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; ninth on The Adventure Junkies Top 25 Hiking Blogs of 2016 (a list based on objective performance metrics); 18th on the list of Top 100 Outdoor Blogs from Feedspot; 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.
Many stories here are about outdoor adventures with my wife and our 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.”
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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.
Wondering where to start? My All Trips page lists every story at this blog about adventures I’ve taken. Or go straight to “My Top 10 Adventure Trips.” My main menu (above) includes links to menus of all of my stories about Family Adventures and all of my Gear Reviews. I’m constantly testing outdoor gear and apparel and I review only the best of it. See all of my tips on Skills I’ve learned over the course of three decades exploring the outdoors, including articles like “The Top 5 Tips For Better Ultralight Backpacking.”
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.
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Got a question for me? Visit my Ask Me page, where you’ll find a categorized menu of all past Ask Me posts in which I answer a reader’s questions, and an explanation of my policy for answering reader questions. You can email me at email@example.com.
At my Book page, learn more about 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.
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 free email newsletter using the box at left or below. Comment on my posts; I appreciate the feedback and respond to most comments.
Feel free to send your ideas, questions, and suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Have fun and be safe out there.
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