Using a GPS unit, ride, hike and run local trails and routes in your area and national parks. Upload the tracks online, add photos, video clips, points of interest and a short write-up. Real-life editors then promote the trip through a variety of media, including the magazine, the homepage, and Google Earth.
Pay is dependent on complexity and quality of the trip, and the best contributors can be featured in the magazine’s monthly front-of-the-book sections. The best part? Map editor Kris Wagner will be hiring interns to move to Boulder and work inside Backpacker early next year, and if you learn the system now, it would be stupid to assume you’re not increasing your chances for getting hired come January.
For more info, email Kris Wagner at kwagner [at] aimmedia.com and check out this trip for an example of what to expect. Bonus points for already having a GPS and understanding how to use it.
(Full Disclosure: I was an Intern with this project last year, so if you have any questions before contacting Kris feel free to shoot me an email at timshisler [at] gmail.com or just leave a comment below.)