On the Dientes Circuit, Chilean Patagonia.

On the Dientes Circuit, Chilean Patagonia.

Hello, my name is Michael Lanza and The Big Outside is my creation. I’m a writer, outdoor photographer, author, speaker, and for many years was the Northwest Editor of Backpacker Magazine, where I was also the magazine’s primary gear reviewer. I’m a longtime hiker, backpacker, climber, backcountry skier, trail runner, paddler, and cyclist. Over the past two decades, my work has taken me to national parks and wilderness areas across the United States—including multiple visits to most major U.S. parks—and all over the world: the Swiss Alps, Nepal, Scottish Highlands, Italy’s Dolomites, New Zealand, Spain, Iceland, Norway, Patagonia.

I started The Big Outside with a simple mission: to offer stories, photos, and expert trip-planning advice on America’s and the world’s best outdoor adventures—including many that are great for families. Most importantly, these stories are based on my on-the-ground, first-hand knowledge from having done all of the trips myself.

For many years, I’ve made a living identifying, planning, and writing about great trips. I think you’ll find The Big Outside is uniquely authoritative for that reason, and that’s why my blog has ranked on various lists, including USA Today’s Readers Choice list of Top 10 Hiking and Outdoors Bloggers in 2014; a Trip Advisor site’s Top 10 Outdoor Travel Bloggers in 2015; ninth on The Adventure Junkies Top 25 Hiking Blogs of 2016 (a list based on objective performance metrics); the 2016 list of Top 100 Hiking and Camping Bloggers from Thoroughly Reviewed; and most recently, one of the best blogs on hiking in the Southwest. I was also asked to sit on a panel of hiking experts who nominated the list of hikes in the 2015 USA Today Readers Choice 10 Best National Parks Hikes poll.

Subscribe to The Big Outside! Enter your name and email for updates when I post new stories.

Many stories here are about outdoor adventures with my wife and our young son and daughter. A primary goal of mine with The Big Outside is to inspire and inform other parents to take their own kids on outdoor adventures—and especially to believe that their family is capable of stepping out a little beyond their comfort zone. As I have done with my kids, I want other families to discover the powerful emotional payoff and bond achieved through sharing outdoors experiences. See “My Top 10 Family Adventures” and my very popular post “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids” and my “10 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You.”


I can help you plan the best backpacking, hiking, or family adventure of your life. Click here to find out how.


You will find a diverse offering of stories here, describing adventures for everyone from ultra-hikers to families with young kids. Each story about a trip features a gallery of photos, and many stories also have a video.

At an overlook east of Salt Creek, on a 25-mile dayhike in the Grand Canyon.

At an overlook east of Salt Creek, on a 25-mile dayhike in the Grand Canyon.

Wondering where to start? My All Trips page lists every story at this blog about adventures I’ve taken, and my “Photo Gallery: 20 Big Adventures in Pictures” provides an inspiring visual introduction to the breadth of stories at this site. My main menu (above) includes links to pages with menus of all of my stories about Family Adventures, tips on Skills I’ve learned over the course of three decades exploring the outdoors, and all of my Gear Reviews, organized by category; that Gear Reviews page also lists some of my articles of gear advice like “My Top 5 Ultralight Backpacking Tips.” I’m constantly testing outdoor gear and apparel and I review only the best of it (based on my experience of two decades as a gear tester for Backpacker, including many years as one of the magazine’s lead reviewers).

In the left sidebar, you can click on any of several Categories for a focused menu of adventure stories (listed in order of most-recently posted), such as National Park Adventures and Family Adventures. The tag cloud in the left sidebar includes the most commonly used story tags in my blog, such as backpacking gear reviews and hiking gear reviews. See the videos for many stories at this site at my Youtube channel via the Videos link in the main menu.

Got a question for me? Click on Ask Me in the main menu (at top of this page) to visit my Ask Me page, where you’ll find a categorized listing of all past Ask Me posts in which I answer a reader’s questions; or click the Ask Me category (in the left sidebar) to see a listing of previous Ask Me posts in order of most recent, to see whether I’ve already answered a similar question from another reader. If not, e-mail me your question to mlanza@thebigoutside.com. I’ll answer as many as I can and share my response in a future Ask Me post (using only your first name and city, with your permission). I now receive more questions than I can answer, so I ask that readers sending me a question be willing to make a $25 donation to this website (sometimes less, when appropriate, or if I really like your question and want to share it with readers) through my Support button (top left of sidebar and in almost every blog post). I will also provide a telephone consult for a $45 donation. See my Ask Me page for more information.

At my Book page, you can read an excerpt of my book Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks, from Beacon Press, winner of a National Outdoor Book Award honorable mention, about spending a year embarking on wilderness adventures with my wife, nine-year-old son, and seven-year-old daughter in national parks threatened by climate change.

In The Subway, Zion National Park, Utah.

In The Subway, Zion National Park, Utah.

If you wish to see more about my professional background and view samples of my published magazine articles, photography, details about the speaking programs I offer, and descriptions of my other books, please visit michaellanza.com.

I hope you enjoy my stories and pictures at The Big Outside and find them both inspirational and helpful in planning your own adventures. I’d love to hear what you think of this site and your suggestions for trips, stories, or how I could improve the site. Please subscribe to my e-mail list at left or below. Comment on my posts; I appreciate the feedback and try to respond to many comments.

Feel free to send your ideas, questions, and suggestions to me at mlanza@thebigoutside.com. I respond to as many as I can. I occasionally receive requests from people interested in contributing stories to The Big Outside, so please be informed that I do not accept submissions of any kind.

This blog and website is my full-time job and I rely on the support of readers. If you like what you see here, please support my work and help me continue producing The Big Outside by making a donation using the Support button at the top of the left sidebar or below. Thank you for your support.

The Big Outside is supported by brands that want to associate with my high-quality stories and images, and I appreciate their support because it helps me keep this site going. If you believe in what I’m doing at The Big Outside, one way to show your support is to like and follow my sponsors on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Read about those brands and how to partner with The Big Outside at my Sponsors page.

Have fun and be safe out there.

Michael Lanza



Mount Heyburn, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Mount Heyburn, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Subscribe to the Big Outside

Enter your e-mail address for updates about new stories, reviews, and gear giveaways!

77 Responses to About

  1. Kenton Wilcox   |  January 6, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Hi Michael,

    I have found that I usually come across your website for reviews on gear I’m looking to potentially buy. This has happened multiple times over the years and I always find your insight helpful so thank you!

    I hope you’re happy doing what you do and keep doing it for years to come. Knowing that you’ve been successful with writing, photography, and gear reviews makes me want to do the same thing since I feel like I’d be much happier with your job title than working virtually any typical day job.


    • MichaelALanza   |  January 6, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      Thanks, Kenton. I’d say I’m having enough fun that the chances are good I’ll keep this up for quite a while. I hope you keep reading me.

  2. Kimberlee   |  September 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Hi Michael,

    I just wanted to send a heartfelt thanks over for all you do on your blog. I commented on one of your posts back in January as I got interested in backpacking in Yosemite, and was able to see that through this past week. I was able to make an excellent trip due in large part to the wealth of information on your site – from gear to routes and everything in between.

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise!


    • Michael Lanza   |  October 1, 2016 at 6:47 am

      Hi Kimberlee, thank you for the kind words about The Big Outside. And congrats on your trip to Yosemite. What a place. I still have a list of hikes and climbs I want to do there. Keep in touch.

  3. Scott Kahney   |  August 6, 2016 at 8:40 am

    I wanted to take a second to say how much I enjoy your blog. I have been subscribed to it for a while and have really enjoyed your daily posts. In fact, this is the first blog that I have committed to and read on a regular basis.

    I particularly enjoy your trip reports. I have gotten many great ideas for future trips and have learned a lot that helps me on the trips I take. The report on the Royal Arch Loop in GCNP has become a trip near the top of my TO DO LIST!

    • michaellanza   |  August 6, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Hi Scott, thanks for the nice words, I really appreciate them. And get yourself out to the Royal Arch Loop: beautiful hike and extraordinary adventure.

  4. Vanessa Davids   |  June 21, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Hi Michael!,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, after purchasing your book a few years ago. When I bought it, my kids were tiny. Your trips really inspired me to start hiking and camping with my little ones right away! I’ve even started my own blog, to keep the grandparents and worried family members informed and less anxious. 🙂 I write at http://www.outdoorfamilyproject.com. My kids are now 8 and 6 and we go hiking and camping nearly every weekend. We’ll be visiting Glacier for the first time this summer in August and have been inspired by your family trip there. I’m not sure yet whether we’ll get the permits I’m hoping for, but we’ll find a way into the backcountry somehow. It’ll be our third backpacking trip of the summer by then, so we’ll be in good shape for it! We’re hitting up Olympic National Park and North Cascades National Park for our other two backcountry trips. As a single parent, I carry a lot more weight on these excursions, but it’s totally worth it.

    I am sure you get a lot of these emails, but I just wanted to reiterate how important your writing has been to my family. You and your kids have inspired us to travel and explore in amazing ways. I’m excited to see what wild places we’ll see next. Keep up the inspiring work.

    • MichaelALanza   |  June 21, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      Hi Vanessa, thank you for those very kind words. I always appreciate hearing from readers of my blog and book. And good on you for getting your kids out backpacking. Keep up the great parenting and keep in touch.

  5. michaellanza   |  February 28, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Hi John, thanks for reading my blog, I’m glad you enjoy it. Keep in touch.

  6. JZ @ LivingEZ   |  February 28, 2016 at 12:51 am

    Hi Michael,
    I have been reading for a while, as we rediscover hiking with our toddler. I want to drop you a note, saying thanks for the great resources, and recommendations. We recently picked up 2 of the Lifestraw Go bottles, based on your review. They are great bottles and give us one less thing to think about when packing for day trips. Wanted to use the affiliate link, but shipping to Australia is a bit expensive. 🙂 Fortunately, one of the local outfitters carries them.


  7. Mark Serpico   |  December 1, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Michael, I like that it quickly becomes apparent upon perusing through your blog that you not only are extremely experienced and knowledgeable about exploring and backcountry travel, but you come off as relatable. I imagine the vast majority of your readers are not making a living climbing or skiing or shooting for national geographic but rather are people with families or busy jobs who like to spend their vacation time in nature rather than at a beach resort, and your blog appeals to the inspired amateur like myself.

    It is very thorough. Obvious that you put in lots of time and research. And great photographs!

    • MichaelALanza   |  December 1, 2015 at 8:10 am

      Hi Mark, thank you, I really appreciate that kind of feedback from readers. Please get in touch anytime.

  8. Theresa Silveyra   |  October 28, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    I just started backpacking this past year and your blog has been a tremendous help. Your trip reports (along with the Douglas Lorain book), have helped me plan and complete trips in the Columbia River Gorge, the Eagle Cap Wilderness, and the Timberline Trail. In addition, I’m planning on trying the Zion Traverse Trek next year, so I’ve been reading your posts concerning this hike to get some background.

    Thank you for taking the time to write about all these trips in great detail. I also have a blog to document my trips so I can share them with family, so I know how time consuming it is to recall and eloquently express each day’s events. I especially enjoy reading about all the trips you take with your family. Your children are very fortunate to have experienced so many amazing places with you.

    Again, thank you for all your hard work and dedication. I look forward to reading your future posts.

    • michaellanza   |  October 28, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Theresa, thanks so much for writing, I’m delighted you found my blog. Good luck with your trans-Zion trek, it’s a great one. Keep in touch.

  9. Andrew   |  October 27, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Hi Michael,

    I found your blog while looking for a new pair of boots last winter. I was delighted to find so many stories and wonderful pictures of your travels. I also really appreciate your writings on getting your kids into the outdoors. My girlfriend and I are big outdoor enthusiasts without the time to do as much travel as we would like because we are both medical students. We were lucky enough to be able to backpack the Laugavegurinn Trail in Iceland this summer, but that has been our only big outdoor adventure in the past few years. I like reading your posts and building fantasy itineraries for our next trip, though it will probably be a few years until we get a chance to go. I donated because by the time I am able to go out west more frequently, I want your blog to still be here.

    Thank you for everything!


    • michaellanza   |  October 27, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      Hi Andrew, thanks for those kind words, much appreciated, as well as for your donation of support for The Big Outside, which is greatly appreciated. Good luck with med school and get in touch anytime.

  10. Michele J.   |  September 15, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    I found your travel blog when I was searching for Sawtooth Mountains hiking ideas. The location was initially planted in my head from photos in Backpacker magazine, I think, but I felt like I hit the jackpot when I found The Big Outside. After a couple months of debating between the White Cloud Mountains and the Sawtooths, my boyfriend and I decided on the Alice Lake area.

    We hiked in from the Tin Cup trailhead and made the loop around Alice Lake, Twin Lakes, Toxaway and Farley Lakes (we saw a moose at Farley Lake). We had trouble finding a camp site at Toxaway Lake but when we did find one it was great and we stayed there an extra afternoon to enjoy it. The next day the weather looked threatening but the thunderstorms never materialized. We spent that evening at Redfish Lake Lodge listening to live music on the lawn while it rained lightly and a double rainbow appeared over the lake.

    I love the area and hope to make it back to the White Clouds next summer.

    Thank you so much for all your posts and trip ideas!

    • michaellanza   |  September 15, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      I’m so glad you had such a great trip in the Sawtooths. You took a classic hike. Look through my other Sawtooths stories (and more to come), there are many good options there for future trips, as well as in the White Clouds. I hope to be heading back to the White Clouds soon, so you’ll see that story eventually.

  11. Anil John   |  September 10, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Dear Michael: Wanted to drop you a quick note and say that your advice and recommendations have directly and positively affected the quality of our hiking. Thank You! – Anil

    • michaellanza   |  September 10, 2015 at 10:20 am

      Thanks Anil, I’m glad to hear that.

  12. Greg - Louisville, KY   |  September 8, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I wanted to share that I truly enjoy your blog and have found it a source of trusted information and inspiration. I have two young boys (3 & 5) that I have been easing into outdoors, and think you have the best source of info out there for engaging kids early. Your book is great, something I enjoyed reading and it definitely added places to my bucket list.
    Keep it up!

    • michaellanza   |  September 8, 2015 at 10:48 am

      Thank you, Greg, I appreciate your kind words about my blog and my book.

  13. Rodney T. Venterea   |  September 5, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Dear Mike,

    Thank you so much for helping us plan and execute a fabulous two-week family adventure through Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. Rosalie and our three kids (9-14) had an unforgettable time (and so did I).

    Your suggestions on hikes, campgrounds, lodges and driving the parks were essential. We followed many of your suggestions particularly at YNP, including Bunsen Peak, Grand Prismatic Geyser/Spring, and the North Rim and Uncle Tom’s trails; and we probably wouldn’t have made the drive to GTNP without your suggestion – Cascade Canyon Trail was a highlight. More Facebook posts are on the way.

    And thanks for all that you do to inspire others to experience and appreciate the natural world, and to push the limits. You’ve been inspiring me for a long time – I’m happy to say longer than just about anyone – and I hope for a long time to come.

    Rodney Venterea

    • michaellanza   |  September 5, 2015 at 10:29 am

      Thanks Rod, I’m happy your trip went so well for everyone. I look forward to our next adventure together, which will remind me of that great, first bike tour many years ago that got it started for both of us.

  14. Zach   |  August 9, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Hi Michael,

    I just wanted to thank you for providing such a great resource for all hikers and backpackers. Your work helps teach and inspire me to get out there more and see what the world has to offer!

    • michaellanza   |  August 16, 2015 at 9:23 am

      Thanks Zach, much appreciated. Get in touch anytime.

  15. Michael Maziarka   |  August 4, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Dear Michael,

    I’m writing to say thank you. Myself and two friends recently planned and executed a trip to GTNP, backpacking the Teton Crest Trail, planning our major details for our trip from suggestions you have written on The Big Outside. Without your indirect encouragement and the veritable mountain of information that you publish for the world’s backpackers to reference, this trip would have been much more difficult to plan. We felt prepared and ready by the time we set off and the trip went off without a single problem. Six days in the backcountry of GTNP could not have gone better. Perfect views from the best campsites. So, thank you. You continue to inspire me to strive to find adventure.

    Michael M.
    La Crosse, WI

    • MichaelALanza   |  August 4, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for sharing your story and pictures. I’m delighted that you had such a great trip and that my website was helpful for you. The Tetons never disappoint.

      Thanks again for writing, get in touch anytime.

    • Jesselle   |  August 5, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you for taking the time for such a helpful response about my trip to the Tetons. Your recomendations regarding camping and hikes were spot on and made the trip a great sucess. Thank you agian! And can’t to see what adventures you go on next!


      • MichaelALanza   |  August 7, 2015 at 5:18 am

        You’re welcome Jesselle, I’m glad I was helpful. All the best on your next big adventure.

  16. Brian and Laurie Earp   |  July 30, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    Hello Michael. Early in 2015 I contacted you about the Sierra/Kings Canyon loop you blogged about. At that time you provided excellent suggestions for our planning. This July Laurie and I celebrated our 41st anniversary on Sawtooth Pass. It was a great trip and your article really helped pave the way for us. We arrived July 14. We had our share of adventure.
    The first four days, one to acclimate and day hike, and three on the trail, experienced beautiful weather. The ranger gave us a forecast that the weather might deteriorate the last three days of the trip and that we would need to make a decision about holding up in Lost Canyon or pushing over Sawtooth to Monarch Lake to avoid exposure at Columbine Lake. Rain, Thunderstorms and hail started at Little Five Lakes so, after sheltering under a large boulder, we decided to lengthen Day 4 and push on to the first Big Five Lake. After a wet night the weather cleared and we started for Columbine. We had spitting rain on and off but the weather held. That is, until we reached the banks of Columbine. Rain, hail and the summit shrouded in fog obscured the trail to the summit. We sheltered and waited for a window. When we saw one we started up. Half way to Sawtooth Pass the thunderstorm returned. We sheltered again and waited. Another window and we gave it everything we had. We couldn’t linger at Sawtooth and so pushed on and completed the loop on Day 5. On the descent we passed a large conifer totally engulfed in flames from a lightning strike. Exhausted but happily safe at our marmot-proof rental car we made our way back down Mineral King Road as night fell. We have a truckload of pictures and a host of new memories to share with family and friends.
    All in all it was a beautiful trip. I thought of your children at the most challenging points. They must be real troopers to make those trips. Not easy.
    Thank you for your knowledgeable articles and guidance for us all. We deeply appreciate it.

    • michaellanza   |  July 30, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      Hey Brian and Laurie, what a great story. I’m delighted you made the trip and had such an adventure, and that my story was helpful to you. Good to hear from you again. Get in touch anytime.

  17. Julie Elwell   |  July 21, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Hello, Michael – I was writing to let you know that we completed our trip through the Tetons last Saturday. We were gone 6 days, 5 nights, and covered about 50 miles, I think. We did end up making some changes to our route due to weather issues, but it was amazing nonetheless. I was happy with all of my gear, much of which I got from tips on your blog. My boots were especially impressive – Women’s Asolo Tacoma Gv. They were great. I was also happy with my pack, the Osprey Ariel 65. So accessible and light.
    At any rate, I just wanted to let you know that we did the hike and that it was well worthwhile. I appreciated your tips on gear and preparations prior to our departure. Already planning on the next adventure; possibly the Grand Canyon.

    Julie, Washington, DC

    • MichaelALanza   |  July 21, 2015 at 11:24 am

      Fantastic, Julie, I’m glad it went so well for you and that the gear worked out.

  18. staceygrove   |  May 3, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    You were the reason I decided to make outdoor experiences with my children and wife. Your site took a lot of the guesswork out of the process and your book is responsible for me discovering a dimension of being outdoors I had no idea was there. Thank you so much


    • michaellanza   |  May 4, 2015 at 9:42 am

      Thanks, Will, I really appreciate that. Keep getting your family outdoors.

  19. Maddie   |  April 6, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Hi Michael,

    Great blog! I really appreciate your quick and thorough response to my question! I don’t know of any other resource on the Internet where someone with as much experience and expertise as you responds to every individual inquiry. It’s incredibly helpful! I’m looking forward to reading your book.


    • michaellanza   |  April 6, 2015 at 7:25 am

      Thanks very much, Maddie. I’d love to hear what you think about my book, too.

  20. Bob Moseley   |  April 4, 2015 at 6:26 am

    Hi Michael, I spent a couple of months working in Australia late last year. Renee came down for three weeks after she finished teaching the semester. First time there for us. We decided to forego the climbing and concentrate on backpacking. But after rummaging through boxes of old gear we found that our light tent had degraded to uselessness. And Renee needed a new backpack. We went straight to Big Outside and rather quickly found an Osprey backpack and Mountain Hardware tent that both ended up working perfect for two extended bushwalks through the Tasmania wilderness. Plus a car camping tour of Victoria state, especially Grampians National Park. Thanks for the tips. Bob

    • michaellanza   |  April 4, 2015 at 6:32 am

      Hi Bob, I’m glad my gear reviews were useful to you. Good to hear from you.

  21. Jeff   |  March 9, 2015 at 5:20 pm


    Wow. What an incredibly generous response from you. There are many people like me who are trying to make trips like this happen but are by no means experts. The last thing a dad like me wants to do is take our kids to a great place but then compromise the experience due to bad planning or decisions. Not only is your blog incredibly helpful, but the fact that you take the time to personally reach out to us less experienced but well meaning family adventurers really puts what you are doing over the top.



    • MichaelALanza   |  March 17, 2015 at 9:06 am

      Thanks, Jeff, I’m glad to help you out and I enjoy hearing from readers. Keep in touch.

  22. Natasha   |  February 2, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    You should consider adding a Pinterest “Pin It” button to your blog posts. Some women (and men) like myself would love to be able to bookmark certain blog posts (like your tips for getting ready to do an ultra-long day hike) that way we can refer back to them easily, as well as share them with others!

    • michaellanza   |  February 2, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      Hi Natasha, thanks for wanting to share my blog posts. All of the social-media buttons, including Pinterest, are located at the bottom of all of my blog posts (which are listed at the home page and linked from the Categories in the left sidebar). Unfortunately, static pages (like this one) do not have the social-media buttons. Tell me if that answers your question or if I can clarify anything else for you. Thanks for writing.

      • Natasha   |  February 4, 2015 at 10:24 am

        Ahh, that’s why I couldn’t find it! Thanks for pointing that out.

  23. Noel   |  November 15, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Hellow Michael:

    Your website has a lot of places that I will add on my bucket list. I’d better hurry up my retirement before I get too old to hike with a pack. My hat off to you and your family for just being able to share those precious moments that you all enjoy. Your mother is an inspiration for going on the Jotunheimen National Park Hut to Hut Hike with you and your family. Maybe we’ll cross hiking paths in the future.


  24. Bryan   |  October 29, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Hi, Michael. In addition to the deep content on your site, I wanted to let you know I admire the way you talk about traveling with your kids and the ideas you offer on making it work. One of the best pieces of advice I received as a new dad was to take my son and my daughter on an annual trip in the woods with just the two of us, which I notice you do too. It’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done to see their character grow as they take on new challenges.

    We also like to have a book to read on the trip: everything from Twain’s Huck Finn to Daniel Taylor’s Letters to My Children, which has been a great way to talk through the adventures of growing up.

    • michaellanza   |  October 30, 2014 at 5:52 am

      Thanks Bryan. I love your idea about sharing a book together on trips with your children. Keep in touch.

  25. Bege Reynolds   |  September 24, 2014 at 8:46 am


    I enjoyed talking to you yesterday on the flight to Denver and Boise. I subscribed to your blog and so did my husband, John. Miles will love it when he returns from Patagonia. I also can’t wait to read your book. When my daughter and Miles were born in 1990 and 1993 there wasn’t a lot out there for outdoor adventures for kids but we found a Tough Traveler backpack and headed out to backpack, ski into a yurt, hike in the Canyons of Utah, and all over the west. We fly fished with babies on our backs, took newborns into Elk Bend hot springs in Idaho, and explored our wonderful outdoors with our kids. We packed out diapers, jerry rigged sleeping bags and pads to make them kid size, and were definetly an unusual family. Once backcountry skiing on Galena Summit, a guy asked me what I was training for with my big pack. My daughter turned her head and looked through her tiny ski goggles and he said, “Oh my that’s a baby, live cargo!”
    I so appreciate what you are doing. What an amazing website and blog. You give such great information for young families to get out into the wilderness. I look forward to reading more.

    Best, Bege

    • michaellanza   |  September 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      Thanks Bege. Nice talking to you as well, and I’m delighted that you looked up my blog and ordered my book. That’s a wonderful story about your daughter in your pack! Nice job raising your kids to love the outdoors.

  26. Janie Merickel Hodge   |  August 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I love your blog. I have been orchestrating mom and son trips (2 sons. 2 trips a summer) since they were 4. My oldest and I (he’s 11, this is our 7th trip together) are going to complete the Teton Crest Trail in two weeks.

    Once, in RMNP, a ranger came to find us at our permitted campsite, (my son was 5) cuz there was a snow storm in the forecast (in July) I think they wanted to help us get home.

    But my little beauty of a boy was happy in his long johns, puffy coat and we had a great warm tent (Bibler) and were playing cards as the flakes started to drift.

    The Ranger “knocked” on our tent, peered in and then smiled kinda proudly, said something like “well, aren’t you guys great” told us they were likely going to have Trail Ridge rd closed in the am, but we could get out to Grand Lake, and went on to warn others.

    It wasn’t all that remote, I was not worried about trail finding even under snow; it’s a great memory.

    But, I do love to be prepared, safe, bear/animal-wise and teach love and learning of our wonderful lands … and, mostly I cherish the hours of wilderness time together. Nothing like it. I know my sons so much better due to these trips. Powerful experiences.

    So thank you for sharing ways folks can get out there! Your stuff is fantastic!!!!

    I don ‘t carry the Bibler much that the boys are older and tougher, but it was a perfect guarantee in their younger days that we’d get cozy in our chilly nights up here.

    We’re going light (20 pound-ish packs) on the TCT – it’s just more fun, and it’s wonderful to learn how little you need to enjoy your kids, and they you. And the beauty of the Tetons.

    Thanks again! You are amazing.

  27. Dolores   |  August 7, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Hi Michael glad to come across your blog. Just subscribed. Not sure if you’ve visited Acadia yet or not – didn’t see a post about it. If you go, you might find our blog of interest: http://www.acadiaonmymind.com.

    • michaellanza   |  August 8, 2014 at 5:17 am

      Hi Dolores, thanks for subscribing to The Big Outside. I’m originally from New England and was author of a guidebook, “New England Hiking,” for many years, which included a number of hikes in Acadia. I’ve visited there several times, love the park. I would like to write about it at The Big Outside at some point. Thanks for the good suggestion.

      • Dolores   |  September 7, 2014 at 8:58 am

        Looking forward to your future blog posts on Acadia or anywhere else your travels may take you! We may even have “New England Hiking” on our bookshelf. We’re also authors of a couple of Falcon guides, “Hiking Acadia National Park” and “Best Easy Day Hikes, Acadia National Park,” which could be a handy reference for travels in Acadia, in addition to our http://www.acadiaonmymind.com blog. Happy trails!

  28. Sarah Almstrand   |  July 28, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    I just stumbled on your amazing blog and ordered your book – I can’t wait to receive it and read it!

    • michaellanza   |  August 8, 2014 at 5:15 am

      Hi Sarah, thanks for writing, I’m delighted you like The Big Outside and hope you enjoy my book. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

  29. WildFamilyFun   |  July 20, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’m so glad I found your blog. Our family is an outdoor loving family and I love sharing our adventures. I feel its so important for children to experience time in the outdoors. It gives them so much confidence and we have had such wonderful family times.
    Cant wait to read about your adventures.

    • michaellanza   |  July 21, 2014 at 3:35 am

      I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for reading. You might also enjoy my book (click on the Book link in the main menu).

  30. abqandrea   |  March 26, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Love the site, thank you so much for your detailed and toe-tingling trip reports. I am looking to bite off JMT solo in ~9 days as my first backpacking trip EVER and your information will help immensely. I might also be in touch about writing about this silliness for Backpacker. 🙂

    • MichaelALanza   |  March 30, 2014 at 6:58 am

      Thanks and good luck to you. You’ll find lots of tips on planning a JMT hike by searching on “John Muir Trail” in the search box above left.

  31. Grant Gaumer   |  March 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks again for all your help, Michael. Your advise, expertise, and willingness to help have been invaluable to planning our trip and I am sure it will lead to a great vacation later this summer. I know I have said this before, but your help is greatly appreciated!

    • MichaelALanza   |  March 10, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      Thank you, Grant, I appreciate your kind words.

  32. Michael Burkhardt   |  February 16, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    Read your post about the Eagle Cap Wilderness trip, I’d have to say you’re making me wish my life away a little bit 🙂 My 2014 backpacking plans include the Eagle Cap Wilderness & I’m excited to see it and photograph it for the first time!

    • MichaelALanza   |  February 17, 2014 at 6:01 am

      Thanks Michael. You’d better bring plenty of memory card capacity to the Eagle Cap!

  33. Steven Dunnavant   |  October 28, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Hey Michael!

    So glad to have found The Big Outside and all your writings. An Eagle Scout in my teens and now a man in my mid-40’s living in East Texas, I had lost much of my outdoors activity time until a few weeks ago when my wife and I backpacked into the mountains to the Blue Lakes between Telluride and Ouray, Colorado for our 25th anniversary. I’m now hooked and spending my spare time on the Internet researching our next treks. I’ve read many of your stories and love them all. They are well-written, interesting and short enough that I can absorb one during a bowl of oatmeal at the bar before the sun comes up. Please keep up the good work. I’ll be a subscriber from now on!

    Our next trip? The segments of the Colorado Trail between Durango and Lake City’ish.

    Take care!


  34. Rebecca W.   |  August 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Michael,

    I just wanted to follow up to let you know that we LOVE our new Big Agnes Copper Spur 4-person tent per your recommendation. It worked fabulously for our family on the Teton Crest Trail earlier this month. We were happy with the space, great doors, the many pockets for headlamps and such, and the size and weight for backpacking. Seems durable and well-constructed. Also love all the mesh for clear weather with the rain fly off.

    The Teton Crest trip will remain a huge highlight for us as a family. We based our trip very closely on yours as described on your website, and after test-driving a Lanza Family adventure, we’re already looking at planning the next one. Thanks for pointing us to the Big Agnes tent, and for the inspiration for our Teton trip!

    Rebecca & family

    • Michael Lanza   |  August 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Rebecca, I’m so glad the tent and your Teton Crest Trail trip worked out so well. Good choices in both cases! Get in touch anytime, and start planning the next big adventure!

  35. Saunsea Cwnsel   |  June 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Simply from reading your bio, I already greatly enjoy your style of writing. Stories are such a powerful way for us to connect with one another, especially those of us hiking around who-knows-where. I look forward to reading more of your stories!

  36. • Chris Holmes • (@alphatexana)   |  June 20, 2013 at 11:11 am

    First learned of you and your website after reading your book, Before They’re Gone. While my kids are a little older and my schedule limits our vacations, I’m excited that I’ve raised four kids who all look forward to summer vacations and visiting more of our National Parks (Badlands this summer!). The kids have even begun to research those they have not yet visited and tell me which ones they wish to visit before they leave for college.

    I have enjoyed following along with the stories you have on the website and think that your site has great potential to serve families who love the outdoors and I look forward to following you in the future.

    Possible story ideas which you might want to consider are along “how do I educate my child to….” series, which shares your experience and advice regarding teaching your children to interact in the outdoors responsibly. Read a map. Leave no trace. Cook in camp. What to do in the event they get lost (interview what SAR would want our kids to do, so we can explain to kids what they should do and expect from SAR).

    We hang out quite a bit at Big Bend since we are here in Texas. Let me know if you’d like to do a story on that park and I’ll be glad to share some of my experiences with you regarding hiking with kids in Big Bend.

    Again, good luck on the site!


    • MichaelALanza   |  June 20, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Hi Chris, thanks very much for the nice words, great story suggestions, and for following The Big Outside and reading my book. I like your ideas and you just may see some of them come to fruition at this site. Keep in touch.

  37. Dave   |  April 11, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Hi Mike,

    OK, to be completely honest, I’m posting here as part of your Rafflecopter promo. I do enjoy your blog. Great photos, stories, and gear reviews. Keep up the good work!

  38. The Muddy Waters crew   |  March 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Dear Michael:

    My dad (who inspires our own love for the outdoors and adventure) sent me your website. Congratulations on all the adventure travels you’ve done as a family, wow! Love the photography too. I especially enjoyed your tips on kids and the outdoors. We swear by just about the same principles.

    If of any interest, I wanted to share a little about the family adventure we experienced while living aboard our boat Muddy Waters for a year, homeschooling our two kids, and traveling through a good part of the United States, Canada and the Bahamas (visiting many parks, battlefields, natural wonders, towns, etc. along the way). We met the most wonderful people and made some lifetime memories.

    For what it’s worth, our travel blog is at http://www.samwayadventure.com. Though we returned to land-life recently, we have a few more adventures on the water up our sleeves.

    Congratulations again. Your kids are very fortunate.



    • MichaelALanza   |  March 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      Hi Michael, thanks for the nice words and sharing your own story and your wonderful blog. And good on you and your wife for the terrific adventure you took your kids on. We can only make the world a better place one family at a time.

  39. William M. Stowell-Alonso, MA   |  February 21, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Dear Mr. Lanza,

    What an incredible role-model you are. I especially enjoy your family focus. You are just awesome. The great outdoors on a weekly basis should be on every child’s/ parent to do list.

    The peace of mind that can be had when our timing syncs with natures timing is a real master tool. The pace of life falls into rhythm, the mind clears, the anxiety melts away, and all is well.

    I believe we would soon experience a seismic shift in the mindsets of children across America, and a dramatic decrease in Columbine/ Newtown style killings.

    What you do is incredibly valuable, and inspiring. I will be posting a link to your web site on my website, following you on twitter, discussing your work with the coaches who work in my group, and the kids/families I coach. I will be integrating your overall vision/ mission into my work.

    I operate an Executive Functions Skills Coaching group for children with Learning Disabilities & Autism, called Life Skills Corp. in the NY/ Ct area.

    I look forward to posting pertinent posts to my parents and followers.

    All the best,


    William Michael Stowell-Alonso, MA
    Director & Executive Functions Skills Coach
    Life Skills Corp.

    • MichaelALanza   |  February 21, 2013 at 9:13 am

      Hi Bill, thank you for such nice comments, they are much appreciated. I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts about the critical importance of getting kids to love the outdoors. I just looked at your website, looks like good work you’re doing. Thanks for sharing The Big Outside with others, best of luck with your work, and please do keep in touch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *