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.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

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.