Michael Lanza

A backpacker at Evolution Lake on the John Muir Trail in Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon National Park.

Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail—A Photo Gallery

By Michael Lanza

It’s known as “America’s Most Beautiful Trail” for good reason: There may be no long backpacking trip that’s more spectacular, step for step, than a thru-hike of the John Muir Trail through California’s High Sierra. From Yosemite Valley to the 14,505-foot summit of Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park, you walk 211 miles past jagged peaks of golden granite, through a constellation of sparkling mountain lakes and more waterfalls than anyone could name, and over numerous passes from 11,000 to over 13,000 feet.

If you haven’t done it, check out the photos below. They just might convince you that it’s time to move it to the top of your list.

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A campsite on the Dome Glacier., on the Ptarmigan Traverse in Washington's Glacier Peak Wilderness.

5 Expert Tips For Buying a Backpacking Tent

By Michael Lanza

The choices in tents for backpacking seem to get better every year, with lightweight models continually getting lighter and other advances that make tents sturdier and more livable without adding weight. But with all the options out there, how do you choose? The answer is simpler than you might think: It comes down to understanding the key differences that distinguish tents from one another—which will help you understand what you need.

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A backpacker at Park Creek Pass, North Cascades National Park.

10 Adventures to Put on Your Bucket List Now

By Michael Lanza

Are you looking for great trip ideas for your bucket list? Well, you’ve clicked to the right place. This freshly updated story spotlights seven of the best wildlands in the U.S., including Glacier, Yosemite, North Cascades (photo above), and Sequoia national parks and three wilderness areas, plus three international adventures that may not be on your radar—all of them worthy of your bucket list.

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A backpacker hiking over Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park.

10 Perfect National Park Backpacking Trips for Beginners

By Michael Lanza

So you’re a novice backpacker, or you’re planning your first backpacking trip in a big, Western national park, or you have kids you want to take on a relatively easy backpacking trip—and you want to sample the best scenery, trails, and backcountry campsites that experienced backpackers get to enjoy in our national parks. No worries. These 10 trips in Grand Teton, Zion, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Olympic, Rocky Mountain, Mount Rainier, Canyonlands, and two in Yosemite (photo above) are ideal for beginners and families, with easy to moderately difficult days and simple logistics, while delivering the spectacular vistas that each of these parks is famous for.

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Ibex Wool Aire Vest

Review: Ibex Wool Aire Vest

Insulated Vest
Ibex Wool Aire Vest
$235, 7.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
ibex.com

How useful—and valuable—is your insulation layer? Consider this: I wore the Ibex Wool Aire Vest as my only outer layer over the same two base layers (a lightweight, wicking long-sleeve and a warm fleece hoody) on days of vigorous Nordic skiing in radically different conditions in Idaho’s Boise Mountains: from sunny, calm, and mid-30s Fahrenheit to cloudy and below freezing with strong winds that made it feel much colder. And I did not overheat in the first circumstance or get cold in the second. I also stayed comfortable wearing it as my sole middle layer under a winter shell in temps from around freezing to the mid-teens, with a low overcast and frigid wind, on days of snowshoeing and backcountry skiing downhill, and as my outer layer when skinning uphill (without wind).

That degree of versatility speaks volumes about the value of any layer, especially insulation.

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