Steven over at My Life Outdoors asked his readers to nominate the top outdoor blogs, which was a tidy coincidence: Today I wrapped up a quick-and-dirty analysis of more than 300 sites on my Twitter list of hiking and camping blogs.
My Top 10 were excellent, but it’s never a surprise to find 10 great examples of anything. I was more amazed at how many great blogs I had to choose from. Back when I started Two-Heel Drive there might’ve been a half-dozen really good hiking/camping blogs. Today there are well over 100. I pared that list down to about 50, then slashed one more time to get the Top 10:
- Hiking in Finland — Hendrik Morkel is the best hiking blogger we’ve got at the moment. He’s smart, opinionated, occasionally infuriating and straight-up crazy about sharing tips for lightweight backpacking.
- Florida Hikes — I guess when you’ve got no mountains and alligators instead of bears, you have to try harder.
- Trail Cooking & the Outdoors — Every backpacker who’s had to scrape the encrusted oatmeal out of their titanium pots is thankful for the advent of Freezerbag Cooking.
- Dirty Gourmet — I checked this site out in depth for the first time. Clean design, great writing and authoritative coverage make Dirty Gourmet a winner.
- Daily Hiker — Still a great mix of news, commentary and gear here.
- Gear Talk with Jason Klass — We should all just travel to Colorado and have Jason teach us how he makes such cool videos.
- Section Hiker — Always a solid performer with a strong mix of tips, gear and trip reports.
- Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog — Evidence that it’s possible to have a site devoted to hiking news.
- The Gearcaster — Another site proving that video brings a whole new dimension to gear blogging.
- Cold Splinters — Cold Splinters’ capacity to tap into totally cool stuff is unmatched.
Methodology: To be great, a blog needs to answer four questions:
- Does it have great content — writing, multimedia, editorial decisions?
- Is it a resource of something greater than the blogger’s opinions?
- Does it have a well-defined niche and stay on topic?
- Is it easy to use with clean design and intuitive navigation?
Once I had my top 100, I rated each from one to three on each of those four questions. But that only got me down to the final 50, so I simply forced myself to choose 10 that I liked better than the rest, then I ranked those accordingly.
Using different standards would produce an entirely different list, no doubt. And forcing myself to choose 10 willfully omits at least a couple dozen that might be on somebody else’s 10 Best list. More of my favorites from the top 50:
- LA Hiker — A video site illustrating the embarrassment of riches in southern California hiking coverage.
- Brian’s Backpacking Blog — It pained me to leave Brian’s site out of the Top 10. He posts a wealth of tips that makes his site a must-read.
- Hiking Lady — This site seems much improved of late; my first impression was that it was mainly an affiliate site but over time I’ve come to respect it a lot more.
Here’s a look at the top 100-plus blogs I was working from: