Skills

A campsite on the Dome Glacier., on the Ptarmigan Traverse in Washington's Glacier Peak Wilderness.

5 Expert Tips For Buying a Backpacking Tent

By Michael Lanza

The choices in tents for backpacking seem to get better every year, with lightweight models continually getting lighter and other advances that make tents sturdier and more livable without adding weight. But with all the options out there, how do you choose? The answer is simpler than you might think: It comes down to understanding the key differences that distinguish tents from one another—which will help you understand what you need.

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Michael Lanza of The Big Outside backpacking in the Wind River Range.

Get Custom Backpacking Trip Planning from an Expert

By Michael Lanza

You’re trying to plan a backpacking trip to a classic national park like Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier, Zion, Grand Canyon, or some other park or wilderness area—but you’re not quite sure how to do it. Or the permit process and planning feel overwhelming. Or you want to ensure it’s the best trip possible. Or you just don’t have time to do all that planning and would rather have an expert do it for you.

Well, you have just landed on your solution.

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A backpacker hiking to Iceberg Lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, High Sierra.

How to Get a Yosemite or High Sierra Wilderness Permit

By Michael Lanza

Ah, the High Sierra. Yosemite. Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. The John Muir Wilderness and Ansel Adams Wilderness, Mount Whitney, and countless other, less famous but equally beautiful spots. Every backpacker who has ever walked for days through any of these wildlands holds them in special reverence—and for good reasons, given this seemingly infinite landscape’s constellations of sharply pointed granite peaks and alpine lakes, too many waterfalls to name, and rivers and creeks so pretty they make your heart glad. Plus, with thousands of miles of trails, you could spend a lifetime wandering here without seeing it all.

Little wonder there’s so much competition for backcountry permits throughout most of the High Sierra. But read on because the time for planning and reserving a permit for trips this summer is coming up fast.

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A backpacker on the John Muir Trail above Thousand Island Lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail: The Ultimate, 10-day, Ultralight Plan

By Michael Lanza

Are you planning to thru-hike the John Muir Trail? “America’s Most Beautiful Trail” should be on every serious backpacker’s tick list. After hiking it in a blazing (and slightly crazy) seven days, I became convinced that—while that was quite hard—the traditional itinerary of spreading the roughly 221 miles (plus more than 10 miles descending Mount Whitney) over about three weeks has a serious flaw: With limited food-resupply options, you’ll carry a monster pack that may not only make you sore and uncomfortable, it could cause injuries that cut short your trip.

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A backpacker on the John Muir Trail hiking toward Silver Pass in the John Muir Wilderness.

How to Get a John Muir Trail Wilderness Permit in 2023

By Michael Lanza

Sometimes it can seem like everyone who’s ever carried a backpack through mountains somewhere wants to thru-hike the John Muir Trail—especially when it comes time to apply for a JMT wilderness permit. And why not? “America’s Most Beautiful Trail” earns its nickname and ranks indisputably among “America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips.” Consequently, few permits are harder to get; most people who apply get rejected. This story explains the various ways to reserve a John Muir Trail wilderness permit. And the time for reserving a permit for this summer is coming up very quickly.

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