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By Michael Lanza
Yellowstone. Yosemite. Grand Canyon. Glacier. Zion. Grand Teton. These names are iconic to people who love exploring America’s national parks. And beyond those flagship parks are dozens more units of the National Park Service (53 more, to be precise) creating infinite opportunities to hike, backpack, kayak, canoe, climb a mountain, fish, or just gape in blissful awe at the scenery. But where do you begin, and what should you or your family do?
In 2016, the centennial of the National Park Service, national parks saw a third consecutive year of record visitation—331 million people. That’s actually greater than the entire population of the United States. And that record came on the heels of two previous high marks: 307.2 million visitors in 2015 and 292.8 million in 2014. That many people can’t be wrong.
Will you visit at least one park this year? It’s time to think about which one to put on the calendar for 2017.
By Michael Lanza
Think of your layering system of clothing for outdoor activities as a musical instrument. When you’re first learning how to play, you practice one chord or note at a time. But you only begin to produce music once you can link chords in a way that sounds good—because they work together. Similarly, we tend to acquire the parts of a layering system piecemeal, regardless of how well they work together. In this article, I’ll give you 10 specific tips for thinking about your layering system in ways that make it work better for you—and ultimately help you spend your money more wisely. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
My first two-person tent set me back only about twice what you’d pay today for a good, single-burner backpacking stove. It weighed several pounds and was bulky for backpacking. I nicknamed that tent the Wind Sock for its propensity to snap loudly in even the slightest breeze, and how its poles bowed disturbingly in strong gusts. (I learned to choose protected campsites.) In heavy downpours, I sometimes woke up to a puddle covering the floor.
But I used it for six summers of car camping and backpacking. At a time in my life when I could not afford good gear, that tent sheltered me for probably close to 150 nights and got me through many wonderful experiences. For its swan song, my girlfriend (now my wife) and I spent three months hiking, backpacking, and climbing throughout the West—and slept a total of one night indoors. I used the Wind Sock until it all but disintegrated in the last campsite it ever saw. My lifetime cost for that tent worked out to about 50 cents a night. Continue reading →
Ultralight Backpacking Tent
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
$450, 2 lbs. 12 oz.
I’ll tolerate reasonably close living quarters in a tent that’s lightweight and performs well in the backcountry, because I prioritize my comfort on the trail (read: light pack) and usually only crawl inside the tent to sleep. But not all of my backpacking companions share my tolerance for a snug shelter. The Big Agnes Copper Spur line of tents have long made me and my elbowroom-loving tentmates happy, by marrying low weight and a high ratio of interior space per ounce. So with a new design making the Copper Spur HV UL2 roomier while keeping its weight under three pounds, I took it out on a five-day, 80-mile backpacking trip through the North Cascades with a six-foot friend to see whether the tent would measure up to the hype. Continue reading →
Jerry and I and the boys are meeting my parents in the Grand Canyon for the first couple days of our spring break. Jerry and I want to do a big dayhike. We have already done rim-to-rim-to-rim and all varieties associated with those three trails.
So, we’re considering doing the South Kaibab to Grandview Trail (via the Tonto Trail) or vice versa. Thoughts? It would be a long day trip. Curious which direction we should do it and what else must we know? Continue reading →