Backpacking Light accepts unsolicited contributions from anyone who has a passion for the outdoors and a desire to tell their story. Review this guide to learn more.
What Kinds of Content Does Backpacking Light Publish?
We are open to virtually any type of content (text, photos, audio, video, etc.) suitable for publishing online, but it has to be consistent with our Core Mission:
To promote self-sufficient (e.g., “human-powered” and “backpackable”), multi-day backcountry travel in a lightweight style.
Please review our editorial framework below.
- Flash Reviews / New Gear DetailsA brief overview to a new product. Should include a short introduction, a description of the context in which the gear should be used, bullet lists highlighting key features and specifications, a stock photo, manufacturer information, and perhaps a concluding statement offering some author commentary. This is a news report, not a formal review, so hands-on testing is not required. Word Count: 250+.
- SpotLite Gear Reviews DetailsA short-form gear review that is based on preliminary or limited field use. Should include everything as above in a Flash Review, as well as a description of your field testing and how the item performed for you. Include bullet list sections for “Strengths” and “Limitations” based on your experience with the gear and your own personal biases. SpotLites are focused on statistics and author commentary rather than comprehensive performance testing. Photos and/or videos showing the gear in use by the author strongly recommended – please don’t rely solely on stock photography for imagery.
- Word Count: 500+
- View SpotLite Gear Review Template
- Performance Gear Reviews DetailsIn-depth performance reviews of selected lightweight backpacking gear. Should include everything as above in a SpotLite review, comprehensive field testing, and a presentation of the specific product’s relative performance in its niche with comparisons to its key competitors. Compare to what you believe are the categories top competitors (minimum of three) in a specifications and performance table. Photos and video should reinforce performance claims and show the equipment being used only in the field (no stock photography other than one photo in the introduction). You should include a Review Rating Summary (50-100 words) and your proposed Review Rating (Highly Recommended, Recommended, Above Average, Average, Below Average) consistent with our Gear Review Awards Program criteria. Word Count: 2,000+.
- State of the Market Reports DetailsIn-depth assessment of a product category, with a summary of available products, their applications, technologies, features, and performance. Heavy emphasis on a technology overview of the product category, a discussion of performance comparison criteria, and a performance comparison (with ratings) of each product presented in tabular format. Performance must be based on evaluation of the products in the field. Word Count: 5,000+.
- Gear Guides DetailsCursory overview of a product category, with a summary of available products with their features, specifications and applications compared. Less emphasis on field performance than in a State of the Market Report, i.e., this is sort of a “SpotLite” version of a State of the Market Report. Word Count: 2,000+.
News & Opinion
- Current Events DetailsThird-person news reports and stories about current events, tragedies, policy, public lands, and other outdoor news. Word Count: 300-600+.
- Expedition News DetailsNews reports and updates about upcoming, ongoing, or recent expeditions. Word Count: 300-600+.
- Event Reports DetailsDispatches and news from trade and community events. Word Count: 300-600+.
- Trend Reports DetailsIn-depth analysis of outdoor industry trends. Word Count: 1,000+.
- Essays & Commentary DetailsInsightful and provocative opinions about wilderness philosophy, issues, and techniques; also introspective writing (first person voice is OK) in the classic essay format by which a perceptive hypothesis is proposed, discussed, and brought to closure, focusing on lightweight backpacking or wilderness philosophy. Word Count: 1,000+.
- Media Reviews DetailsReviews of books, websites, digital media, and other materials of interest to wilderness recreationists. Word Count: 500+.
- Outdoor Retailer News DetailsDispatches and news from Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Markets. Word Count: 250+.
Skills & Techniques
- Gear Lists DetailsAnnotated gear lists designed to be used in a specific context. Should include an introduction to the environmental context appropriate for the gear, annotations describing the rationale of major gear choices, and a tabular gear list with weights. Word Count: 1,000+.
- Wilderness Travel Skills DetailsInstructional content focusing on field techniques for maximizing the performance of lightweight backpacking gear and/or employing lightweight techniques. Comprehensive and broad in scope. For shorter formats, see Tips & Tricks (below). Word Count: 1,500+.
- Make Your Own Gear (MYOG) DetailsGeneral instructional techniques that can be applied across a broad scope of project types; also specific projects using lightweight materials and designs, from start to finish. Projects include plans and patterns, step by step instructions, detailed photographs and/or diagrams throughout the process, and a discussion of design principles and applicability of the item in a lightweight kit. Should include detailed instructions for sourcing, manufacturing, and finishing homemade backpacking gear. Word Count: 1,500+.
- Tips & Tricks DetailsShort articles targeting unique and/or innovative solutions to backcountry problems. Word Count: 500+.
Science & Technology
- Technology Reviews DetailsIn-depth reviews of particular topics that are designed to present an objective view of opposing arguments, and draw conclusions from available research to validate/invalidate those arguments. Word Count: 2,500+.
- Testing & Research DetailsReports of standardized tests in (somewhat) controlled environments (bench, kitchen, garage, or field) that present real data, and the analysis of that data in a way that educates the user, dispels myths, or otherwise validates/invalidates hypotheses or claims. Word Count: 1,500+.
- Theory and Modeling DetailsApplication of scientific and/or mathematical principles and assumptions to advance rational theories that guide gear choices, techniques, or applications. Word Count: 1,500+.
- Biographies (“Profiles”) DetailsBiographical sketches of key figures in the lightweight backpacking community that focus on a recounting of their past accomplishments and current activities. Objective and documentary in nature, written in the third person. Word Count: 1,000+.
- Interviews (“Faces”) DetailsProvocative discussions about experiences and opinions with key figures within, and outside, the lightweight backpacking community. Personal and relational in nature, first person context between the interviewer and interviewed. Word Count: 1,000+.
- Expedition / Trip Reports DetailsWritten in the classic first-person style of a mountaineering “TR”, trip reports provide factual accounting of trips taken in ultralight style by the author. Emphasis on the chronological events of the trip. Word Count: 1,000+.
- Notes from the Field DetailsA narrative that expands on the trip report format by including a discussion of pre-trip rationale for choices made, during-trip experiences (e.g., an annotated photo essay), a post-trip summary and analysis (including gear notes). More room for subjective author commentary and communication of personal experience than in the Expedition / Trip Report format. Word Count: 1,500+.
- Photo Essays DetailsA gallery of one or more high quality photographs featuring a lightweight backpacking trek and annotated in the first person. Photographs should focus on the use of gear in the field, the people involved, and exceptional scenery. The photos and captions should tell a story in terms of either chronology or theme. Emphasis is on the narrative story that accompanies the photography. Word Count: 500+.
- Featured Routes DetailsAn objective description of a wilderness route suitable for a lightweight backpacking style. It should have been completed by the author, offer some first person account of the author’s experience (but only as a complement, see Trip Reports and Notes of the Field for more comprehensive first-person accounts of trips above), but include mostly objective information that can be used by others wanting to attempt the route. Photos should be included as a supplement to the text, focusing on scenic elements of the route (as opposed to focusing too much on the people or gear used when the author did the trip). A route map should supplement the piece. Word Count: 1,000+.