Backpacker Magazine

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Hiking and Backpacking? You should have a issue or two on your desk!

Jun 27, 2003 (Updated Dec 24, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Excellent Gear Reviews, Helpful Trip Ideas, Great All Around Hiking Magazine

Cons:A bit pricey it seems (for the subscription)

The Bottom Line: One of the best general purpose hiking magazines out there. Interesting enough for experienced hikers and also good enough for the novices.


Are you one of those hikers who actually want to get out there and do something, as opposed to the outdoor types who read Outside? Then you will probably enjoy Backpacker Magazine much more. Backpacker’s been around for 30 years (they just celebrated their 30th anniversary issue) and in general, it’s a magazine that stays true to its focus, that is, providing news, gear reviews, and trip ideas for backpackers.

The Down and Dirty
Unless you are really interested in backpacking and hiking, much of this magazine would probably make your eyes gloss over. It’s filled with reviews of new equipment, guides to different trails and areas, and stories about the outdoors. Probably the most general of the articles, are those that are stories about the outdoors, or outdoor issues. However, I doubt that unless you already enjoy hiking, you won’t really enjoy the magazine.

So you’re ready to strap that pack onto your back, lace up your hiking boots, and fill up your camelback? Then read on hiking type person…

What’s in the Magazine?
Broken up between Features (large articles) and Departments (smaller monthly sections), Backpacker usually runs around 140 pages an issue with roughly a third or so being advertisements and the rest being articles and other features of the magazine.

The Features section includes the cover story (“Wonders of our World” in the June 03 issue) along with 4 or so other full-length articles. The June 03 issue includes stories on the seven deadly sins (a satirical look at the seven deadly sins from a hiker’s viewpoint), global warming (locations to visit in order to see the effects of global warming right now), secrets of Glacier National Park and a woman’s guide to hiking gear.

The Departments section is broken down into three different sections, the first has your typical Editor’s Note section, along with a Letter’s to the Editor section, along with Signpost (news and notes in the hiking world, and Getaways (ideas for hiking trips). The second section of Departments deals with and usually includes reviews of several different kinds of gear. The June 03 issue reviews backpacks and binoculars. The third and final section deals with skills for the outdoors and is broken down into Know How (ideas to solve common problems in the wilderness), Fitness (how to stay fit for your hiking), First Aid (ways to protect yourself in the outdoors), Food (what to eat when you’re out there), Wild Things (stories about animals) and Senses (a final closing photo and quick paragraph or two on it).

What do you get out of it?
For average backpackers and hikers, this magazine is useful and is a good resource for gear reviews and for some, trip ideas. For diehards it’s something they would probably pick up once and a while (for example if some type of gear they were considering was being reviewed). For others, not as involved in the hiking world, it probably would not be all that interesting. However, if you were considering it or wanted to start hiking and backpacking, then Backpacker would be a great magazine for you.

For starters most of the trip ideas and articles in Backpacker are geared towards people of average means and abilities. Basically, you don’t need to be an expert mountaineer or hiker to go through most of the trips or use the equipment. Thus, it gives you a good idea of what you could be getting yourself into, should you decide you want to start hiking. It will also give you a good idea of what kind of equipment you should be picking up, as the reviews are very helpful and definitely weed out the good gear from the bad gear.

The gear reviews, like I’ve said before, are great, and probably are the single best reason to get this magazine. If you have ever walked into an REI or an EMS (or any other camping/hiking store for that matter), you have probably been subjected to hundreds of choices of different kinds of gear, along with somewhat pushy salespeople and you probably don’t have a clue as to which piece of equipment is better than the other. So what you do is get Backpacker when they have got some reviews of the equipment that you want, read the reviews to get a handle on it, then go back to your outdoor store and you know exactly what you want. That way, you won’t get sold something you don’t need or that you don’t want, and you can feel comfortable in that purchase.

What does it cost man?
If you pick up an issue it’s going to run you $3.99 in the US and if you want a subscription, then it’s $19.97 for 9 issues (1 year). It’s a bit costly I think for 9 issues (a little over $2 an issue), thus I only pick it up when I see an article or cover that interests me. If they moved up to 12 issues a year and kept it around $19, I’d probably consider getting the full subscription.

My Final Thoughts…
Ready to get dirty in the woods yet? If you’re not, then don’t bother picking up this magazine, go and get yourself a copy of Outside and read about the “outdoors.” If you do want to get dirty, go and get Backpacker, get some gear, and get out there in the woods and realize what a joy hiking and climbing really is. Once you start, I am willing to bet that you will not stop.

There’s nothing better than finding that secluded little mountain pond tucked deep in the wilderness or standing on top of that mountain, the wind blowing in your face and you surveying the world below you. Get out there and enjoy it!


More Outdoor Reading Material

Backpacker Magazine / Outside Magazine / National Geographic Adventure / Hiker's Guide to the Mountains of Vermont / Hiking Guide to Mount Washington and Presidential Range / GPS Made Easy / AMC White Mountain Guide / Wilderness First Aid / Rescue from the Backcountry / Maine Mountain Guide / Day Hikes in Yosemite NP / Southern NH Trail Guide


Recommend this product? Yes

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