What is the Best Backpacking Magazine?

I will show you what I feel is the best backpacking magazine out there. The one that really helps you to be a better backpacker and have more fun! I actually came up with two, because they focus on different areas of backpacking...

Backpacker Magazine
Backpacker Magazine, backpacking magazine

Their Mission

In North America, they enable and inspire people to enjoy the outdoors by providing the most engaging and trusted information about backcountry adventure.

Backcountry Adventure
Backcountry Adventure, backpacking magazine

Their Values

In all their relationships, they are committed to cooperation, respect, and honesty.

To the service and product needs of their consumers, they respond in a timely fashion and understand.

With others who share their values and interests, they take a leadership role in partnering and educating.

They support behavior, policies, and programs that encourages protection of our current wilderness areas and well considered designation of new wilderness areas.

Wilderness Areas
Wilderness Areas, backpacking magazine

They are committed to display the highest quality of inspiring stories and compelling photographs.

They provide their industry with superior audiences, resources, and service.

They promote low impact, sustainable use of wilderness.

Wilderness, backpacking magazine

They encourage and support one another to express a passion for the wilderness, share ideas, take risks, grow, lead, and innovate.

They forge lasting relations with trusted freelance contributors based upon fair compensation, open and honest communications.

They are the leader when it comes to a backpacking magazine, for these reasons and more.


In the spring of 1973, the first issue of Backpacker appeared. Written by founding editor William Kemsley, the editor's note explains, "It took us three years to put together the first issue of Backpacker. In that time we debated some serious questions among ourselves." That America in the early 1970s did not contain a backpacking community large enough to support a magazine, the note describes the founding editors' worries. Rather than advertising, it also expresses Kemsley's goal to support the magazine primarily through subscriptions.

In which he describes how he developed the idea to create a magazine about backpacking, the Winter/Spring 2007 issue of the journal Appalachia includes an essay by Kemsley. Titled How the 1970s Backpacking Boom Burst Upon Us, the article explains several pivotal moments that showed Kemlsey that an audience could exist for such a magazine.

Backpacking, backpacking magazine

Backpacker, owned first by Kemsley, was sold to CBS Publishing by Ziff Davis, after Kemsley sold it to Ziff Davis in 1980. It was bought by Rodale Press, in the late 1980s, which also publishes Runner's World, Bicycling, Men's Health and others. Rodale sold Backpacker to Active Interest Media, in May 2007 and in August 2007, the magazine moved to Boulder, Colorado.

Boulder Falls - Boulder, Colorado
Boulder Falls - Boulder, Colorado, backpacking magazine

Including an annual gear guide in March, Backpacker publishes nine issues per year. For January-February, July-August, and November-December, combined issues are published. The magazine is divided into maps of local trails corresponding to six regional editions, a gear review section, a feature well, and the service centric Basecamp section (which won a National Magazine Award for 2005). To highlight the best gear of the year, every April, this backpacking magazine, Backpacker presents its Editors Choice awards.

Backpacking Light Magazine

Their Mission

"To promote multiday, backcountry travel in a self supported (backpackable), lightweight style."

Backcountry Travel
Backcountry Travel, backpacking magazine

The world's most passionate core community of lightweight wilderness travelers, hosted by Backpacking Light. They are a membership based cooperative that features:

  • Exclusive access to state of the market reports, research reviews, product reviews, test reports, and technical content.
  • In the Internet's most active forums about lightweight backpacking, a respectful community, appropriately moderated, and civilized of like minded outdoor enthusiasts.

Outdoor Enthusiasts Love This!
Outdoor Enthusiasts Love This, backpacking magazine

  • Including apparel and gear manufactured and designed by their staff specifically for their members, a gear shop containing a focused selection of gear for ultralight backcountry travel.
  • About lightweight backpacking, the Internet's fastest growing community driven encyclopedia.

Lightweight Backpacking
Lightweight Backpacking, backpacking magazine

  • For all experience levels, a wilderness education program that features outdoor adventure and in depth instruction.

Outdoor Adventure
Outdoor Adventure, backpacking magazine

How is Backpacking Light Different from Other Backpacking Magazines?

Evidence based, investigative reporting. The answer to that question is simple, they question everything! They are skeptics at heart, from the recommendations they read in other outdoor magazines to the marketing claims they find on hang tags. Rather than capitalizing on gullibility and feeding you a shallow stream of consciousness that will only satisfy you when you get bored of reading SkyMall on your next flight, they believe in the intelligence of the consumer, and prefer to educate you by delivering evidence based, judgment based, and sound information.

Respectful and Passionate community. Everyone is welcome. Except for people that don't respect each other, and don't play nice. In a way that not hurts, and helps society, they believe that the real value of the Internet is in fostering community. So the rest of us can actually learn from each other, idiots, bigots, fools, spammers, and trolls are aggressively moderated in their forums.

Free of Advertising Conflicts 100%. That give community businesses exposure to travelers visiting their areas, at this time, the only advertising the backpacking magazine serves are local community guides.

Local Community Guides
Local Community Guides, backpacking magazine

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