Backpacking

The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell.

The Best Ultralight Hiking and Running Jackets of 2024

By Michael Lanza

You’re out on an all-day hike or a long climb or trail run or ride in the mountains. The weather forecast looked pretty good before you set out—but no one shared that memo with the wind that just started hammering your summit ridge, or the spitting rain and hail now pelting you as you contemplate the sudden drop in temperature and the miles between you and shelter. The question now is: What’s in your pack?

If you’re smart, it’s an ultralight jacket that takes up little space, but is about to gift you with just the right amount of weather protection when you need it.

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

10 Expert Tips for Hiking With Trekking Poles

By Michael Lanza

If you’ve opened this story, you probably already recognize this truth: For backpackers, dayhikers, climbers, mountain runners, and others, trekking poles noticeably reduce strain, fatigue, and impact on leg muscles and joints, feet, back—and really on your entire body. And that’s true no matter how much weight you’re carrying, whether a daypack, an ultralight backpack, or a woefully heavy backpack.

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Backpackers on the Wonderland Trail west of Sunrise in Mount Rainier National Park.

How to Get a Permit to Backpack Rainier’s Wonderland Trail

By Michael Lanza

Any backpacker making the substantial effort to hike the 93-mile Wonderland Trail around Washington’s Mount Rainier soon discovers why it’s one of the most popular backpacking trips in the country. Those reasons include regularly wading through some of the best wildflower meadows you’ll see anywhere, the numerous waterfalls and raging rivers gray with glacial flour—and the countless times that the most heavily glaciated peak in the Lower 48, 14,410-foot Mount Rainier, suddenly pops into view, looking impossibly massive.

That’s also why few backcountry permits are harder to get than one for the Wonderland—unquestionably one of “America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips” and “The 10 Best National Park Backpacking Trips.”

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Backpackers camped in the backcountry of Wyoming's Wind River Range.

The 10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

By Michael Lanza

A good backpacking tent not only makes your trips more comfortable by keeping you warm and dry in foul weather—it’s critical safety gear and one of the heaviest and most expensive items you’ll carry. Those facts alone are motivation enough to find the right tent for your style of backpacking. But how do you choose from the many models out there, which come in a huge range of designs, weights, and prices? Whether you’re shopping for your first backpacking shelter or looking to replace an old one, this review will help make that choice easy for you.

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A campsite at night by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids in the Grand Canyon.

Ultralight Backpacking Tents: How to Choose One

By Michael Lanza

Switching from a standard backpacking tent to an ultralight tent can shave pounds from your total pack weight—which for many backpackers will be the biggest step they can take toward a lighter pack. But it can be confusing to sort through the various ultralight tents out there, and the specs on them can look like a big pot of numeral soup, leaving you wondering: How are they different? And ultimately, which one is best for you?

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