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Backpacker April 2018

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.

United States
Pocket Outdoor Media, LLC
Back issues only

in this issue

5 min
the best bad trips

THE TRAIL LED through a waterfall. Gusts of wind pushed the cascade around, so it felt like the water was following me as I dashed through, getting it full in the face on the way in and out. I was hiking around New Zealand’s Mt. Taranaki last November, on our final round of testing for this year’s Editors’ Choice Awards, and it was raining so hard that sheets of water poured off the trailside cliffs, creating falls where none usually existed. The rest of the BACKPACKER crew walked through the shower, grinning. When the staff of this magazine heads out on an Editors’ Choice trip, we may be the only hikers in the world who wish for bad weather. How else are we going to find the gear that really works? This…

2 min

Land of the Free Our March public lands issue inspired strong reactions from readers: Some appreciated it, while a few disagreed with our decision to cover the topic at all. Will Butler, a petroleum engineering student, objected to the tone of our coverage of drilling. “Oil, gas, and mining companies are also comprised of people like myself: a reader of BACKPACKER and a proud outdoorsman who cares a great deal about the preservation of this Earth,” he wrote. In response to “Walk Free” (page 76), our feature on Scottish laws which let hikers cross private property, John Eckerd wrote that similar legislation would be a “non-starter” in the United States. “People who went to the bank, got the loan for the land, and made payments for 30 years would not be enthusiastic,” he…

4 min

1. Look for a top lid with enough space for the day’s essentials; some convert to fanny packs or day packs. 2. Load lifters draw the weight closer to your back. Adjust them after tightening the shoulder straps. 3. Lift the pack by its haul loop to avoid straining straps and seams. 4. Compression straps stabilize the load and allow you to strap on extras if needed. 5. Tighten the shoulder straps after the hipbelt. You should be able to fit at least two fingers under them. 6. Hate digging through top-loaders? Look for a side zip. 7. The sternum strap should be just tight enough to keep your straps from slipping; overtigthtening can cut off arm circulation. 8. Water bottle pockets should be accessible while your pack is on. 9. Tighten the hipbelt first. The padding should…

6 min

[Toughest] MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR MULTI-PITCH 16 Our take Small doesn’t equal flimsy with the Multi-Pitch. Packs this size—just big enough for lunch, layers, and water—are often made with light materials that don’t hold up to abuse. But 840-denier ballistic nylon (the toughest fabric in our test) on the sides and bottom and TPU-coated, 600-denier ballistic nylon on the front held up to slot canyon squeezes in Utah’s Escalante region. “After a month of trips and many close encounters with sharp rock, there wasn’t a single blown stitch,” a tester says. A streamlined design—nothing to snag—and plastic-coated gear loops round out the damage-proofing. The details Padded, low-profile shoulder straps and a thin foam backpanel manage loads up to 15 pounds. And despite the clean design, you get welcome extras like a stowable mesh bottle sleeve…

3 min

[Most comfortable] MYSTERY RANCH RIDGE RUCK 30 Our take This pack has all the standard suspension tricks of a regular pack, but adds a secret weapon: easy-to-manage microadjustments. When you tighten the hipbelt, the shoulder straps cinch up accordingly, causing the entire harness to fit right every time you change layers, take a break, or just want to alter the carry. “I’m a put-the-pack-on-and-go type of person, so the system gives me a dialed-in fit quickly, with no effort,” says one Montana-based tester. Molded foam shoulder straps and hipbelt are beefy for a pack this size—just right for big, gear-intensive dayhikes—and got top marks for comfort. “Stability really sets this pack apart,” says another tester who used the Ridge Ruck to carry 30-pound loads through Castle Crags State Park, California. He attributed…

6 min

[Best for weekend warriors] COLUMBIA WILDWOOD Our take Versatility and affordability don’t usually go together, but that’s exactly what the Wildwood delivers. It’s big enough for an overnight but not too cumbersome for a dayhike. And the low price doesn’t mean it’s skimpy on features: Twelve pockets and sleeves, including two hidden zippered security pockets on either side of the backpanel, keep things organized. A hydration sleeve is accessible from the outside, so you don’t have to dig through your gear to fill up, and a 5-liter kangaroo pouch on the front swallows a small tent. “The Wildwood hits the sweet spot for hut trips or packing light in warm weather,” says our minimalist-minded tester, who used the pack for excursions in British Columbia. The details The Wildwood has 2-inch-wide foamshoulder straps and…