As a man of frugality, I'm so glad that my parents are subscribers to Backpacker Magazine. Since they live close to me, I don't even need to put on my backpacking gear to pick their old issues up. Rather, I simply walk less than a mile away, and get a new one when they are finished with the newest one. Thankfully they aren't "hoarders", and call me to pick this magazine up, before it gets tossed away as everything else does so quickly. I love my parents dearly, but I'm wondering if their cat and dog are accidentally going to end up in the recycling bin. It wouldn't surprise me to hear a bark or meow from under the magazines, newspapers, and wine bottles.
When I was in the Boy Scouts, I was really into backpacking, and since then I've gained a bit more sense. Also unfortunately due to two serious knee surgeries, my hiking trips are purposely set at ten miles a day maximum. Its a bit of a disappointment, but life isn't fair, and I am thankful that cycling is easier for long distances. I still have a lot of backpacking equipment, including my old Marmot backpack that's still useful, even though it doesn't have a lot of "modern bells and whistles" that newer models have. My REI hiking tent cost me a small fortune, but its perfect for hikes into the woods, and one of my favorite places is Dolly Sods, West Virginia. There the temperature can change drastically in any season, and while the terrain is fairly forgiving, you'll be pretty tired by the end of a day of hiking.
Its amazing how the toys of hiking have switched to GPS's and "emergency beacons" that are linked to satellites. Life has changed from my Scouting days, and of course, this is a gentle reminder of becoming older. The main reason I like Backpacker Magazine is the passion in the articles. You can tell that writers are enthusiastic about writing of their outdoor adventures, and some of the stories are hilarious. A few encounters with wild animals, and fellow campers, have had me rolling around with laughter. These articles are so easy to relate to on a tangible level, and I look forward to learning about new places to hike, and why or why not to avoid it.
A lot of the hikes seem to be on the West Coast. That would be fantastic if I lived there. Unfortunately I'm in the dreaded Mid Atlantic Region, which has some fine places, but they don't get as much attention in this publication. Thankfully at least once a year there's a "Hikes Near You" section. Most of the hikes they've suggested I'm familiar with, but for those who haven't been outdoors, these are good suggestions. The advice has been spot on right, and I like that they include mileage amounts, difficulty, and considerations to think about. While most of my hikes are pedestrian compared to a lot of their extreme choices, there are plenty of options for hikers of all ages and abilities.
This past month had an article on park rangers that I really liked. I knew their job was dangerous, due to illegal immigration and drug running. Yet I had no idea how terrible it could be, considering park rangers also have to content with isolation on a scale previously unimagined, with little or no back up, rescue duties, dangerous plane rides, and of course natural elements. Apparently bears also do meet rangers in the woods, and there's a funny joke that it reminds me of with "bears and bells." There have been articles about conservation heroes also, along with those directly responsible for designing new areas for trails and backpacking opportunities.
Do you like knots? I don't, but they are essential to backpacking. Do you like dehydrated foods? I'm not thrilled about them, but in order to save weight and space, you "gotta do what you gotta do." This magazine gives you some ideas on these subjects, and I'm thankful for some of their tips about foods that provide energy. There are times that we all struggle on a trail, and that extra boost, could be the difference between getting to your campsite or worse. You can learn some fine survival skills that are right out of the old Boy Scout handbooks, and require a minimum of technology, which I appreciate greatly.
What I really enjoy, is the gear guide. I'm a junkie, and perhaps a hoarder, when it comes to outdoor equipment. My wife might be right about the "camping store" in our basement. I've found their gear reviews to be exemplerary, and I don't think their advertisements section has any bearings of a conflict of interest. They've slammed products from companies that advertise with them, and some of the products they review are backpacks, tents, foods, flashlights, and other camping equipment. You'll find some of the items to be on the expensive side, but sometimes they present a "best value", that might save you a few bucks from being pried out of your wallet.
This is a very good publication, and I like reading them. The articles and pictures are above average, but each issue is only around one hundred pages in length. A fair amount of this is dedicated to advertisements, so reading time will be only around an hour. With its reasonable subscription price, that's not horrible, but I'd like to have a little more time with each issue. Other than that, it is one of the best outdoors related magazines, and I've put some of their ideas to good use in the woods. That alone is a worthy reason to subscribe to it, or to grab it from your folks when they are done with each issue. Its all about "recycling."
I started getting Backpacker at the local EMS whenever there was something interesting on the cover, usually the annual gear review or editor's choice awards. Eventually, I broke down and got a subscription, and I'm happy I did. Without it, I never would have known just how good the magazine is all the time.
There are sections that I seldom read, and sections that I always read. The cooking section is almost always full of good ideas, and easy to implement. The trail guide section has given me ideas for short hikes, a few in my area in places I would never have thought of. Finally, the gear reviews and editor's choice awards are among the best. When deciding what new equipment to buy, the fact that something has been awarded an editor's choice award is always a strong determining factor.
One of the few negatives that I can come up with is that an annual subscription is not twelve issues.
If you haven't read a copy, find one at the local library or sporting goods store and give it a try. I'm sure that you'll find something interesting in it.
Each year, when it's time to renew my subscription to Backpacker, I have to think about it because it's too heavy on product reviews.
That was great when I started out backpacking and I needed a tent, stove, backpack, sleeping bags, pad, clothing, and so on. Now that I have those things, I don't need Backpacker as much as I used to need it.
The magazine needs more adventure stories and trail reviews. I have lived in Ohio and Florida since I began subscribing about seven years ago, and seldom has Backpacker detailed anything about trails nearby. Folks who live out West will fare better.
There are some good departments in the magazine. Signpost details news events that affect backpacking, including legislation in Washington and state capitals. There are regular columns about cooking on the trail and about animals you might find in the woods (but not about cooking animals you find in the woods). There's a fine monthly section about wilderness health, including first aid.
If you have all the equipment you need, I suggest finding a newsstand that carries Backpacker and perusing it there every month. If an article grabs you, buy it. If you're just starting out, by all means subscribe and save back issues. You'll be glad you did.
There is a lot of good information in here, but take everything with a grain of salt. They are driven by their advertisers, and strangely enough many of their reviews sound more like an ad for the product instead of a review. So try to read between the lines, and try the equipment yourself before you buy it. Overall a good mag.
I love to pick up this magazine and dream. It seems that every month there is a trail somewhere in the world that they review that I'd like to hike. But hiking isn't this magazine's only focus. I also appreciate the equipment reviews. They usually will run the products they review through a real world test, making the results easier to understand and believe. Plus, there are frequently articles about issues outdoor enthusiats care about. Articles about scenic photography, articles about wildland politics, and articles about outdoor adventurers are all included. But, above all, this magazine is a great one to browse through when you want to think about being somewhere else!
Backpacker magazine is for great resource for adventurers, hikers, campers, trekers, and gear-heads.
Backpacker is a quick read (generally apx 80-100 pages)with colorful fullpage vista photos, which features:
- adventure narratives
- trip specifics: GPS routes, maps, permit info, trail highlights, elevation stats, etc
- lists of the "greats" (enumerated lists of great camping sites, great gear, great national parks, etc)
- recipes for the trail
- gear recommendations
- survival skill guides
- additional information/resources made available on the webiste
The destination guide information is helpful to expand your backpacking, camping, and trekking trip options. The skills are sometimes pretty basic (first aid, bear safety, leave no trace)--but even highly-accomplished adventurers can use a reminder sometimes. The gear suggestions are often of the expensive-cutting-edge persuasion and trend toward the pursuit of the hyper-light.
Backpacker was the PREMIERE outdoor adventure magazine until it changed hands from Rondale press. Now it is a shell of its former self. Still better than the fashion-puke rags that claim to be adventure mags like Outside and anything with "Mens" in the title. A few less ads would make the magazine better, but for those who complain about the political edge, Backpacker has a long tradition of EXCELLENT outdoors-related political commentary. Backpacker reviews have always been spot on and I have never been dissatisfied by any of their recommendations. Worth a cheap subscription price.
There is some good information here about equipment, potential hikes, backpacking technique and survival.
I know that the publisher could be influenced by advertizing, but there is a ton of equipment information here, and I can sort through it to get a good picture of what equipment is out there.
The magazine is useful enough that I read every issue.
This is a good magazine for those who enjoy the outdoors. Good articles and good photos that make you want to walk the trails.
It is like seeing and old friend. I used to subscribe to Backpacker may decades ago and enjoyed it very much. My Hiking days are over but I still have the interest. The new format is quite different than in 1958. I still love those recipies and love reading about all the new gadgets.
Truly, Bill Clay