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Ultralight Insulated Jacket
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
$299, 9 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XXS-XL
The wind blew at a steady 30 mph or better and gusted over 40 mph—creating a wind chill around 40° F—on yet another Memorial Day weekend of “mixed” weather at Idaho’s City of Rocks. I zipped into my Micro Puffy Hoody, pulled the hood up under my helmet, and readied to belay for what would stretch into an hour as my partner led a long trad rock-climbing pitch. Fortunately, this featherweight insulated jacket kept me warm while standing idle for that long in those conditions. It did the same in similar temps and light rain later that weekend at the City, and in cool, strong wind while camping at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim and on the Esplanade during a four-day backpacking trip. One of the lightest insulated jackets on the market at a mere nine ounces, the Micro Puff is surprisingly warm. Here’s why. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
The best-known dayhikes in America’s national parks are certainly worth adding to your outdoor-adventure CV. Summits and hiking trails like Angels Landing in Zion, Half Dome in Yosemite, the North Rim Trail overlooking the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Glacier National Park’s Highline Trail, and many others represent the highlights of the crown jewels of the National Park System. But for that very reason, unless you take those hikes outside the peak seasons or times of day, you can expect to encounter a lot of other hikers.
But there are other national park dayhikes that remain off the radar of many hikers—so they attract a small fraction of the number of people flocking to the popular trails. On these 12 hikes, you’ll find scenery just as majestic as those famous trails, while possibly having these spots to yourself (as I did on several of them). Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
You really want to backpack in Yosemite, Glacier, Grand Teton, Zion, Rocky Mountain, Mount Rainier, or another hugely popular national park this summer—but you didn’t apply to reserve a wilderness permit months ago? Well, you’re in luck: Most parks have a system for getting a last-minute permit. It requires jumping through some hoops, good timing, and a bit of luck. But knowing the ins and outs of the system get land you a permit.
Here are the tricks I’ve learned from numerous backpacking trips to major national parks over the past three decades. Follow them and you just might go backpacking this year in a classic national park. Continue reading →
$129, 1 lb. 11 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: US men’s 6-12, women’s 3-9
The term “approach shoes” can misleadingly imply that those shoes aren’t made for dayhikers who largely stick to trails, perhaps only occasionally wandering off-trail, when actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth. For years, I’ve found that shoes lumped into this category are my favorite picks for typical dayhikes of any distance, on trails ranging from packed dirt to rocky, and I’ve liked them for performance aspects that should appeal to most hikers: good fit and breathability, protective uppers, and outstanding traction. Hit those targets while making the shoe lighter and it’s even more attractive. That’s why I tried out the low-cut Salewa Wildfire on hikes ranging from a nine-mile, roughly 2,500-foot jaunt to Observation Point and Hidden Canyon in Zion National Park to hiking and scrambling on spring days at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Let’s admit it: We don’t always take our base layers as seriously and we do our outerwear and insulation—or packs, tents, boots and other gear, for that matter. But this under-appreciated first stage in a layering system for the outdoors really sets the table for how comfortable you’ll be. Base layers that don’t perform well probably won’t kill you, but misery isn’t a good companion. This is what we wear against our skin. It matters.
After much testing from the trails to the mountains and the gym year-round, the long-sleeve tops, T-shirts, shorts, underwear, and sun cap reviewed here are the best I’ve found for dayhiking, backpacking, trail running, climbing, skiing, cycling, and training. Continue reading →