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Backpacker Magazine –

Backpacker Contributor's Guidelines

Good BACKPACKER articles should contain...
Assignments and Payment


BACKPACKER is a proud sponsor of Leave No Trace (check out our book, Leave No Trace, available from The Mountaineers Press). All articles and photos that appear in the magazine must adhere to Leave No Trace's ecologically friendly practices. Likewise, we do not promote motorized use in the wilderness or backcountry.

Our readers are knowledgeable and experienced backpackers, therefore we accept only authentic, well-researched, well-crafted stories (see the section on "Accuracy," below). We're not interested in slavish imitations of stories we've already done. As always, you should carefully study several issues of the magazine before submitting a query. The best articles have style, depth, emotional impact, and take-away value for the reader.

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Good BACKPACKER articles contain the following attributes:
    • Foot-based travel: BACKPACKER primarily covers hiking. When warranted, we cover canoeing, kayaking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and other human-powered modes of travel.
    • Wilderness or backcountry: The true backpacking experience means getting away from the trailhead and into the wilds. Whether a dayhike or a weeklong trip, out-of-the-way, unusual destinations are what we're looking for.
    • North American destinations: We only occasionally cover foreign locales. Our defined market is North American destinations.
    • Advice for improving the backcountry experience: Our readers want to know how to, when to, where to, and with what. Every BACKPACKER article incorporates one or more of these things. We write not merely to inspire our readers to do something, but to help them identify and research new places to go, techniques and skills to use, or the gear to take.
    • While a portion of BACKPACKER is written by staff and regular contributors, we encourage freelance authors to submit query emails for features and departments. Approximately 50 percent of our features and more than half of our departments are written by freelancers. Please note that it's rare for a writer new to BACKPACKER to break into the magazine with a feature assignment. Direct your efforts toward establishing a working relationship with us via department assignments first.

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BACKPACKER features usually fall into one of several distinct categories: destinations, personality, skills, or gear. Gear features are generally staff written. In order to make the grade, a potential feature needs an unusual hook, a compelling story, a passionate sense of place, or unique individuals finding unique ways to improve or enjoy the wilderness.

Destinations: BACKPACKER uses pieces that go beyond a mere description of a trail or place. Our destination stories are almost always first person and based upon the author's recent trip experience. Readers should come away with a strong sense of that particular outdoor experience, a firm grasp of the location's character, and the inspiration to duplicate the trip. Journal-style articles are generally unacceptable. Word counts vary widely from 1,500 to 5,000 or more words but most contain a full Expedition Planner sidebar (contact, permit, season, hazards, map, guidebook, and other useful information; look at past BACKPACKER issues for examples and style).

Personality: Backpacking doesn't have star athletes like you find in bicycling or some other outdoor sports, but plenty of unique personalities exist to write about. Colorful, controversial, historically significant, amusing, unusual, or unique people are what we're looking for, especially those who have a direct impact on how or where others hike.

Technique: Skill-based articles in BACKPACKER feature high levels of take-away value. A good technique piece also has information relevant to all skill levels (e.g., beginner, intermediate, and advanced hikers). Often our technique pieces take non-narrative forms.

Gear: Our Field Tests and comparative gear reviews are always written by writers we've worked with before. If you're interested in writing such articles, start by querying our equipment editor about the Gear department (see "Departments," below).

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Freelancers most often break into BACKPACKER's pages in the departments. These shorter assignments (100 to 1,200 words) have specific topics and focus.


Life List: 300-400 words. Short essay treatment about a particularly awesome big trip that every reader should add to their ticklist. On the inspiration<----->core-service spectrum, this falls decidedly on the inspiration side. Of course we’ll also deliver the tools a reader needs to start planning. This is BACKPACKER after all.
Every trip in this section should meet the following requirements:

  • Involve a true wilderness overnight experience (ideally backpacking, but canoeing/skiing/etc okay sometimes)
  • big/hard/beautiful enough to provoke serious long-term dreams
  • not too easy or accessible
  • not already covered a lot
  • bonus points: not currently on most readers’ radar screen
  • Events and experiences (rooted in a stellar place, of course) could also be life list worthy. Seeing the northern lights. A NOLS trip. Summitting for someone. Catching your first rainbow on a fly. Making fresh chocolate fondue with wild blackberries.
  • international destinations OK, but a majority of these will be domestic
  • No Alaska for a while. We’ve got our Alaska quota pretty full. 



Top 3: about 500 words. One hike in each of our three regions that falls within an alluring, rewarding conceit. Hot springs, swimming holes, shooting stars, beach camping. There are cool rewards every backpacker wants to experience. This page adds a hike to their regional lifelist. These stories are deceptively hard: You need to have a case for why each one is TOP in the category, and tie the theme to the hike pretty tightly. Looking for pitches for 2013. 

Rip & Go: This page is all you need to undertake a killer weekend in your region. Trips should be 1-2 nights, 6-10 miles a day, within striking distance of a major city, and seasonally appropriate for the month in which they run. These absolutely must have a GPS track, and we assign them early.



Trail Mix: For each region (west, central, and east, see map), we’ve got a new page with opportunities for freelancers. It’s called Trail Mix, and contains a mix of small items (100-150 words), most of which are open to pitches. Here are the types of stories that belong here:

  • This Just In New trail in the area? An access road reopening after a long closure? This is the news department, though the news has to be relevant when the issue will come out, and must be tied to a hike.
  • See This Now A hike that takes us to an especially timely event or phenomenon. Are the berries ripe along TK route? Is there a meteor shower you can see from TK campsite?
  • Local Expert The inside scoop on a route from someone who knows it really well. Must include a quote from the subject and some non-obvious advice.
  • Secrets of a Ranger Similar to “Locals Know”, but the advice comes from a professional. Call up a park (local or national) or a forest and get some dirt.
  • Solitude Finder A trail or campsite with especially good likelihood of being deserted, whether because it’s under-the-radar or people don’t normally go this season or whatever.
  • Bragging Rights Tell us about a local/regional hiking challenge, whether official or not, that people can feel proud of having accomplished. That thing that gets you bragging rights. Examples: Climb all of Colorado’s 14ers; earn your Views and Brews patch by hiking trails near 20 breweries in New York State.
  • Take Your ___ Take Your Puppy, Take Your Mom, Take Your Macro Lens, Take Your Ice Axe, etc: give us a hike that’s especially good for some particular purpose.


Skills: The advice source for all essential hiking and adventure skills, with information targeted to help both beginners and experts. The section is divided into the following categories:

Technique-what you need to day-hike, backpack, or do just about anything in the outdoors, all digested into easily understood articles geared to every ability level.
Food-explores all aspects of trail nutrition, cooking methods, and food preparation. Tested recipes and creative and tasty food suggestions are a must.
Health-examines the physical and psychological aspects of fitness, first aid, and nutrition as it relates to backpacking. This section covers topics from poison ivy to snakebites to altitude sickness.
Gear: This department is filled with short reviews of gear that has been field-tested. Note: Gear, unlike the other departments, is done by assignment only. Instead of submitting a query regarding a specific piece of equipment, query the equipment editor with your qualifications for testing and reviewing gear. All gear reviewed in Gear is acquired by BACKPACKER editors only and shipped by us to assigned reviewers. All reviewed gear must be returned to us at the end of the test so that we may photograph it and return it to the manufacturer. This is not a way to fill your gear closet.

Most BACKPACKER departments take a single topic within the scope of that section and cover it thoroughly. Again, the more take-away value for the reader, the more appropriate it is for BACKPACKER.

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BACKPACKER prides itself on providing outdoor enthusiasts with reliable information. It's important that our contributors check all facts and figures. A full set of guidelines for fact checking will be provided to you with your first contracted assignment for us. In general, however, we require:
    • Confirmation of all facts and figures used within an article from a primary source.
    • For medical, nutrition, and technical advice, direct quotes from accepted professionals or experts.
    • Full contact information for every source used in creating an article.
    • An extra copy for our files of any map, catalog, brochure, or other primary source you may have acquired from a land agency or manufacturer.

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We prefer queries to completed manuscripts. Please send emails with attachments and web links rather than mailing envelopes with letters and clips. We respond sooner to emails, and please include your own email address within the query. If you must mail a query and clips, include a SASE envelope if your samples must be returned. We are not responsible for unsolicited artwork, photographs, and manuscripts, so please don't send originals or anything that you can't afford to lose.

Allow 2 to 4 weeks for replies. All queries should be emailed to the appropriate editor (see below), or mailed to the following address: BACKPACKER, 2520 55th Street, Suite 210, Boulder, CO 80301.

Features & People: Dennis Lewon, Editor-in-Chief,
Destinations features: Rachel Zurer, 
Associate Editor,
Destinations departments: Maren Kasselik, Assitant Editor,
Skills: Dennis Lewon, Editor-in-Chief,  
Gear: Kristin Hostetter, Gear Editor,

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All BACKPACKER assignments are made in writing, and require a signed contract with you, the freelance author, in order to be valid. The contract will specify payment amount, payment terms, and rights purchased. In general, we pay on acceptance and buy all rights. We pay $.40 to more than $1.00 per word, depending upon the complexity and demands of the article, as well as the proven experience of the writer.

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BACKPACKER uses stock photography and assigns photographers for magazine-sponsored trips. We prefer photographs that meet the following requirements:
    • The activity shown does not violate local agency guidelines or Leave No Trace principles (e.g., unless specifically allowed in that location, no tents within 200 feet of water).
    • No visible roads and no frontcountry shots, unless specifically required by the article. BACKPACKER is about the backcountry experience and hiking in wildlands; photos taken at scenic outlooks on a road are not what the backpacking experience is about.
    • Clothing and gear and equipment shown in photos should be appropriate to the activities specifically requested. backpacking, not car camping. We will not run a photos of hikers wearing jeans, and sneakers, nor clothing that is out of date (more than 5 years old). Gear in the photos should also be current and fit properly.

Stock Requirements: While we use a large amount of stock photography to illustrate articles, we usually have very specific requirements (e.g., "overnight hiker on McConnell Lake Trail, Desolation Wilderness, preferably with Horseshoe Lake in background"). For each issue, our photo department sends out via e-mail a list of photos we need for upcoming articles. If you believe you have stock photos that may meet our needs, contact the photo department indicating your interest in receiving our monthly call list. We require a link to your website to be considered.  If your work meets our photographic standards, you will be added to our database.

Assignments: BACKPACKER only hires professional photographers on a freelance basis and sends them out on assignment. We have very few assignments each year. These assignments are grueling, as they often involve lots of mileage over rough terrain. Not only that, but you have to get your pictures while moving through the terrain, carrying your own photo and backpacking gear. Because we're a small publication, our budgets and time restraints are quite restrictive in this area, thus we tend to work only with photographers that we know to be capable of always bringing back results, no matter what the conditions. Interested photographers should email the photo department and be prepared to present a portfolio of photographs taken in the backcountry.

Contact: Senior associate photo editor Genny Fullerton (


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Publishing frequency: 9 issues annually, one of which is the Gear Guide (March)
340,000 (2008)
Lead time: At least 6 months


Scott Fenley
Aug 09, 2011

Your article on giving first aid help has an error. The radial pulse is at the wrist, not the brachial as stated. The brachial artery is inside the upper arm between the elbow and arm pit. You did get this right oddly enough next to this advice on the same page. FYI

Mathew Kasper
Jul 26, 2011

I would like to share my story of how I went from prison to the top and I was wondering if anyone at Backpacker would be interested in writing it, for I am no writer.

In high school I was an all-league football star, and on coarse to graduate and go play college ball, but two weeks before graduation (June 1999) I was arrested for robbery and sent to prison for 10 years at the age of 17. In March of 2009 I was released a changed man. While in prison my mom, who is a big hiker, would tell me all about her adventures, and send me photos of the beauty she saw. She also subscribed me to Backpacker magazine. Which was my sole source for learning about hiking.

Within two days of my release I went on my first hike (and accident left my brand new shoes at the trail head on the way home. After that I was hooked, and my hiking just progressed to new, and higher trails. After my release I also started to drink and party more and more, but in Feb 2010 I decided to try being sober. This was a struggle until I joined a hiking group which is structured around the AA system. OSAT, which stands for One Step At a Time, has been around since the the early 90’s. After joining OSAT I signed up for their Glacier Climbing Course. The course was very rigorous, they put us through a lot training that lead up to our climbs on Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier in late June/early July.

Both summit attempts were successful, incredible and spiritual. In fact I cried as I neared the summit of Rainier. I would love to share the whole story which I feel would benefit both people getting out of prison and people in recovery (AA). I am not a writer so I am looking for someone to help me write it.

Mathew K.

contact me at

Graham Clark
Jul 19, 2011

I most recently backpacked from Alaska to Argentina by land pursuing the art of photography. Experiencing the world via the perspective of a camera lens makes me feel ALIVE.

I feel a strong image is characterized by an overpowering spatial reach, tonal subtleness, visual energy, intensity and ultimately impact. I use the best lenses of today and the slowest film speed possible and I use little to zero post-processing. Out in the field I try not to hold expectations - I try to achieve an openness. I feel my best work comes from being receptive to an image coming together. All my photographs are tack-sharp & possess high technical and reproductive quality.

Graham Clark -

Roger Carlson
Jun 08, 2011

How is your stainless steel tick bar different from the patented PRO TICK REMEDY? I've been using the PRO TICK REMEDY for years and consider it to be the best tick remover I've ever tried.
Their website is

Patrick Morales
Apr 11, 2011

Hello, I am to responding to an article published in the March 2011, edition, 'Hike. Pray. Protest.'. The story is written by Tracy Ross regarding evangelical christians who are taking a stand to end the destruction of the Appalachian Mountains through a form of coal mining most commonly known as Mountaintop Removal (MTR). In speaking with, and listening to, the Rev. Sally Bingham; the founder of Interfaith Power and Light, as well as other faith based leaders who are publicly speaking out about MTR they point out the need for all church leaders, across all faiths, to show leadership on being stewards of the gifts allowed us. Examples of this leadership are described in this article. I commend BP for publishing an article that contains any mention of MTR and the need to stop this most lethal form of coal mining. However what I read was mostly a human interest story about these concerned evangelic leaders. I thought I'd add a little more to the primary topic which readers may think does not affect them in California or Alaska. If that's the case look at what the coal industry contributes to federal election campaigns in your state, across party lines, or look how MTR affects you by checking out
I was recently in Washington DC with the 'Alliance for Appalachia' (4/02 - 4/08/2011), trying to persuade legislators to pass some bills which are aimed at keeping the headwaters clean from the toxic heavy metals resulting from MTR, that supply water for millions of Americans. We were joined by friends from Alaska, California, Florida and many other states outside the physically impacted states. It is important to note that folks active in ending the permanent destruction of the Appalachian Mountains are not trying to end coal mining, only this form of it which itself removes mining jobs. Along with the mountains, while poisoning the streams and rivers we hike and backpack through, with the toxic runoff. And that preserving these things is not always a party issue just look at your legislators and note the contributors to their coffers. Survival of our species does not require a political parties endorsement but rather our ability to take some responsibility, speak up in mass, and be heard. I want to be able to hike in these ancient mountains of Appalachia when I am older and working a lot harder for the peak on Roan Mountain along the AT.
Sincerely Patrick Morales

7056 hwy 321
Townsend, TN 37882

Rob Coleman
Feb 22, 2011

I submitted an article a few years back titled "Why We Go" which was published on your website. I am interested in submitting more but would like to know how to go about getting a contract for a submission. Did not see anything specifically addressing this, thank you.

Veikko Sillanpaa
Feb 22, 2011

We have a new stainless steel tick remover called the Tick Bar and it would be great if you could test this and write about it in your Gear section.
To whom should I send the sample?
Veikko Sillanpaa

Eric Gjonnes
Feb 07, 2011

Eric Gjonnes
1234 Heather LN SE
Salem, OR 97302
503-587-0272 Please see our trail journal at:
My 10 year old daughter and I will be Thru hiking the entire 2,652 mile Pacific Crest Trail this coming summer. The world record for this accomplishment is 10 years old. Though Reed will be 11 when we finish, we believe that we can easily complete the trail two months sooner than Mary Chambers did.
I am confident that we will succeed, because I completed it last year and she joined me for 150 miles, averaging 20 miles a day. She also aspires to become the youngest to ever hike all 3 long trails, the PCT, AT, and the CDT.
I became obsessed with ultra-light backpacking ten years ago when as a disabled veteran the only thing that brought relief to chronic back pain was walking.
I would love to submitt some articals or supply info for one of your writers about our adventures.
Eric and Reed Gjonnes

Jim O'Meara
Jan 24, 2011

Well it happens, you are lost or hurt and in need of attention You light a pyrotechnic hand held flare and it burns for about a minute. sparks are flying and your night vision is shot. If you are lucky you did not burn yourself or the woods so you sit back and wait thinking the common thought shared by all survivors, "My flares burned out and I wonder if anyone saw it".
With a Rescue Laser Flare you could have left the Pyrotechnics and used the big fan angle laser projection to signal SOS to passing boats, vehicles and especially aircraft. Unlike a laser pointer the Rescue Laser Flare projects an expanding fan angle of light capable of hitting everyone anywhere with one sweep, a simple SOS signal motion will get the phones ringing. All aircraft are required by the FAA to immediately report any laser sighting. Good news!!! It is legal to shine a Rescue Laser Flare at an aircraft in an emergency. You may have read about how much attention that gets.
There are many utility advantages of the Rescue Laser Flare over Pyrotechnics, one important feature is the long distance detection capabilities for locating retro-reflective tapes found on trail markers. This is invaluable for locating misplaced gear, kayakers use them to avoid collisions with other boaters and you can carry them on an aircraft when traveling. This is not a new product, it has been tested, accepted and carried by all branches of the military. It is in the hands of thousands of sailors around the world and it needs to be in yours. It makes total sense. Go to for complete information.

I would like to place gear review and I can send high resolution pictures. Please contact me if interested, this is a perfect tool for backpackers.

Thank You

Jim O'Meara

Michael Siewertsen
Jan 19, 2011

Enjoyed your article "Hike. Pray. Protest." on the impact that coal mining has had on West Virginia. People should keep in mind that there is no free lunch. A typical 1.5 Megawatt wind turbine is 300 to 400 feet tall. The turbines, if they are to replace a coal plant, will be placed all along our mountain ridges and seashores. Many new transmissions lines will have to be built to move the electricity from the wind turbines to the population centers. The impact on the environment will be large, and the change to America's vista significant. A typical coal power plant produces 600 megawatts of electricity. That means 400 1.5 megawatt wind turbines operating at full capacity would be needed to replace one coal plant. Unfortunately, wind turbines do not operate at full capacity. Indeed, they on average over time only generate 20% capacity. That means that it would take 2000 1.5 megawatt wind turbines to replace one typical coal electrical plant. That is an awful lot of wind turbines.

Kim Wall
Jan 06, 2011

My name is Kim Wall. In May of 2010 my husband and I opend a brand new resort on a jewel of an island on
British Columbia, Canada's Sunshine Coast. We are the proud owners and operators of Savary Island's newest
and only resort, The Savary Island Resort. Savary Island is home to British Columbia's warmest ocean waters
and white sand beaches. It is infamous for glorious sunsets and amazing views. If you have never heard of it,
we have been quite a well kept secret.

Savary Island is a backpacker destination and we have the only "bunk style" rooms and communal
kitchen on the island.

If I have peaked your can find out a little more by visiting
our website: If you are interested in pursuing doing an article on the island &/or
the resort please don't hesitate to contact me via e-mail:, phone: 604-414-9454
I look forward to hearing from you.

Kim Wall
Host: The Savary Island Resort

Karl Nielsen
Dec 27, 2010

Dear Backpacker my name is Karl Nielsen and I'm a working freelance photographer based in the SF Bay Area. I would like to pass on my website so that you can take a look at my work. Please take a second to look at my website:

If you are interested in using me, I would be more than happy to show you more work. Thanks for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.
If you are interested in using me please take

Josh Taylor
Dec 27, 2010

Hello Backpackers!

I have been a follower from the Middle East for the last four years. This year I started a years worth of traveling with my trusty Nikon D700 digital camera. I have summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, traveled overland in Africa for three months and just completed a trek to Everest Base Camp. I am wondering if there is a way to submit some pics, and maybe make your publication. Thanks for your consideration!

Mike Hiler
Nov 29, 2010

I represent Cave Moon Press in Yakima, WA. We have just released a book of sketches, passages, and poems about Wilderness, hiking, trails, etc. For example, one poem is titled, "Pacific Crest Trail". Our adds state: "You studied your map, you loaded up your backpack and drove to the trailhead, you hiked over two ridges and forded a stream, now it's time to reflect: "Buckskin Larch and Bedrock" (our title).

We think all hikers and backpackers will enjoy this book, it's unique, funny, captivating. Ann Marshall (former editor of Signpost Magazine) reviewed it and said, " The author has the ability to convey the spirit of the Cascade Wilderness. His verses take me to those wind-swept ridges and lonesome valleys on trails of words" This is a beautiful book, available on Amazon.

I will be glad to send your "gear editor" a copy of Buckskin Larch and Bedrock" to review.

Kathryn Kates
Nov 29, 2010

Below is a press release about Tour d’Afrique’s ‘North American Epic’…the first-ever cross-border bike tour from San Francisco to Newfoundland. The President and CEO of Tour d’Afrique, Henry Gold can speak quite poetically about this way to see the world, and we have great pics. In addition to interviewing Mr. Gold, there is a chef who travels with the riders, who could address healthy meals on the go…quite literally. Can’t have our riders too stuffed for the next day on the roads. We also have an expert mechanic who can give tips on preparing your bike for a Tour d’Afrique sojourn, or for any quick bicycle getaway or adventure.

I think this would make a great story for one of your writers. Thank you in advance for your kind consideration.

Kathryn Kates

For Immediate Release

One Bike, Two Countries in Three Months: The Cycling Begins…

Tour d’Afrique’s ‘North American Epic’

Cross-Continent Cycling Adventure May 29 to August 28, 2011

TORONTO, November 29, 2010 – This spring, Tour d’Afrique, the innovative company that introduced the world to multi-country, cross-continental cycling tours, is pleased to announce their first coast-to-coast experience across United States and Canada. The North American Epic begins at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and concludes in St. John’s, Newfoundland at Signal Hill.

Until now, no coast-to-coast North American tour has ever before combined the changing scenery and blending cultures of both the U.S. and Canada in one epic journey.

Tour d’Afrique’s guests will cycle 76 days, averaging 106 km per day. The total journey is 92 days including 15 rest days and one travel day. The five-leg journey includes “The Wild West,” San Francisco to Flagstaff, AZ; “Across the Great Divide,” Flagstaff to Wichita, KS; “The Land of Oz,” Wichita to Chicago; “Urban Pleasures,” Chicago to Quebec City; and “Maritime Charm,” Quebec City to St. John’s. Participants can sign up for all 92 exciting days, or any combination of segments.

The cost for the full tour is $9,950 USD, per person. The journey can also be experienced as five distinct shorter segments with pricing starting at $1,800 USD. If payment of the full tour entry fee is made before December 24, 2010, a discount of $500 USD is offered.

North American Epic 2011 is just one of Tour d’Afrique’s amazing tours. Other sojourns include the "Orient Express," from Paris to Istanbul; "Tour d’Afrique," from Cairo to Cape Town; "Silk Route," from Istanbul to Xian, China; "Spotlight on Turkey," from Ankara to Istanbul; "Sambatango," from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires; “Vuelta Sudamericana," from Buenos Aires to Lima; and the “Indian Adventure," from Agra to the southern tip at Kanyakumari.

Interested riders are asked to contact Tour d’Afrique by phone at: 416-364-8255, by email at , or visit: For North American Epic details;


About Tour d’Afrique

Tour d’Afrique Ltd ., named for its 2003 flagship cycling tour that annually traverses 7,500 miles of the African continent from Cairo to Cape Town over four months. Directly and indirectly, Tour d’Afrique benefits third world countries by organizing and staging transcontinental bicycle tours and races lasting 10 days to four months, crossing all or part of five continents and over 30 countries.

Tour d’Afrique creates cycling events that appeal to both amateurs and professionals. Participants range in age from 18 to 75.

The company’s DreamTour;, concept encourages individuals to submit their own trip of a lifetime that will then be open and crowd-sourced to other riders who may want to join in. The Tour d'Afrique Foundation;, promotes giving back to the communities touched by the tours and raises consciousness about the many benefits of bicycles as a means of sustainable transportation.

For media information, interviews, videos and photos please contact:

Kathryn Kates
Kathryn Kates Public Relations

Luke Larson
Nov 22, 2010

I just wrote up a brief account of my thru-hike of the PCT in 2007 and wanted to submit it for consideration in your magazine. I have cut and pasted it below for your consideration. You can contact me at

Luke Larson
A Hikers Perspective

Have you ever thought of walking across the country? Well neither had I, until I separated from the military in 2007 and did exactly that. My brother and I spent just under four months walking all the way from Canada to Mexico via the Pacific Crest Trail. It was a significant undertaking and here is my story.
For years my brother and I had joked around about doing some travel when I separated from the service. We didn’t have a very clear picture of what we would do, perhaps some hitchhiking, and camping here and there. With just two weeks left before stepping off on our journey my brother decided we should hike the Pacific Crest Trail. In a last minute flurry we ordered maps and guidebooks for the famous trail and did some very hasty last minute preparations. With some new gear on our backs we caught our flights to Seattle Washington to begin the journey.
Getting to the start of the trail from Seattle was painless, and before you knew it we were making our way south along the mountainous path. What a journey we had begun! Over the next four months we would hike across three states, over hundreds of mountains, and travel over 2,663 miles by foot. We pressed on through freezing temperatures, blistering heat, driving rain, and white out blizzard conditions. Our feet were blistered, our gear would break, our stomachs often groaned with hunger, and our nerves were frequently fried. Though it wasn’t all gloom. The vistas were breathtaking, the back country was peaceful, and the silent amble along pristine trail encouraged deep reflection and Zen like meditation. The sun smiled on us, the mountains begged us to climb them, and our bodies grew stronger with every mile. Through our efforts we were rewarded everyday with new sights and forward progress on our goals. The miles rolled by and our appreciation for the trail grew with every new experience.
After 3 months and 27 days and walking just over 2,663 miles our great journey came to an end at the Mexican border. I went through 25 pairs of socks, and 5 pairs of shoes throughout the trek. We popped blisters, endured bee stings and insect bites all along the way. What we gained from the experience was amazing though. We gleaned a better understanding of nature, a closer connection to the world around us, and a detachment from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Living on almost nothing with very little in our lives, we experienced richness in the quality of life which couldn’t be matched. This became our home, our path, and our way of life.
I promised myself that summer, that I would make it back out to hike the trail again one day. It has been three years, and I see those opportunities slipping by. How quickly we become constrained with the multitude of complexities around us in this chaotic life. We caught a glimpse of that pure simplicity and honest way of life that year on our journey, and ever since I have longed to return.

Mark Guest
Nov 22, 2010

Mark Guest
5382 E. 81st ST
Tulsa, OK 74137

“Call To the Wild”

Everyone has a place that they can go to feel safe. Whether it’s at home or at school, or maybe even escaping into a good book, people are born with a feeling of needing comfort. I too have that innate calling, except mine is to the wilderness. I define wilderness as the areas of the world untouched by man’s hammer or axe. More and more people are adapting to the commercial environment by building their “safe-havens” indoors; inside new technologically advanced buildings that create comfort spaces like the family room with the 60-inch flat screen or the office down the hallway where the new computer rests. With the new buildings that seem to sprout out of the ground at an alarming rate, a “safe-haven” of a few people is deteriorated so that many can find theirs. But what about those few? They are forced to keep looking for a new place to call their “safe-haven.” They will find their place, but in time the buildings will find them and the people will have to move on once again. But when is it going to be enough?
I am an outdoorsman. I hike. I camp. I fly-fish. I live for the sight of nature so pristine in its origin that when I look at its beauty, a feeling of serenity overcomes me. At that moment I can close my eyes and smell the clarity in the air. There’s no smog, no exhaust fumes, no pavement; just the smell of the dew on the grass and an assortment of wild flowers, each blossoming for the attention of only a few passers-by. I feel, not with my hands or my skin, but with a sense found deep down inside - a feeling found not on the couch in my living room or out of a book, but right here. Right here where no man-made device has ever been. I develop a calm, relaxing sensation that can’t help but put a smile on my face.
Am I also to move on once my safe-haven is gone? Am I to try and replicate this scene I know so well? Or am I to adapt to society, to modernize my beliefs, to turn my back on my call to the wild and try to find refuge on a couch? No, I can’t do any of these things. But I can raise awareness.
When are we, as a society, going to realize that nature isn’t going to last forever? I won’t be around a hundred years from now, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t have an affect on what nature looks like in the future. Is it my place to deny someone a hundred years from now, the feeling and excitement that I cherish now-for nature? So as for this outdoorsman, all I ask is one simple question. How much of nature is going to have to be destroyed for the sake of commercial development?

Courtney Washmuth
Oct 18, 2010

We have a organic dehydrated baby food company called Miles Outside that would fit in perfect with the magizine. Hoping that you guys might be doing a family friendly issue that we might be able to get into to! Please check out our website
Enjoy Outside
Courtney Washuth
941) 914-1721

Steven Busch.
Oct 15, 2010

In reference to my comment ( winter camping bwcaw.) my e mail address .

Steven Busch
Oct 15, 2010

Just finished reading Basecamp/Disapearing Act.( Sept. Issue 2010). I enjoyed it much. I had never heard speak of (PMAs). An overnight permit is required to camp in the BWCAW between May 1st. and Sept 31st. As you know that means a camper must submitt a request in advance and pay a daily fee. Between Oct 1st. and april 30th a self issuing permit is all that is required and no camping fee! Mugwump lake is no.5 on your pma list. The mugwump lake region is far easier to access in the winter than it is in the open water season. I take a annual last week of Dec. trip to mugwump lake. No bears, bugs, or bogs to deal with! Mugwump lake is as far from an entry point as one can get and during the winter season nobody is going to be there!! Two pairs of bc skis, snowshoes, pulk and winter bag is all that is needed. A pulling dog is a real plus but not a necessity. During the open water season cross country bushwacking is not practical. If you were to go back into any of thoose PMAs during the leafy season and attempt a stroll through the forest, well it aint gonna happen! Winter is a whole other story, everything is accessable! I think your readers would like to know about this camping oppurtunity. I will submitt an article if you think you may be interested.

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