magazine January/February 2021 · Backpacker

cover image of Backpacker

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Published nine times a year, Backpacker is a magazine of wilderness travel, offering practical, "you can do it, here's how" advice to help you enjoy every trip. Filled with the best places, gear, and information for all kinds of hiking and camping trips, each issue delivers foldout maps and stunning color photography.

Backpacker Magazine



Last Stand • ANWR is under attack—again. But this time, will it survive?

Dispatch • The climb up Mauna Loa’s volcanically shifting landscape is never quite the same, no matter how many times you do it.

Miracle Mile • Find alpine bliss halfway through this snowshoe beneath an active volcano on Artist Point Trail in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington.

Compass Points - Lakes • Spend anywhere from a few memorable hours to a few remarkable days circumnavigating one of these ten lakes.

Gallery - Blind Hikers • Two gutsy climbers tackle South America’s highest summit.

Op-ed • It’s time to extend the same respect we have for the land to all the people who use it.

Log Book • In one of America’s least visited national parks, I find my authentic self.


Adventure U - Avalanche Awareness • Craving backcountry snow adventures? First, use this primer to learn how to identify and avoid slide-prone terrain. Then decide if you need an avalanche safety course to maximize your winter fun.

Adventure U - Avalanche Awareness • A trigger is a disturbance that initiates an avalanche. Most slides start naturally from the weight of the snow. But skiers and hikers—aka, the human factor—can be triggers, too.

Bootcamp • Your feet carry you every step of the way, so don’t neglect them in your training. This workout hits every major muscle group while building foot strength, which improves mobility and balance and safeguards against common injuries. Complete this circuit once a week along with a cardio and strength regimen, and allow yourself at least six weeks to train before a big hike.

Know Nature • Seek out splashes of color amid pale winter landscapes with these five cold-loving birds.

Trail Chef • Put a backcountry spin on a fast food cult favorite.

Out Alive • Taylor Gibler, 26, barreled towards frozen peril after stumbling on Mt. Baker in June of 2020.

Trail Craft

Opener • We tested 165 three-season sleeping bags to pick the best of the bunch. Plus: Check out the essentials you’ll need for backcountry ski touring and go far in a pair of perfect trail tights.

Head to Head - Bags • Choosing a go-to sleeping bag can be a daunting task, but we’re about to make your life easier. After testing the field’s top 38 models, we’ve determined that these six cocoons are the tops for three-season warmth and comfort.

The Kit • Staying away from resort crowds this winter? The backcountry can other solitude, a wilderness experience, and the satisfaction of earning your turns. These gear picks will help you make the most of lung-busting uphills and whoop-worthy descents.*

Reader Review

National Parks • The national parks are our national treasure, and these 10 campsites are the best they have to offer. Hike in, pick up your jaw, and post up in paradise.

Hiking 101 • Dial in the basics to extend your backcountry fun into new types of adventures. Whether you’re planning your first overnight, first solo, or first thru-hike, here’s some hard-won, weightless wisdom to bring on the journey.

A Hero’s Journey • Rue McKenrick would hike the perimeter of the country to demonstrate our nation’s unity—if only he and the country could hold together long enough for him finish.

Liz 'Snorkel' Thomas...