Osgood Trail, Mount Madison, Presidential Range, N.H.
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A Big Day in the Presidential Range

What happens when three teenagers attempt a 17-mile, 6,800-foot, four-summit dayhike in the Presidential Range? Here’s what.

A Big Day in the Presidential Range
Image Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Washington.
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15 Favorite Backcountry Lakes

Got a favorite backcountry lake? See photos of my 15 favorites, including remote and stunning Image Lake in Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness.

15 Favorite Backcountry Lakes
Rockwall Trail, Kootenay National Park, Canadian Rockies.
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Backpacking the Rockwall Trail, Canadian Rockies

Is the Rockwall Trail in Canada’s Kootenay National Park one of the world’s most spectacular hikes? You decide.

Backpacking the Rockwall Trail, Canadian Rockies

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Gear Review: The Best Gear Duffles

July 24, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The North Face, Patagonia, and Marmot gear duffels.

The North Face, Patagonia, and Marmot gear duffels.

By Michael Lanza

Whatever your outdoor sport—backpacking, climbing, whitewater rafting or kayaking, backcountry skiing, etc.—a sturdy duffle for organizing, hauling, and protecting your gear and clothing is invaluable. Not only does it eliminate the risk of damaging an expensive backpack by using it as your luggage, a good duffle has more capacity and is built to suffer the indignities of getting tossed into jet, train, and bus baggage compartments, being strapped onto a roof rack, sled, snowmobile, or pack animal, and exposed to rain and snow.

I subjected the six duffles and two convertible pieces of luggage reviewed here to perils ranging from cross-country and intercontinental flights to the environmental hazards of multi-day whitewater river trips and numerous long-distance car trips. Besides passing the durability test, all of them demonstrated unique strengths for different styles of adventure travel. Continue reading →

July 21, 2016 Hiker on "The Visor," Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California.

10 Tricks For Making Hiking and Backpacking Easier

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   5 Comments

By Michael Lanza

When I first started hiking, in my early 20s, I was like a young baseball pitcher with an overpowering fastball: I simply hurled myself at every hike with all of my energy and cluelessness, not terribly concerned about whether I hit the metaphorical strike zone. I didn’t think much about how far I was hiking, how rugged the terrain was, how heavy a pack I was carrying—or, to be honest, how much my companions were ready or eager for whatever lunatic plan I was dragging them into. I was young and fit and didn’t really care how much my body ached afterward, so my haphazard strategy worked well enough.

Now, many miles and (too) many years later, I’m more like a veteran hurler who’s learned the benefits of honing a repertoire of off-speed pitches. Hiking and backpacking can be hard on your body. But over the years, 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. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite MAX SV Air Mattress

July 20, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite MAX SV air mattress.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite MAX SV air mattress.

Insulated Air Mattress
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite MAX SV
$180, 1 lb. (regular, with stuff sack)
Sizes: regular (72x20x2.5 ins.) and large ($210, 77x25x2.5 ins.)
rei.com

Who enjoys blowing up an air mattress? At the end of a full day of backpacking, it always seems to take more breaths than you have left in reserve. Therm-a-Rest solves this problem with its SpeedValve, a large, fabric tunnel that draws in surrounding air when you blow into it, making the inflation process significantly faster and easier. After using the lightweight and compact Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite MAX SV on a family backpacking trip in Utah’s Dirty Devil River canyon and while car-camping in southern Utah in late March, and my 15-year-old son sleeping on it for three nights on a mid-July rafting and kayaking trip through Lodore Canyon in Dinosaur National Monument, I give it high scores for comfort and convenience. Continue reading →

July 19, 2016 Nevada Fall, Half Dome, and Liberty Cap from the John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: What Gear Do You Suggest For Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Hello Michael,

I read your article about ultra-backpacking and how you did the John Muir Trail in seven days. I am planning on doing it, but would like to know, for an ultralight backpacker, what items did you use for tent, sleeping bag, etc.? And any feedback or thoughts that you have that would be beneficial for me would be much appreciated.

Thank you.

Joei
Covina, CA Continue reading →

July 18, 2016 Campsite by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids, Grand Canyon.

Photo Gallery: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Everyone has favorite campsites from unforgettable backcountry trips. I’ve been 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 my list of my favorite campsites down to 25, and I update it annually. Before planning your next trip, scroll through the photo gallery below, which highlights several of my favorite campsites, including jaw-dropping spots like Death Canyon Shelf in Grand Teton National Park, Columbine Lake in Sequoia National Park, Sahale Glacier Camp in North Cascades National Park, and a magical spot by the Colorado River at Hance Rapids in the Grand Canyon (lead photo above). Continue reading →

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