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Latest Posts

Dear Reader, Here’s My Holiday Gift to You

December 6, 2018  |  In Uncategorized   |   Leave a comment
Alice Lake in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains.

Alice Lake in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains.

Hi Fellow Hiker and Backpacker,

You read The Big Outside to help you make the trips you dream about happen.

You read about places like the Grand Canyon and Grand Tetons, the John Muir Trail and the Sawtooths, North Cascades and White Mountains, Zion and other Utah parks, Glacier and Yosemite, not to mention the best treks in the world, like the Tour du Mont Blanc and the Alta Via 2 in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains.

These are some of the many trips you can plan using The Big Outside as your guide. Well, I have a holiday gift for you. Or a few gifts, actually. Continue reading →

December 12, 2018 Backpacking the Fisher Creek Trail, North Cascades National Park.

Review: 22 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories of 2018

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Sure, your backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and other backpacking gear matter a lot, and you should put serious thought into your choices when buying any of them. But little things matter, too. Various necessary accessories, convenience items, and small comforts accompany me on backcountry trips. Many years of field-testing gear have refined my sense of what I like on certain types of trips and what I will not do without anytime.

Here’s my freshly updated list of essential backpacking accessories, ranging from basics like my favorite stuff sacks, camp kitchen gear, water filters, and bear canister, to great values in a headlamp and knife, and what I sit on in camp and lay my head down on every night I sleep on the ground. You’ll find many of them available at discounted prices right now. Continue reading →

Take a Top 5 Southwest Backpacking Trip: Paria Canyon

December 11, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures   |   Tagged , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
A backpacker in Paria Canyon in Utah and Arizona.

My son, Nate, backpacking Paria Canyon in Utah and Arizona.

By Michael Lanza

Walls of searing, orange-red sandstone towered hundreds of feet overhead in a chasm at times no more than a dozen strides across. A shallow river flowed like very thin chocolate milk down the canyon, spanning it from wall to wall in spots. And the spectacle had only just begun: We were mere hours into the first day of one of the most continually stunning, multi-day canyon hikes in the Southwest: Paria Canyon. Continue reading →

December 10, 2018 Wallowa Mountains, Oregon.

12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   18 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Staying warm while Nordic, downhill, or backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in winter is a constant challenge: We sweat, our clothes get damp, then we get cold. But as humans have known for thousands of years, it’s a matter of smartly managing and insulating our body’s furnace (and today we have much better technical clothing than animal skins). As someone who runs hot when moving, cools off quickly, and gets cold fingers and toes easily, I’ve learned many tricks over nearly four decades of getting out in the backcountry in frigid temperatures. Follow these tips and you will be vastly more comfortable outdoors in winter.

Continue reading →

The Best Clothing Layers for Winter in the Backcountry

December 9, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
A backcountry skier in Idaho's Boise Mountains.

A backcountry skier in Idaho’s Boise Mountains.

By Michael Lanza

There’s one certainty about the clothing layers we use in winter: We get our money’s worth out of them. While a rain shell or puffy jacket may rarely (or even never) come out of our pack on a summer hike or climb, we almost invariably wear every article of clothing we carry when backcountry, Nordic, or downhill skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, climbing, or trail running in winter. That’s money spent wisely to make us more comfortable and safer.

Every winter, I test out new clothing layers doing all of those activities frequently. Here are the best shell and insulated jackets, base layers, and pants I’ve found for high-exertion and moderate-exertion activities in winter. Continue reading →

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