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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Meet the 2013 BACKPACKER Reader Reporter Team

Meet the four lucky readers -- two guys and two gals -- who will scouring the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market for the greatest (and weirdest) new gear!

by: Kristin Hostetter

Four lucky readers were chosen from mountains of applicants to join our gear testing team this winter at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City. These gearheads will participate in our testing program and join us for five busy and incredible days as reader reporters. They’ll scour the aisles for the coolest new gear, write daily reports, and keep fellow readers in the loop via our Facebook page.

To follow their coverage, like our Facebook page and subscribe to our free daily newsletter and get live updates from Outdoor Retailer!

Becca Stubbs is a 21-year-old student from Boulder, Colorado working towards a degree in geography. Becca is deeply involved in the Hiking Club at the University of Colorado, and she spends all her free time backpacking, climbing, or skiing, An avid traveler, Becca and her backpack have traveled from the beaches of Olympic National Park to the deserts of northern India, the jungles of Indonesia, the Denali Wilderness, and the hot springs of the Sawtooth Range in Idaho. Becca is card-carrying gear nut and can’t wait to tear up the floor at Outdoor Retailer.


Katy Welter is 30-year-old public policy analyst in Chicago, where she bikes to work through skyscraper canyons and runs along the great Lake Michigan. She and her husband, Rick (a science teacher and NOLS instructor), have backpacked all over the world, and bring their dogs Scout and Muddy whenever possible. Katy loves backcountry cooking and her favorite recipes are for pizza and gingerbread pancakes.


Dave Harding is a 28-year-old instructor and gear specialist for Calleva Outdoors, a non-profit outdoor education school in the Washington, DC area. While he loves teaching climbing, kayaking, and backpacking to his students his greatest joy is instilling a love of the outdoors in his two adventurous children, Emma and Chris. Claim to fame: Dave has taken the Obama daughters kayaking, secret service and all!


Gerben Scherpbier is the 19-year-old president of the Dartmouth College Outing Club, a telemark ski instructor, and member of the local search and rescue team in Hanover, New Hampshire. Gerben loves to lead student trips in the outdoors and he hopes to spread his passion for hiking as a wilderness park ranger this coming summer. Gerben is a returning member of the BRR team, and has become a value member of the BACKPACKER testing crew.

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Star Star Star Star Star
Feb 28, 2014

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Aug 14, 2013

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May 30, 2013

Wow, I am totally in agreement with the opinions regarding the limited age/experience of the group selected as 2013 gear testers. Yes, I am assuming older hikers have the benefit of having tried more types of equipment and Backpacker readers would benefit from that experience. I am 57 and the review I would have written for the equipment I use today would be MUCH richer than a review written using the same equipment when I was in my 20's, 30's and 40's.

Star Star
Chris Da German
Mar 15, 2013

I would have to agree with Thom on this one. I am 29 years old and I have been hiking almost my whole life. I have ran into older folks on the AT -- AT is my backyard in VA -- and learn a lot more from them. I feel being so young you don't have that much experience and failures with gear or your self. If it was me that got picked, I would be on the Rollercoster -- AT -- during all types of weather.

Star Star Star Star Star
Jan 24, 2013

While some other readers find it troubling that the age group is so young, I find it inspiring. It is a comfort to know that these young adults are so enthusiastic of the outdoors and will be the future backpackers of the world. I am interested in what they have to say and stand behind what they produce 100%. Good Luck to each of you, and stay persistant in your dreams!

Star Star Star
Jan 22, 2013

First of all, congratulations to the new team! BUT I agree with Thom. How is an entire backpacking/hiking population of all ages supposed to rely on the "expert" advice of a 19 or 21 year old? I'm sure these kids have all had great experiences (probably thanks to mom and dad's funding) but it doesn't say "LIFE experience" to the rest of us. How many attempts and failures have they had? At 19, how many pairs of boots can one actually own and compare? There should be a representative that everyone can relate to, look up to, and trust because they have years of experience. Part of the fun is trying out your new gear and then deciding what you like and don't like. This generation is into "instant gratification", so how can "experience" even be a factor here? I'm 57 and NOT old, and would be more likely to trust the opinion of someone with some outdoor WISDOM, and that comes with age and experience, successes and failures. 19 year olds are not WISE yet. Sorry.

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Jan 18, 2013

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Star Star
Jan 08, 2013

While I enjoy reading what other hikers have to say about equipment they have actually used, your demographics in the MEET THE 2013 BACKPACKER READER REPORTER TEAM seems very limited. As a member of the 60+ generation, I would be much more interested to here from a broader age group, than from a group totally made up of outdoor enthusiasts younger 30.

Star Star Star Star Star
Dec 24, 2012

Yeah Brokeback! Looking forward to seeing all the posts from OR.


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