Some Hiking & Backpacking Magazines
After a very hilly cycle from Macclesfield to Buxton, the prospect of hill walking started to appeal to me. Looking at various newsagent shelves then revealed a selection of magazines that caught my interest. Such is the way that I am that short feature articles feel more accessible than guidebooks, though they certainly have their place. The ones that I include in this selection are ones that you will find on sale in shops and not society publications like Irish Mountain Log from Mountaineering Ireland.
There have been some losses over the years due to the attrition of magazine publishing in this ever more online world. Walking World Ireland was one and is much missed, especially given that its putative successor, Mountain World Ireland, only ever saw one issue. Thankfully, Mountain Views partly steps into the void, even if it is more of an online portal that publishes occasional PDF compilations.
There have been subscriptions to some of what is available, though that waned and waxed over time. The pandemic saw me increase subscriptions at a time when the creation of new content was curtailed by repeated lockdowns and other restrictions. Some subscriptions have been electronic, with Zinio having a useful selection. For those preferring the feel of a paper magazine, there are portals like Great Magazines, MyFavouriteMagazines, Select Magazines and Unique Magazines that complement the magazine websites that you find below and these may reveal other possibilities.
As the name suggests, this American title features more than walking and such is the scale of wilderness areas in the U.S.A. that overnight camping often is part of the deal, hence the name. Backpackers still hike, so that is what has got this added here. There is much to learn, so one has to start somewhere and there is another web publisher called Backpacking Light should you not want to overload yourself while out on any trail, something that is too easy to do.
Unlike TGO, routes featured in this magazine are more likely to take you by country villages as you wander through the countryside, so it’s meant for a different type of walker. Still, it’s not all lowland walks, with the hill route component having been beefed up in recent times too.
After a first glimpse in Booth’s supermarket in Keswick, copies of this periodical came into my possession on a more sporadic basis until I again subscribed during the pandemic. The publishing frequency is now bi-monthly, and it may have been monthly at one time. Until recently, it was edited by John Manning, former on the staff of TGO at once time during Cameron McNeish’s editorship.
This magazine is a little different from the others on the page in that it mainly falls into the digital media category and is free of charge. You do have to register for it, but that’s all there is to it. For those yearning for a subscription to a printed edition, there’s one available for just £4 a year. When it started, it was edited by none other than Cameron McNeish, and was published as two titles: Scottish Walks & Scottish Cycling. Now, these have merged with a change in editor too. Peter Evans is taking care of things at the time of writing in an interim capacity, so it remains to be seen if that appointment becomes a permanent one.
If I was allowed only one outdoor magazine, this would be my choice. Though there have been changes over the years, the writing quality remains and there is a brighter presentation with more and bigger photos too. The magazine once had such a strong Scottish influence that this was a draw for me, but this slightly changed when Cameron McNeish moved on to other things. Roger Smith, the inaugural editor, remains a contributor as does Chris Townsend, so an element of continuity is retained. What is also interesting though is that the magazine is including features on hiking excursions beyond the U.K. or Ireland.
There was a time when I was a regular reader of Trail, but I grew beyond it when its various feature articles stopped appealing to me; there were times when its tone of voice got too loud for my liking. There may be times when I pick up an occasional issue, but it’s still not a regular read of mine.
The publishers of Trek & Mountain launched their magazine in the middle of the Great Recession, and it remains in existence in spite of this. They seem to be going after a more adventurous part of the market too, with trips to places beyond the shores of Britain or Ireland. Copies appealed enough that I started to subscribe to the title during the pandemic as part of an attempt to stay away from town centres until the risks abated.