Tag Archives: ultralight backpacking

July 4, 2017 Above Marie Lake on the John Muir Trail.

Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail: The Ultimate, 10-day, Ultralight Plan

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   7 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Are you planning to thru-hike the John Muir Trail? “America’s Most Beautiful Trail” should be on every serious backpacker’s tick list. After thru-hiking it in seven days, I became convinced that—while a week was very hard—the traditional itinerary of spreading the roughly 221-mile trip out over three weeks or more has a serious flaw: Because of limited food-resupply options, you’ll carry a monster pack that may not only make you sore and uncomfortable, it could cause injuries or other problems that cut short your trip.

Over the years, I’ve evolved from being one of those traditional, heavy-pack backpackers to traveling as light as absolutely possible, and the John Muir Trail is perfect for an ultralight strategy because of its generally dry, late-summer weather, well-constructed footpath, and moderate grades. Continue reading →

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June 11, 2017 Hiker on "The Visor," Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California.

10 Tricks For Making Hiking and Backpacking Easier

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   8 Comments

By Michael Lanza

When I first started hiking, in my early 20s, I was like a young baseball pitcher with an overpowering fastball: I simply hurled myself at every hike with all of my energy and cluelessness, not terribly concerned about whether I hit the metaphorical strike zone. I didn’t think much about how far I was hiking, how rugged the terrain was, how heavy a pack I was carrying—or, to be honest, how much my companions were ready or eager for whatever lunatic plan I was dragging them into. I was young and fit and didn’t really care how much my body ached afterward, so my haphazard strategy worked well enough.

Now, many miles and (too) many years later, I’m more like a veteran hurler who’s learned the benefits of honing a repertoire of off-speed pitches. Hiking and backpacking can be hard on your body. But over the years, I’ve learned various tricks to soften the blow of hard miles, and they have helped enable me to hike 20, 30, even 40 miles in a day. No matter how far you want to hike, the tips that follow will make those miles a little easier. Continue reading →

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March 14, 2017 Kerrick Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: How Do We Begin Lightening Up Our Backpacking Gear?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Family Adventures, Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments

Hi Michael,

On the hike out from Mount Sopris, near our Aspen, Colorado, home, my husband commented that it feels like time to invest in lighter-weight backpacking gear to ease up the wear and tear on our bodies. Our kids are ages nine and 11, and backpacking as a family is an important part of our lives. Recently, we upgraded our mountain bikes (cushy suspension, etc.) so that we could still happily bike with our kids; it seems like we need to do the same with our backpacking equipment. Knowing that you are in touch with the latest gear compared to our old stuff, what would you recommend as the most important things to upgrade, with weight in mind? Continue reading →

February 19, 2017 Wanda Lake, John Muir Trail, Kings Canyon National Park.

Photo Gallery: Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments

By Michael Lanza

The John Muir Trail is frequently referred to as “America’s Most Beautiful Trail,” and there may be no long backpacking trip that’s more spectacular, step for step, than a thru-hike of the JMT through California’s High Sierra. From Yosemite Valley to the summit of 14,505-foot Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park, you walk 211 miles past jagged peaks of clean, golden granite, through a constellation of sparkling mountain lakes and more waterfalls than anyone could name, and over numerous passes from 11,000 to over 13,000 feet.
Continue reading →

November 13, 2016 The Narrows, Zion National Park.

My 10 Most-Read Stories at The Big Outside

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Which story of mine first led you to this blog? Which stories here interest you the most? (I’d really appreciate reading your answers to those questions in the comments section below this story.) I can tell you what your fellow readers of The Big Outside come to my blog looking for. I’ve compiled here a list of the 10 most-read stories over the past several months at The Big Outside. It includes feature-length stories about the adventures my readers most want to do, and some of my articles of tips on outdoor skills to help you make every trip a success. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker