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3 Questions For: Eli Bernstein, BACKPACKER's new associate gear editor

Bernstein comes to Backpacker from Sports Illustrated

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We ask what it takes to impress BACKPACKER Magazine gear editors.

Eli Bernstein
Eli Bernstein, BACKPACKER’s new associate gear editor, in the Matter Valley of Switzerland. // Photo: Courtesy

Eli Bernstein recently joined the team of our sister magazine, BACKPACKER, as associate gear editor. Previously, he was the homepage editor and producer for Sports Illustrated, in New York City. We caught up with him this week in his new office, to find out why’s he excited for the new gig.

How did you get into the outdoors, coming from New York?

From a pretty young age, my dad took me and my brother backpacking in upstate New York. That’s where I’ve done some of my favorite trips into the mountains. I’ve backpacked my way around Adirondack State Park and the surrounding lakes.

Having hiked a lot of places around the world, what I like most about that area is that it’s still the most challenging hiking I’ve ever done. The Adirondacks are a big challenge, on your feet and on your mental strength.

Are you a gear wonk? How can people pique your interest when pitching you gear?

I love seeing new, advanced technology, and how it can help people experience the outdoors better and safer. But I tend to find stuff and stick with it. I think, if you get to know a piece of gear inside and out, it takes a lot of stress out of backpacking, when you know what your gear can and cannot do. Then you’re left with just every single other variable, rather than also wondering whether your jacket will stay waterproof.

Because I’m the person who tends to like a special product and stick with it, I’m excited to expand my horizons at this job. Also, obviously, I’m looking forward to having the chance to meld something that I’m already so excited to do with work. When your mandate is “go out, hike, use this piece of gear, and report back on it,” that’s a pretty sweet gig.

As for pitching, I’m not big on tailgating or car camping gear. But my proverbial electronic door is always open. Send me anything, and always reach out to me if you have any questions.

You’re on a press trip. You’ve just backpacked all day, and it was a grind. You get to camp, and a few people want to grab headlamps and run off to bag a nearby peak before sunset. Others want to kick back in camp, drink whiskey, and make quesadillas. What’s your move?

I like summits, and I like sunsets on summits. So that’d be a pretty easy decision for me. But back at camp, I’m pretty big at fire-making, when that’s possible. I’m not a great cook, so building a fire is what I can do that makes everyone happy.