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Remembering Skip

Saying goodbye to an industry icon

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Profile of Skip Yowell, smiling.
Credit: Ben FullertonBen Fullerton.

Dear Outdoor Industry friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I make my first post as the new Editor-in-Chief at SNEWS. I never dreamed that my excitement in my new role, which allows me to connect in a new and profound way with this industry that I love so much, would be tempered by the passing of a man who has done so much to build, strengthen, and bring together that community.

I can’t quite recall the very time I first met Skip Yowell, which was some 21 years ago, when I began working as Backpacker’s rookie Gear Editor, but I do know that from the very beginning I was somewhat star-struck. That feeling was short-lived, however, because, although Skip was certainly a celebrity in our world, I quickly learned he was so much more than that: warm, generous, charming, funny, mischievous, and authentically sweet, to the core.

My favorite memory of Skip: Back in the late 90s, he invited me on a JanSport press trip, a five-day hike in Isle Royal National Park, a place that had always captured my imagination for its remoteness, its wolves and moose, its shimmering Lake Superior coastlines. I was thrilled at the invitation, but I was also 7 1/2 months pregnant with my first baby. I immediately called Skip, and asked if he wanted to rescind his invitation. After all, we would be testing new JanSport packs, and I wouldn’t be able to even cinch the hipbelt around my fully blossomed belly. Plus, I was a walking liability. It’s so remote, I worried out loud to him. What if I go into labor? His reply: Then we’ll helicopter you back to the mainland and you’ll have an amazing story to tell your baby someday. You have to be on this trip.

And so I was. Skip and my friend, Michael Hodgson, carried all my gear, and I waddled along beside them listening to stories and learning. It remains one of my all-time favorite adventures, and although my son (now 16) was not born on Isle Royal, but right on schedule 6 weeks later, I still tell him the story of his first backpacking trip with the legendary Skip Yowell.

I know that Skip touched so many people that work in our industry. I know that so many of you have powerful stories to share. He was a pillar of our entire community, a glue of sorts, who brought people together. He supported our causes, inspired us to be better, and taught us, by example, to share our passion for adventure.

If you have any favorite photos or Skip, or better yet, any video of him doing the things he loved to do, we’d love to include them in a video tribute we’re working on. Please email us at and we’ll get you the dropbox link for uploading.

RIP, Skip.

Yours in adventure,

Kristin Hostetter