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Backpacker Magazine –

Year of the Reader: Win a Gear or Skills Makeover!

We're matching your needs with our expertise and making over six lucky readers with new skills and gear to get more out of their trail time.

Be a happy contest winner! (Photo by M. Mandel)
Photo by Be a happy contest winner! (Photo by M. Mandel)
Be a happy contest winner! (Photo by M. Mandel)

Are you a total klutz with a compass? Still using canned food for campouts? Can’t snap a decent photo? We’re looking for candidates for skills and gear makeovers in the following categories:
  • First Timer
  • Ultralight overnighting
  • Navigation
  • Photography
  • Family backpacking/Backpacking with kids
  • Cooking
If you are selected, we’ll connect you with an expert who can help you hone and fine-tune your skills with hand-on instruction and/or a personal consultation. We’ll document their advice and the adjustments they make to your in-the-field techniques and trail gear. The intention? To help you improve the quality of your trail time and to help other readers who share your problem.

Your job, along with allowing us to improve your enjoyment and skill potential, is to open up to the process of consultations, instruction, and documentation that accompany the process; that could mean a weekend in the woods with an expert, or a shopping trip to the nearest outdoor store. Each winner will be featured in the magazine and in our iPad and online editions, and will be the star of a photo and video shoot documenting their transformation. (Each makeover will have different requirements, which we’ll work with finalists and winners to determine based on their location, age, and the timing/deadlines for magazine components.) We want you to apply if you:
  • Love backpacking and being outdoors and active.
  • Need help/instruction for improving one element of your backpacking setup or technique—and can articulate that your need is shared by many backpacking enthusiasts around the country.
  • Are open and willing to try new products and new techniques and documenting your efforts to employ them.
  • Can commit to taking at least two 2-night trips on your own to test your new techniques.
  • Can smile, say cheese, and are willing to star in some multimedia (photo, video, audio) that will appear in Backpacker mag.
To enter the contest, tell us about how you fail miserably at one of the makeover topics (listed above) in one of two ways: e-mail your tale of woe and a compelling pitch about what makes you the best makeover candidate in less than 500 words, or record the same in video form (no longer than 3 minutes please - a YouTube link, or similar, is fine) and send it to Kristin Hostetter at khostetter (at) backpacker (dot) com by the deadline (below) associated with your makeover of choice. Feel free to enter for more than one!

First Timer [[March issue deadline; Nov 1, 2012]]

Ultralight overnighting [[May issue deadline: Dec. 1, 2012 Extended deadline!! Dec. 15, 2012]] 
Navigation [[June issue Deadline: Jan 1, 2012]] 
Photography [[July/Aug issue deadline: Feb 1, 2013]] 
Family backpacking [[September issue deadline: Mar 1, 2013]] 
Cooking [[October issue deadline: May 15, 2013]] 

For official rules, click here.

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Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
Marta Kuzman
Feb 28, 2013

We recently moved to Vancouver Island - in other words "Heaven" and I am anticipating as a newbie to start hiking, backpacking and kayaking in Nature's living postcard. My skills are nil but my enthusiasm and drive are over the top. Can't wait to discover the terrain

Star Star Star Star Star
Jan 03, 2013

Just making sure about the Navigation one, do you mean January 2013?

Star Star Star Star Star
AZ Hiker
Dec 27, 2012

A compass doesn't need a signal or batteries and works in all types of weather but you need to know how to use it and Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart" (Amazon) makes learning how to use a compass easy. Felix! explains how to orient yourself using a compass, a compass and a map, a map and no compass, no compass and no map. Look for it on Amazon, "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart." Anyone wanting to feel more confident about orienting ourselves outdoors might enjoy learning from this book. To refresh our skills, we read thru this book before every hike - it's only about 34 pages and illustrated. The ability to know your way and know where you are is something we all need in any survival situation not just while hiking. Learn to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. Felix! teaches the reader what to pack, trail ethics, what to do if you get lost or scared, how to get rescued, and survival packing (for the car and for the trail) just incase you end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors.

Nov 25, 2012

Just making sure about the Navigation one, do you mean January 2013??

Nov 24, 2012

Just making sure about the Navigation one, do you mean January 2013??


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