My 10 Most-Read Stories at The Big Outside
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.
The headlines and photos below link to each full story. Use them as you plan your next adventure.
Staying warm and comfortable while Nordic or backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in winter is a constant challenge—we sweat, our bodies and clothes get damp, then we get cold. But it’s not impossible. In fact, as someone who runs hot when moving and cools off quickly—and who gets cold fingers very easily—I’ve learned some tricks over the years that have made getting outdoors in winter vastly more comfortable and enjoyable for me. Follow these tips and you could be more comfortable on cold-weather outdoor adventures, too.
The roughly 112-mile (180k) Alta Via 2 (AV 2), or “The Way of the Legends,” traverses one of the world’s most spectacular and storied mountain ranges, Italy’s Dolomites. My family trekked a 39-mile (62k) section of that alpine footpath, famous for attributes that have even more allure than a steaming plate of gnocchi, including scenery that puts it in legitimate contention for the title of the most beautiful trail in the world, comfortable mountain huts with excellent food—and a reputation for being the most remote and difficult of the several multi-day alte vie (plural for alta via), or “high paths,” that crisscross the Dolomites.
But read my story about that trip, see the photos, and judge for yourself.
One of the most-read stories at this blog since I posted it in January 2013, my hard-earned advice on raising your kids to like getting outdoors—especially challenging these days—now has close to 20,000 likes on Facebook and has been shared widely in social media. I like to think that’s not just because of the cute and inspirational photos of my kids in the story, but also because it imparts some useful takeaway information for parents. My kids, now 16 and 13, have accumulated an impressive CV of adventures in their short lives. But most importantly, they look forward to every new one—and that’s the goal.
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If you could do one thing to make every backcountry trip more enjoyable, would you? After two decades of backcountry trips as a field editor and correspondent for Backpacker Magazine, experience has convinced me to keep my pack as light as possible—every ounce removed from it makes my trip happier.
Whether you’re focused on backpacking as light as possible, or just want guidance on making your trips easier and more fun, read these tips and discover why this is consistently one of the most-clicked blog posts at The Big Outside.
Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Subscribe for updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story, at the top of the left sidebar, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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I’ve field tested scores of models of hiking, backpacking, climbing, and trail-running shoes and boots over the years, from numerous different brands, all of which fit slightly differently. I’m constantly wearing new footwear right out of the box on trips—usually without doing anything more than trying them on. And I very rarely get a blister. This tips list explains how I avoid them. This story’s comments section is also filled with some great suggestions from readers on strategies to prevent blisters.
Hiking and backpacking can be hard on your body—we all know that. But you can actually make it harder or easier, depending on how you do it. Over the years, I’ve learned various tricks to softening the blow of hard miles, and the strategies that help enable me to hike 20, 30, even 40 miles in a day can also make a difference when you’re hiking five, 10, or 15 miles, too. While it’s natural to think that walking is walking and there’s no secrets to doing it better, like many endurance sports, there are ways to hike a trail more efficiently, conserving energy and reducing its physical toll. Read my advice on that before your next hike.
We’ve all had special campsites in the backcountry that came to define a trip for us. Sometimes we have photos from them to remind us of those spots. I’ve been very fortunate to have pitched a tent in many great backcountry campsites over more than two decades of backpacking and trekking all over the U.S. and the world—including the one above, from the Dome Glacier, on the Ptarmigan Traverse in Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness. I’ve boiled the list of my favorite spots down to the 25 in this story. If you’re out hunting for the best wilderness campsites, read it now, and then check out my photo gallery of the nicest backcountry campsites I’ve hiked past.
I guess it’s no surprise this story is so popular—who hasn’t known the harshness of an uncomfortably cold night camping? I’ve spent enough frosty nights outside over the past few decades to learn a few things about how to stay warm. (My coldest night was -30° F, in winter in New Hampshire’s White Mountains; I don’t recommend it.) In this story, I offer my top tips for making your camping experience more comfortable.
Two stories about Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains actually made my top 10: number three is “Ask Me: What Are the Best Hikes in Idaho’s Sawtooth?” and number seven is “Going After Goals: Backpacking in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains,” which tells the story of a 57-mile hike into one of the most remote corners of the range, an area of gorgeous mountain lakes. More and more readers are finding my blog when searching for information about the Sawtooths, which I think of as a cross between the Tetons and California’s High Sierra, but with far fewer people.
See all of my stories about Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, including this one about hiking to some relatively accessible lakes, “Jewels of the Sawtooths: Backpacking to Alice, Hell Roaring, and Imogene Lakes.”
Here’s a grim statistic for you: Roughly three of every four applicants for a backcountry permit to backpack across the Grand Canyon, South Rim to North Rim via the popular corridor trails (North Kaibab and South Kaibab or Bright Angel), get rejected. It’s comparably difficult to get backcountry permits for popular trips in numerous national parks. I’ve been shot down trying to get permits for multi-day hikes and paddling trips in Yosemite, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Denali, Everglades, Glacier, and others. But I’ve learned a few tricks for landing coveted backcountry permits in those flagship parks. I share those tricks in my “10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit.”
See all of my stories with tips on outdoors skills at The Big Outside.
Lastly, my All Trips page consistently ranks among the top 10 most-clicked links at The Big Outside, and I intentionally left gear-related stories off this list because I’ve compiled them in a separate list of “My 10 Most-Read Gear Reviews.”
Need new gear to make your adventures more enjoyable? See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
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