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Introducing Backpacker’s newest gear editor

Benjamin Tepler joins the industry's most trusted source for backpacking and hiking journalism.

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The outdoor media industry has a new gear guru in its ranks.

Benjamin Tepler—a Vermont-based journalist whose work has appeared in various national publications, including OutsideFood & Wine, and Sunset—has joined the staff of Backpacker (owned by OBJ’s parent company) as assistant gear editor. Tepler spent 10 years at Portland Monthly Magazine before accepting the new role, where he’ll join senior gear editor Eli Bernstein in writing and editing all product-related content for the magazine’s print and digital channels.

We sat down with Tepler one week into the job to get his thoughts about the new position. An edited version of our conversation is below.

How did you land this role? What career moves, passions, and personal history brought you here?

I spent the last decade at Portland Monthly Magazine, most recently as senior editor, covering food, science, and the outdoors. When I wasn’t writing and editing cool pop-sci features about how wolves evolved into dogs or taste testing chocolate chip cookies from around the city, I was outside hiking, running, and climbing. Inevitably, I got very into the gear component of being outdoors and ended up leading Portland’s local coverage, which included bigger brands like Columbia and smaller cottage brands like Fernweh Food Co.

What kind of gear are you most interested in, and how can people get your attention when pitching you gear?

I’m an equal-opportunity gear lover. I’m always excited to see new technologies in segments where there hasn’t been a ton of new innovation (like new waterproofing technologies that might compete with Gore-Tex). While it’s not exactly the gear department’s domain, I’m very picky about backpacking food and have many strong opinions about dehydrated lasagna.

What’s the best outdoor trip you’ve ever been on, and what made it so great? 

Tough question! I hiked a big stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington last year that traverses the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It’s an unbelievably beautiful landscape: dozens of bright blue lakes; giant, jagged mountains; and wild flora. Definitely a crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest.

What’s your most indispensable piece of camping gear—your must-have on any trip?

Definitely my backpacking pillow. It was made by a company called Quixote, which I don’t think exists anymore. Essentially it’s a tiny, all-down pillow with a water-resistant shell. It’s my one piece of luxury gear that, as a finicky backcountry sleeper, I can’t live without.

To get in touch with Benjamin, email him at