Michael Lanza

The Patagonia R1 Air Full-Zip Hoody.

Review: Patagonia R1 Air Full-Zip Hoody

Hooded Fleece Jacket
Patagonia R1 Air Full-Zip Hoody
$179, 12.5 oz./354g (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XXS-XL, kids XS-XXL

As I’ve repeatedly written at this blog, virtually no piece of outdoor apparel offers more versatility than a highly breathable, midweight insulation layer; arguably, the only “layer” you will wear more is your skin. Find a highly breathable midweight jacket that’s soft and fits like it was custom made for your torso and you have a winner. Patagonia’s R1 Air Full-Zip Hoody could play that role for almost any outdoor user, from hard-core backpackers, climbers, and backcountry skiers to the average dayhiker and fitness walker, as I found wearing it on backpacking trips in Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies, not to mention countless days around town and at home.

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A backpacker hiking the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

Backpacking Glacier National Park—a Photo Gallery

By Michael Lanza

If you have ever backpacked in Glacier National Park, you know you want to return. If you haven’t yet, then isn’t it time? One of America’s flagship national parks, it’s a must-see destination for backpackers because of the eye-popping scenery, remoteness, and an extremely rare variety of megafauna—including mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, and black and grizzly bears—as the photo gallery below from my numerous trips in Glacier shows. It includes images from my most-recent trip, a nearly 70-mile hike a week ago through some of the park’s premier scenery on its east side.

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The Arc’teryx Beta Lightweight Jacket.

Review: Arc’teryx Beta Lightweight Jacket

All-Season Shell Jacket
Arc’teryx Beta Lightweight Jacket
$500, 13 oz./369g (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-3XL, women’s 2XS-2XL

From a pair of three-day backpacking trips and some dayhikes in the Canadian Rockies in early August to a four-day trip in the Wind River Range in mid-August and a seven-day hike in Glacier National Park in September, I logged countless hours walking through rain showers, steady rain, intense thunderstorms, and very strong, chilly wind in the Beta Lightweight Jacket. My takeaway: This is one of the most weather-resistant and comfortable all-season shells on the market.

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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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The Biolite Firepit+

Review: BioLite Firepit+ Portable Backyard Fire Pit and Grill

Portable Backyard/Camping Firepit and Grill
BioLite Firepit+
$300, 20 lbs./9kg

Many of us learned a lot about what we liked during the pandemic and many of those newly discovered or rediscovered likes have stayed with us—like sitting out in the back yard to eat and socialize. We realized (or were reminded): Hey, it’s nice sitting out here! That included evenings when cool temperatures might have previously driven us indoors. So we sought ways to heat our domestic outdoor spaces. Enter the BioLite Firepit+, a more civilized and controllable evolution of the old stone-ringed (sometimes smoky and not very heat-efficient), backyard fire pit.

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