Tag Archives: backpacking skills

May 25, 2017

7 Pro Tips For Avoiding Blisters When Hiking

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , ,   |   15 Comments

By Michael Lanza

I deserve to be plagued by blisters. I field test upwards of a dozen models of hiking, backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, and trail-running shoes and boots every year. I’m constantly wearing new footwear right out of the box, often hiking 15 to 30 miles a day—usually without doing anything more than trying them on, almost never allowing for any break-in time. And I almost never get a blister. Here’s how I avoid them. Continue reading →

May 18, 2017 In the tent, Grand Canyon

Pro Tips For Buying Sleeping Bags

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Paddling, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Finding a sleeping bag that’s right for you may be the most confusing gear-buying task. Getting the right one is critical to sleeping comfortably in the backcountry, and your bag could save your life in an emergency. But with the myriad choices out there, how do you tell them apart, beyond temperature rating and price? I’ve slept in many, many bags as a gear tester for two decades (and counting) for Backpacker and this blog, in all seasons, in temperatures from very mild to -30° F. (Mild is more pleasant.) In this article, I’ll share what I’ve learned about picking out a sleeping bag that will be ideal for your body and your adventures. 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 →

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 4, 2017 John Muir Trail at Thousand Island Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, High Sierra, California.

Pro Tips For Buying the Right Hiking Boots

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Boots are the most important piece of hiking or backpacking gear you will buy: You can live with a mediocre pack or a cheap tent (as many of us have), but poorly fitting boots are often a trip ender. Trouble is, boots are also the most difficult piece of gear to get right. Getting a good fit is only the first step, and a good retailer should help you do that. (First tip: Don’t settle for a mediocre or poor fit in boots—if they don’t feel good, they aren’t good.) The questions I get most often from readers focus on which type of boot to buy. Here’s what I’ve learned from two decades of testing and reviewing scores of shoe and boot models of all kinds. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker