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If you prefer a vacation where you unzip a tent flap to reveal a glorious sunrise rather than waking to a stuffy hotel room, Backpacker is the publication for you. Stuffed as full as a 50-pound rucksack, Backpacker regularly includes helpful tips on everything from lightening your load to finding the tastiest dehydrated foods. Along with practical advice, equipment reviews, and beautiful color photos, Backpacker offers monthly tips on where to hike, with longer features on newly opened or highlighted areas, plus several shorter hike recommendations, complete with directions, trail maps, and information on altitude, difficulty, special sights, crowd levels, and contact numbers. –Ben Reese

Birdshooter’s Take: I look forward to getting this magazine every month (or nearly every month since Backpacker puts out 9 issues a year.) If you are a serious Backpacker, you probably have bought it at one time or another. The gear tests and reviews are excellent and I also find the general comments and statistics about flora, fauna, first aid, weather and backcountry cooking interesting. Backpacker’s main value, however, is the numerous destination ideas and reports in the magazine and that’s why I enjoy it most. My Recommendation: Yeah, it gets repetitive at times but there’s something about being a serious backpacker and keeping up with the latest news, gear, gadgets, trails, etc.


For those who lead active year-round lifestyles. In addition to feature articles devoted to outdoor activity, it contains photography and literary pieces by award-winning photographers and writers. Outside also covers travel, sports, adventure, people, politics, the environment, art, literature.

Birdshooter’s Take: Outside has some of the best writing I’ve read on outdoor adventures and destinations. Many of the magazine contributors have gone on to great commercial success with books that originally appeared in the magazine (ie. John Krakauer – Into The Wild, Into Thin Air; Sebastian Junger – Perfect Storm). Outside is geared more to the outdoor enthusiast rather than to the hiker or backpacker, but if you like adventure reading it’s a great magazine. My Recommendation: It’s definitely worth a look. Get it for the great adventure stories (even if you never plan to paddle the Amazon).

Blue Ridge Outdoors

Since 1995, Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine has been the guide to outdoor sports, adventure travel, and literary naturalism in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We’re dedicated to informing active readers of the unbridled potential of human-powered sport in the Southeast. We employ top regional writers, photographers, and artists to create what is widely regarded as the country’s best regional outdoor sports magazine. Loaded with some of the most scenic and adrenaline-inducing outdoor resources east of the Mississippi, the Blue Ridge Mountains annually host over 10 million outdoor recreationists. With so many heading for these hills, it’s not surprising that there’s a flourishing outdoor retail market to outfit them.

Birdshooter’s Take: Yeah it’s REALLY pricey, and it’s obviously of limited use to someone outside of the Southeastern U.S. Yet, I’ve found some hidden trail treasures in this magazine that all the other magazines have missed for one reason or the other. This is my go-to magazine for southeastern adventures. My Recommendation: If you live in the South and do a lot of hiking, the magazine is worth a look. You’ll find destination ideas here that you will not find anywhere else.

National Geographic Traveler

National Geographic Traveler is a resource for active, curious travelers. It uses storytelling and you-are-there photography. Features focus on domestic and foreign destinations, personal travel reflections, food and restaurants, great places to stay, photography, trends, adventure, ecotourism, road trips, cultural events, and travelers and TravelWise-which appears with every major feature-furnishes a lively and complete mini guidebook to help consumers plan their trips.

Birdshooter’s Take: This is another great outdoor magazine that is similar to Outside in design but tends to have more destination ideas and is priced a little cheaper. My Recommendation: It’s a great magazine with some solid writing. Mix it with a dose of Outside and see which one you like best.

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