Category Archives: Ask Me

Send me your questions about hiking, backpacking, gear, or any topic or trip I write about at The Big Outside, to mlanza@thebigoutside.com.

January 17, 2018

Ask Me: 55-Year-Old Woman First Time Hiking the John Muir Trail

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Hi Michael!

I am a first-time JMT hiker this summer. I’m an avid dayhiker and will do some two- and three-day hikes to prepare. I’m losing 20 pounds and doing a lot of strength training. Here are my concerns: I am 55 years old and this trip is my way of celebrating this milestone and 25 years of sobriety! I may have to hike part of it alone—I have friends with me for the first week and the last week. I really want to pack light. I know I can do 10 miles/day, but I would like to average 15 mpd. I have read pack lists from women who ended up with 40 to 50 lbs.! I have no desire to carry that much. Can you give me an idea of a realistic daily mileage and how I can keep my pack 35 lbs. or under without running out of food and water, and where I should stop to resupply? Continue reading →

January 14, 2018 Michael Lanza near the summit of Thompson Peak, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Discover More Great Outdoors Adventures Now

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Family Adventures, Gear Reviews, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged ,   |   5 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Why do you read my blog? I’m genuinely interested in knowing, so please tell me in the comments section at the bottom of this blog post. But based what I’ve heard and seen from many readers like you who follow The Big Outside, I know you’re probably looking for the best backpacking trips, family adventures, dayhikes, and other great outdoors adventures, plus my tips on how to pull off those trips, and my expert gear reviews. As you start to plan (or you should be planning) the adventures you’ll take this year, I’m going to use today’s blog post to point you in the right direction. Continue reading →

January 3, 2018 Campsite, Dome Glacier, Ptarmigan Traverse, Glacier Peak Wilderness, North Cascades.

Ask Me: How Can You Tell How Warm a Down Jacket Is?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

Michael,

With sleeping bags, we have temperature ratings. But with down/insulated/puffy jackets, what is best way to determine if a jacket will be warm or warmer or hot? Is it the amount of fill? Some but not all jackets indicate the amount of fill.

Thanks.

Bruce
Virginia

Continue reading →

December 17, 2017 Young girl rock climbing at Idaho's City of Rocks National Reserve.

Ask Me: Finding ‘More Complicated’ Family Adventures and Hiring Guides

In Ask Me, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Mr. Lanza,

I am writing to ask your advice on how to find more complicated active outdoors experiences for my kids. I live on the East Coast (small town, coastal South Carolina), but as a family we’ve been camping and hiking in the North Carolina mountains for some time now. My children are six and seven, and we are starting to head west to the national parks now that they are older. I love your photos of mountain climbing, bouldering, etc. and I’m wondering if you have suggestions for good places to introduce these activities to kids. We do not have your experience, so I’m guessing we would find a guide and if you have thoughts on that I’d welcome it as well.

I appreciate any time or thoughts, I love your website.

Patty
Beaufort, SC Continue reading →

November 22, 2017 On the Pacific Crest Trail at Glen Aulin, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: What’s the Best Thru-Hiking Backpack?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments

Hi Michael,

I’m looking for a backpack for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. I am considering some Osprey packs and others. What to you recommend as the best thru-hiking backpack?

Thanks.

Bruce

Continue reading →

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