Dear reader,

It’s been a year. Between early resort closures last spring, increased numbers flocking out of bounds and a mounting strain on search and rescue teams, our backcountry community has felt the pressure and stress of an unpredictable time.

But if there’s one thing that us backcountry skiers and riders know well, it’s uncertainty. In fact, it’s kind of our thing. Each day we spend in the mountains is a calculation of risk acceptance, from our partner choices to which zones we visit and lines we ride. The end goal is simple—it isn’t about the summit; it’s about getting back safely.

Here at Backcountry, the same mentality applies. And a huge part of the reason we’ve been able to stay in print for over 25 years is because of subscribers—you guys—showing up year after year to support us. For that, thank you! As the unknowns of this upcoming season continue to develop, we’re asking for continued commitment from our subscribers and support from new readers. Because we simply cannot survive without you. Unlike a lot of publishers, who rely mostly on advertisers, we depend equally as much on our readers. Understandably—and for a thousand different reasons—some advertisers are taking their business elsewhere, if they’re still in business at all or hope to be in the future.

Being a small, niche, independent publisher has never been easy. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, media companies are grappling with tightened freelance budgets, layoffs of journalists, photographers and designers and, sometimes, full-on closures. Backcountry has been fortunate—we’re still hitting deadlines and publishing our 2021 Gear Guide with the same standards we’ve always adhered to: quality storytelling and unbiased gear reviews, all devoid of sponsored content. But this issue is 16 pages shorter than last year’s Gear Guide, and all 16 of those pages that were cut were advertiser pages. None of them editorial. That’s because of you and our commitment to bringing you what you pay for.

But, as you continue to enjoy the stories, photography and gear reviews you love and for which we are known, please consider supporting Backcountry in any way that’s right for you, whether by subscribing or renewing your subscription; giving a gift subscription; making a purchase from our online store; or contributing to the Backcountry Podcast.

Just like in the mountains, uncertainty is guaranteed in the media world. But also guaranteed is our commitment to producing high-quality journalism for the backcountry community—from gear reviews to photo essays, deep dives into mountain ranges, trip reports and more, all delivered in a timeless print journal. After all, we’re all seeking that untracked experience—and we’d love to have you along for the ride.

Thank you,

Lucy Higgins, Betsy Manero, Tyler Cohen, Mike Lorenz, Robin Earle, Adam Howard, Justin Reyher, Paul Davis, John Costello, Michele Peoples, Holly Howard, Karen Huard

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