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Backpacker March/April 2020

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

in this issue

2 min
gear dreams

One of the oldest pieces in my wonderful disaster of a gear closet is a Crazy Creek chair. It’s purple and teal and patched with Gorilla tape on duct tape on tent patches and tie-dyed with 20 years worth of pine sap, red dirt, and coffee stains. I still use it on some trips, but really I keep it around because it reminds me of how it all began. My obsession with the outdoors and the feelings of unbridled peace and freedom you can find there came together while working at a summer camp in Arizona. After a couple months of trail rides and rodeos, we’d close the season with a multi-week road trip through the Four Corners area of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, visiting national parks and sleeping…

2 min
work it out

WORK IT OUT Executive Editor Casey Lyons’s plan to train for a section of the Appalachian Trail without going on any long hikes was ultimately successful, but after he wrote about it in the January/February issue (“Train Up to Trail Legs,” pg. 40), a few readers contacted us to object. “It’s called ‘practice,’ dummy!” wrote Joel Rabin in an email. “Even I know one major way to prepare for a weeklong backpacking trip by yourself in the wilderness is to get out on the trail with increasing amounts of weight over a period of time.” Can we be real with you for a minute, Joel? If most hikers had their way, they’d be on the trail all the time. But jobs, families, or distance from hiking terrain mean that most of us…

12 min
editors’ choice

Like you, we routinely seek out the wildest places as the settings for our big trips. But what if evidence of past inhabitants can enhance a place, rather than detract from it? That’s the theory we tested in Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, which counts rich indigenous history among its treasures. Walking through Arch Canyon, in the monument’s southern unit called Shash Jáa, is akin to visiting an open-air museum. As we hike, we spy centuries-old granaries and dwellings tucked into the cliffs above. We marvel at the permanence of these structures, which have stood for centuries high above this hardscrabble terrain. The tribes who have called this area home for generations knew how to build things that last. The desert is as harsh on people as it is on stone,…

10 min

MOST DURABLE OSPREY ARCHEON 30 OUR TAKE Even in a market that’s (finally) showing an appetite for green gear, the Archeon stands out. Its packbag, lining, and rain cover are 100-percent recycled from industrial scraps, and its DWR treatment is PFC-free. Plus, the 1880-denier nylon canvas—the densest material in the test—means this might just be the last daypack you ever buy (nothing’s greener than gear that doesn’t need replacing). “Thick willows and alder caused no damage,” reports one tester, who tested the Archeon’s durability on an off-trail trek in Alaska’s Wrangell Mountains. “I took another pack on a similar trip last year, and it’s wrecked.” Ding: price. THE DETAILS A sturdy framesheet and two aluminum stays allow the Archeon to carry up to 25 pounds comfortably. The full-length center zip meant we never had to…

9 min

MOST PROTECTIVE OBOZ ARETE MID WATERPROOF OUR TAKE Feet, meet tank. For hikers heading into areas with notoriously rocky trails, the Arete Mid is our choice for keeping your toes from harm. A dense forefoot EVA plate prevents bruising, and a welded TPU toecap guarantees stone-kicking security. Plus, the upper has TPU overlays that shield your feet from knocks and prevent any abrasion—making the Arete Mid perfect for folks who like to take big trips off the beaten path. “On a three-day, 30-mile trip through the Ansel Adams Wilderness my feet never hurt in any way, and I was able to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the country,” said one tester after tackling miles of sharp Sierra granite. THE DETAILS The Arete’s forefoot rock plate, combined with chassis integrated into the midsole,…

10 min

MOST ECO-FRIENDLY MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR MINERAL KING 3 When a tent is an all-around solid performer and has eco cred to match, it’s a keeper. The Mineral King impressed us with its oversize doors (great for entries and exits when filled to capacity), all-mesh walls and rollback fly for stargazing, and balance between weight and price. It stands out in two areas that aren’t immediately noticeable: Mountain Hardwear recently ditched toxic fire-retardant compounds commonly used in tents, and the Mineral King’s 68-denier polyester fly and floor are some of the toughest in the test. (After all, the greenest thing you can do is not buy a new tent for a while.) “We set it up atop sandstone and pointy shrubs outside Moab, Utah and nothing poked through, even with our toddler sprinting in…