Backpacker Magazine

Backpacker Magazine

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.The magazine moved from Emmaus, Pennsylvania to Boulder in August 2007.


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.


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. 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.


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.