by Diane Spicer
OK, I'll admit my bias right away about magazines for hikers.
I'm not a big fan of the "(wo)man conquers mountain (or bear or glacier or thousand miles in four days or insert-extreme-situation-here)" type of magazine articles.
So there will be some conspicuous absences on my recommendation list.
It's not that I have anything against those types of folks.
It's just that the time I have to devote to hiking and hiking related reading is so limited, I can't spare any for magazines for hikers that trade on fear and anxiety.
I don't find a lot of knowledge that I could transfer into my own hiking life in their articles fueled by adrenaline, risk taking and panic.
So for what it's worth, here is my highly opinionated, narrowly focused list of the best hiking publications.
Why I recommend it:
I'm sure you're shocked at my top pick! After all, why would Hiking For Her readers be interested in a magazine with this title?
All kidding aside, it's pretty slim pickings for women adventurers inclined toward hiking boots.
But here's an exception to the usual magazines for hikers.
This magazine used to be hard copy, which I loved because I clipped the photos and ads as motivators: places to go, things to try. Alas, now it's only on line, and I can't print out those glossy gorgeous photos anymore. However, the content is still pretty good.
HIKING UPDATE: As of 2015, they have suspended operations.
However, you can get their archived articles. Sadly, no longer
What I like(d):
The writers (did I mention that they're predominantly FEMALE?) are upbeat and honest about the amount of time and commitment required to be an outdoors woman.
They tackle interesting topics. For instance, Fall 2010 has a feature article on one of Nepal's first female owned hiking guide services. Nepal is on my hiking wish list, so it was great to get this info.
Another Fall 2010 example: an article on hiking with a toddler. Since I'm in the grandmother age range, rather than a new mommy, I thought about this topic from that point of view and found the info useful.
Hiking isn't the top
priority for these women: biking, skiing and running predominate. And they're pretty hard core, athletically speaking, so the writing might not resonate with you.
But to be fair, they do have a "Hiking/Backpacking" area which you should be sure to check out because of the useful gear reviews and hiking nutrition tips.
The target audience is pretty young, which leaves an old timer such as myself feeling a bit cranky sometimes. I'd like to see more emphasis on aging gracefully as a hiker.
But hey! Sometimes it's amusing to hear the young athletic warrior types giving out about aches and pains ;)
And they did highlight some amazing places on Earth (although not Greenland), making them a great choice for magazines for hikers.
WHOA is the Women of Heart and Outdoor Adventure Magazine.
And although Hiking For Her didn't make it onto their list of resources for adventure ladies, that doesn't mean I can't recommend it!
Why I recommend it:
An obvious choice in the list of magazines for hikers, right?
I stopped subscribing to this magazine years ago, mostly because it didn't seem relevant to an aging hiker.
I gave it another look recently, and signed up for a subscription for 2 reasons: because I want to support print media which addresses the concerns of hikers (see cautionary tale above), and because I can see myself getting value out of some of the content.
For instance, the Nature section is quite extensive.
You might enjoy the "Find hikes near you" feature using your zip code.
I like the fact that they pay attention to changing environmental and climate issues.
They write about plants, animals, and wildlife destinations in addition to hiking trails and the latest gear.
Also, they seem to understand that hikers come in two genders.
So it richly deserves a place on my "Magazines for Hikers" list.
However, a few cautions...
Their gear reviews are useful, but should be taken with a large grain of salt when the latest cutting edge (and pricey) stuff is featured.
If the writing gets a bit too enthusiastic, beware! Remember that advertisers, not just outdoor enthusiasts, keep this magazine afloat.
Because they try to appeal to a general audience, some of what they say won't apply to you. Grab the good stuff and let the rest roll right off your cortex.
Sometimes the writing gets a bit breathless and cutesy, which may become annoying.
To see if this hiking magazine is a good fit for you, go to the nearest public library and leaf through a current copy. I'm sure there will be one of those little postcards stuck in the magazine, offering THE deal of the century for a subscription!
Even better, here's free access to 3+ decades of back issues. Enjoy!
Why I recommend it:
Lightening up on trail gear is something every hiker can strive for, and these folks dish the dirt on exactly how to make that happen.
They've been around for awhile, too, and have an established reputation as a "go to" source.
At the time of this writing, they have three membership levels to choose from in order to access forums, gear swaps, article library and more.
This does not technically belong in the "magazines for hikers" category, because their offerings are set up more like a buffet/smorgasbord.
They're adamant about weight being the most important feature of a great hiking trip. If you're more relaxed about your pack weight, maybe this isn't for you.
OK, I'm guilty.
I called this one a magazine, when it's self-described as "a bi-weekly newspaper that reports on the West's natural resources, public lands, and changing communities".
Why I recommend it:
What I like about this publication is the wide range of writing styles and its coverage of topics important to any outdoor advocate (that's us hikers, right?).
I've learned a lot about the changing weather patterns that affect hiking, about the environmental disasters that impact trails, and lots more.
You can dabble for awhile with their free weekly newsletter before you commit.
It's aimed squarely at people residing in the western states of the USA, so if you're not hiking there, or don't plan to, it's not for you.
They cover politics, energy, industry and other topics that a hiker might not want to spend time with (although these things influence our ability to access trails, right?)
Don't expect trail reports, gear reviews or hiking snack recipes!
If you're into snowshoeing, you might like an entire magazine devoted to your favorite type of hiking. You will find all sorts of wintery information, from beginner advice to adventurous snowshoe destinations such as Greenland.
Check it out here.
Here's one that you have to sift through to get to the gold nuggets for hikers.
It's free, it's online, and it's geared toward young runners, bikers & winter sports enthusiasts.
However, there are gear reviews, tips for self care, and possibly some tantalizing new opportunities to use your hiking body in a new way.
Here's the new kid on the block, and will only be available in print.
Retro, or what?
You can sign up for your first copy of this quarterly publication here.
Because the magazine content won't be available on line, you might want to take a look at this publication with a single copy.
They also have a daily feed of articles you can enjoy for free.
You have two options with this on line magazine:
a) free subscription, delivered monthly.
b) premium subscription which includes goodies like gear deals, give aways, bonus material, and the satisfaction of supporting a hiking magazine.
Each edition features trail and trip reports, gear reviews and gorgeous photos. Their forum is a great place to get, and give advice.
Looking for a great mix of photos, stories, science based hiking themes, and practical advice, geared toward older hikers?
This hard copy resource is published three times a year by Deer Isle Press, LLC.
Check them out here.
In case you're wondering, "senior hiker" is defined as anyone over the age of 50.
But feel free to self identify!
If you're interested in hiking in Washington State, or live there already, don't overlook Washington Trails Association.
They publish a full color periodical which is included in annual membership dues.
Or you can purchase single copies.
Check out wta.org for their free trail reports, too!
If you've got a thing for Cascadia hiking (WA State), or you're a local, this magazine delivers good writing and gorgeous photographs to tempt you into adventures.
Even if you don't subscribe, enjoy the articles on their website.
This one is a little different, and it's free.
Sign up for a frequent digital dose of eclectic hiking news from around the world, pulled from the latest published articles and quality content available on line.
Who is Armaskin?
They make antiblister socks for hikers, runners and anyone who wants to prevent the pain of blisters on toes and heels. And lots more!
I won't pretend to know much about these magazines, but maybe you can clue me in to whether or not this one is worthwhile:
(I've got to admit that "hillwalking" is a lot classier to say than "hiking".)
Great Walks provides all the usual features for hikers: how to articles, gear reviews, news of upcoming events, suggestions for walks (a.ka. hikes), and photo contests.
You can sign up for their free newsletter, or look through their online articles.
And a subscription might be just the ticket for a fresh look at the sport we enjoy throughout the world!
You can enjoy a magazine subscription that caters to your hiking habit, but you can also enjoy other resources to feed the beast.
Happy hiking and reading!
I'd love to hear which publications for hikers, including magazines, you'd like to share with our hiking community.
Be sure to tell me why you like them!
Use this contact link.
Best Magazines For Hikers