About Trails Magazine

Trails Magazine is the next generation of print magazines specifically for the backpacking, thru-hiking, and multiday adventure crowd. 

But it's not the first. For a long time, we had Backpacker magazine—that's where I got my start as a writer, when I was still in college. For a lot longer than I was writing for them, Backpacker was revered: A staple of mailboxes for nearly 50 years, displayed somewhere in nearly every gear shop I stopped into, a household name and beloved companion for so many of us—It was the first magazine I subscribed to as a kid and the only one I wanted to write for. 

Ryan with Issue 1 of Trails.

But in 2022, in the midst of some painful restructuring at Backpacker's parent company, Outside, Backpacker printed it's final print issue. And as much as the magazine had transformed over the years (often not for the better), it was sad to see such a community pillar leave us behind. 

I started Trails in the wake of that heartbreak, partially to fill the gap and offer a print magazine specifically for backpackers. But also to do it better. Trails is quarterly, but is far meatier than its predecessor. It's printed on high-quality paper, designed to stick around on your coffee table or bookshelf, even after the next one arrives. (Start a collection!) It's incredibly beautiful, full of thoughtful design decisions, large-format photography, and a focus on aesthetics. And it's also designed not to fail in the same way so many other magazines are: Print definitely isn't dead, but the model that relies on cheap magazines filled with advertisements definitely is. Trails has almost none and relies on its subscribers, rather than big gear companies, to make ends meet. Believe it or not, outdoor print magazines are thriving in the current digital age. And Trails is one more example of that. 

Trails Magazine Issue 3

We're also putting a focus on treating our contributors—the photographers, writers, illustrators, and editors whose hard work is the foundation of our magazine—fairly, with good rates, respectful contracts, and prompt payment. 

We're all building this magazine with one thing in mind: You, backpackers. If that seems like something you'd be interested in joining us for, follow us on Instagram, subscribe to our email, pick up a copy of the magazine, or—best of all—subscribe. Backpackers have a great legacy of quality publications, but we're something new. I'm betting you'll notice the difference. 

See you out there,

Ryan's Signature

Trails In the News

Westword: Trails Magazine Forges a New Path for Backpacking Media

Times Union: Wichelns adds magazine to outdoors accomplishments

Field Mag: Our Editor's Favorite Gifts for Hikers

Garage Grown Gear: A Print Magazine for Backpackers to Savor

Miranda Goes Outside: 10 Gifts the ALL Backpackers Will Love

The Pursuit Zone: Creating Trails Magazine with Ryan Wichelns

Life in Motion: Building a Backpacking Community with Ryan Wichelns of Trails Magazine

Contact Trails


PO Pox 1943, Bellingham, WA 98227