Welcome to the Future of Outside
Introducing Outside+, a whole new way to feed your outdoor passions
Pop quiz: name the first person to grace the cover of Outside magazine.
Reinhold Messner? A worthy candidate, but wrong. Robert Redford? Nope. Also a strong guess, but he didn’t show up until 1978. The correct answer, of course, is none other than seventies country-rock superstar Linda Ronstadt.
To be fair, that was a trick question. I don’t expect anyone to answer correctly unless you’re Jann Wenner or Tim Cahill. (And if you are either of those people, Hello! Thank you for inspiring my career.) The truth—something our legendary fact-checkers have demanded since our inception—is that the very first edition of Outside was published as an insert in a December 1976 issue of Rolling Stone, which featured Ronstadt on the cover, along with a large Outside logo positioned above her left shoulder. You can think of Outside’s launch strategy back then as a sort of benign bait and switch. An established media brand gathered its formidable audience in one place, only to direct readers’ attention elsewhere and expose them to an exciting new business idea.
It seems fitting, then, that 43 years later we’re executing the same tactic for what is effectively Outside’s relaunch. The real reason we’ve brought you here today is to introduce Outside+, a new membership program for anyone and everyone that loves the outdoors. In case you missed the news, Outside was acquired in February by Pocket Outdoor Media (since renamed Outside Interactive), linking us to dozens of other like-minded resources, from fellow media titles like Backpacker and VeloNews and Outside Television, to revered services such as Gaia GPS, AthleteReg, and FinisherPix, to iconic experiences like the Roll Massif bike series and the annual Warren Miller ski-and-snowboard film tour. Our new parent company has bundled the features of all these properties into Outside+. Sign up, and you’ll gain access not only to our award-winning journalism but to a host of additional perks and benefits, including:
- A subscription to Outside magazine and your choice from 12 Outside+ member titles
- Digital access to members-only content across all Outside properties
- Over a thousand hours of exclusive TV content via the OutsideTV app
- Access to hundreds of virtual health, fitness, cooking, and outdoor classes
- Two free books a year from VeloPress
- Personalized, ad-free experiences at Outside Online
- A subscription to Gaia GPS, so you can download maps offline and never get lost again
- Free training plans for running, cycling, and triathlon via Today’s Plan
- Discounts on everything from gear to race-entry fees to event photography
Outside+ also represents a significant shift in our business strategy. Back in the 1990s, we followed other magazines in committing the industry’s original sin: abandoning consumer revenue in the digital space by deciding to give away all website content for free. That made us almost entirely dependent on ad revenue, and for the next two decades, Outside’s fortunes followed the boom-bust cycles of the marketing industry. Many titles didn’t survive those lean periods—RIP National Geographic Adventure—and while Outside managed to stay afloat, we also knew that we’d eventually have to make the shift to a paid digital model to get back on solid ground. We had confidence that our digital readers would be as willing to pay for our storytelling as our print subscribers, but building the infrastructure for member-only access requires millions of dollars of investment. It took the resources of our new company to finally make it happen, and we couldn’t be more excited to put that confidence in our journalism to the test.
Outside+ launched in May, but today marks our brand’s official integration into the membership program. That means you’ll notice some changes here at Outside Online, including registration and log-in features that allow you to customize your feed and see more of the stories you want, from Outside as well as all of our partner titles. More significantly, we’re no longer giving away everything for free. Going forward, we’ll be putting 30 percent of our content, including all of our print-magazine content, behind a member wall. We feel strongly that the work we produce at Outside is distinct and valuable, a vital service that readers are now willing to pay for. What’s more, we plan to roll out some exciting new member-only exclusives in the coming months, including an Outside Book Club, member access to our gear testing, serialized longreads, and unique travel opportunities. We believe that when you see all the additional perks of an Outside+ membership, the value will be evident.
I should also add that there are many things that won’t be changing at Outside, starting with our decades-long commitment to quality, in-depth reporting. Each day at Outside Online, you’ll continue to find one-of-a-kind longform stories, comprehensive travel advice and unbiased gear reviews, and clear-eyed coverage of critical outdoor topics that affect all of us, from the ongoing bike-safety crisis to the importance of making our nation’s outdoor spaces welcoming and accessible to all. And a significant amount of our content will always be free.
In short, the new Outside has more to offer than ever—but we can’t succeed without your continued support. I hope you’ll explore the benefits of an Outside+ membership on our site today and join our growing community. Maybe one of you can even help us get Linda Ronstadt signed up.