family hiking

A young girl hiking in Sequoia National Park.

The 9 Hardest Lessons for Parents Who Love the Outdoors

A Manual for Staying Sane Through the Greatest Adventure of Your Life

By Michael Lanza

Raising children is a lot of work—any parent knows that. But for people who love the outdoors, combining parenting with their passion for hiking, backpacking, skiing, camping, climbing, kayaking, or other outdoor activities poses added challenges.

In many ways, at least when children are young, what you do outside with them is both easier than what you did outside before you had kids (you regress to beginner level) and exponentially harder (for all the cat herding and stuff-management involved). The rewards can seem elusive. You may wonder whether it’s worth the time and effort. The Complaint Department stays open 24-7 and you’re the embattled manager.

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A hiker on the Peek-a-Boo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park.

The Best Hike in Bryce Canyon National park

By Michael Lanza

Bryce Canyon’s Navajo Loop/Queens Garden Loop is a popular trail for good reason, with constant views of hoodoos—the multi-colored, limestone, sandstone, and mudstone spires that look like giant, melting candles, including the famous formation called Thor’s Hammer. But once turning onto the Peek-a-Boo Loop, you lose the crowds—and discover the scenic heart of Bryce Canyon while hiking below the Wall of Windows and row after row of towers in fluorescent shades of red and orange.

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Two young kids backpacking at Upper Lyman Lakes in Washington's Glacier Peak Wilderness.

10 Tips for Taking Kids on Their First Backpacking Trip

By Michael Lanza

Whether you’re a family of novices planning your first backpacking trip or an experienced backpacker ready to take your kids on their first multi-day hike, heed this friendly advice: You’re in for some surprises. And I speak from experience. I’d been backpacking for years—in fact, I was already working as a professional backpacker—when my wife (also a longtime backpacker) and I first dove into the grand new adventure of taking our young kids into the wilderness.

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A young family at Skilern Hot Springs, Smoky Mountains, Idaho.

A Survival Guide For the Outdoors Lover Who’s a New Parent

By Michael Lanza

So, you’ve been an avid [circle all appropriate terms: hiker/backpacker/climber/trail runner/skier/kayaker] for years, and now you’re spending big chunks of your days changing diapers and your nights wondering when you’ll sleep again. You’ve never gone this long without getting out into the mountains, and you see no remedy for that shortfall in the foreseeable future. Your new baby is more wonderful than you’d ever imagined—and yet, you’re feeling a little despair over what’s missing from your life lately.

I know where your head is right now. And I have good news for you: I’ve seen the bright light at the end of the tunnel, and you can get there faster than you might think. Here’s how.

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A backpacker descending the trail off Maze Overlook in the Maze District, Canyonlands National Park.

Why and When to Spend More on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

By Michael Lanza

You need a new backpack, backpacking tent, rain jacket, boots, or a sleeping bag. You’ve read 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?

This story will explain why some gear is more expensive and give you specific advice on buying five big-ticket items: packs, tents, rain jackets, shoes and boots, and sleeping bags.

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