The Most-Read Stories at The Big Outside
Want to know which stories are viewed the most by other readers of The Big Outside?
I’ve compiled this list of my top 10 most-read stories—with a bonus 11th story—based on my blog’s traffic analytics data going back six months. While the Top Posts & Pages list in this site’s sidebar (at left) identifies the five stories and pages that received the most views in just the past day, this page offers a longer-term indicator of the stories that are truly the most popular. I’ll update this list every month.
Scroll down and you’ll find ideas for trips to take, gear to get, and skills to learn. Please let me know what you think in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Views in the Past 6 Months: 5,107
“America’s Most Beautiful Trail” should be on every serious backpacker’s tick list. After thru-hiking it in seven days, I became convinced that—while a week was very hard—the traditional itinerary of spreading the roughly 221-mile trip out over three weeks or more has a serious flaw: Because of limited food-resupply options, you’ll carry a monster pack that may not only make you sore and uncomfortable, it could cause injuries or other problems that cut short your trip. This story outlines my strategy for a JMT thru-hike spread out over 10 to 11 days, hiking about 10 hours a day, including tips on when to go, the best direction to hike it, and resupplying smartly.
Views in the Past 6 Months: 5,460
When I first started hiking, I was like a young pitcher with an overpowering fastball: I hurled myself at every hike with all of my energy. I didn’t think much about the distance, terrain, or the weight of my pack; I was young and fit and my haphazard strategy worked fine. Now, many miles and (too) many years later, I’m more like a veteran hurler who’s honed a repertoire of off-speed pitches. I’ve learned various tricks to soften the blow of hard miles, and they have helped enable me to hike 20, 30, even 40 miles in a day. As with many endurance sports, there are ways to hike a trail more efficiently, conserving energy and reducing the physical toll that brings on fatigue. Here are mine.
You deserve a better backpack. See my picks for “The 10 Best Packs For Backpacking”
and the best thru-hiking pack.
Views in the Past 6 Months: 5,134
Shop for a rain jacket for the backcountry and you’ll see shells ranging in price from under $100 to over $600, in weight from less than half a pound to over a pound—and just as huge and confusing a range of opinions on them from reviewers and consumers. I’m here to make your decision simple. Hiking through soaking rains all over the world, and testing dozens of jackets over the years, has shaped what I look for in a jacket. Here are my picks for the five top-performing rain shells available today, ranging in price from $275 to $425. I think you’ll find one of them is just right for you.
Read my review of “The 5 Best Rain Jackets for the Backcountry.”
Views in the Past 6 Months: 5,543
The most-read gear review at my blog covers the one piece of gear that protects all of your other gear when traveling—your duffle. Whatever your outdoor sport, a sturdy duffle for organizing, hauling, and protecting your gear and clothing is invaluable. Don’t risk damaging an expensive backpack by using it as your luggage; besides, a good duffle has more capacity and is built to suffer the indignities of getting tossed into jet, train, and bus baggage compartments, strapped onto a roof rack, sled, snowmobile, or pack animal, and exposed to rain and snow. The models from The North Face, Patagonia, Marmot, Osprey, Eagle Creek, Gregory, and other brands reviewed here are built right. Plus, I include in the review the best pieces of luggage I’ve used.
Read my “Review: The Best Gear Duffles and Luggage.”
Views in the Past 6 Months: 5,940
You’re planning your first-ever backpacking trip in one of America’s flagship national parks—and one of the best destinations for a multi-day wilderness hike—Yosemite. Where should you go? Do you want to stand atop Half Dome—and where are the other magic spots for mind-blowing scenery? Should you begin at Yosemite Valley, or maybe Tuolumne Meadows? How do you get a backcountry permit? A reader posed those questions to me and I gave him some route options that would be great whether it’s your first or fifth time in Yosemite.
Read my blog post “Ask Me: Where to Backpack First Time in Yosemite.”
I’ve helped many readers plan an unforgettable backpacking trip in Yosemite.
Want my help with yours? Click here.
Views in the Past 6 Months: 5,978
What a relief to know I’m far from alone in my slightly obsessive attitude toward taking reeeally long dayhikes—backcountry perambulations on the order of 15 or 20 miles and sometimes much farther. I love backpacking. And I do it a lot. But sometimes, I’d rather knock off a weekend-length—or longer—hike in one huge day. A completely different way to experience a place, walking 15 to 20 or more miles in a day feels liberating in how lightly you travel and how much ground you can cover. From the Grand Canyon to Glacier, Yosemite to Zion, the Tetons to the Olympics and more, here are the 10 very best, very big hikes I’ve completed in under 24 hours.
Read my story “Extreme Hiking: America’s Best Hard Dayhikes.”
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Views in the Past 6 Months: 6,335
We’ve all had special campsites in the backcountry that came to define a trip for us. Sometimes we have photos from them to remind us of those spots. I’ve been very fortunate to have pitched a tent in many great backcountry campsites over more than two decades of backpacking and trekking all over the U.S. and the world. I’ve boiled the list of my favorite spots down to the 25 in this story. If you’re out hunting for the best wilderness campsites, read it now, and then check out my photo gallery of the nicest backcountry campsites I’ve hiked past.
See my story “Tent Flap With a View: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites.”
Views in the Past 6 Months: 6,602
What makes a great backpacking trip? I’ve thought about that more than a mentally stable person probably should. Certainly top-shelf scenery is a mandatory qualification. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. As I assembled this top 10 list, longer trips seemed to dominate it, but two- and three-day hikes also made my list. And all of my top 10 are in national parks or federal wilderness areas. From the Teton Crest Trail to the John Muir Trail, Glacier to Yosemite, Zion’s Narrows to the Grand Canyon and more, I present my admittedly personal and subjective list of the 10 best backpacking trips I’ve taken over more than a quarter-century (and counting) of humping a pack on trails all over the country, as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and creator of this blog.
Find great deals and support my blog by clicking this link to buy your backpacking gear at backcountry.com.
Views in the Past 6 Months: 6,640
When a reader wrote to me asking for my recommendations on where to dayhike and backpack in Idaho’s spectacular Sawtooths, he gave me a reason to compile a list of my favorite hikes in a range I’ve been exploring for almost 20 years, where dozens of glassy mountain lakes and row upon row of jagged peaks have won me over and become one of the top reasons I’m glad I moved to Idaho. This story describes the dayhikes and multi-day I’d recommend, and it includes links to my many other stories about Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains at The Big Outside.
Views in the Past 6 Months: 8,142
Here’s a grim statistic for you: Roughly three of every four applicants for a backcountry permit to backpack across the Grand Canyon, South Rim to North Rim via the popular corridor trails (North Kaibab and South Kaibab or Bright Angel), get rejected. It’s comparably difficult to get backcountry permits for popular trips in numerous national parks. I’ve been shot down trying to get permits for multi-day hikes and paddling trips in Yosemite, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Denali, Everglades, Glacier, and others. But I’ve learned a few tricks for landing coveted backcountry permits in those flagship parks.
I share those tricks in my “10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit.”
Views in the Past 6 Months: 10,160
Consistently one of the most-read stories at this blog since I posted it in January 2013, my hard-earned advice on raising your kids to like getting outdoors—especially challenging in this era of indoor kids glued to screens—has over 100 comments and thousands of shares and likes on social media. I like to think that’s not just because of the cute and inspirational photos of my kids in the story, but also because it imparts some useful takeaway information for parents. My kids, now teenagers, have accumulated an impressive CV of adventures in their short lives. But most importantly, they look forward to every new one—and that’s the goal.
See my “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids” and, when you’re ready, “My 10 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You.”
Two static pages at The Big Outside also consistently rank among the 10 most-read pages at my site: My Gear Reviews page, which has a categorized menu of all gear reviews at my blog; and my All Trips page, which has sub-menus listing the dozens of stories about outdoor trips that I’ve published at this blog. Either provides a good starting point for exploring The Big Outside.
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