Category Archives: Skills

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

November 16, 2017 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 two-person tent set me back only about 75 bucks. It weighed several pounds and was bulky for backpacking. I called it the Wind Sock for its propensity to snap loudly in the slightest breeze, and because 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 I used it for six summers of car camping and backpacking. At a time when I could not afford good gear, that tent was good enough. It sheltered me for probably close to 150 nights and got me through many wonderful experiences. For its swan song, my girlfriend (now my wife) and I spent three months hiking, backpacking, and climbing throughout the West—and slept a total of one night indoors. I used the Wind Sock until it all but disintegrated in the last campsite it ever saw. My cost for that tent worked out to about 50 cents a night. Continue reading →

November 12, 2017 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

An ultralight backpacking tent can shave pounds from your total pack weight. But when comparing models, the specs on them can look like a big pot of numeral soup. Besides two clear differences—ultralight tents are lighter and usually cost more—you wonder: What differentiates them from one another? I’ve tested and reviewed scores of tents of all sizes. I love the best ultralight tents, but I’ve used many 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 →

November 6, 2017 Big Spring Canyon-Squaw Canyon pass, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park.

5 National Park Backcountry Trips to Put on Your Radar Right Now

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Your next national park backcountry adventure may seem far off your planning radar at this time of year—but this is precisely the time to start planning and looking into backcountry permits if you have your sights trained on the Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Yosemite, Grand Teton, or the John Muir Trail. For all of them, the time to apply for a permit for a trip during the prime season next year is fast approaching. Here’s what you need to know and do. Continue reading →

October 29, 2017

Ask Me: How Old Were Your Kids When You Started Taking Big Trips?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

Hi Michael,

We have a newly turned six-year old, a three-and-a-half-year-old, and I’m expecting! How old were your kids when you started doing “big” trips with them? By big I mean hiking and camping for multiple nights, etc.

Sara
Huntsville, AL Continue reading →

September 28, 2017 Ouzel Lake, Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Ask Me: Should I Go Backpacking Solo?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments

Hello Michael,

I’ve read through a lot of your blog, and it really has inspired me to get outside more and look for greater adventures than what I’ve already done. I have never been anywhere in the United States and so I have my sights set on Rocky Mountain National Park, in Colorado. I’m looking to do some backpacking, and with so many trails and options to choose from, I’m at a loss and honestly confused. I’m looking for something that will take me about four days. Sadly, I haven’t been able to find someone to tag along with me, and although I have quite a bit of camping and hiking experience, I haven’t done it by myself. What are your thoughts on backpacking solo? Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker