backpacking skills

A backcountry skier in Oregon's Wallowa Mountains.

12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter

By Michael Lanza

Staying warm while skiing or riding at resorts or in the backcountry, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, or running in winter is a constant challenge: We sweat, our clothes get damp, and then we have periods of reduced exertion like riding a ski lift or walking or running downhill, when we cool down. But as humans have known for thousands of years, it’s a matter of smartly managing and insulating our body’s furnace (and today we have much better technical clothing than animal skins).

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A backpacker hiking up Matterhorn Canyon in Yosemite National Park.

Backpacking Yosemite: What You Need to Know

The first major Western national park I backpacked in was Yosemite. I wanted to begin exploring America’s big, iconic wilderness parks—and like a lot of backpackers, I thought: Where else would I start but Yosemite? The name alone conjures mental images of walking for days through wild backcountry sprinkled with shimmering alpine lakes, granite walls, and high passes and summits overlooking a sea of jagged peaks (which, it turns out, is accurate).

Today, after many return trips throughout Yosemite, I’ve learned that one can spend a lifetime wandering the more than 700,000 acres of wilderness in America’s third national park and not get tired of it.

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A backpacker on the Tonto Trail on the Grand Canyon's Royal Arch Loop.

How to Get a Permit to Backpack in the Grand Canyon

(Spoiler Alert: It Has Changed for 2024)

By Michael Lanza

First-time backpackers in the Grand Canyon quickly absorb two lessons about this one-of-a-kind place. Foremost, the canyon’s infinite vistas and deceptive scale, the beauty of desert oases and wildflower blooms, the peacefulness and quietude of some of the best wilderness campsites you will ever enjoy—all of these qualities will hook you forever.

And you learn how difficult it can be to get a permit for backpacking there.

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A backpacker hiking below a rainbow in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

10 Expert Tips for Staying Warm and Dry Hiking in Rain

By Michael Lanza There are only three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and at some point, getting rained on when dayhiking or backpacking. As we all know, wet clothing conducts heat away from your body, making you colder. Staying as dry as possible while on the trail or in camp is key to staying warm in the backcountry when the …

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A backpacker in the rain on the Dusky Track in New Zealand's Fiordland National Park.

7 Pro Tips For Keeping Your Backpacking Gear Dry

By Michael Lanza

From the rainforests of the North Cascades and Olympic National Park to powerful thunderstorms in the High Sierra and Wind River Range and steady New England rain, from the Tour du Mont Blanc to Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail to New Zealand (lead photo, above) and many more places, I’ve carried a backpack through many fierce downpours and endless showers. I’ve tried virtually every strategy imaginable to keep my clothing and gear inside my pack dry—some which have failed spectacularly, and some which have worked flawlessly, no matter how wet I got. In this story, I share my seven top tricks for how I keep the rain from getting anywhere near my dry clothes, sleeping bag, and other contents of my pack.

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