Hiker on Mount Madison, Presidential Range, N.H.
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Long Dayhikes in the White Mountains

The wind-blasted heights appeal to many hikers. But the Whites are also conducive to a strange sickness: very long, hard dayhikes.

Long Dayhikes in the White Mountains
Backpacking the Narrows, Zion National Park.
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Backpacking Zion’s Narrows

The Southwest harbors many really good canyon hikes. But none compare with the mystery and majesty of backpacking the Narrows of Zion National Park.

Backpacking Zion’s Narrows
Ramona Falls, Timberline Trail, Mount Hood, Oregon.
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5 Great Adventures You Can Still Pull Off This Year

No permit for Yosemite, Glacier, or the Tetons? Here are five backpacking trips you can still plan for 2017. Click here to make your year complete.

5 Great Adventures You Can Still Pull Off This Year

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5 Great Adventures You Can Still Pull Off in 2017

May 15, 2017  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   12 Comments
Ramona Falls, along the Timberline Trail around Oregon's Mount Hood.

Ramona Falls, along the Timberline Trail around Oregon’s Mount Hood.

By Michael Lanza

So you didn’t plan far enough in advance to reserve a permit for backpacking this summer in Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier, or another popular national park, eh? So, now what? Where will you take a big outdoor adventure in 2017? Here are five backpacking trips that even slackers still have time to plan and execute this year. Three of them are in top-tier national parks, and the other two are multi-day hikes with national park-caliber mountain scenery. Continue reading →

The Top 5 Tips For Better Ultralight Backpacking

May 14, 2017  |  In Backpacking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
David Ports backpacking the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon.

David Ports staying light while backpacking the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon.

By Michael Lanza

I field a lot of questions from readers about gear and backpacking, and I find the conversation often boiling down to one issue: how much weight they have in their packs. The biggest lesson I’ve drawn from a quarter-century of backpacking is that the predominant factor dictating my enjoyment of any hike is how much weight I’m carrying. If I could convince my readers who backpack to follow one piece of advice from me—no matter your age, how much you hike, or how fit or experienced you are—it would be this: Lighten up. You’ll make backpacking more fun.

Here are my five most important rules for accomplishing just that. Continue reading →

The 5 Best Rain Jackets for the Backcountry

May 10, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Marmot Crux Jacket

The 7.5-oz. Marmot Crux Jacket

By Michael Lanza

Shop for a rain jacket for the backcountry and you’ll see shells for adults 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 going to make the choice simple for you. I’ve tested dozens of rain shells over the past two decades, at all price points, from many brands you know and don’t know. Hiking through soaking rains all over the world has shaped what I look for in a jacket.

Here are my picks for the five best rain jackets available today, ranging in price from $275 to $425—with great deals available right now on some of these top-performing shells. I think you’ll find one of them is just right for you. Continue reading →

May 9, 2017 Backpacking the Gunsight Pass Trail, Glacier National Park.

Why and When to Spend More on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

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

By Michael Lanza

You need a new backpack, backpacking tent, rain jacket, boots, or a sleeping bag. You’ve read some reviews. You’ve winnowed your short list to a handful of possible choices—with a significant difference in prices. That’s when you struggle with the question that pushes the frugality button in all of us: Why should I spend more?

Over the course of more than two decades testing and reviewing gear for this blog and Backpacker magazine, I’ve learned what qualities separate the expensive from the moderately priced from the cheap—and when it’s worth spending more, and when it’s not. Before you spend (or waste) another dime, read on. Continue reading →

May 8, 2017 Day two backpacking the Narrows, Zion National Park.

Luck of the Draw, Part 2: Backpacking Zion’s Narrows

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

By Michael Lanza

We step into the ankle-deep North Fork of the Virgin River, in the backcountry of Zion National Park, and water at refrigerator temperature immediately fills our boots. Until sometime tomorrow afternoon, we’ll walk in this river almost constantly, crossing it dozens of times—with the 50° F water, at its deepest, coming up nearly to our waists. As we splash downstream, the canyon walls of golden, crimson, and cream-colored sandstone steadily creep inward and stretch higher, soon eclipsing the sun. We’ll see very little direct sunlight as the sheer walls of Zion’s Narrows eventually tower a thousand feet overhead and, at times, close in to the width of a hobbit’s living room. Continue reading →

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