Royal Arch Loop, Grand Canyon.
Featured

Backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Royal Arch Loop

The Grand Canyon’s Royal Arch Loop stands out even in a park where just about any hike would make almost anyone’s top 10 list. See why.

Backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Royal Arch Loop
Sahale Glacier Camp, North Cascades National Park.
Featured

My 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites

Do you have an all-time favorite backcountry campsite? I have 25 (including this amazing spot), and I’ve updated my list. See it now.

My 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites
Lower Yellowstone Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
Featured

10 Favorite National Park Adventures With Kids

Our national parks offer a lifetime’s worth of unforgettable experiences—many of them accessible, safe, and really fun for families. See these 10 favorites.

10 Favorite National Park Adventures With Kids

Latest Posts

View More »
April 19, 2016 Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile.

Enter The Big Outside Reader Gear Makeover and Patagonia Trip Giveaway

In Uncategorized   |   Tagged ,   |   2 Comments
Osprey Aura AG 65 backpack.

Osprey Aura AG 65 backpack.

By Michael Lanza

Have you ever wished that you’d get lucky and win the great, new hiking and backpacking you really want, or maybe a trip of a lifetime to a world-famous destination like Patagonia? Well, you’re in luck. Starting today, I’m offering exactly those prizes in the biggest gear giveaway ever held since humans first slept in tents (or, at least, the biggest gear giveaway ever conducted at this blog): The Big Outside Reader Gear Makeover and Patagonia Trip Giveaway!

Enter now to win a new backpack, tent, boots, sleeping bag, trekking poles, and other gear from Osprey Packs, Big Agnes, Gore-Tex, Exped USA, Leki, Lifestraw, Helinox, and Honey Stinger, plus a 23-day trip for two to Patagonia. Continue reading →

May 2, 2016 Kris Wagner above Royal Arch Canyon in the Grand Canyon.

Not Quite Impassable: Backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Royal Arch Loop

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

By Michael Lanza

Hiking just ahead of my three companions in Royal Arch Canyon, a remote chasm off the South Rim the Grand Canyon, I stop before a dead end: a 15-foot pour-off dropping away in front of me and towering cliffs to either side. It looks impassable. After a moment of scanning the walls more closely, though, I notice a stack of narrow ledges—some only as wide as one of my feet—leading across and down the cliff to my left, around the pour-off. The traverse is exposed—a slip could result in a really bad tumble off this cliff. But it actually looks fairly easy, and it’s clearly our route. So I start inching across as David and Kris come up behind me and watch.

As I’m shuffling sideways along the first ledge, the front pack holding my camera gear bumps the cliff face—and the effect is like an unseen hand shoving me backward. Arms windmilling wildly, straining against gravity, I feel my entire body tilting off-balance, about to pitch into the abyss behind me. Continue reading →

May 1, 2016 Backpacking The Narrows, Zion National Park.

Buying Gear? Read This First

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Are you in the market for a new pack or boots for hiking or backpacking, or a new tent or sleeping bag? How do you find something that’s just right for you? What should you be looking for? How much should you spend? These are questions I’ve heard from many friends and readers over the years as they’ve waded through the myriad choices that are out there. Here are my five top tips for buying gear that’s right for you, gleaned from lessons I’ve learned from two decades of testing and reviewing gear and helping people find gear they love. Continue reading →

Review: 5 Super Versatile Layering Pieces

April 28, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

 

Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody

Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody

By Michael Lanza

The more time I spend in the backcountry—whether climbing peaks, taking an ultra-dayhike or trail run, Nordic or backcountry skiing, or backpacking with my family—the more I value and wear lightweight jackets and vests that pull double duty as middle and outer layers. Unlike with heavier, warmer, and less-breathable jackets, you can often wear this type of garment while on the move—while your body is producing heat, but you still need some warmth. That makes you more comfortable and safer. Plus, you get more bang for your buck from versatile layers like these. Here are five of the very best. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Osprey Ace Kids Backpacks

April 27, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   7 Comments
Osprey Ace 38

Osprey Ace 38

Kids Backpack
Osprey Ace 38
$140, 38L/2,319 c.i., 2 lbs. 4 oz. (my scale, not including the 3-oz. rain cover that comes with the pack)
One size, adjustable, fits torsos 28-38cm/11-15 ins., for ages 6 to 11 (approx.)
Osprey Ace 50
$160, 50L/3,051 c.i., 3 lbs. (my scale, not including the 3-oz. rain cover)
One size, adjustable, fits torsos 33-46cm/13-18 ins., for ages 8 to 14 (approx.)
Osprey Ace 75
$180, 75L/4,577 c.i., 3 lbs. 9 oz. (weight stated by Osprey)
One size, adjustable, fits torsos 35.5-48cm/14-19 ins., for ages 11 to 18 (approx.)
ospreypacks.com

If backpacking is sometimes hard on an adult, it presents a particular set of challenges to a kid who weighs 100 pounds or less. One rule I followed when my kids were young was to not ask them to carry a backpack; instead, I waited for them to say they wanted to carry their own pack. (See my popular “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids.”) And then, I made sure my kids had good-quality gear, to help ensure they’d want to go backpacking again. My kids (now 15 and 13) have carried Osprey Ace backpacks on trips from Southwest canyons to Idaho’s Sawtooth and White Cloud mountains to Canada’s Kootenay National Park. Built for a huge range of children’s body sizes—from the youngest you’d want to put a pack on to bigger teenagers—the Ace packs have made it a little easier to turn your child into a backpacker.

Continue reading →

April 26, 2016 Angels Landing, Zion National Park.

10 Favorite National Park Adventures With Kids

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

The crowning achievement of our National Park System is that we have preserved such uniquely beautiful and significant pieces of nature in perpetuity. But the payoff for America’s foresight in creating and expanding the system is a lifetime’s worth of unforgettable experiences awaiting us in these places—many of them entirely accessible, safe, and really fun for families with kids in a range of ages, from very young to teenagers. Here are 10 favorites selected from among the many trips I’ve taken. Continue reading →

← Older posts