Skills

A backpacker on the Thunder Creek Trail, North Cascades National Park.

The Fine Art of Stashing a Backpack in the Woods

By Michael Lanza Stashing a backpack in the woods is just what it sounds like. If you’re on a multi-day backpacking trip and want to take a side hike of any significant distance, like to a summit, and then return to the same spot to resume you’re backpacking route, it’s a waste of energy (not to mention entirely pointless) to …

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A backpacker in the Bailey Range, Olympic National Park.

10 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

By Michael Lanza My first tent cost about 75 bucks. It was a bit 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 moderate gusts. (I learned to choose protected campsites.) But at a time when I could not afford good gear and was …

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A backpacker on the Gunsight Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

Why and When to Spend More on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

By Michael Lanza

You need a new backpack, backpacking tent, rain jacket, boots, or a sleeping bag. You’ve read reviews. You’ve winnowed your short list to a handful of possible choices—with a significant difference in prices. That’s when you struggle with the question that pushes the frugality button in all of us: Why should I spend more?

This story will explain why some gear is more expensive and give you specific advice on buying five big-ticket items: packs, tents, rain jackets, shoes and boots, and sleeping bags.

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Michael Lanza of The Big Outside hiking Besseggen Ridge above Lake Gjende in Norway's Jotunheimen National Park.

Video: How to Pack a Backpack

By Michael Lanza

Wonder why I’m smiling in the above photo? Well, sure, two friends and I were hiking the incredibly scenic Besseggen Ridge in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park; that had something to do with it. But the other big factor was that I was comfortable—and how well my pack carried had a lot to do with that. And how I loaded it greatly affected how well it carried on my back. In this four-minute video, I’ll show you how to properly load a backpack to make your trail miles much more enjoyable.

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A backpacker hiking above Columbine Lake in Sequoia National Park.

5 Tips for Getting Out of Camp Faster When Backpacking

By Michael Lanza Years ago, in a visitor center in a popular national park, I overheard a conversation in which one person said to another, “Backpackers? They don’t start hiking until 10 or 11 in the morning.” I laughed to myself because I know how true that is in many cases. But I also found it amusing because I prefer …

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