to the width of a doorway. A shallow, ice-water creek pumped along the slot canyon’s floor, which dropped off before us about four feet into a pool extending some 30 feet across. We’d been informed the water temperature was around 51° F. And it looked deep.

We were going for a chilly swim. Continue reading →

June 22, 2017 A hiker at Goat Lake below Thompson Peak, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

A Good Time to Buy Backpacking Gear? Right Now

In Gear Reviews   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

If you’ve been thinking you need (or want) a new backpack, tent, boots, or other piece of hiking or backpacking gear, right now is one of the two or three best times of year to grab good deals. Most brick-and-mortar and online retailers are holding major sales, offering steeply discounted prices on new and recently new gear. Read on for my recommendations for favorite models of packs, tents, rain shells, and other gear, and links to sales taking place right now, and save yourself serious cash. Continue reading →

Gear Review: The North Face Ultra Gore-Tex Surround Mid Hiking Boots

June 21, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
The North Face Ultra Gore-Tex Surround Mid boots.

The North Face Ultra Gore-Tex Surround Mid boots.

Hiking Boots
The North Face Ultra Gore-Tex Surround Mid
$190, 2 lbs. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: men’s 7-14, women’s 5-11
backcountry.com

The heat and humidity fell onto us like a wet blanket; I broke into a sweat just lacing up my boots for the dayhike of 3,740-foot Cerro Chato, a dormant volcano with close-up views of its larger and more-famous neighbor, Arenal Volcano, in Costa Rica’s tropical Northern Lowlands. And yet, I wanted waterproof-breathable boots for Costa Rican trails notorious for slick mud. The crazy-steep path up Cerro Chato would not only challenge us physically, it would challenge the breathability of The North Face Gore-Tex Surround Mid boots. It would also help me assess whether these very lightweight mid-cuts are the answer to chronically wet hikes in persistently hot, humid conditions—which you don’t have to go to Central America to find, as any hiker in the Eastern U.S. can confirm. Continue reading →

June 20, 2017 Backpacking the Tonto Trail on the Grand Canyon's Royal Arch Loop.

Ask Me: What ‘Luxury’ Backpacking Gear Do You Carry?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

[Note: I received similar questions from two different readers about choosing which “luxury” items, like camp chairs and sandals, to carry when backpacking—ML]

Michael,

I really enjoy your reviews and articles. I’m 52 and enjoy backpacking in the Southern Appalachians, typically 10 to 15 miles a day, and head out around eight times a year. I carry around 20 pounds in my Osprey Exos 58. I have the EMS Velocity 1 tent, Thermarest NeoAir all season air mattress, MSR PocketRocket with Titan Kettle, and The North Face Gold Kazoo bag. So I travel pretty light.

I currently use the Therm-a-rest Z Seat Pad, but have been considering stepping up to the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Camp Chair weighing in at 21 oz. Do you think it would be worth the extra weight to go with the chair? At the end of the day it sure would be nice to kick back in it rather than leaning against a tree or rock while sitting on the Z pad.

Best regards,
Pete
Charlotte, NC Continue reading →

June 19, 2017 My kids hiking the Gunsight Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

A Survival Guide For the Outdoors Lover Who’s a New Parent

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

So, you’ve been an avid [circle all appropriate terms: hiker/backpacker/climber/trail runner/skier/kayaker] for years, and now you’re spending big chunks of your days changing diapers and your nights wondering when you’ll sleep again. You’ve never gone this long without getting out into the mountains, and you see no remedy for that shortfall in the foreseeable future. Your new baby is more wonderful than you’d ever imagined—and yet, you’re feeling a little despair over what’s missing from your life lately.

I know where your head is right now. And I have good news for you: I’ve seen the bright light at the end of the tunnel, and you can get there faster than you might think. Here’s how. Continue reading →

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