backpacking skills

A young boy in a sleeping bag while backpacking in Sequoia National Park.

10 Pro Tips For Staying Warm in a Sleeping Bag

By Michael Lanza

Head into the mountains in summer, or almost anywhere in fall or spring, and you can encounter nighttime and morning temperatures anywhere from the 40s Fahrenheit to well below freezing. That’s more than cold enough to pose a real risk of hypothermia or, at the least, result in a miserable night for you or a partner or child you’ve taken backpacking or camping—and would like to take more. Here’s the good news: The very simple techniques outlined in this article can turn a potentially unpleasant night into a comfortable one.

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A hiker on the Zeacliff Trail, White Mountains, N.H.

10 Tips for Recovering from a Hard Hike or Mountain Climb

By Michael Lanza

You just finished a big dayhike, backpacking trip, mountain climb, or trail run convinced it was one of the best experiences of your life—and now your body seems to have mounted a loud protest of pain against it. And you wonder: Is this suffering necessary? The simple answer is no. Follow the tips in this article—or even just some of them—to greatly lessen the physical aches and pains that sometimes follow an outdoors adventure.

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A backpacker inside a damp tent on a rainy evening in the mountains of Olympic National Park.

How to Pitch a Tent in Rain and Keep It Dry

By Michael Lanza

It’s a situation all backpackers eventually encounter, no matter how hard you try to avoid it: You reach a backcountry campsite in a steady rain and must try to pitch your tent without soaking the interior. How successfully you accomplish that will greatly affect how warm and dry you remain that night—and probably how well-rested and good you feel the next morning. Follow these tips to keep your backpacking shelter and gear dry in that scenario.

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Backpackers at a campsite in Titcomb Basin, Wind River Range, Wyoming.

The First 5 Things I Do in Camp When Backpacking

By Michael Lanza

I doubt that I had any typical routine when arriving at a campsite on my earliest backpacking trips; like many backpackers, I probably just dropped my pack, shucked off my boots, and kicked back until motivated to move by the urge to eat, drink, get warm, or go to the bathroom. Over the years, though, I’ve developed a routine that I follow almost religiously when I arrive in camp at the end of a day of backpacking. These five simple, quick, almost effortless steps make a world of difference in how good I feel that evening and the next morning, and how well I sleep.

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A grizzly bear in the backcountry of Glacier National Park.

Bear Essentials: How to Store Food When Backcountry Camping

By Michael Lanza

On our first night in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park on one of my earliest backpacking trips, two friends and I—all complete novices—hung our food from a tree branch near our camp. Unfortunately, the conifer trees around us all had short branches: Our food stuff sacks hung close to the trunk.

During the night, the predictable happened: We awoke to the sound of a bear clawing up the tree after our food.

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