Magazines play a critical role in the outdoor media landscape. They share stories and trip reports, highlight recent events, provide tips and tricks, and amp up stoke. And while it might be hard to comprehend in today’s on-demand world, where so many outdoor magazines are going entirely digital (or extinct altogether), we’re always psyched when the latest issue of one of our longtime favorites arrives in the mailbox. With their coffee-table-book aesthetic featuring beautiful photos, epic stories, and interesting profiles that would feel at home in any anthology of great outdoor writing, these four big glossy quarterlies will help renew your love of print magazines.


If you love mountain biking, you’ll love FreeHub Magazine. A quarterly publication, FreeHub publishes just four issues annually—three traditionally formatted magazines and one photobook. The standard issue of FreeHub is meticulously curated with loads of high-quality content and no fluff. What you will find in a standard issue of FreeHub is features on wild and inspiring trips and profiles of some of the most fascinating personalities in mountain biking. The annual photobook catalogs some of the planet’s best places to ride through spectacular imagery, detailed descriptions of trail systems, and introductions to the people behind them.

Billing itself as community-driven and aiming to “help build and showcase our amazing international MTB community,” FreeHub embraces the many different disciplines that make up the mountain bike community. A single issue will often contain stories about everything from ultra-endurance cycling to bikepacking to freeriding to dirt jumping to trail-building. Another tip of the hat to the mountain bike community is the “Who We Are” section, which is basically a letter from the editor surrounded by user-submitted photos that highlight readers and riders.

Gear nerds beware, FreeHub is really focused on the moments, places, and people that make up the mountain bike community and not so much the stuff. There are no gear reviews, how-tos, or tech tips. While we love to flip through the print edition of FreeHub, it’s also embracing digital—online subscriptions are available and it continues to create other media like movies for its online audience.


We’ve been reading Alpinist Magazine since the beginning—Issue 0, a skinny 32-page glossy mag detailing some of the world’s most cutting-edge climbs and climbers that featured articles from legends like Dean Potter, Johnny Copp, Leo Houlding, and Timmy O’Neill. To date, this quarterly magazine has 80 issues under its belt and has grown substantially in size. Today, most issues are around 100 pages.

Open an Alpinist and you’ll find a variety of feature stories about tackling the world’s most iconic mountains and challenging climbs. You’ll also find “Mountain Profiles” detailing the rich history of the sport’s most hallowed peaks, a recurring “Local Hero” highlighting under-the-radar crushers, and a handful of personal stories, poetry, and photo essays that capture the climbing lifestyle. Its contributors read like a list of the who’s-who of the climbing world, including Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold, and Steve House to name a few. A testament to the archival quality of each issue is that we just can’t help but hold onto them and still find ourselves digging them off the bookshelf, either for research or simply rereading a favorite article.

Unlike internet stories, much of what Alpinist publishes has a literary feel and is meant to be savored, not skimmed. Articles are often as informative and captivating as they are dense—it’s not something you’d flip through at the dentist’s office. Another notable characteristic of Alpinist is that you’ll find minimal advertising on its pages, which is another reason that makes it feel like it has a place on the bookshelf, rather than the recycling bin, once you’ve finished reading.

The Ski Journal

Writing about skiing is difficult—it’s just as easy to veer into the bro-brah culture of the kids hitting rails in town as it is to highlight the hyper-luxurious trips of the rich and famous—yet The Ski Journal manages to thread the needle. Within The Ski Journal’s pages, you’ll find all ski disciplines covered in an interesting and engaging way; its writers are particularly skilled at finding the universal aspects of the sport that all skiers feel/understand. You could say the magazine is as much about the soul of skiing as it is about skiing itself. Not into park skiing? You’ll probably still like an article about it in The Ski Journal.

Jaw-dropping imagery and fantastic writing covering the essence of skiing—rather than the latest news, contest results, or gear—give The Ski Journal a timeless feel. If it wasn’t for shifting fashions and gear, you could easily mistake an article from deep in the archives as having been written just a few days, weeks, or months ago. Like the aforementioned magazines, The Ski Journal is big and glossy, comes out quarterly, and also feels at home on a bookshelf so you can revisit favorite issues and stories.

Even as long-time subscribers, we still get a tingle when The Ski Journal’s first issue of the season arrives in our mailboxes in late fall/early winter and we’ll only be a few pages in before the desire to sharpen edges, scrape wax, and re-waterproof shells hits. While analog reigns supreme in our opinion, The Ski Journal has also made an attempt to curry favor with the online crowd—they now offer a digital version of the magazine which features videos and interactive slideshows.

Photo: Lauren Danilek

Trails Magazine

The newest edition to our list of favorite print magazines, Trails Magazine is a high-quality quarterly for the backpacking and hiking community. Founded and run by goEast editor Ryan Wilchens, Trails Magazine stands at the forefront of the evolving outdoor media landscape, prioritizing top-end print journalism and photography at a time when so many other historically great print magazines have gone entirely digital.

While we love—and have written our fair share of—articles and listicles for the web, digital content is not always conducive to long-form articles and storytelling, especially the type of unique backpacking and hiking stories and photographs captured in the February 2023 inaugural issue of Trails Magazine. We discussed this topic, as well as the excitement associated with creating a new print magazine during the digital era, in our recent interview with Ryan. We loved the first issue and bet you will too.

Have another favorite print magazine that thrives on storytelling or photography? We want to hear about it. Tell us about the magazine in the comments below!