Skills

A backpacker inside a damp tent on a rainy evening in the mountains of Olympic National Park.

How to Pitch a Tent in Rain and Keep It Dry

By Michael Lanza

It’s a situation all backpackers eventually encounter, no matter how hard you try to avoid it: You reach a backcountry campsite in a steady rain and must try to pitch your tent without soaking the interior. How successfully you accomplish that will greatly affect how warm and dry you remain that night—and probably how well-rested and good you feel the next morning. Follow these tips to keep your backpacking shelter and gear dry in that scenario.

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Two young kids backpacking at Upper Lyman Lakes in Washington's Glacier Peak Wilderness.

10 Tips for Taking Kids on Their First Backpacking Trip

By Michael Lanza

Whether you’re a family of novices planning your first backpacking trip or an experienced backpacker ready to take your kids on their first multi-day hike, heed this friendly advice: You’re in for some surprises. And I speak from experience. I’d been backpacking for years—in fact, I was already working as a professional backpacker—when my wife (also a longtime backpacker) and I first dove into the grand new adventure of taking our young kids into the wilderness.

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A backpacker in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite in Yosemite National Park.

How to Get a Last-Minute Yosemite Wilderness Permit Now

By Michael Lanza You just decided you’d like to backpack in Yosemite this year and realized you’re months too late to reserve a wilderness permit. What now? As it happens, one positive outcome of the pandemic has been Yosemite National Park revising its procedure for obtaining a first-come or walk-in backpacking permit, making it possible to reserve a permit two …

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Backpackers at a campsite in Titcomb Basin, Wind River Range, Wyoming.

The First 5 Things I Do in Camp When Backpacking

By Michael Lanza I doubt that I had any typical routine when arriving at a campsite on my earliest backpacking trips; like many backpackers, I probably just dropped my pack, shucked off my boots, and kicked back until motivated to move by the urge to eat, drink, get warm, or go to the bathroom. Over the years, though, I’ve developed …

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A grizzly bear in the backcountry of Glacier National Park.

Bear Essentials: How to Store Food When Backcountry Camping

By Michael Lanza

On our first night in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park on one of my earliest backpacking trips, two friends and I—all complete novices—hung our food from a tree branch near our camp. Unfortunately, the conifer trees around us all had short branches: Our food stuff sacks hung close to the trunk.

During the night, the predictable happened: We awoke to the sound of a bear clawing up the tree after our food.

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