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Backpacking Light Magazine Announces Discontinuation of Print Version

Publisher Ryan Jordan recalls moments worth celebrating.

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by Ryan Jordan | 2008-10-24 10:31:00-06

Backpacking Light Magazine Announces Discontinuation of Print Version

It is with mixed emotions that we announce today the discontinuation of what has been one of our flagship products since 2004: the print magazine. Details behind this decision can be found in the press release.

While it's a sad day, it's one worthy of positive reflection as well.

Issue 1's humble roots featured the article “Backpacking Alaska” by Peter Vacco, the first person to have walked the length of the Continental Divide from Mexico to the Chukchi Sea. Kevin Sawchuk wrote of his fastpacking trek across 200 miles of the JMT in four days in Issue 2. Justin Lichter's beautiful photography from the Great Divide Trail graced the pages of Issue 3, and Brian Frankle's contemplative cover of Issue 4 inspired us to discover our own Haydukes in the desert. Issue 5 featured a blazing Bushbuddy on the cover and began to focus on critical issues facing wilderness advocates: road building and commercialization of our National Parks. Issue 6 highlighted both the serious side of wilderness (the roadless Absarokas) and the very serious side of wilderness (lightweight techniques for brewing coffee), while Issue 7 featured Jason Geck swimming the Ipnavik River en route to his 500+ mile traverse of the Alaskan Arctic without resupply. We celebrated the grandest of wilderness residents, the grizzly bear, in Issue 8, packrafting in Issue 9, and BPL's Wilderness Trekking School in Issue 10. Issue 11 (to be mailed in mid-November) will feature the best photography we've ever published, and its final page is a fitting end to our print run: a photo of my 10-year old son, Chase, sitting down exhausted on the side of the trail after hiking late into the evening (photo above).

I sort of feel like Chase did in that photo when it comes to the print magazine: feeling rewarded for hiking a hard journey, but rather exhausted.

But like Chase did a few minutes after that photo was taken, I'll get up, grab a handful of GORP, start walking again, and BPL will continue its journey – this time, however, with a bit more focus. I'm really excited to move forward and redirect energy on things we've neglected in the past because of the print magazine: the website, our online content, and continued gear and apparel design and development. I'm also eager to lessen our energy footprint and minimizing printed waste is a large part of that.

I'm grateful for all of your support during our print magazine publishing run. It's a project I'm proud to have delivered to customers, and I know that I'll treasure my own copies while they occupy a pretty special spot on my bookshelf.

Ryan Jordan


"Backpacking Light Magazine Announces Discontinuation of Print Version," by Ryan Jordan. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2008-10-24 10:31:00-06.


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NEWS 10/24/08: BPL to Suspend Print Magazine Production, Will Refocus Energy to Online Content Development
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Wade Johnston
(johnstonwh) - F

Locale: Midwest
Ryan - The backpack on 10/29/2008 16:03:49 MDT Print View

Ryan, what brand of backpack does your son have in that photo. My son is also 10 but a little bigger. Having a hard time finding a pack to fit him.

John Gale
Re: NEWS 10/24/08: BPL to Suspend Print Magazine Production, Will Refocus Energy to Online Content Development on 11/03/2008 17:51:20 MST Print View

Sorry to hear that the print magazine will be discontinued but the decision makes sense in this economic climate. I do have a question, may I use the credit to renew my online membership for the coming year? Thanks.

Jim Sweeney
(swimjay) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Magazine suspended, but we're still here on 11/03/2008 18:48:23 MST Print View

I'm sorry for the people who put so much work into the magazine, but frankly I've never liked it nearly as much as I like the website, though I did enjoy the issue about bears.

As the world shifts toward digital media, the rigidity of fixed media makes it relatively less and less useful. There is simply no way to fold in the contributions of readers and viewers to a printed magazine, whereas on the BPL site, we have only to open a forum topic to have access to the manifold contributions of interested, intelligent, practiced people who share our passion but whose experience is usefully and completely different from our own--and all this within a day of opening a topic. Or we can do a search on BPL, or increasingly one on Google, and turn up multiple references to previous threads with all sorts of tangentially connected information pertinent to our search.

So I won't miss the print version, and find that the web site grows richer all the time.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
NEWS 10/24/08: BPL to Suspend Print Magazine Production, Will Refocus Energy to Online Content Development on 11/04/2008 09:41:14 MST Print View

>and find that the web site grows richer all the time.

James, that richness of which you speak is exactly the goal we have in mind at BPL. Striving to keep not only our editorial content top-notch but to also tap and share the experiences of this community with itself through an ever-changing and growing medium, aka this Web site.

Noel Hong
(arborrider08) - F

Locale: SouthShore of Lake Superior
As a new subscriber... on 11/06/2008 13:25:35 MST Print View

Just subscribed to bpl today with my 2nd order from the Shop. The savings on the quilt and vest were too good to pass up. Only a few dollars more than a DIY. Didn't realize the subscription at one time included a print copy. Happy just to get access to the complete online magazine and looking forward to the future editions.

Martijn Landzaat
(mlandzaat) - F
No more magazine on 11/07/2008 12:50:48 MST Print View


Just read that the magazine stops excisting.
From what I read in the comment there has been an e-mail sent to all subscrivers, but being one I never got any word about this in any of my mailboxes.

best regards,


Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
NEWS 10/24/08: BPL to Suspend Print Magazine Production, Will Refocus Energy to Online Content Development on 11/09/2008 20:56:56 MST Print View

Out of curiousity, what are the odds that previous magazine articles would be published for members on the website? There are some great articles.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: NEWS 10/24/08: BPL to Suspend Print Magazine Production, Will Refocus Energy to Online Content Development on 11/10/2008 14:57:50 MST Print View


We will certainly start the progress of migrating print content online here. You guys deserve to have all of that stuff in this database, and it's been too long.


Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
NEWS 10/24/08: BPL to Suspend Print Magazine Production, Will Refocus Energy to Online Content Development on 11/10/2008 16:46:00 MST Print View

Thanks Ryan, that is fantastic news!

William Young
(william0770) - F
WHO CARES???? on 11/11/2008 19:08:02 MST Print View

I only ever received (2) copies of the print version in a years time --- what good was it if you never got it -- talk about a waste of paper -- you should fire whoever was incharge of the print version anyways

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: WHO CARES???? on 11/11/2008 19:17:43 MST Print View

wow William, you're mister happy aren't you!

John Tunnicliffe

Locale: Northern California
End of the Mag on 11/24/2008 23:24:30 MST Print View

More and better web content should deliver more and better Podcasts, right? This is what I am looking for, if you're interested. I care nothing for articles treating of the State of UberTents or whatever. Just to be clear.

Rationalizations don't mean much to me either; they are dime a dozen, available everywhere. Enviro footprint? Gimme a break. Electronics burn more juice and create more pollution (think that all the way the way through, including the waste/disposal streams associated with board/component construction) than does the manufacture and distribution of a few thousand copies (if that many) of an itty-bitty magazine. Cite your personal and business reasons for discontinuing the mag, they are many and they are reasonable, but pretention to save the planet by killing the print mag is just too ridiculous. Spare us at least this line of total BS.

By the way, the last issue was the best. Nice job.

Good luck.

Edited by BenWaller on 12/21/2008 06:26:47 MST.

Jim Sweeney
(swimjay) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Strengths and Weaknesses (We've All Got 'Em) on 11/26/2008 08:43:08 MST Print View

The last issue well illustrated the (see header) of the print format. NOLS ? Can't get too excited about that. But the articles on Utah's Canyons (about which I know nothing) and Hawaii (about which I know a lot, having grown up on both the Islands visited) were full of gorgeous photos. The text left me wanting more--info, feel, personalities, etc. In contrast, I almost felt while reading the article on Finnish ski touring as if I were trapped in some snowy white vastness myself, where every hillock looked the same as the last, and the horizon never came.

On screen, the photos might have been a little harder to appreciate (not less beautiful, maybe even more, but not quite as easy to organize in ones mind), but inadequacies in the text could have been filled in and corrected by the comments of this huge wiki that is the BPL site.

So I hope BPL will in future commission articles exactly like these, to post to the website.

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

BPL Issue 11 on 11/30/2008 09:02:37 MST Print View

Yesterday I received BPL Issue 11. As expected, it was great and the best one yet. Also as expected, the Xobni version didn’t do it justice and was entirely too much of an aggravation to read through. It is a deep disappointment to me to see this magazine disappear for what seems to be because of organizational, development, and delivery problems. I would rather pay more and wait longer then have it permanently removed as one of BPL’s excellent educational tools. On a whole other level, it really bothers me that environmental concerns was raised as one of the reasons for the demise of the magazine. I’m sitting here in front of my computer, a place I despise, and instead of giving me a tool that I can take with me when I’m exploring, I’m left spending more time in front of my computer, avoiding the wild, and will likely no doubt burn more electricity and paper as I research and print the magazine. It seems this action actually hurts the environment more and holds the explorer in each of us a little closer to technology…the very thing many of us want to get away from. These magazines don’t end up in a landfill like most junk publications. Because they are so informative and so well done, most folks I know put them on a shelf for reference down the line. Saving written documents is often only left for legal paperwork or things worth keeping. Being that the magazine was worth keeping, something which is high praise, I hope BPL reconsiders bringing the magazine back after a short time away to reorganize their thoughts, development, and delivery needs.

Steve Martell
(Steve) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Washington
Re: BPL Issue 11 on 11/30/2008 10:20:47 MST Print View

Well put JK--I too detest too much time in front of a screen. A paper copy gives many more options, not to mention free advertising for BPL when it's left out and about (waiting room, coffee table, etc.).

Nicholas Miller
(nmiller08) - F

Locale: Montana
Peter Vacco on 12/08/2008 14:08:54 MST Print View

Somewhat off topic, but this article mentions that Peter Vacco was the first person to hike the great divide end to end. I've seen this credited previously to Dan Cooper (who recently got some press coverage for his endorsement of Obama despite the fact he founded and owns (owned) Cooper Firearms of Montana). He's well known locally and I think hiked the great divide in the early 80s, perhaps over the course of a couple years. I don't know the details and haven't been able to find much information on the "full" trail online, such as complete hikes, times, etc. Also, I don't own issue #1. Is Cooper's claim bunk? uninformed? Just curious.

Edited by nmiller08 on 12/08/2008 14:10:13 MST.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
10/24/08: BPL to Suspend Print Magazine Production :( on 12/25/2008 12:53:31 MST Print View

Ryan and staff and friends, while I am incredibly sad to see it go I understand completely. I have helped launch and run several magazines in my life the the amount of work is unbelievable. We used to sort 10,000 copies right in our living-room what a PIA. You are going in a good direction that all will surely follow. As we prepare to leave on a round the world trip we will unfortunately miss lots of what you have to offer but I hear there are Internet cafes in some of the most remote parts of the world. In regards to the printed mag, you cant fit a ten pound parcel into a two pond sack. Tnaks again to all you guys for a great site. Ali

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
BPL to Suspend Print Magazine on 12/25/2008 13:21:03 MST Print View

Can't believe that I paid for three subscriptions yet did not receive the last issue because my subscription expired in October. 3 times 4 is still 12, but my issues end at 10 . Not fair.

Paul Corcoran
(WalksInDark) - F
Re: Re: NEWS 10/24/08: BPL to Suspend Print Magazine Production, Will Refocus Energy to Online Content Development on 12/29/2008 09:13:10 MST Print View

Is there any way to enlarge the text on the digital magazine? I have great difficulty reading the text as it is.

P.S. More than 30% of the U.S. population are now 40+ years old, so this issue really needs to be addressed.


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: NEWS 10/24/08: BPL to Suspend Print Magazine Production, Will Refocus Energy to Online Content Development on 12/29/2008 09:25:54 MST Print View

Paul -

The + sign in the menu bar works pretty well.

Edited by greg23 on 12/29/2008 11:16:42 MST.