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.

top 10 logoMy 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Florida Hikes — I guess when you’ve got no mountains and alligators instead of bears, you have to try harder.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Daily Hiker — Still a great mix of news, commentary and gear here.
  6. Gear Talk with Jason Klass — We should all just travel to Colorado and have Jason teach us how he makes such cool videos.
  7. Section Hiker — Always a solid performer with a strong mix of tips, gear and trip reports.
  8. Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog — Evidence that it’s possible to have a site devoted to hiking news.
  9. The Gearcaster — Another site proving that video brings a whole new dimension to gear blogging.
  10. 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:

A Wandering Knight
Adventures of Scatman
Adventure Blog
Al Humphreys
Appalachia & Beyond
Backpacking North
Backpacking Worldwide
Bald Hiker
Best Hike Blog
Big Outside
Brian’s Backpacking Blog
Camp the Summit
Camping Blogger
Camping Gear TV
Chris Townsend
Cold Splinters
Compass Points
Daily Hiker
Dawn’s bloggy blog
Delirious Ramblings
Dirtbag Diaries
Dirty Gourmet
Distance Backpacker
Dog explorer
Dressed in Dirt
Easy Hiker
Eric Larsen Explorer
Eric the Black’s Backpacking Blog
Family Camp Man
Fat Man of the Mountains
Florida Hikes
Francis Tapon
Free Outdoors
G. Dan Mitchell
Gambolin’ Man
Gear Gals
Gear Guide
Gear Talk with Jason Klass
Geoff Mallinson
Get Going NC
Get Out More
Good Hiker
Greene Adventures
Hass Backwards
Hike Bike Travel
Husky Hiker
Hike for Heroes
Hikes Peak
Hiking Boots News
Hiking in Finland
Hiking in Honolulu
Hiking Lady
Hiking Northern Michigan
Hiking with Impunity
Jill Outside
Kevin’s Hiking Page
LA Hiker
Light of the Wild
Lightweight Outdoors
Lightweight and Ultralightweight Backpacking
Little Po Adventures
Live Free and Hike NH
Modern Hiker
Must Be This Way
My Life Outdoors
Nature for kids
Northern California Hiking Trails
Oceanic Wilderness
One Year in Yellowstone
Our Hiking Blog
Outdoor Afro
Outdoor Blogger
Outdoor Gear TV
Outdoor Informer
Outdoor Vancouver
Pure Outside
Real Family Camping
Roger’s Outdoor Blog
Scoutmaster CG
Section Hiker
Seven Dog Winter
Sierra Journal
Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog
SoCal Hiker
Social Hiking
Southern Nevada Outside
Secret Yellowstone
Take a Hike GPS
The Active Dad
The Gearcaster
The Hike Guy
The Mountain Diva
The New Nomads
The Outdoor Type
Tony and Mike Taking a Hike
Trail Cooking & the Outdoors
Trail Mix
Trail Savvy
Trails Edge Blog
Travelers Zone
Trek Tek Blog
Trish Alex & Sage
Visit Florida Nature & Outdoors
Walk Simply
Wicked Lost
Wild Girl Writing
Wood Trekker