Backpacking

A backpacker at a waterfall on the Deer Creek Trail in the Grand Canyon.

The 12 Best Backpacking Trips in the Southwest

By Michael Lanza

We all love the majesty of mountains. But the vividly colored, sometimes bizarre, occasionally incomprehensible geology of the Southwest canyon country enchants and inspires us in ways that words can only begin to describe. And while you will find very worthy dayhikes and even roadside eye candy in classic parks like Grand Canyon, Zion, and Canyonlands, you really have to put on a backpack and probe more deeply into those parks—and other canyon-country gems you may not know much about—to get a full sense of the scale, details, and hidden mysteries of these mystical landscapes.

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

How You Can Tell How Warm a Down Jacket Is

By Michael Lanza

While sleeping bags have temperature ratings, with down jackets and other insulated jackets, there exists no easy way to determine how warm any specific garment will be without wearing it outside. But despite the absence of a precise metric for gauging the warmth of down and synthetic puffy jackets, there are ways to assess a specific jacket’s relative warmth before you even see it, using simple metrics. This article will explain how to do that.

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A hiker on the Tour du Mont Blanc in Italy.

15 Adventures on Earth That Will Change Your Life

By Michael Lanza

Can travel “change your life?” How many experiences have such an enormous impact? I can name several that shifted my perspective on adventure or expanded how I view the world and other people. Exploring the surreal landscapes of Iceland and Patagonia. Walking among Earth’s highest mountains in Nepal, through remote villages where we experienced cultures far different from our own. Immersing myself in the mountain lifestyle on hut treks in the Alps like the Tour du Mont Blanc (photo above). And seeing unforgettable places like Norway’s Jotunheimen National ParkItaly’s Dolomites, and Alaska’s Glacier Bay through the unclouded eyes of my kids.

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

The Best Ultralight Backpacks of 2024

By Michael Lanza

Do you need an ultralight backpack? Many backpackers might answer “no” when, for many reasons, their answer should logically be “yes.” These packs aren’t just for thru-hikers. Typically weighing roughly between under two pounds and three pounds empty, ultralight packs have support for carrying 25 to 35 pounds—making them ideal for more than just ultralight backpacking. For many backpackers, that represents the range of pack weight they either carry on most trips—or could carry on most trips, with smart packing and reasonably light gear.

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A hiker at Zeacliff, overlooking the Pemigewasset Wilderness, White Mountains, N.H.

The Best Hikes in the White Mountains

By Michael Lanza

If you’re a hiker in the Northeast and especially in New England, you know about the White Mountains and either love them already or are eager to explore the tallest peaks north of the southern Appalachians and the most rugged mountains in the East. If you’re a hiker who lives outside the region, don’t be deceived or dissuaded by the fact that the highest in the Whites, Mount Washington, rises to a mere 6,288 feet. You risk missing out on hiking dozens of rocky summits with breathtaking panoramas, alpine ridges that stretch for miles above treeline, and some of the most challenging—and rewarding—trails found anywhere in the country.

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