ultralight backpacking

A hiker atop Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

10 Tricks For Making Hiking and Backpacking Easier

By Michael Lanza When I started hiking, I was like a young baseball pitcher with an overpowering fastball: I hurled myself at every hike with all of my energy. I didn’t think about how far I was hiking, the terrain’s ruggedness, or my pack’s weight. I was young and fit, so my haphazard strategy worked fine. Now, many years and …

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A backpacker passing Wanda Lake on the John Muir Trail in Kings Canyon National Park.

Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail in 7 Days: Amazing Experience, or Certifiably Insane?

By Michael Lanza

“Umm, hey buddy, you okay?”

It’s 4:30 a.m., a time of day that puts us in the questionable company of cat burglars and alpinists. Our headlamp beams seem to bounce off the inky black of a moonless night in Yosemite Valley. Four of us are taking the first steps on the 221-mile John Muir Trail. And my friend Mark Fenton is staggering like a frat boy on a weekend bender.

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A backpacker on the John Muir Trail hiking toward Silver Pass in the John Muir Wilderness.

Photo Gallery: Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail

By Michael Lanza

Late summer always reminds me of my thru-hike of the John Muir Trail. Known as “America’s Most Beautiful Trail,” 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.

If you haven’t done it, check out the photos below. They just might convince you that it’s time to move it to the top of your list.

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A lightweight backpacker on the Titcomb Basin Trail in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking

By Michael Lanza

What if you could do one thing to make every backpacking trip more enjoyable? Thousands of miles of backpacking have taught me what that one thing is: keeping my pack light. All of the superfluous ounces removed from my pack add up to fewer pounds on my back, and that makes each trip better. And a smart approach to ultralight and lightweight backpacking does not compromise safety or comfort—the point is to increase comfort and safety. If you’re not accomplishing both objectives, you need a new strategy.

In this article, I’ll share my tips for minimizing pack weight while staying safe and comfortable on every trip, learned over the course of more than three decades of backpacking—including the 10 years I spent as the Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine, and even longer running this blog.

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A backpacker in Kerrick Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: 5 Steps to Lightening Up Your Backpacking Gear

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”] [et_pb_row admin_label=”row”] [et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text”] Hi Michael, My husband and I have decided it’s time to invest in lighter backpacking gear to ease the impact on our bodies. Our kids are nine and 11, and backpacking as a family is an important part of our lives. Recently, we upgraded our mountain bikes 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? Our gear is mostly 20+ years old (we got a great Big Agnes tent last year per your advice). With backpacking, there are so many elements, from stove to pack to sleeping bags. Do you think we can reduce our weight loads a reasonable/noticeable amount, and feel like our investment was worth it?

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