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Gear Review: Marmot Tungsten UL 2P Backpacking Tent

September 21, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Testing the Marmot Tungsten UL 2P in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

Testing the Marmot Tungsten UL 2P in Wyoming’s Wind River Range.

Three-Season Tent
Marmot Tungsten UL 2P
$299, 3 lbs. 4 oz.
backcountry.com

Is weight the most important consideration when buying a backpacking tent? If it’s one of the first specs you look at, I suggest you give equal consideration to its space—and especially its space-to-weight ratio. In the interest of finding a tent that offers comfortable living quarters for a friend who’s over six feet tall and I to share on a 39-mile backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range—but still comes in at a reasonably low weight—I decided to try out Marmot’s well-priced Tungsten UL 2P. I found that it’s a solidly built and notably spacious shelter for its weight, at a price that’s hard to beat for this quality; but I found some nitpicks with it, too. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

September 20, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
Petzl Actik Core headlamp.

Petzl Actik Core headlamp.

Rechargeable Headlamp
Petzl Actik Core
$60, 3 oz. (with Core rechargeable battery)
backcountry.com

If you agree that a rechargeable headlamp is the way to go—and I’d recommend one to any backpacker, dayhiker, climber, or trail runner willing to foot the added up-front cost, because it eventually pays for itself through what you save not buying (and throwing away) batteries—then the question boils down to which rechargeable headlamp is the best for most backcountry recreationists. Taking Petzl’s compact, rechargeable Actik Core on a three-night, mid-September backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range convinced me that there’s an argument for this one. Continue reading →

September 19, 2017 Backpacking in the rain, under a rainbow, in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

5 Tips for Staying Warm and Dry on the Trail

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

By Michael Lanza

There are only three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and getting rained on when dayhiking or backpacking. As we all know, wet clothing conducts heat away from your body, making you colder. And simply donning rain shells may make you so warm that you sweat a lot, thus getting wet from the inside rather than the outside. Staying as dry as possible while on the trail or in camp is key to staying warm in the backcountry when the weather turns wet—especially in temperatures below around 60° F and in wind, which swiftly chills your body. Follow these tips for a much more comfortable and pleasant backcountry adventure—even when the weather doesn’t cooperate. Continue reading →

September 18, 2017 Noland Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, N.C.

In the Garden of Eden: Backpacking the Great Smoky Mountains

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

Late-afternoon sunlight tilts golden beams through the low canopy of spruce and fir trees as I hike alone up the Welch Ridge Trail, at around 5,000 feet deep in the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I haven’t seen another person since I hit the trail early this morning. Solitude in the mountains exerts many effects, small and large, on us; but one is that we instinctively listen more attentively. Our rational minds cannot erase from their primal memory cards the instinctive knowledge that, in the primitive brains of some woodland creatures, we are nothing more than a boatload of calories.

I stop abruptly in the trail and stand perfectly still—listening intently, waiting. And then I hear it. Continue reading →

September 17, 2017 David Gordon on Angels Landing, Zion National Park.

Great Hike: Angels Landing, Zion National Park

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

By Michael Lanza

Thrilling, scenic, and popular, an impressive feat of trail building, an intimidating and exposed scramble—these are some of the descriptions commonly given to Angels Landing in Zion National Park, all of them accurate. Constructed nearly a century ago, with steps carved out of rock and chain handrails in places to make it safer, it’s a tribute to a time when park managers were more comfortable with engineering nature for human recreation. The result is one of the classic dayhikes in the National Park System, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and one that should be in the sights of every avid hiker. Continue reading →

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