Category Archives: Skills

My professional tips on hiking, backpacking, gear, and outdoors skills, and taking children on wilderness adventures.

May 13, 2018 A campsite by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids, Grand Canyon.

How to Choose the Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent for You

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Switching from a standard backpacking tent to an ultralight tent can shave pounds from your total pack weight—a huge step toward a lighter pack. But when comparing models, the specs on them can look like a big pot of numeral soup, leaving you wondering: What differentiates them from one another? Which one is best? I’ve tested and reviewed scores of tents of all sizes. I love the best ultralight tents, but I’ve used some that had flaws or shortcomings not immediately obvious. In this article, I’ll tell you how to find the three-season, ultralight tent that’s best for you. Continue reading →

May 10, 2018

8 Pro Tips For Preventing Blisters When Hiking

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , ,   |   23 Comments

By Michael Lanza

I deserve to be plagued by blisters. I field test upwards of a dozen models of hiking, backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, and trail-running shoes and boots every year. I’m constantly wearing new footwear right out of the box, often hiking 15 to 30 miles a day—usually without doing anything more than trying them on, almost never allowing for any break-in time. And I almost never get a blister. Best of all, the tricks I use to avoid them are simple enough for anyone to practice. Continue reading →

May 6, 2018 Backpacking to Burro Pass above Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

5 Things to Know Before Buying Backpacking Gear

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Are you in the market for a new backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag or other backpacking gear? How do you find something that’s just right for you? What should you be looking for? How much should you spend? These are questions I’ve heard from many friends and readers over the years as they’ve waded through the myriad choices out there. Here are five key factors to keep in mind when buying gear—reflecting the insights I’ve gleaned over more than two decades of testing and reviewing gear and helping people find gear they love. Continue reading →

May 2, 2018 Wildcat Mountain, White Mountains, N.H.

Ask Me: Protecting Your Family From Ticks While Hiking

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   5 Comments

Hello Michael,

I just stumbled on your amazing blog and ordered your book—I can’t wait to read it! I am completely inspired by your blog. I have one question: I am from the Northeast originally and a cousin of mine had very serious, chronic Lyme disease, which has instilled a huge fear in me of that and other tick-borne diseases. How do you protect your children from these things? Do you spray them down with insect repellent? (I try to avoid chemicals as much as possible.) Thank you so much for your help and your wonderful blog!

Sincerely,
Sarah
Encinitas, CA Continue reading →

May 1, 2018 Northern Bailey Range, Olympic Mountains, Olympic National Park.

5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   14 Comments

By Michael Lanza

My first tent cost about 75 bucks. It was heavy and bulky for backpacking. I called it the Wind Sock because it snapped loudly in the slightest breeze, and its poles bowed disturbingly in strong gusts. (I learned to choose protected campsites.) When it rained hard, I’d wake up to a puddle covering the floor.

But at a time when I could not afford good gear, it sheltered me for maybe 150 nights—including, in its final summer, three straight, wonderful months of hiking, backpacking, climbing, and sleeping outdoors. It ultimately cost me about 50 cents a night.
Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker