Category Archives: Skills

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

The Top 5 Tips For Better Ultralight Backpacking

July 27, 2017  |  In Backpacking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
David Ports backpacking the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon.

David Ports staying light while backpacking the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon.

By Michael Lanza

I field a lot of questions from readers about gear and backpacking, and I find the conversation often boiling down to one issue: how much weight they have in their packs. The biggest lesson I’ve drawn from a quarter-century of backpacking is that the predominant factor dictating my enjoyment of any hike is how much weight I’m carrying. If I could convince my readers who backpack to follow one piece of advice from me—no matter your age, how much you hike, or how fit or experienced you are—it would be this: Lighten up. You’ll make backpacking more fun.

Here are my five most important rules for accomplishing just that. Continue reading →

July 16, 2017 White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

10 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   9 Comments

By Michael Lanza

“That sounds totally boring.” “Other parents don’t force their kids to do things they don’t want to do.” “I hate (fill in the activity).” If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’ve probably heard these responses from your child, or any of an infinite number of variations on them—like a personal favorite that my son, at 14, laid on me: “You get to choose your friends, but you don’t get to choose your family.” If you’re trying to persuade a teen to get outdoors with you—which these days often entails pulling him or her away from an electronic screen to engage in physical activity for hours—your child can summon powers of resistance that conjure mental images of Superman stopping a high-speed train.

Even though my kids, now 16 and 14, have dayhiked and backpacked hundreds of miles, paddled whitewater rivers and waters from Alaska’s Glacier Bay to Florida’s Everglades, and cross-country skied and rock climbed since they were preschoolers, we still sometimes encounter blowback to our plans to do something outdoors. But we’re usually still successful, and our kids look forward to most of our adventures. Here are the reasons why. Continue reading →

July 11, 2017 Besseggen Ridge, Lake Gjende, Jotunheimen NP, Norway

Video: How to Pack a Backpack

In Backpacking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   8 Comments

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. Continue reading →

July 9, 2017 Lake 8522, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

12 Simple Landscape Photography Tips For Better Outdoor Photos

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   9 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Do you wonder how some people come back from national parks and other outdoor trips with fantastic photos? Would you like to take the kind of pictures that make people ooh and aah? It may not be as complicated as you think. The following tips on outdoor and landscape photography, which I’ve learned from studying photography and over three decades of shooting the finest scenery in America and the world, will help you take home better photos whether you’re a beginner or an experienced photographer. Continue reading →

July 6, 2017 Backpacker on the Fisher Creek Trail, North Cascades National Park.

The Fine Art of Stashing a Backpack in the Woods

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

By Michael Lanza

Stashing a backpack in the woods is 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 (and will feel stupid) to carry your heavy pack with you. But there are issues to consider when doing it, to make sure your pack and everything inside it are still there and not torn apart when you return. Here’s how to do it right. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker