Backpacker (magazine)

Backpacker is an American publication that features information on wilderness hiking and adventure. It has been published since 1973. Backpacker magazine is currently published by Active Interest Media and is based in Boulder, Colorado.[2] The magazine moved from Emmaus, Pennsylvania to Boulder in August 2007.

Backpacker magazine
Total circulation
FounderWilliam Kemsley
Year founded1973
CompanyActive Interest Media
Based inBoulder, Colorado


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

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

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


Backpacker goes beyond backpacking and hiking, featuring the latest in a wide variety of outdoor sports, including rock climbing, mountain biking, trail running, cycling, fly fishing and more.[3] In each issue of Backpacker, readers will find outdoor gear reviews, wilderness and survival tips, trip reports, coverage of specific destinations and even strength and conditioning advice.[4]

Current status

On May 17, 2007 Active Interest Media, an El Segundo, CA-based magazine publisher, announced that it would buy Backpacker magazine from Rodale Press. A May 10 article in the New York Post reported a sale price of $14.5 million.[5] Active Interest Media, which also publishes Yoga Journal and American Cowboy, moved Backpacker to Boulder, CO in the summer of 2007, and Jonathan Dorn was editor-in-chief. In 2013 Dennis Lewon became Editor-in-Chief.

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

Starting in 2004 Backpacker began publishing regional editions of the magazine that include map cards for local trails. The regional concept developed from survey results that showed the magazine's readers were interested in hikes near where they lived. It discontinued these map cards in the April 2008 as part of their effort to become a 100% carbon neutral magazine. The regional sections are now on-line. An all digital version of the magazine was also made available.

In November 2006 Backpacker began posting podcasts and videos on its website to complement the content that appears in the magazine issues. Additional videos appear on Backpacker's YouTube channel.

In April 2007 Backpacker received its third National Magazine Award nomination in two years, this time in the single-topic issue category for its October 2006 "Survival" issue. National Magazine Awards are presented each May by the American Society of Magazine Editors, and are considered the magazine industry's highest editorial honor. Also in 2006 Backpacker received the MIN Best of the Web award in the Uses of Interactivity category for the website.

In May 2008 Backpacker won a first-ever National Magazine Award for "General Excellence" in the circulation category, 250,000 to 500,000. To win this honor, Backpacker beat national magazines like Cookie, New York, Wondertime, and W.[6]

Backpacker is also used as part of the American Hiking Society's membership package.

Backpacker's primary competition in the magazine world includes Outside and Men's Journal.


  1. ^ "Alliance for Audited Media Snapshot Report - 6/30/2013". Alliance for Audited Media. June 30, 2013. Archived from the original on January 23, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
  2. ^ "Backpacker". Active Interest Media. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  3. ^ "Backpacker". Active Interest Media. Retrieved February 15, 2014.
  4. ^ "Backpacker Magazine". Sports & Recreation Magazines. Retrieved February 15, 2014.
  5. ^ Kelly, Keith (May 10, 2007). "RODALE UNLOADING BACKPACKER". New York Post. Archived from the original on October 5, 2008. Retrieved July 18, 2009.
  6. ^ "2009 National Magazine Awards Winners and Finalists". Magazine Publishers of America. Archived from the original on July 28, 2008. Retrieved July 18, 2009.

External links

Andrew Skurka

Andrew Skurka is a professional backpacker who is best known for his two long-distance hiking firsts—the 6,875-mile Great Western Loop and the 7,778-mile Sea-to-Sea Route. He was named the 2007 "Adventurer of the Year" by National Geographic Adventure (which described him as "a Gen Y version of Henry David Thoreau or John Muir") and the 2005 "Person of the Year" by Backpacker magazine.In November 2007, Skurka completed the Great Western Loop, a 6,875-mile journey that links together 5 long-distance hiking trails, 12 National Parks, and over 75 wilderness areas, which he hiked in 208 days, an average of 33 miles per day. In addition, in July 2005 Skurka completed the Sea-to-Sea Route, a transcontinental network of long-distance hiking trails from Quebec to Washington, which took him 11 months and which involved 1,400 miles of snowshoeing. Skurka's shorter hikes include the 1,700-mile California section of the Pacific Crest Trail (in 45 days), the 486-mile Colorado Trail (twice), the 2,170-mile Appalachian Trail (in 95 days), a 385-mile trek through northern Minnesota in January, and many week and weekend-long trips in Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. In 2010 he hiked a 4,679 mile route around Alaska, which took him 176 days.In addition to expanding the limits of long-distance backpacking, Skurka has defined the light-and-fast style of backcountry travel. The contents of his pack cumulatively weigh a mere 6.5 to 8 pounds, sans food, water, and fuel; and he regularly logs 35–45 miles per day, day after day.In addition to the distinctions from Adventure and Backpacker, Skurka was featured in Outside's 2007 "Outside 100" list and in Men's Journal's "2005 Adventure Hall of Fame." He has appeared in numerous newspapers and television broadcasts, including The Wall Street Journal and the Fox News Channel.

Skurka also focuses on environmental issues on his trips.A graduate of Duke University, Skurka is a sponsored athlete, paid speaker, and writer. He is a member of The Explorers Club, has given over 140 presentations about his adventures, and is a frequent contributor to Backpacking Light magazine.

Skurka is also an ultrarunner. In 2008, he finished second at the Leadville 100.


A backpacker is a person who participates in any of several forms of backpacking.

Backpacker or backpackers may also refer to:

Backpacker (magazine), an American magazine about wilderness hiking and adventure

Backpacker (video game series), a series of Swedish computer games in which the player travels the world and answers questions about each locale

Backpackers (TV series), an Australian TV series following travelling backpackers in Europe

Backpackers (web series), a Canadian comedy web series, later adapted for American television

Backpacker, Australian and New Zealander slang for inexpensive sleeping accommodations, such as a hostel

Bigelow Preserve

Bigelow Mountain Preserve is a 36,000 acres (15,000 ha) state-owned nature preserve in the western part of the U.S. state of Maine. Located in Stratton, Maine, the preserve was created in 1976 in order to stop a proposed development of a ski resort in the area. It is home to Mount Bigelow, one of Maine's highest mountains at an elevation of 4,145 feet (1,263 m), and Flagstaff Lake.

Boulder River Wilderness

Boulder River Wilderness is a 48,674-acre (197 km2) wilderness area within the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in the western Cascade Range of Washington state.

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

The Collegiate Peaks Wilderness is a 168,000-acre (680 km2) area located in central Colorado between Leadville and Buena Vista to the east and Aspen to the west and Crested Butte to the southwest. Most of the area is in the San Isabel and Gunnison National Forests, with a smaller area in the White River National Forest southeast of Aspen. Most of the area is in northwest Chaffee County with smaller portions in Gunnison, Pitkin, and Lake counties.

Columbia Montrail

Columbia Montrail is a sub-brand of Columbia Sportswear that manufactures and distributes shoes for trail running, hiking, and general long distance running.

Fiery Gizzard Trail

The Fiery Gizzard Trail runs from Tracy City, Tennessee to Foster Falls in Marion County, Tennessee. It is renowned for its beauty and diversity, cited by Backpacker magazine as one of the top 25 hiking trails in the United States. The 12.5-mile (20.1 km) trail offers scenic views, waterfalls, rock formations, and hemlock trees over 200 years old.The trail follows Fiery Gizzard Creek for a time, then ascends 500 feet (150 m) to Raven Point which offers a "spectacular overlook." From there, the trail runs along the canyon rim to Foster Falls.The trail is part of the South Cumberland State Park.

Frostline Kits

Frostline Kits was a Colorado-based company that produced sew-it-yourself kits for outdoor gear including clothing and tents.

While it operated, it provided a cost-effective alternative to manufactured gear.

Greenbrier River Trail

The Greenbrier River Trail (GRT), is a linear state park comprising a 77.1-mile (124.1 km) rail trail between North Caldwell and Cass in eastern West Virginia.The GRT route and its contours were originally engineered by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, serving as a passenger and freight line before becoming unviable after the Great Depression. The right of way was gifted to the State of West Virginia in the late 1970s and the former railbed reopened in 1980 as a recreational multi-use trail.

The wheelchair-accessible trail features a hard-packed crushed-limestone surface accommodating hiking, bicycling, ski-touring and horseback-riding. Access is provided at 14 trailheads. The route features 16 primitive campsites (several with three-sided camping shelters) and 50 to 60 picnic tables along its length — and passes next to three state parks and two state forests. As it follows the Greenbrier River, the trail drops 732 feet (223 m) (north to south) along its route, crossing 35 trestles and traversing two tunnels — Droop Mountain Tunnel with a length of 409 feet (125 m) and Sharps Tunnel with a length of 500 feet (150 m).In 1999, the GRT was one of 50 trails in the United States designated a Millennium Legacy Trail. In 2012, the trail was elected to the National Rail Trail Hall of Fame and was named by Backpacker magazine as "one of the Top 10 hiking trails in the United States."


JetBoil manufactures and markets lightweight gas-fueled portable stoves used primarily for backpacking.The company was formed in 2001 by Dwight Aspinwall and Perry Dowst in a former woolen mill in Guild, New Hampshire, debuting its products at the 2003 Outdoor Retailers trade show. In 2006 the company moved its headquarters to Manchester, New Hampshire and in 2012 was purchased by Racine, Wisconsin-based Johnson Outdoors.

Niobrara National Scenic River

The Niobrara National Scenic River is in north-central Nebraska, United States, approximately 300 miles (480 km) northwest of Omaha. In 1991, Congress set aside 76 miles (120 km) for preservation under the management of the National Park Service with assistance from the local Niobrara Council. Several "outstandingly remarkable values" have been designated to be protected along the Niobrara National Scenic River, including: Fish and Wildlife, Scenery, Fossil Resources, Geology, and Recreation. The river was designated by Backpacker magazine as one of the 10 best rivers for canoeing in the United States.

Along the National Scenic River are numerous waterfalls that empty into the river from the surrounding cliff and canyon walls; the highest one is Smith Falls, which drops almost 63 feet (19 m) into the river valley. There are short sections of Class I and II rapids on the river, and several locations further downstream require a portage around the rapids. The westernmost 26 miles (40 km) of the Scenic River section, from the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge (just east of Valentine) to the Rocky Ford portage, offer outstanding canoeing, kayaking, and tubing opportunities. Although the remainder of the river can be paddled, access is limited by private landholder permission. Around 75,000 people visit the river annually, with the months of June through August being the busiest. Water levels decline slightly in late summer, but the river can still be enjoyed by canoe, kayak, and inner tube. To reach the first public access on the Scenic River section, drive northeast of Valentine on Nebraska Highway 12 until the sign for the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge put-in.

Considered an extraordinary example of a Great Plains river, the Niobrara is home to over 500 plant species many at or beyond their usual range, including many not otherwise naturally found within several hundred miles. These species include birch, ponderosa pine and a rare hybrid aspen (quaking X bigtooth). Species from six different vegetation communities can be found in proximity. Northern boreal forest types occur on north facing slopes where shade and abundant ground water create cooler microclimates. Species growing here include paper birch, aspen, ferns and club mosses. Rocky Mountain forest plants include ponderosa pine, serviceberry, and horizontal juniper. Eastern deciduous forests grow on the moist bottom lands and islands of the Niobrara. They include American elm, basswood, cottonwood, green ash, bur oak, hackberry and box elder. Three types of prairie are found in the river valley, displaying a botanical transition between among the eastern tallgrass prairie, the Sandhills mixed-grass prairie, and Northern Mixed-grass prairie. Mule deer, beaver, mink, pronghorn, river otter and even bison can be found in the area. Approximately 300 bison and a few dozen elk are protected in the 19,000 acre (77 km2) Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, which is located along the river.

In the Niobrara river, minnows such as sand shiners, red shiners and flathead chubs search for their food of aquatic insects near streambank margins. Larger fish, such as rainbow and brown trout, prefer cooler, clear water where springbranch canyon tributaries enter the river. Channel catfish, a popular game fish, prefer deeper waters or cover during the day and feed at night in the riffles. Softshell, snapping or painted turtles may be found sunning on logs in summer.

The scenic river is spanned by 15 bridges, including six which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research is a Seattle-based manufacturer of technical apparel and gear for outdoor sports, including alpinism, rock and ice climbing, backpacking, paddling, and backcountry skiing and snowboarding.

Pacific Northwest Trail

The Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) is a 1200-mile hiking trail running from the Continental Divide in Montana to the Pacific Ocean on Washington’s Olympic Coast. Along the way, the PNT crosses three national parks, seven national forests, two other national scenic trails, and against the grain of several mountain ranges, including the Continental Divide, Whitefish Divide, Purcells, Selkirks, Kettles, Cascades, and Olympics. The Pacific Northwest Trail was designated as the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail by Congress in 2009.

Ron Strickland

Ron Strickland (born March 19, 1943) is an American conservationist, long distance trail developer, and author. He is the founder of the 1,200-mile (1,900 km) Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNT) and of the proposed transcontinental Sea-to-Sea Route (C2C). He is the author of nine books including his 2011 memoir Pathfinder: Blazing a New Wilderness Trail in Modern America.

Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies

Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies is a book by Alan Kane describing scrambling routes of mountains in the Canadian Rockies.

It is published by Rocky Mountain Books, located in Calgary, Alberta. The third edition ISBN 9781771600972, released in May 2016, has been updated and contains route descriptions for 175 peaks. The peaks are rated from easy to difficult and information on trail heads and the standard routes are covered. Backpacker magazine has twice featured the book as an expedition guide. The Canadian Alpine Journal referred to it as a "scree gospel". The book is solely responsible for creating a widespread interest in scrambling up mountain peaks, whether the peaks are in USA or Western Canada. Since first published in 1991, many similar guidebooks by other authors have followed this one.


Scrambling (also known as alpine scrambling) is "a walk up steep terrain involving the use of one's hands". It is an ambiguous term that lies somewhere between hiking, hillwalking, mountaineering, and rock climbing. Canyoning often involves scrambling.

Alpine scrambling is scrambling in high mountains like the Alps and the Rockies of North America, and may not follow a defined or waymarked path. The Mountaineers climbing organization defines alpine scrambling as follows:

Alpine Scrambles are off-trail trips, often on snow or rock, with a 'non-technical' summit as a destination. A non-technical summit is one that is reached without the need for certain types of climbing equipment (body harness, rope, protection hardware, etc), and not involving travel on extremely steep slopes or on glaciers. However, this can mean negotiating lower angle rock, traveling through talus and scree, crossing streams, fighting one's way through dense brush, and walking on snow-covered slopes.

Sierra High Route

The Sierra High Route (also called the Roper Route and the High Route) is a cross-country hiking route, 195 miles (314 km) long, through the Sierra Nevada. It was scouted by Steve Roper and described by him in his book Sierra High Route: Traversing Timberline Country.Much of the Sierra High Route runs parallel to the John Muir Trail, staying east of that trail and keeping above the timberline to higher elevations—between 9,000 and 11,500 feet (2,700 and 3,500 m). About a third of the route follows maintained hiking trails (including 28 miles (45 km) of the John Muir Trail); the rest of the route traverses off-trail meadowlands, granite slabs, and, at high elevations, difficult loose-talus terrain. Hiking the route does not require advanced mountaineering skills, but the hiker occasionally encounters class-3 rock faces in which footholds and handholds must be carefully chosen and tested. The route requires the use of route descriptions, topographical maps, and one or more instruments (e.g., compass, GPS receiver) to navigate. Writes Roper in Sierra High Route, "High Route adventurers will not be put off by the lack of an actual trail, since much of the singular joy of cross-country travel lies in wandering through the timberline country as the pioneers did--wondering what the next turn will reveal."Very few people have hiked the entire Sierra High Route in one trip. Roper divides the route into five segments:

Cirque Country: Cedar Grove to Dusy Basin, traversing the Monarch Divide, Lake (Cartridge Creek) Basin, Upper Basin, Palisades Basin, Barrett Lakes Basin, and Dusy Basin.

Whitebark Country: Dusy Basin to Lake Italy, through LeConte Canyon, Muir Pass, Evolution Basin, the Glacier Divide, Humphrey's Basin, and Bear Lakes Basin.

Lake Country: Lake Italy to Devils Postpile by way of Bear Lakes Basin, Mono Lakes Basin, the Recesses, the Silver Divide, and the Mammoth Crest.

Headwaters Country: Devil's Postpile to Tuolumne Meadows, crossing the Ritter Range and the Cathedral Range. Roper calls this "Headwaters Country" because the route crosses headwaters of the San Joaquin River.

Canyon Country: Tuolumne Meadows to Twin Lakes through Yosemite's north country.From south to north (the direction Roper recommends hiking it), the Sierra High Route passes through Kings Canyon National Park, the Inyo National Forest, and Yosemite National Park.

In 2006, Backpacker magazine editor Steve Howe hiked the entire Sierra High Route in one month.

Svea 123

The Swedish-made Svea 123 is a small liquid-fuel (naphtha, commonly referred to as white gas or Coleman fuel) pressurized-burner camping stove that traces its origins to designs first pioneered in the late 19th century.

Teton Crest Trail

The Teton Crest Trail is a 40-mile (64 km) long hiking trail in the U.S. state of Wyoming that extends from Phillips Pass, on the border of Bridger Teton and Caribou-Targhee National Forests, to String Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Backpacker Magazine calls the Trail one of the "Best Hikes Ever," with "mesmerizing and constant views of jagged peaks."Beginning in the south, the Teton Crest Trail can be accessed in several ways. From inside the National Park, the Granite Canyon Trail provides a gradual ascent into the Range, where it connects with the TCT. The Trail is most easily accessed by riding the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram, which transports sightseers and hikers from the Teton Village Resort to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. From outside the Park, the Teton Crest Trail can be accessed via the Phillips Pass Trail, one of several routes through adjacent National Forest lands.

Continuing from the south, it is a 32-mile (51 km) trek to String Lake, passing in and out of Bridger-Teton National Forest twice, traversing the Death Canyon Shelf and several high passes including Mount Meek Pass, Hurricane Pass and Paintbrush Divide. It is a challenge with 9,681 feet total ascent and 10,779 feet total descent. The trail also traverses the high alpine meadows of Alaska Basin in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. From Hurricane Pass, the trail provides easy access to Schoolroom Glacier, and parallels the west side of major peaks of the Cathedral Group as it follows the North and South forks of the Cascade Creek.

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