Michael Lanza

Crabtree Falls, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest, N.C.

The 12 Best Dayhikes Along North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway

By Michael Lanza

I’m a hiking snob—I admit it. I want all of the hiking trips I take to feature five-star scenery. And for years, I’ve done most of my dayhiking and backpacking in the American West, with its vast wildernesses and infinite vistas, so I’m a little spoiled. But a weeklong trip to the mountains of western North Carolina upended my snobbery. Exploring the highest peaks east of the Mississippi, I discovered one of America’s richest stashes of stunning waterfalls and most biologically diverse forests, enough ruggedness to inspire a sense of climbing “real” mountains—and some pretty darn big vistas, too.

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One Extraordinary Day: A 25-Mile Dayhike in the Grand Canyon

By Michael Lanza

There’s not another hiker in sight as my friend David Ports and I start down the Hermit Trail on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, even though it’s nearly 8 a.m., hardly an early hour to hit the trail. And that’s just the first conspicuously unusual circumstance at the outset of our hike. The second obvious oddity this morning is that it’s overcast—a welcome sight here—and actually chilly enough that we’re wearing the light jackets we brought.

But most unusual aspect of this hike is that we’re only carrying light daypacks—and cruising along almost effortlessly—for a walk of nearly 25 miles, with some 4,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. That’s because we’ll do it all today.

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Backpackers at night with headlamps in a campsite in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

The 5 Best Headlamps of 2021

By Michael Lanza

A headlamp is unquestionably essential gear for hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, ultra-running and ultra-hiking and other backcountry activities that sometimes push into darkness. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose which one to buy? Price? Brightness? Design and range of lighting modes? Go with a brand you know and trust? This review cuts through the information overload to help you pick the right headlamp for your adventures.

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Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket.

The 10 Best Down Jackets of 2021

By Michael Lanza

Whatever you need an insulated jacket for, there’s a down or synthetic puffy for your needs, within your budget. And whether you want a puffy jacket for outdoor activities like backpacking, camping, and climbing, or just to keep you warm around town or at outdoor sporting events, this review will help you figure out how to choose the right jacket for your needs, and it spotlights the best down and synthetic puffy jackets available today.

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Sea to Summit Alto TR2 ultralight backpacking tent.

Review: Sea to Summit Alto TR2 Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Ultralight Backpacking Tent
Sea to Summit Alto TR2
$449, 2 lbs. 9 oz. (rainfly, tent, and poles)
backcountry.com

Backpacking five days in September through some of the northernmost mountains in the Lower 48 in Washington’s Pasayten Wilderness—sharing the trails with Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers finishing up their 2,650-mile walk as well as backpackers on shorter journeys—we wanted a shelter that could protect us from the wildest, late-season weather possible. It would also be nice if it wasn’t too heavy, given the rugged terrain there. Sea to Summit’s Alto TR2 fit the bill and demonstrated its cred as an outstanding ultralight tent.

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