Category Archives: Skills

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

September 4, 2016 Tonto East Trail, Grand Canyon.

3-Minute Read: Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Several years ago, on a four-day, family backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon when our kids were nine and barely seven, our son, the oldest, told me that he wanted to carry his own backpack. Up to then, both kids had carried daypacks when we backpacked with them (as our daughter still was). I got him a kids pack that fit him and kept it light—with only a liter of water and his sleeping bag and pad and stuffed animals in it. By about 30 minutes into the second day’s hike, he told me the pack was too heavy. So, following one of my own rules about taking kids outdoors, I removed his bag and crammed it into my already overstuffed pack.

Something my son, now 15, did recently, affirmed (yet again) the wisdom of keeping our kids’ packs light when they were little.

Continue reading →

August 17, 2016 Spring Canyon campsite, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.

10 Pro Tips: Staying Warm in a Sleeping Bag

In Backpacking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   7 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Head into the mountains in summer, or almost anywhere in fall or spring, and you can encounter nighttime and morning temperatures anywhere from the 40s Fahrenheit to below freezing. I’ve spent enough frosty nights outside over the past few decades to learn a few things about how to stay warm. (My coldest night was -30° F, in winter in New Hampshire’s White Mountains; I don’t recommend it.) Here are my 10 tips for making your camping experience more comfortable. Continue reading →

August 7, 2016 Chesler Park Trail, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

10 Tips For Getting Outside More

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

Do you get outside as much as you’d like, either locally or on longer trips away from home? Who does? I do—almost. Sure, family and other responsibilities (like kids’ soccer games) prevent me from getting out as much as I’d like, but I do pretty well. Exhibit A: Most summers, I do not spend more than two or three weekend days at home, and I sometimes spend more days away from home than at home. I may be slightly manic. Continue reading →

August 4, 2016 On the John Muir Trail at Sapphire Lake in Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon National Park.

Ask Me: How to Load a Bear Canister Into a Backpack

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Michael,

When carrying a bear canister, where and how would you place it in the pack? Toward the bottom above the sleeping bag? More toward the top of the pack just below the shoulderblades? Would you store it vertically and pack stuff around it, or just store horizontally across the pack? This is my first year going places that require a canister, and I can’t find an answer.

Rickard
[Originally submitted as a comment at my story “Video: How to Load a Backpack.”] Continue reading →

July 28, 2016 The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah.

10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

The first time I backpacked in Yosemite National Park, more than 20 years ago, I applied months in advance for a permit to start at the park’s most popular trailhead, Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley—and I got it. I had no idea at the time how lucky I was. I’ve since been shot down trying to get permits for popular hikes in parks like Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Glacier. But I’ve also learned a few tricks for landing coveted backcountry permits in those flagship parks—which all receive far more requests for permit reservations than they can accommodate. Continue reading →

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