Reader Poll: What’s the Best Elevation Outdoors Cover of the Past Five Years?

<ED’S NOTE: We are proud of the covers we put on our print magazine each month. To help celebrate five years of publishing Elevation Outdoors we asked Marshall McKinney, art director at the esteemed Garden & Gun magazine, to look through our choices for the best covers of the past five years and help steer you, our readers, toward picking one as the best we ever slapped on the newsstands. So give a read, check them out, and then vote for your favorite.>

Elevation Outdoors‘s Best Cover 2009-2013

What puts the best in a Best of Cover Roundup?

Some might suggest crude quantifiable data in the form of newsstand sell-thru rates—that is to say, how well each issue sold on newsstands during a given year. Discover which hit the highest numbers and voila! we have a winner. This course of logic predominantly resides with those minds trapped in big, wooden-walled corner offices suffocating on fancy neckwear. Besides, Elevation Outdoors is FREE (unbelievable!) thus precluding this kind of white-collar calculus.

How do you measure soul, authenticity, subtext and being-ness? You don’t. But you can feel it. You can sense it. And, it doesn’t really matter if you can explain it. You are aware when it’s missing. A memorable cover is imbued with such traits. It can be utterly indefinable but all at once noticeable for what it is and what it is not.

As a publishing vet I’m here to tell you achieving a memorable cover, like the seven presented below, is a most challenging endeavor. I’m not saying it’s like giving birth (trust me ladies, I’m not!) but a crowing achievement takes great effort and sweat-equity peppered with a healthy dose of trust, gut-instinct and love. Yes, love.

Here you have an array of active outdoor images. Each pulses with memory, familiarity and fantasy. Can you feel the snow on your lips as you rip a deep turn in the backcountry? Do you remember what you where thinking on that perfect day in July just before you made the crux move on that 5.10 route? I’ll spare you the specifics of my hidden hot springs adventure but trust it’s one I won’t soon forget, although the details are a little foggy from riding high.

The subtle coalescence of image and words dancing together in perfect harmony is the nitty-gritty. Lets face it I need not natter on at length about this any longer. Truth is, you’ll know it when you see it. So go on, pick the best. Your best cover.   —Marshall McKinney

COVER #1, March 2012, “Infinite Universe” by Jonny Copp (1974-2009). You can buy this print and other and donate at












COVER #2, April 2012, "Ross Schnell Finds the Edge" by Devon Balet
COVER #2, April 2012, “Ross Schnell Finds the Edge” by Devon Balet











Cover #3, May 2012, "Our Elwayville illustrator gets festy" by Kevin Howdeshell
Cover #3, May 2012, “Our Elwayville illustrator gets festy” by Kevin Howdeshell











Cover #4,  July-August 2012, "Rob Pizem on the first ascent of Spec One (5.13-) in Colorado National Monument" by Keith Ladzinski
Cover #4, July-August 2012, “Rob Pizem on the first ascent of Spec One (5.13-) in Colorado National Monument” by Keith Ladzinski












Cover #5, September 2012, "Mike Schneiter on Capitol Peak" by David Clifford
Cover #5, September 2012, “Mike Schneiter on Capitol Peak” by David Clifford











Cover #6, September 2013, "A party of one at Aspen's Conundrum Hot Springs"  by Celin Serbo
Cover #6, September 2013, “A party of one at Aspen’s Conundrum Hot Springs” by Celin Serbo











Cover #7, October 2011, "Isaac Potz disappears in Vail's Back Bowls" by Jeff Cricco
Cover #7, October 2011, “Isaac Potz disappears in Vail’s Back Bowls” by Jeff Cricco











COVER #8, December 2013, "Better than a leg lamp," by Liam Doran
COVER #8, December 2013, “Better than a leg lamp,” by Liam Doran






















[poll id=”67″]

Marshall McKinney is currently the art director of Garden & Gun magazine, which received the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2011. Before coming to G&G, he launched Outside’s Go, for which he won the Art Director of the Year Award for New Launches from Media Industry Newsletter (MIN). Marshall began his career at Outside magazine in 2001, after receiving his master’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi. Through the years Marshall has received a variety of design and photography awards as well as co-chairing last year’s Society of Publication Design Awards in NYC. Last November, he was inducted into the Magazine Hall of Fame.  Born in Jackson, Miss., and raised in Memphis, Tenn., Marshall has lived, worked, and played all over the U.S. including Boulder, Colo. and now resides in Charleston, S.C., where he can often be spotted surfing small waves on his long board.

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