Trails Magazine’s Fourth Issue is the Latest Sign of Outdoor Print’s Revival

October 10, 2023

Shipping next month, the magazine’s newest issue is only more proof of the viability of a growing new model of adventure journalism.

October 10, 2023 /OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – More than a year removed from a Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $25,000 for the project, Trails Magazine is gearing up to hit print on its fourth issue, arriving in subscriber’s mailboxes in November. But the bigger picture: Trails’ achievement in printing a full year of magazines (not to mention doubling subscriber numbers and more) is only the latest example of the success of the magazine’s publishing model.

Founded in the wake of Backpacker Magazine going out of print last year, Trails uses a model that prioritizes subscription revenue over advertising revenue, resulting in a higher-quality, lower-frequency magazine with fewer ads and a larger focus on design, artwork, and photography when compared to most magazines available on grocery store shelves.

Trails followed in the footsteps of publications like Adventure Journal, Mountain Gazette, and others. And in the year since Trails’ launch, other magazines launched using a similar model: Ori (a biannual travel and culture magazine) is new. Summit Journal, once the preeminent publication for climbers, announced its plans to relaunch as a similar biannual “coffee-table” type magazine.

“The fact we’re now printing our fourth issue and so many other similar magazines are having the same kinds of success should make it clear that consumers want a product like this,” said Trails’ founder and editor-in-chief, Ryan Wichelns. “Print isn’t dead. If you make a high-quality magazine for the reader, instead of for the subscriber, people will clearly pay for it.”

Issue 4 is also Trails’ biggest issue yet, topping out at nearly 100 full-color pages, printed on 80-pound paper stock. Focused on backpacking and adjacent activities aligned with the magazine’s “Sleep in the Dirt” tagline, the latest issue includes stories like:

  • A look at how backpacking and outdoor recreation are returning to war-torn Ukraine,
  • One writer’s journey to explore the private mountain ranges of West Texas,
  • A report from thru-hikers about the state of the Pacific Crest Trail following a record-breaking winter season,
  • One thru-hiker’s opinion about why the spectacular Smokey Mountain may be the worst part of the Appalachian Trail,
  • Recipes for DIY easy-to-make dehydrated backpacking meals,
  • Photos and stories from Oregon to Hyalite Canyon to Maine’s Cutler Coast Trail and beyond.

The magazine is only available in print and can be purchased from trailsmag.net. Interested readers need to be subscribed before November 1 to receive Issue 4. Subscriptions include four seasonally relevant issues, mailed directly to the reader in protective packaging over the course of a year.

“These magazines are just getting better and better and bigger and bigger as we go along,” Wichelns said. “Producing something tangible like this feels like a little bit of a dying art and every copy we’re able to print feels like a miracle because of that. I’m so proud to be putting it out there.”

Work has already begun on Issue Five, which will print in February.



Tori Duhaime

Marketing Director, Trails Magazine