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Manuscript Submission Guidelines

This online resource is designed to inform authors of the style and keywords used by Backpacking Light and to line out the required parameters for photo, podcast, and video submissions.


Article ID Information

When your story proposal is approved, your story will be assigned an "Article ID" by the Editor that includes some combination of keywords and usually, your last name. The Article ID is very important, so please review the following carefully!

  1. The filename of your story manuscript document should be named as ArticleID.doc (or .txt or .rtf, depending on your word processing software). For example, if you were assigned an Article ID of "ten-reasons-packing-light-jordan" then the name of the manuscript file that you submit, if it is being submitted for example in Microsoft Word (doc) format, would be ten-reasons-packing-light-jordan.doc.
  2. All image files should be named in sequence as ArticleID-1.jpg, ArticleID-2.jpg, etc. where "-1.jpg" appears as the first image in the document, "-2.jpg" appears as the second image in the document, etc. For example, if you were assigned an Article ID of "ten-reasons-packing-light-jordan" then the names of the image files would be "ten-reasons-packing-light-jordan-1.jpg," "ten-reasons-packing-light-jordan-2.jpg," etc.

Style Guidelines

Based on the Chicago Manual of Style: 15th Edition
Present tense is preferred.

Numbers and Units of Measure

  1. In technical or scientific text, physical quantities and units of time are expressed in numerals, whether whole numbers or fractions, almost always followed by an abbreviated form of the unit. However, a unit of measurement used without a numeral should always be spelled out, even in scientific contexts.
    • 50 km (kilometers)
    • 4.5 L (liters)
    • 240 V (volts)
    • 85 g (grams)
  2. Use hyphens sparingly, but wisely. Hyphenate age terms and numbers or measurements when spelled out before a noun.
    • A thirty-year-old woman
    • A fifty-mile trek
  3. In technical or scientific text, use of the degree symbol (°) is unnecessary, as it is implied.


  1. Place punctuation inside quotes, as a general rule.
  2. Use a comma in compound sentences (two nouns and two verbs).
  3. Commas should separate each item in a list of three or more and should always be placed before the conjunction (and, or).
  4. Use "space dash space" between words, rather than an em or en dash (standard in internet publishing).
  5. Do not make gear possessive.
    • "McHale Subpop pack," NOT "McHale's Subpop pack"
  6. Do not use apostrophes with plural numbers unless the number is actually a possessive.
    • In the 1990s
    • The 1990's growth

Key Word Guidelines

Please make all efforts to use key words in a style and manner consistent with Backpacking Light Magazine.
AM (time) downproof fry pan ml Polarguard Delta single wall underquilt
air flow drawcord Gore-Tex MontBell poncho/tarp snowshoe waistbelt (use hipbelt)
axe Dryloft Graupel (snow pellets) no-frills pot stand softshell water resistance rated
backcountry durable water-repellent finish (in text) guyline no-see-um PrimaLoft spring, summer, fall, winter (not capitalized) waterproof
backpanel DWR (in specs) guyout non-breathable rain shell storm flap waterproof/breathable (in text)
base weight e.g. hipbelt north, south, east, west (not capitalized) rainfly three-layer WPB (in specs)
bushwhacking Epic (rather than EPIC) i.e. PM (time) ripstop three-season watertight
cookpot field testing LED pack weight set up (v) through-hiker watts (in text)
30 denier (in text) fly fishing lightweight (adj.) packbag set-up (n) tieout W (in specs)
30d (in specs) framesheet men's M (in specs piezoelectric sidehill two-piece windscreen
downhill freestanding men's medium (in text) Polarguard 3D silicone-impregnated ultralight windshirt

Photo Submission Guidelines

Photos comprise a significant and increasing proportion of Backpacking Light editorial content. They are frequently the most important part of a given article or feature and are extremely important for reviews, DIY articles, and many technical inquiries. Photographs are also of incalculable value in conveying the beauty of places we visit and the excitement of our various adventures. Along with increasing the skills of our readers, we must always be mindful that we’re ambassadors for our sport and are key to attracting new backpackers. To that end, please keep in mind the following:
  1. Take and submit more shots than you think you need to give the editors a choice. Provide sufficient notes to assure we correctly identify and caption every place, thing, and person.
  2. If submitting illustrations, they must be publication-ready, and you may be asked to edit them further after review.
  3. Think about the story you are trying to tell with each photo and ensure that the resulting photos look as though they belong together.
  4. Please set your camera to its highest resolution and quality settings.
  5. Format: .jpg
  6. Minimum Image Resolution: 72 dpi
  7. Color Format: sRGB
  8. Preferred Length of Longest Side: 1600 pixels

Photo Naming, Captions

Your photo filenames should consist of the Article ID followed by a dash ("-") character, followed by a sequential number (1, 2, 3...) that identifies the order in which the photos appear in your article. For example, if your Article ID is "lightweight-skills-doe" then your photos filenames should be named: In your manuscript document, please include a list of captions that correspond to each image, by noting the caption with the word "CAPTION:" followed by the image filename in parentheses, and then the actual caption text. For example:
CAPTION (lightweight-skills-doe-1.jpg): My high camp in the Tundra on Specimen Ridge under a Cuben Fiber tarp.

Audio Submission Guidelines

  1. Format: .mp3
  2. Minimum Bit Rate: 64 kbps (can be lower for call-in audio due to quality).
  3. File Size: unimportant.
  4. All podcast audio will be cut to a twenty-minute maximum unless otherwise specified.

Video Submission Guidelines

Please contact Backpacking Light if your video falls well outside these parameters. Video quality is changing quickly, and we may be able to work beyond these very general guidelines.

  1. Format: .mv4 or .mov (other formats might be OK, but please check prior to submitting)
  2. Aspect Ratio: 16x9 is preferred, but we'll accept 4x3.
  3. Frame Size: HD (1920x1080 or 1200x720) is optimal, but we'll accept other formats accordingly.
  4. Minimum Frame Rate: 24 frames per second.
  5. Minimum Bit Rate: 1372 kbps or more.
  6. File Size: less important than quality - go for higher quality over a smaller output. We'll sort out compression settings on our end.