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Backpacker's "Gear Guide" just out
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Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Backpacker's "Gear Guide" just out on 01/19/2007 16:18:04 MST Print View

OK gearheads, time to read Backpacker's "Gear Guide" and salivate over new stuff(or be smug in your own well-chosen gear list).

Looks like Primus leads in the "stove wars"!

UPDATE: SHEESH! All I said was Backpacker's Gear Guide was out. Then 4+ pages of commentary ensue. I'm amazed.
Well, I have to agree with most of you. The magazine needs more substance. BUT, it des have other outdoor magazines out there to compete with for advertizers. Hence some "fluff" is bound to happen.

Mainly,as I posted at another site, I'm *#@ed that BP'er didn't do a stove guide, a food guide, a GPS/plb guide etc.
As I said in my post (under 300winmag) this was a PARTIAL gear guide. Tarptent's Contrail wasn't even listed. Do these guys even look at their OWN forums?? Do they have a clue as to what is hot gear? Do they realize how big the UL backpacking community is becoming? (Especially now that many old time backpackers are heading into geezerhood. We NEED UL stuff to "keep on truckin'".)

Edited by Danepacker on 01/26/2007 19:54:36 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Backpacker's "Gear Guide" just out on 01/19/2007 16:27:20 MST Print View

I want one! But not being a subscriber, I think it will be a few more days (at least) before they show up on store shelves.

Greg Vaillancourt
(GSV45) - F

Locale: Utah
Am I the only one that can't stand Backpacker magazine? on 01/20/2007 14:24:16 MST Print View

I usually buy a couple issues per year to read on airplanes. I often leave them on the plane thinking "Why did I buy that?".

Typical Rodale rag, fluffy articles and ads galore.

PS - I guess I'm still irate at them for ruining Mountain Bike Magazine in the 1980s.... :)

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
I'm glad this site exists on 01/20/2007 19:49:45 MST Print View

Just flipped thru Backpacker's Gear Guide 07, it's really amazing how much their advertisers determine what is "best". Snickered at the "best" light weight shelter being a Sea to Summit poncho at 10.5 oz. Also noticed info that is just plain wrong. Specs on the WM Summerlite listed it with a 1/2 length zipper rated to 40 degrees? You would think somebody would be verifying this info before going to press.

James Pitts
(jjpitts) - F

Locale: Midwest US
Re: Am I the only one that can't stand Backpacker magazine? on 01/20/2007 20:28:26 MST Print View

While taken as whole I personally find the magazine really pretty disappointing, every issue does seem to have something I pull out of it. It does make me wish the BPL magazine was monthly...

Kirk Beiser
(kab21) - F

Locale: Pic: Gun Lake, BWCA
Re: Am I the only one that can't stand Backpacker magazine? on 01/20/2007 20:43:58 MST Print View

Other than pretty pictures and some decent trip reports I don't find a lot of interest. My subscription runs out in April and I won't renew it.

It's the classic case of producing a magazine that will sell well (and it does) vs producing a good technical magazine. I can't really fault them, but I won't be reading it.


Laurence Daniels
(GNR) - F

Locale: Boston
At least... on 01/20/2007 21:36:24 MST Print View

...Gossamer Gear and BMW were listed as a companies in last year's issue.

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Essentials? on 01/21/2007 09:11:23 MST Print View

Anyone plan on doing any "printing" on their backcountry trips? page 128 lists a portable printer by HP at 4lbs. Really hope some poor person that is picking up Backpacker for the first time does not consider bringing this "essential" since it was classified under that catergory. It does however sport a really cool handle that reminds me of a boombox I had back in 1989. Anybody up for sending this along to Shurka's next resupply pick up? he has mentioned in the past that he likes to take pictures.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Essentials? on 01/21/2007 09:30:26 MST Print View


Most of the times, we shake our heads when reading about yet more gadgets for the backcountry that we didn't even know we need. But then, give it a few more issues, and many of us end up buying them. Let's face it -- Marketing works!

Jason Klass
(jasonklass) - F

Locale: Parker, CO
Gear Guide on 01/21/2007 09:35:52 MST Print View


Edited by jasonklass on 03/02/2007 17:14:56 MST.

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
hooray for marketing on 01/21/2007 10:05:50 MST Print View

Ben, now that you mention it I really dont do enough printing while backpacking, hey... it worked! marketing prevailed. Hope your going for the 1lb 14 oz Primus stove that is winning the "Stove War". We could start a trend with this big goofy stuff strapped to our little packs causing other hikers to shake their heads more then they do already.

Edited by florigen on 01/21/2007 10:18:16 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: hooray for marketing on 01/21/2007 10:22:09 MST Print View


You're barking up the wrong tree. I shake my head looking at all those "essentials" just like you do. But, here's the rub. Lots of people nowadays wouldn't dream of hiking anywhere without their cell phones! An increasing number of us feels naked without a PLB. Nobody has ever heard of an iPod a few years back -- now, many of us bring them along too.

And how many different hats, shells, mid-layers, base layers, boots, packs, tents, bags and pads do we all own -- because every little variation somehow "demands" a correspondingly different outfit?

If you have ONLY one of each, then I tip my hat to you. On the other hand, Jim, if you have multiples like most of us do, then we are all "victims" alike -- so no need to smirk at others (even though we all do that anyway). :)

Edited by ben2world on 01/21/2007 10:23:44 MST.

Greyson Howard

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Backpacker on 01/21/2007 10:23:42 MST Print View

The issue I have with Backpacker is they treat light-weight backpacking as a fring sport: they mention a couple light weight items once in a blue moon, then go back to 50 pound packs.
They never seem to take anything away from lightweight backpacking, when its so easy to integrate light-weight and ultra-light gear into a system.
I went through last year's gear guide and played "what would I buy" and couldn't find much gear I would actaully want to own.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: hooray for marketing on 01/21/2007 10:42:38 MST Print View

"strapped to our little packs causing other hikers to shake their heads more then they do already."

I think you may have hit the point without realizing it here. The folks who hang out on BPL (and MOST online backpacking sites for that matter), and focus on "incredibly" light loads are a tiny minority of the backpacking community. The fact that you (and I) get comments like "wow, that's a really small pack" on a fairly frequent basis should make it clear that many of the folks out there are not concerned with saving weight the way we are.

I offer this thought because I work part-time in a "mainstream" outfitter, REI. I see the state of the overall backpacking community on a regular basis. And try as I might to get many folks to choose lighter gear, most often INSIST on the five-pound Kelty because it seems "more durable" than the 2-pound Granite Gear pack. Many days I feel like I am clubbing baby seals when they walk up and insist on heavier, more expensive gear. Then I have to remind myself that "Hike your own hike" should be the order of the day.

Every time I work with a customer, I have to feel out what their needs really are. For the customer who is taking a week-long trip and may never hike again, I recommend renting. For someone who hikes a couple of times a year, for short distances, and sets then sets up an isolated camp, heavier and more gear may mean a happier experience, since most of their time is spent in camp. For someone planning an AT through-hike, I really stress the importance of going as light as possible since most of a day is spent walking rather than camping, day after day after day. For these folks, who will actally listen, I actually give them info for gear REI doesn't carry like ULA or Six Moon Designs or Shire's Tarptents. But these folks are a tiny tiny minority of the folks who enter REI.

For me, the BP Gear Guide is an essential because for the next three months, every one who walks into the camping section of my store will want information about something they saw in the gear guide. I'm the one who has to let them know that the weights listed are often wrong because BP uses the manufacturers' weights in the huge tables they list. I have to let them know that as a smaller REI, we may not have the specific piece of gear they want. I have to be the one to decide if I'm wasting my breath if I tell them about the seedy underside of the backpacking community where purchases are online, where people make their own gear, and folks spend hours making spreadsheets instead of visiting a store to see if they like a piece of gear. For the great majority of backpackers, such tales would evoke thoughts of a special wing in an insane asylum where all those interred had "been in the hills too long" (a phrase which likely does apply to me).

But before you poopoo the rather boring details of the '07 Gear Guide, remember, it's a sign of how MOST of the hiking world is worshipping, and when we preach to them, we're as welcome as missionaries from a different faith trying to convert them.

P. S. Sorry, I'll get off my soap box now. Maybe this post should move the the Philosophy section.........

Edited by Bearpaw on 01/21/2007 10:48:23 MST.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
Re: Backpacker on 01/21/2007 10:53:18 MST Print View

I had a friend who worked for Rodale Press, he was an icon in his field yet he was replaced by an intern.
Rodale is very successful, Men's Health is the no.6 selling magazine in the US, behind TV Guide, Reader's Digest, etc.
As near as I can tell all their magazines have a template. A gear advice person, a medical person, a fashion person ...well I'm not sure about Prevention magazine.
I would bet the gear guide is their best selling issue and other then a car ad it's filled with equipment ads. You don't have to dig around in a back issue from Rodale to find ones on relationships or pajamagrams.
My friend would tell you that the print magazine business is pretty difficult and interns are paid a lot less.
Look at the gear guide as entertainment, somebody has to buy all this stuff.
When the buyer's guides for new bicycles comes out every year I drool into until the pages melt together and I still will admit to keeping the gear guide around for a very long time.

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Re: Re: Backpacker on 01/21/2007 12:27:42 MST Print View

Good call about the mainstream outdoor/backpacking industry, you probably are effected more then the rest of us by working at an REI. I can only imagine what a day in that environment is like after spending a lot of time on the trail. Definitely in the minority up here in the N.E. with very few backpackers and hikers that practice ultralight/SUL backpacking. I guess my point earlier was that the industry in general does not really seem to be concerned with gear weight & innovation but more about their retail demographic and current trends. Backpacker magazine seems to have moved away from the simple act of self propelled wilderness travel and is more about advertising revenue and fluff, from the business standpoint that is financially what they should be doing to achieve sales goals which is the bottom line. From the perspective of the an active participant in this activity I find very little value content wise and tend to gain more knowledge from this site. The only reason I have a subscrition is my niece was selling mag subsciptions for her school and I was suckered by a 10 year old.

Ben do you really feel naked without a PLB?:)
Gear head on this end as well, just very selective about what I carry or purchase and I have moved from a gear closet to an actual gear wall with several bags/quilts varying in temp range and fill, tarps and packs etc.
So I guess I have fallen victim to the hype and I also carry an ipod nano, battery life really bugs me on that thing.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Backpacker on 01/21/2007 12:38:41 MST Print View


I don't carry cell phone or PLB because I am fortunate to feel totally OK about hiking naked (joke).

All I am saying is that enough of us fall for enough different things that marketers have a pretty darn high success rate in creating "needs" in all of us -- and then helpfully filling those needs for us. Which is not to say that I agree with them or even like them... :)

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Backpacker on 01/21/2007 12:49:16 MST Print View

"Backpacker magazine seems to have moved away from the simple act of self propelled wilderness travel and is more about advertising revenue and fluff"

I absolutely agree. The thing that burns me up is that I will recommend a piece of gear based on 6500 miles of backcountry experience, on- and off-trail, in many different climate zones, and a customer just won't take my word for what it is worth. But they'll come in a month later and buy something I recommended because they saw it in some magazine.

But then, the biggest money-maker by far in my store is clothing, and I don't mean technical gear. The heavy bulky North Face Denali jacket brought my store over a quarter of a million dollars in sales just between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Casual clothing and shoes pay the bills at my store and the buyers would never condescend to read Backpacker magazine because they might get dirty or something. We even had a customer recommendation card that suggested we carry "less 'outdoor' stuff so you can have more regular clothing". Backpacker's market is the one with the money, and those with money seem to want backcountry printers (smirk) and espresso makers....

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Backpacker's "Gear Guide" just out on 01/21/2007 13:56:50 MST Print View

This a very interesting discussion we have going here, but how can anyone take a gear guide that includes a 4 lb. printer with a handle as being even remotely legitimate? Seriously - is that really in there? Our shop hasn't gotten the new mags in so I don't know, but I am VERY afraid to see that.

Don Montierth
(Chumango) - F

Locale: East TN
Re: Re: Re: Re: Backpacker on 01/21/2007 14:21:29 MST Print View

Shawn - where do you work? If that is your picture, you look like someone I saw at the Perimeter REI in Atlanta.

What amazes me is how REI has changed over the years. Take the Perimeter REI in Atlanta - it has a lot of space for fashion items, but only has a couple of tents set up, and very little in the way of really light equipment. That is the reverse of how it was when I initially joined back in '88 - they were much more oriented towards outdoor gear. But I guess they only put out what sells well, and in Atlanta that means "outdoor" clothes that people buy because they look good in them when they are outdoors. To them being outdoors is something they do at the park.

The same phenomenon applies to Backpacker - they gear their magazine towards what sells. And there are lots of new and exciting gadgets that all the folks want, and that sells print. The lightweight stuff is not what interests the majority of subscribers.

I see the trend being more towards what we see from Backpacker and places like REI. More and more people backpacking, yet the number of people setting out to through hike the AT has been declining every year for a while now. That has implications on the type of gear that will be marketed.