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December 10, 2017 Backpacking Paria Canyon in Utah and Arizona.

Take a Top 5 Southwest Backpacking Trip: Paria Canyon

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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, melted milk chocolate 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 7, 2017 Backcountry skiing in Idaho's Boise Mountains.

The Best Clothing Layers for Winter in the Backcountry

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

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 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, climbing, or trail running in winter.

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 being active in winter, grouped into two categories: high-exertion and moderate-exertion activities. Continue reading →

December 6, 2017 A backcountry skier at Baldy Knoll, in Wyoming's Teton Range.

How to Dress in Layers for Winter in the Backcountry

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, International Adventures, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

If hiking, backpacking, and climbing from spring through fall teaches us the fundamentals of layering our clothing for comfort in variable mountain weather, heading into the backcountry in winter confers a graduate degree in layering systems. In mild temperatures, getting wet with perspiration or precipitation merely risks discomfort. In freezing temps, it can quickly lead to getting really cold and actually become life-threatening. Three decades of Nordic and backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, camping, and trail running in winter have informed my layering strategy, which goes beyond the usual advice, customizing clothing systems according to activity and body type. Continue reading →

Gear Review: The 6 Best Hiking Daypacks

December 5, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments
The best new hiking daypack of 2017, the Exped Skyline 15 daypack.

The best new hiking daypack of 2017, the Exped Skyline 15 daypack.

By Michael Lanza

Choosing a daypack for hiking can seem simple—until you see the dozens of choices out there today, which range all over the map in terms of volume, weight, carrying capacity, features, and cost. Before buying, consider what you need a daypack for. How much stuff will you carry? That partly depends on where, when, and how far you hike. What kind of pack design suits your dayhiking style: low- or high-capacity? Lightweight and minimalist, or with an assortment of pockets and features? Built for hard abuse, or mostly for cruising good trails?

The six daypacks in this review stand out as the best available today—and they’re all different enough from one another to offer you clear choices to help you find the right pack for your dayhiking adventures.

Plus, right now, you’ll find some of them at sharply reduced sale prices.

Continue reading →

December 4, 2017 Backpacking into Titcomb Basin in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

10 Photos From 2017 That Will Inspire You to Get Outdoors

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

What adventures did you take in 2017 that reinvigorated you? I had a good year. The 10 photos that follow are favorite images from a list of trips I took over the past 12 months that included trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc in the Alps and exploring the rainforests and volcanoes of Costa Rica, backpacking in Wyoming’s Wind River Range and Utah’s Dark Canyon Wilderness, dayhikes in the Columbia Gorge and up the most beloved peak in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, backcountry skiing in the High Sierra and Sawtooth Mountains, and whitewater kayaking in my back yard on Idaho’s Payette River.

As the people of Costa Rica like to say, “Pura vida,” which is Spanish for “pure life.”

Continue reading →

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