Category Archives: Skills

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

March 6, 2018 A climber on the Ptarmigan Traverse, North Cascades Range, Washington.

Training For a Big Hike or Mountain Climb

In Backpacking, Hiking, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   10 Comments

By Michael Lanza

When three friends and I decided to attempt to thru-hike the John Muir Trail—221 miles through California’s High Sierra, with numerous mountain passes ranging from 11,000 to over 13,000 feet in elevation—in just one week (backpackers traditionally take three weeks)—the plan seemed like a wild dream. Hike 31 miles a day for seven straight days through some of the biggest mountains in the Lower 48? It was an agenda for lunatics. So we started training. Seriously training. Continue reading →

March 4, 2018 Beaver dam in the Fishhook Creek Valley, 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 →

February 20, 2018 Wallowa Mountains, Oregon.

12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   18 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Staying warm while Nordic, downhill, or backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in winter is a constant challenge: We sweat, our clothes get damp, then we get cold. But as humans have known for thousands of years, it’s a matter of smartly managing and insulating our body’s furnace (and today we have much better technical clothing than animal skins). As someone who runs hot when moving, cools off quickly, and gets cold fingers very easily, I’ve learned many tricks over nearly four decades of getting out in the backcountry in frigid temperatures. Follow these tips and you will be vastly more comfortable outdoors in winter.

Continue reading →

February 20, 2018 Michael Lanza's family in Johns Hopkins Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park.

7 Tips For Getting Your Family on Outdoor Adventure Trips

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

In the Digital Era, the idea of families spending lots of time outdoors—and actually taking trips built around some outdoor adventure enjoyed together—can seem an antiquated notion, like riding in a horse-drawn carriage to go on a picnic. But that lifestyle is a reality for many families (including mine), and one that brings parents and children together for sustained periods of time (hours! days!) that’s unplugged and genuinely fun.

How do you create that kind of lifestyle for your family? As the father of two teenagers who are maturing into avid backpackers, skiers, climbers, paddlers, and intelligent, fine young people who make me proud, I will tell you that this goal remains not only entirely feasible in the Digital Era, but all that much more critical—especially for kids. And when it’s done right, you and your children will consider the time you spend together on outdoor adventure trips some of the best you share as a family. Continue reading →

February 17, 2018 Hiker on the summit of Kyrkja in Norway's Jotunheimen National Park.

Are You Ready for That Outdoor Adventure? 5 Questions to Ask

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

By Michael Lanza

We heard the young girl crying through the howling wind and mid-July snowstorm on Besseggen Ridge, in Norway’s mountainous Jotunheimen National Park. As we caught up with the family of five, I saw that she was maybe eight or nine years old—the same age as my daughter—crying inconsolably and repeating one word over and over: “Cold! Cold!” Continue reading →

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