backpacking skills

Michael Lanza of The Big Outside hiking Besseggen Ridge above Lake Gjende in Norway's Jotunheimen National Park.

Video: How to Pack a Backpack

By Michael Lanza

Wonder why I’m smiling in the above photo? Well, sure, two friends and I were hiking the incredibly scenic Besseggen Ridge in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park; that had something to do with it. But the other big factor was that I was comfortable—and how well my pack carried had a lot to do with that. And how I loaded it greatly affected how well it carried on my back. In this four-minute video, I’ll show you how to properly load a backpack to make your trail miles much more enjoyable.

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A young girl backpacking the High Sierra Trail above Hamilton Lakes, Sequoia National Park.

The 5 Best Tips For Hiking With Young Kids

By Michael Lanza After hiking 1,000 vertical feet uphill on the dusty Upper Yosemite Falls Trail in Yosemite Valley, baking under a thermonuclear Sierra sun, we sat on rocks for a snack and a much-needed break. My seven-year-old daughter, unprompted, blurted out, “I’m tired and hungry!” My nine-year-old son was still fuming over having been woken up earlier than he …

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A backpacker hiking above Columbine Lake in Sequoia National Park.

5 Tips for Getting Out of Camp Faster When Backpacking

By Michael Lanza

Years ago, in a visitor center in a popular national park, I overheard a conversation in which one person said to another, “Backpackers? They don’t start hiking until 10 or 11 in the morning.” I laughed to myself because I know how true that is in many cases. But I also found it amusing because I prefer to start hiking early when backpacking—and I know that it’s not just about what time you get up. Some simple and easy habits can help you get out of camp faster and on the trail earlier, bringing numerous benefits that really transform the experience of backpacking for you.

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A backpacker on the Wonderland Trail in Mount Rainier National Park.

5 Smart Steps to Lighten Your Backpacking Gear

By Michael Lanza

The fact that you opened this story means you already recognize a simple backpacking truth: Reducing the weight in your backpack will make this activity feel like an entirely different and far more enjoyable experience. But how do you navigate the transition from heavier to lighter gear—what should you replace first, second, and so on? This story will guide you through the most logical progression of steps to a lighter backpacking gear kit—and happier days on the trail.

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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

By Michael Lanza

First-time backpackers in the Grand Canyon quickly absorb two lessons about this one-of-a-kind place: Its infinite vistas and deceptive scale, the beauty of desert oases and wildflower blooms, the peacefulness and quietude of some of the best 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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