Skills

High Divide Trail in fog, Olympic National Park.

How I Decide What Touches My Skin: 5 Features to Look For In a Hiking Base Layer

By Michael Lanza

What’s your body type when you’re hiking, backpacking, or otherwise active outdoors? Do you run hot or cold—or both? Over many years of dayhiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, cycling, skiing in its various forms, and other activities, I’ve discovered this about myself: I run very warm when I’m moving, but I cool off in a flash when I stop. To some degree, many people are like that. And those that aren’t—who just plain run consistently hot or cold—still have to tackle the same question I do: How do you pick the best base layer top for you?

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A backpacker hiking past Marie Lake on the John Muir Trail.

Ask Me: Advice on Lighter Gear

Hi Michael,

I wonder if you could help me shed a few pounds – from my pack, not off my body. I’ve been section hiking the AT, and over the years have gotten my pack weight down from about 45 pounds to the low- to mid-30s. This year, I’m thinking of upgrading/downsizing my pack and sleeping bag, hoping to trim another 3 pounds and some bulk.

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Interview: ‘Ultimate Hiker’ Andrew Skurka

Since his “first backpacking trip” thru-hiking the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail in 95 days (thru-hikers normally take five to six months) in 2002, Andrew Skurka, 31, has put his own indelible stamp on ultra hiking and long-distance backpacking. His many adventures include:

•    Thru-hiking the California section of the Pacific Crest Trail at an average pace of about 40 miles per day;
•    An 800-mile trek across the Colorado Plateau from Arches National Park to the Grand Canyon;

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Video: How to Pitch a Tent Using Stones

On a rocky beach during a five-day sea kayaking trip in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, I demonstrate how to stake out a tent using stones when the ground won’t accept stakes.