City of Rocks National Reserve, Idaho
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10 Photos From 2016 That Will Inspire You

These photos from 10 memorable backpacking, river, and climbing trips in 2016 will make you want to get outside.

10 Photos From 2016 That Will Inspire You
Kayaking Milford Sound, New Zealand.
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15 Adventures That Will Change Your Life

From Norway to Nepal, Iceland to Patagonia, the Dolomites to New Zealand (this photo), this list will make your life better.

15 Adventures That Will Change Your Life
The narrows of Paria Canyon, Utah and Arizona.
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Backpacking Paria Canyon

Soaring walls, massive red rock amphitheaters and arches, hanging gardens, and gorgeous campsites—that’s Paria Canyon.

Backpacking Paria Canyon

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December 4, 2016 Wallowa Mountains, Oregon.

12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   12 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Staying warm and comfortable while Nordic or backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in winter is a constant challenge—we sweat, our bodies and clothes get damp, then we get cold. But it’s not impossible. In fact, as someone who runs hot when moving and cools off quickly—and who gets cold fingers very easily—I’ve learned some tricks over the years that have made getting outdoors in winter vastly more comfortable and enjoyable for me. Follow these tips and you could be more comfortable on cold-weather outdoor adventures, too. Continue reading →

December 2, 2016 5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack

5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

If you’re super fit and strong, young, hike with a pack of any weight 50 or 100 days a year, and have never known any sort of injury or ache in your body, then don’t bother reading this article. But for everyone else, knowing how to find the right backpack for your activities and your body will make a world of difference in your enjoyment when carrying that pack for hours a day on a trail or up and down a mountain. The following tips reflect what I’ve learned about finding the right pack from hundreds of days testing all manner of daypacks, backpacks, climbing packs, and ski packs for the past two decades. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Air Mattress

December 1, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm

Insulated Air Mattress
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
$200, 15 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular (20x72x2.5 ins., tapered), large (25x77x2.5 ins., tapered), Max (25×77.2.5 ins., rectangular)
backcountry.com

When sleeping outdoors at any time of year, you have two simple objectives: comfort and warmth. We tend to associate the former with our choice of air mattress or pad and the latter with our choice of sleeping bag. But the air mat is actually the key to both goals, because dollar for dollar, your money achieves more warmth from an air mat or pad that adequately insulates your body from the cold ground (which can rapidly drain heat from you) than from your bag. In the NeoAir XTherm—which I tested on numerous trips, including several nights sleeping on snow—you get an all-season air mat with more insulation, pound for pound, than any competitor. Continue reading →

Gear Review: The 5 Best Backpacking Tents

November 30, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The Exped Mira II Hyperlite tent in Idaho's White Cloud Mountains.

The Exped Mira II Hyperlite tent in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains.

By Michael Lanza

The best backpacking tents on the market today only superficially resemble the tents most of us pitched in the backcountry just five or 10 years ago. Designers have thrown out ingrained notions of what a backpacking tent is, thinking outside the box to make shelters that are more livable, lighter, stronger, and include features like (of all things) built-in lights. Tents continue evolving and improving because the goal of making gear lighter long ago crossed a threshold from “the new thing” to how everyone thinks. That attitude has transformed the world of backcountry gear, especially tents.

You’ll see that trend in each of the five singularly outstanding tents reviewed below. Continue reading →

November 29, 2016 Northern Bailey Range, Olympic Mountains, Olympic National Park.

5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments

By Michael Lanza

My first two-person tent set me back only about twice what you’d pay today for a good, single-burner backpacking stove. It weighed several pounds and was bulky for backpacking. I nicknamed that tent the Wind Sock for its propensity to snap loudly in even the slightest breeze, and how its poles bowed disturbingly in strong gusts. (I learned to choose protected campsites.) In heavy downpours, I sometimes woke up to a puddle covering the floor.

But I used it for six summers of car camping and backpacking.At a time in my life when I could not afford good gear, that tent sheltered me for probably close to 150 nights and got me through many wonderful experiences. For its swan song, my girlfriend (now my wife) and I spent three months hiking, backpacking, and climbing throughout the West—and slept a total of one night indoors. I used the Wind Sock until it all but disintegrated in the last campsite it ever saw. My lifetime cost for that tent worked out to about 50 cents a night. Continue reading →

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