Category Archives: Skills

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

September 30, 2016 Ouzel Lake, Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

The 5 Rules About Kids I Broke While Backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   7 Comments

By Michael Lanza

“I’m dying!” my son, Nate, bellowed to the entire forest in the Wild Basin of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. “This pack is too heavy!” We were just 30 minutes up the trail at the outset of a three-day backpacking trip. It was a trip that seemed like an unmitigated disaster for the first two days—then morphed into an adventure my kids remember fondly, and that helped expand their outdoor interests.

For me, those three days in Rocky serve as a reminder about the many ways you can do it wrong when taking kids outdoors, but how simple and easy it is to make it right. Continue reading →

September 29, 2016 Sahale Arm, North Cascades National Park, Washington.

Ask Me: How Do I Stop Getting Battered Toes When Hiking?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   10 Comments


I know this is a really random question, but when descending mountain trails my big toes suffer immensely. Besides tying the laces up really tight, is there a trick to protecting them without losing a toenail or having them feel beat up?

Rexburg, ID Continue reading →

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

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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 →

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